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Vietnam veterans with PTSD file lawsuit in federal court

Five veterans of the Vietnam War filed a class action lawsuit on Monday in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut [official website] accusing the military of failing to upgrade the discharges of veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The complaint [text, PDF], which names the US Army, Navy and Air Force [official websites] as defendants, argues that veterans who were given "undesirable" discharges for conduct attributable to undiagnosed PTSD should have had their discharge status subsequently upgraded. According to the complaint, such veterans are deprived of disability compensation they would otherwise be entitled to. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the Veterans Legal Service Clinic at Yale Law School [advocacy website].

The issue of upgrade petitions for Vietnam veterans with PTSD has been ongoing, and, since 1993, only 4.5 percent [AP report] of PTSD discharge upgrades have been granted for Vietnam veterans. In 2012 students of the Yale Veterans Clinic filed another class action lawsuit in federal court dealing with discharge upgrades for PTSD. However, the lead plaintiff ultimately signed a settlement agreement [text, PDF] with the Army granting him the discharge upgrade before a class was certified, prompting the current class action suit. US Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut [official website] held a press conference at Yale Law School where he indicated his support [New Haven Register report] for the plaintiffs and stated that the "veterans are long overdue present day appreciation of modern mental health in the timely review of their discharge upgrade appeals."

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