NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The U.S. military has failed to upgrade the discharges of Vietnam veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in stigma and loss of benefits, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday.
Five Vietnam veterans and three veterans organizations are suing the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in Connecticut. The veterans say they suffered PTSD before it was recognized and were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions that made them ineligible for benefits.
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status to represent tens of thousands of veterans, says the military has systematically denied applications for upgrades involving evidence of PTSD.
"Unfortunately, the Pentagon has refused to correct the decades of injustice experienced by tens of thousands of veterans who suffer from PTSD but were discharged before it was a diagnosable condition," V Prentice, a law student intern in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a news release. "This action seeks to compel appropriate action by the military and to finally secure justice for these veterans."
Messages left with military spokesmen were not immediately returned Monday. The Department of Defense has said the agency is committed to addressing concerns related to PTSD and has taken numerous steps, including conducting PTSD assessments of service members at military treatment facilities.