Veterans looking for an upgrade to their punitive discharges related to behavior problems caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can find assistance at a new website: http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/adrb-ptsd.cfm
This initiative follows a recent directive to the Army’s Review Board Agency (ARBA) to help those veterans whose discharges were under “other than honorable” conditions, and who assert that they suffered from PTSD or related conditions that might have facilitated the misconduct that led to their discharge.
While this directive is focused on those veterans who served before PTSD was a recognized as a debilitating medical condition, it applies to all veterans (who have “other than honorable” discharges). This comes as welcome news for the thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who may have been given punitive discharges as a result of their conduct caused by PTSD.
The ARBA is the Army's highest level of administrative review for actions taken by lower level organizations, and it includes several boards that hear claims of soldiers and veterans who appeal unfavorable information in their personnel records – which include discharge statuses for veterans.
Upgrading one’s discharge can be crucial for veterans seeking benefits offered by Veterans Affairs. Less than honorable and other than honorable discharges are very often a disqualifying factor from benefits.
Veterans’ organizations, like the Vietnam Veterans of America, estimate that one third of the 250,000 other than honorable discharges issued to Vietnam-era veterans may have been PTSD-related. Three veterans organizations, along with five Vietnam-era combat veterans, recently filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking relief for those tens of thousands of veterans who fall into that category.
Under the new directive, veterans who were previously denied upgrades can re-apply and the ARBA will consider the case on a blank slate. However, this only applies to veterans with other than honorable discharges, and not those who were discharged under “less than honorable” conditions due to serious infractions.
While we do not work on discharge upgrades, if you have a VA disability claim you can contact attorney Kristina Derro at (800) 693-4800.