A settlement was reached in a nationwide class action lawsuit against the Army that will help veterans with less than honorable discharges struggling with behavioral health issues gain access to care they need.
The lawsuit claims the Army Discharge Review Board routinely denied thousands of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions proper review when they requested changes to their discharge status. The settlement reached Wednesday will ensure that the army reconsider the decsisions involving veterans after 9/11.
The Army will also adopt new procedures to faciliate access to discharge upgrades. Lawyers at the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic said this settlement shines a light on the impact invisible wounds like PTSD have during and after service.
Steve Kennedy served in Iraq and was a named plantiff in the case. He said veterans who needed help the most were blocked for recieving it.
"I’ve heard from veterans across the country who are kicked out because of suicide attempts, self-medicating to deal with combat stress, going AWOL because they couldn't handle it anymore and all of them were discharged for symptoms of metal health conditions and stripped of the benefits that may have helped them heal," said Kennedy.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said this advance is a tremendous milestone.
"Constant vigilance and oversight, proactive scrutiny are absolutely vital," said Blumenthal. "These measures aren't self-enforcing. We need continued oversight and vigellance to make sure every veteran gets what he or she deserves."
Blumenthal said as a member of the Veteran's Affairs Committee, he will fight to make sure there is a better system in place.
The settlement agreement is subject to court approval.