NEW HAVEN — Through the efforts of a Yale Law School clinic, more than 50,000 U.S. Army veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are part of a newly certified class-action lawsuit that challenges the less than honorable discharges they received.
A federal judge Friday certified the suit for those veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or other mental health conditions in the service and subsequently were pushed out for infractions that could be attributable to undiagnosed mental health problems stemming from their military service.
Steve Kennedy and Alicia Carson, Army veterans who served at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, were the named plaintiffs in the April 2017 suit on behalf of themselves and tens of thousands of others who have been similarly affected in order to ensure fair treatment when veterans apply to have these service characterizations changed.
The plaintiffs are represented by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic and co-counsel at Jenner & Block.
Since September 2001, more than 2 million Americans have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Nearly a third of them suffer from PTSD and related mental health conditions, but the military continues to issue less-than-honorable (“bad paper”) discharges at historically high rates, often for minor infractions, the suit states.
Such characterizations often impose a lifetime of stigma, impair veterans’ employment prospects, and deny veterans access to critical government services such as the GI bill, disability benefits and mental health treatment.
Although the Army Discharge Review Board promises these veterans a path to correct unjustly harsh discharges, the ADRB frequently denies claims in defiance of recent Department of Defense policies intended to ease this process for veterans with service-connected PTSD and related conditions, according to the plaintiffs.
“This decision means that thousands of servicemembers who have been denied the support of VA resources because of an unfair discharge status may have another chance at relief,” said Kennedy, who served in Iraq and is a founder of the Connecticut chapter of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
“The cost of this continuing refusal to reckon with the reality of mental illness in the military is more than unjustly denied benefits — it is a generation of lost promise and opportunity for countless soldiers suffering the invisible wounds of war as a result of their sacrifice for country,” Kennedy said.
The decision follows another recent one approving a nationwide class of Marine and Navy veterans against the Naval Discharge Review Board, which is also pending in the District of Connecticut.
“Almost five years ago, the Department of Defense ordered the Army and other service branches to take into account the role that PTSD and other mental health conditions play in veterans’ discharges,” said Jordan Goldberg, a law student in the Yale Veterans Legal Services Clinic.
“But the ADRB continues callously to dismiss veterans’ claims in open defiance of these rules. This lawsuit is about holding the Army to its commitments and securing justice for the veterans whose honorable service has gone unrecognized for too long,” Goldberg said in a statement.
MISHAWAKA — On a visit to the AM General Military Assembly plant in Mishawaka Thursday, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper highlighted his plan to modernize the Army and emphasized the important role he said AM General and its HMMWV (Humvee) will play in that modernization.
"The Humvee is a very capable light truck. It's very versatile, it allows us to perform a range of missions," Esper said. "Like we like to say, it's one of many tools in the tool kit."
Guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) steams in the Southern California operating area. Lake Champlain is operating with the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group, conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jayme Pastoric)
The U.S. Navy is proposing soon to decommission six of its 22 Ticonderoga-class cruisers. The 1980s-vintage ships, the largest surface combatants in the U.S. fleet, increasingly are suffering structural problems requiring costly and time-consuming overhauls.
Julio Morris and two other men have now been charged with the brazen killing of Ezell Finklea, the Army Special Forces veteran who had repeatedly cooperated with Miami-Dade prosecutors despite threats to his life. (Miami-Dade Corrections/Facebook)
In January, Julio Morris was days away from his murder trial when a key eyewitness was gunned down in an ambush attack in North Miami-Dade. The trial was postponed.
This week, as Morris' trial finally got under way, prosecutors unsealed a new case against him: that he ordered the hit on the eyewitness from behind bars.
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Armed men shot at members of a convoy transporting uranium to one of Brazil's two working nuclear power plants on a coastal road in Rio de Janeiro state on Tuesday, police and the company managing the plant said.