Vietnam War vets, groups file class suit vs. U.S. military for illegal discharges

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New Haven, CT, United States (4E) – Five Vietnam combat veterans and three veterans’ organizations filed a class action suit against the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force seeking relief from alleged illegal discharge of tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during their service.

The veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Vietnam Veterans of America Connecticut State Council, National Veterans Council for Legal Redress and the Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic filed the class suit.

They claimed that the veterans were not given honorable discharges for conduct attributable to their undiagnosed PTSD and this denied them recognition, support and benefits. They were also stigmatized in the past 40 years because the Pentagon refused to rectify the “bad paper” discharges, the plaintiffs said.

PTSD was not a medical diagnosis until 1980, so many Vietnam Era service members who suffered from PTSD and struggled to perform their assigned duties received ‘bad paper’ discharges instead of the medical discharges they would likely receive today, the VLSC said in the lawsuit.

“These veterans served their country, but their country, through the service branches’ failure to upgrade their discharges, has not served them,” said Dr. Tom Berger, Executive Director of the Veterans Health Council, VVA. “It’s time to finally give them the upgrades and recognition they deserve.”

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