Vietnam Vets File Suit Over PTSD

~ By Freddy Groves ~

Aided by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Service Clinic, a handful of Vietnam veterans with PTSD filed suit in U.S. District Court in Connecticut alleging that the military didn’t upgrade their discharges when it should have. Over the years, less than 5 percent of requests for upgrade have been given.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder didn’t have a name back when these veterans were in Vietnam. That only came about in 1980. Various wars have called it “shell shock” and “combat exhaustion.” During the Vietnam War, they were calling it “stress response syndrome.” Doctors thought it was caused by “response” and would go away, and if it lasted too long, it must have been pre-existing.

What no one took into consideration back then was that there was a reason for the behaviors of veterans with PTSD, which included being absent without leave, drug use, hyper-vigilance, the inability to carry out duties, altercations and blackouts. Once PTSD had a name, and its symptoms and accompanying behaviors recognized, those undesirable discharges should have been upgraded for tens of thousands of veterans.

The veterans in the class-action lawsuit all had been given other-than-honorable discharges, which has followed them since then, bringing a lack of correct medical care, unemployment, homelessness and damaged relationships, as well as years of anxiety.

This lawsuit is similar to a 2008 lawsuit (Sabo vs. United States) that was filed for veterans who’d served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In those cases, veterans with PTSD only rated a 10 percent disability (when it should have been 50 percent after 2002), and the veterans therefore were denied benefits.
To read the lawsuit, search online for Case 3:14-cv-00260 in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut.

© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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