The Army must face a certified class action by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans challenging its policy for reviewing dishonorable discharges of vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, a federal court said Dec. 21.
Common questions about whether the Army used the right standards for reviewing upgrade applications “can be answered and remedied through injunctive relief applied on a class basis,” Judge Warren W. Eginton wrote for the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
The class includes 22,000 soldiers discharged with less-than-honorable status for misconduct after PTSD diagnoses between 2009 and 2015.
A similar case filed by the same attorneys on behalf of Navy and Marine Corps vets won class status Nov. 15.
The Defense Department in 2014 ordered the armed services to consider PTSD as a mitigating factor in misconduct that caused dishonorable discharges.
Stephen Kennedy, an Iraq War veteran, and Alicia Carson, an Afghanistan veteran, filed a class action under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fifth Amendment due process clause. They sought class certification of all Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan era who have unsuccessfully applied for discharge upgrades based on the 2014 order.
The suit seeks an injunction ordering the Army Discharge Review Board to apply medically appropriate standards for PTSD when reviewing applications for a change in discharge status.
Jenner & Block LLP; Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Clinic; and Community Activism Law Alliance represented the vets.
The case is Kennedy v. Esper, 2018 BL 476363, D. Conn., No. 16-2010, 12/21/18.