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Navy Vets With PTSD Get Class Certified Over Discharge Policy

Nov. 16, 2018, 4:28 PM

U.S. Navy and Marine veterans won class status in their suit challenging the Navy Discharge Review Board’s procedures and standards for evaluating applications from those affected by PTSD.

Denials of upgrades to their discharges “affected their eligibility for benefits like the GI Bill program, and, ironically, PTSD treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. wrote for the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

The Defense Department in 2014 ordered the armed services to consider post-traumatic stress disorder as a mitigating factor in the misconduct that caused a discharge less than honorable.

Since then, the Navy review board has granted discharge upgrades in only 15 percent of applications from hundreds of PTSD-affected veterans, the plaintiffs say.

Corresponding boards for the Army and Air Force have granted them in 45 percent and 37 percent of cases, respectively.

The veterans seek a change in the review process.

The court found certification warranted because the veterans share the “same injury” of being subject to the review board’s purportedly unfair process for how it characterizes upgrade applications.

Jenner & Block LLP; Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Clinic; and Community Activism Law Alliance represented the vets.

The case is Manker v. Spencer, 2018 BL 422658, D. Conn., No. 18-372, 11/15/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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