Department of Defense issued new guidance to help those requesting a discharge upgrade who may suffer from PTSD.
In September 2014, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued supplementary guidance to Military Department Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records. The supplementary guidance applies to petitions submitted by veterans requesting a discharge upgrade and claiming that they had or have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The purpose of the guidance is to “ease the application process for veterans” and “assist the Boards in reaching fair and consistent results in these difficult cases.” The Department of Defense felt that supplementary guidance was necessary in this area because there has been recent attention focused on petitions from Vietnam veterans claiming they had previously unrecognized PTSD. The guidance concedes that “in these cases, PTSD was not recognized as a diagnosis at the time of service and, in many cases, diagnoses were not made until decades after service was completed.” The supplementary guidance assists petitioners seeking a discharge upgrade who claim they suffer from PTSD in many specific ways. The first section of the supplementary guidance states that certain petitions should be given “liberal consideration.” The guidance states that liberal consideration should be given to a petition if one or more of the symptoms of PTSD are found in the service treatment records or other service documents. Additionally, the guidance states that liberal consideration should be given to those cases “where civilian providers confer diagnoses of PTSD or PTSD-related conditions,” and “when case records contain narratives that support symptomatology at the time of service.” Also, liberal consideration is directed by the DoD when there is evidence showing that the PTSD existing at the time of discharge may have mitigated the servicemember’s bad behavior that led to an Other than Honorable (OTH) characterization of service. In other words, even if a veteran received an OTH discharge, he or she may still be given “liberal consideration” by the boards, if the veteran had PTSD at the time of discharge. In many cases, veterans may be able to show that the bad behavior that led to the OTH discharge was actually caused by the existence of PTSD. In addition to directing that liberal consideration be given in certain cases, the guidance also states that time limits to reconsider decisions will be liberally waived for applications involving PTSD. Finally, the guidance directs that these cases will be considered by the boards in a timely manner. If you or someone you know wants to look into trying to change their separation reason or discharge characterization based on PTSD, this guidance definitely weighs in your favor. The time to apply for this relief is now. I am here to help. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.