I applied for a discharge upgrade and was denied, should I try again based on the new guidance regarding PTSD?
Yes. If you have an Other Than Honorable Discharge (OTH), believe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) played a role and were previously denied an upgrade from the Discharge Review Board or the Board for Corrections, you should apply again. Things have changed. In September 2014, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued supplementary guidance to Military Department Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records regarding applicants claiming PTSD. 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 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. Also, the guidance directs that these cases will be considered by the boards in a timely manner. Finally, these Boards will consider a petition based on this new guidance even if they previously denied that same petition. Therefore, even if you have been denied in the past, I believe you should try again. Don’t do this alone, however, you need an experienced advocate 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.