The Department of Defense has agreed to reconsider “Other-Than-Honor-able” (OTH) discharges for an estimated 80,000 Vietnam-era veterans who may have suffered from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder but were kicked out of the military in the era before that became a diagnosable condition.
Vietnam war-era and other past war veterans with an OTH discharge will be given “liberal consideration” if they seek to correct their military records and can provide evidence of a PTSD diagnosis/symptoms that existed at the time of their service. Upgraded discharges could result in the restoration of some benefits, such as disability pay, separation pay, GI Bill or health care benefits from the VA.
The Pentagon’s new rule will apply to all veterans with discharges prior to the formal recognition of PTSD in 1980. This new guidance is focused on veterans with low-level misconduct that may have resulted in administrative discharge. It is not intended to affect veterans who were court-martialed for serious misconduct and kicked out with a bad-conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge. This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card and is not intended to degrade the millions of veterans who earned an honorable discharge.
A veteran seeking a revised discharge must submit a written request (DD Form 293) to the appropriate Board of Correction of Military Records for their service providing proof of the following three elements:
- That he or she suffered from PTSD at the time of service
- That the cause was related to military service and
- That the symptoms were a factor in the misconduct underlying the other-than-honorable discharge
In today’s military, PTSD is considered a mitigating factor for misconduct and behavioral problems and the military services are required to grant a medical evaluation to any service member who claims PTSD before finalizing a bad discharge.