Vietnam veterans with PTSD seek relief

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Legal action is underway in Federal Court to seek relief for Vietnam veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  News 8’s Jocelyn Maminta has more on how this disorder impacts veterans.

While others evaded the draft, thousands served and fought in the jungles and shores of Vietnam. The controversial war left a lifetime scar on veterans like Conley Monk Junior.

“I wake up every morning in cold sweats. I have to take two t-shirts to bed with me,” he said.

The Marine veteran lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a medical condition now recognized by the military.

“The veterans suffer from a service related disability and if they were serving today, they would likely receive a medical discharge,” said Virginia McCalmont, Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School.

Instead, Conley Monk is among thousands given an “other than honorable discharge” denying him medical services and benefits like education loans all these years.

To force a fair review of an upgrade process already in place, The Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School is representing five combat veterans and three veteran organizations in a class-action lawsuit against the Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Conley Monk among the five represented veterans.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal says the bad policy is discriminating and illegal.

“These veterans were wounded and then wounded again by their country that denied them medical benefits to cure the injury that they suffered in war,” he said.

vietnam veterans

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, he says, has the authority to do the right thing.

“I raised it in his hearing, his confirmation hearing.  I’ve raised it since in private conversation. But there’s nothing like a lawsuit to get attention,” said Blumenthal.          

At 65 years old, Conley Monk only wants what he earned fighting for his country.

“I can’t even talk about what I experienced in Vietnam, what it does is it breaks me down,” he said.      

 Senator Blumenthal says he will continue to drive his point to Secretary Hagel, an Army sergeant in the Vietnam war.

The Senator also plans to ask fellow Senators  to join him in ‘a friend of the court’ brief  in support of the lawsuit.

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