WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A big win for Vietnam Veterans, after years of coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Earlier this year, a class action lawsuit was filed by the Veterans Legal Services clinic at Yale, seeking relief for the thousands who were barred from treatment and compensation.
41 years ago, the U.S. ended its military involvement in Vietnam.
It took until this week for a long overdue correction for more than 70,000 veterans with a less than honorable discharge, due to post traumatic stress disorder.
Back then, PTSD was not recognized as a medical condition by the military.
“I made a little bit of a nuisance of myself in the Department of Defense but I was inspired by Mr. Monk and his advocates that this was the right thing to do,” said,U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut at the public announcement.
He received the call midweek personally from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
“He said exactly that, it’s the right thing to do, you were right. We are going to do it and get it done.”
A memo issued to military boards will enable Vietnam veterans with the bad paper discharges, to get a more favorable review when applying for a discharge upgrade, making them eligible for long denied benefits.
“I’ve been home ever since 1971,” said Marine Veteran Conley Monk Jr., “ And have been excluded from receiving any kind of medical, educational and even housing benefits.”
Conley Monk Jr. He is also one of five combat veterans named as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit championed by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School and three veterans’ organizations.
“It was unjust and it was unfair,” he said.
The controversial war indeed left indelible scars on the servicemen and women, but the policy change will help soften the pain.
“I hope this is the beginning for all veterans,” said Garry Monk with the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress. “To have the ability to have their discharges upgraded, not just Vietnam Veterans.”
The lawsuit was filed back in March.
A spokesperson for Veterans Legal Services said that if the memo proves to be the foundation for real reform, they will consider discussing a timely resolution with the Pentagon.