West Haven veteran fights to upgrade bad discharge

(WTNH)–After the Vietnam War, thousands of soldiers came back to the states but didn’t receive a warm welcome home. On top of that, many who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder weren’t given an honorable discharge.

Now, a lawsuit filed may help many veterans get their discharge statuses changed.

Vietnam veteran Conley Monk wiped away tears listening to his brother Gary read his story at an event on Monday. For the last 45 years, Conley suffered from PTSD.

With growing symptoms and racial prejudice, he says he was wrongly accused of stealing.

“My brother was put in a based brig and was told that he would stay there until he signed papers agreeing to an dishonorable discharge and waving his right to a court marshal,” Gary Monk said. “He was also told that if he signed the papers he would be able to go home.”

“I served honorably in Vietnam and I come home with a bad discharge,” Conley said. “I feel like I let the family down.”

But because he was never diagnosed, he never received benefits from the VA. It left him with a lifelong stigma.

Conley worked two jobs to get through school. In March, with support from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the Yale Law School helped file a class-action lawsuit. At a press conference on Monday, they announced his discharge was upgraded.

“For 45 years, I’ve been trying to get my discharge upgraded and I didn’t think this day would come,” he said.

Five others will now get help from this lawsuit, but Blumenthal says there are more who need it.

“Veterans need to help themselves and come forward and ask for their less than honorable discharge to be corrected,” Blumenthal said.

He said there are 80,000 other veterans who need to fight like Conley.

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