Thousands of Vietnam-era veterans barred from receiving benefits because of less-than-honorable discharges may be eligible for upgrades under a new set of guidelines released by the Defense Department on Wednesday.
The new rules offer the first guidance to military discharge review boards on how to address post-traumatic stress disorder. Many experts and veterans’ advocates assert that the disorder may have contributed to misconduct by veterans who were later kicked out of the military and stripped of benefits.
The guidelines call on the independent boards that review petitions from veterans seeking upgrades to give “liberal consideration” to any symptoms of PTSD now or at the time of the veterans’ discharge, and “special consideration” to findings of PTSD by the Veterans Affairs Department. In a statement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the guidelines were intended to create “fair and consistent results in these difficult cases.”
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