Defense Department will reconsider bad discharges

Upcoming activities at the Kauai Veterans Center:

Christmas party, 10 a.m.– 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14

Info: Aida Cruz, 246-1135

DoD willing to reconsider bad discharges of Vietnam vets with PTSD

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:

1. That he or she suffered from PTSD at the time of service

2. That the cause was related to military service and

3. 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.

For assistance in requesting reconsideration, call the KOVS at 241-3348 to schedule an appointment.

VA’s New GI Bill Comparison Tool

The VA announces its latest upgrade to a program committed to arming our Nation’s veterans with the information that they need to make informed decisions on how to use their VA education benefits. Updated features of the Comparison Tool include:

w Search functionality that allows users to search for schools and employers near where they live

w A feature that will compare multiple schools

w The ability to compare the benefits of multiple GI Bill programs for those that may be entitled to more than one benefit

w School-level complaint data compiled from the Feedback System

To date, over 1 million veterans and their families have taken advantage of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Check it out at http://department-of-veterans-affairs.github.io/gi-bill-comparison-tool/

Chemical Warfare Agents in Operation Iraqi Freedom

Service members who demolished or handled explosive ordinance may have been exposed to warfare agents such as mustard agents or sarin which may cause health effects. The Department of Defense is contacting service members and veterans who may have been exposed. If you were exposed and have not been contacted, call their hotline: 1-800-497-6261. Veterans may file a claim for disability compensation for health problems they believe are related to exposure to chemical warfare agents.

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Tony Elliott can be reached at the Kauai Office of Veterans’ Services, 241-3348.

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