A special web page has been launched to assist veterans seeking to upgrade punitive discharges related to behavior problems caused by post-traumatic stress.
The web page provides information and applications to seek an upgrade to discharge from service.
It follows a recent directive to the Army's Review Boards Agency to give liberal consideration to requests for discharge upgrades from veterans who say they were kicked out of service because of problems related to PTSD. The page can be found at http://arba.army.pentagon.mil/adrb-ptsd.cfm.
Thousands of Vietnam-era soldiers may have been given punitive discharges because they suffered from PTSD before it was recognized as a debilitating medical condition, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged in September. .
The ARBA is the Army's highest level of administrative review for personnel actions taken by lower level organizations, and is comprised of several boards for considering the claims of soldiers and former soldiers who appeal unfavorable information in their personnel records.
Discharge upgrades are important because they are linked to benefits available through Veterans Affairs, such as treating PTSD-related symptoms, according to information provided by the Army.
The Army could not provide an estimate of how many applications it will receive as a result of the outreach campaign.
However, a class action suit brought by veterans groups, including the Vietnam Veterans of America, estimates that one third of the 250,000 other-than-honorable discharges issued to Vietnam-era veterans may have been PTSD-related.
Veterans who previously were denied an upgrade can re-apply under the new guidance, and the Army Board for Correction of Military Records will consider the application a new case, according to the Army.
The new guidance only applies to veterans who received "other than honorable" discharges.It does not apply to veterans who received less than honorable or dishonorable discharges because of serious infractions.
Components of the Review Boards Agency include the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, the Army Discharge Review Board and the Army Grade Determination Review Board.