Veterans

November 4, 2013

Vietnam vet wins discharge upgrade in PTSD lawsuit

NEW HAVEN, CONN. — A Vietnam veteran who received the Bronze Star and later was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder will have his discharge status upgraded under a settlement with the U.S. Army, his representatives announced Monday.

John Shepherd Jr., a 66-year-old New Haven resident, said the Army agreed to resolve his lawsuit by upgrading his original other-than-honorable discharge to an honorable discharge. The change will allow Shepherd to receive disability benefits he had been denied, according to Yale Law School students who represented him.

Shepherd has said he battled alcoholism and struggled to stay employed for 40 years, but was not diagnosed with PTSD until 2004.

“I didn’t know if this day would ever come,” Shepherd said in a statement. “Good thing I’m a fighter, because it took years of fighting to receive recognition of my sacrifices and service in Vietnam. But there are thousands of guys like me who also deserve better from the DOD. Their fight is still going.”

An Army spokesman declined to comment and a message left with a Department of Defense spokeswoman was not immediately returned. A Defense Department spokeswoman said last year the agency is committed to addressing concerns related to PTSD and has taken numerous steps, including conducting PTSD assessments of service members at military treatment facilities.

The Army awarded Shepherd a Bronze Star after his unit came under intense fire and he entered an enemy bunker and threw a grenade that killed several enemy soldiers, according to the lawsuit.

He developed PTSD symptoms after blowing up the enemy bunker and later witnessing the gruesome deaths of several comrades, according to his lawsuit. Shepherd began to act strangely and was found wandering around a base in a confused state. He eventually reached a breaking point and refused to go back into the field, the lawsuit says.

He was charged with failure to obey an order and was discharged.

Shepherd unsuccessfully applied four times to the Army to upgrade his discharge status. He filed a proposed class action lawsuit last year, accusing the Army of failing to properly consider evidence of PTSD when deciding discharge upgrade applications from Vietnam veterans. The case was dismissed Friday with the Army’s agreement to upgrade Shepherd’s discharge status and pay $37,000 in attorney’s fees, students said.

“This settlement is a victory for Mr. Shepherd,” said Jessica Martinez, a law student intern representing Shepherd with the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School. “It does not resolve the class-wide claims, but we hope this agreement will help persuade the Army that other Vietnam veterans with PTSD should not have to file federal lawsuits to win recognition of their honorable service.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by TSgt. Anthony Nelson

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders receive Congressional Gold Medal

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Anthony Nelson Retired Lt. Gen. John “Jack” Hudson, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force director, accepts the Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders April 15, 2...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Alex Montes

WWII veteran reunites with former aircraft

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Alex Montes Retired Lt. Col. Alston Daniels beams as he sits in the cockpit of a Douglas C-47D Skytrain for the first time since 1962 April 7, 2015, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Daniels flew ...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO1 Katherine Hofman

DOD to disinter USS Oklahoma unaccounted for service members

Navy photograph by PO1 Katherine Hofman PO2 Rick Baty, assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, plays Taps honoring fallen sailors of the USS Oklahoma during the National Park Service annual USS Oklahoma Memorial ceremony. This...
 

 

VA extends program for veterans with traumatic brain injury

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced April 13 the award of 20 contracts for the Assisted Living Pilot Program for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury. Originally slated to end in 2014, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 extended this program through October 2017. We are pleased to extend this valuable program and...
 
 
Air Force photograph

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders to receive Congressional Gold Medal

Air Force photograph The USS Hornet had 16 U.S. Army Air Forces North American B-25B Mitchells on deck, ready for the Tokyo Raid on April 18, 1942. Seventy-three years ago, 80 men achieved the unimaginable when they took off fr...
 
 
Army photograph by Patrick Bloodgood

Over 27,000 burial sites to open at Arlington next year

Army photograph by Patrick Bloodgood Construction crews move dirt and prepare the ground at the Arlington National Cemetery Millennium Expansion Project, Feb. 19, 2014. The project also involves restoring an impaired stream tha...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>