Restoring Unfairly Denied Benefits for Bad Paper Discharges – Veterans Attorney Jim Fausone
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) May 6, 2016 – Veterans groups are petitioning the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to offer health benefits to service members who received bad paper discharges.
A new report shows the VA is wrongfully denying benefits to around 125,000 post-9/11 veterans. The joint report was released on March 30 by veterans groups Swords to Plowshares and the National Veterans Legal Services Program, along with Harvard Law School’s Veterans Legal Clinic. The veterans have been ruled as ineligible for various benefits because they left the military with other than honorable discharges.
“Thousands of veterans are left without access to VA health care services due to the department’s contradictory policies,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “The VA should consider whether PTSD or other underlying mental health issues factored into their discharge. Veterans cannot afford to lose even the most basic services due to the nature of their discharge.”
According to the report, veterans with other than honorable discharges do not receive benefits such as health care, disability services and housing assistance for the homeless. The VA’s internal policies contradict the GI Bill of Rights. As a result, the majority of post-9/11 veterans with other than honorable discharges are considered ineligible for benefits rather than just those who would have received a dishonorable discharge in a court martial.
Swords to Plowshares filed a petition with the VA in December 2015 proposing a change to the department’s regulations. The revision would provide around 6.5 percent of post-9/11 veterans with immediate access to medical care. In addition, the VA is being urged to review factors such as post-traumatic stress disorder and extenuating circumstances when determining benefits eligibility for those who committed more serious offenses.
In a statement, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said the department is reviewing the proposal. The report claimed the VA’s review process for veterans with a less than honorable discharge is too complex. Currently, a VA employees examines each veteran’s file in order to decide whether they are entitled to benefits.
In a statement to CNN, the VA said, “We recognize that there can be a variety of reasons that service members receive other than honorable discharges, and VA benefits can greatly improve the quality of their lives.” The department added the report will be used as an opportunity to review its policies and ensure changes are made to help veterans.Learn more at http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC 41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101 Northville, MI 48168 Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800