Veterans with mental health issues related to their service will be able to pursue a class-action lawsuit against the military.
A federal court judge in Connecticut ruled Thursday in favor of Navy and Marine Corps veterans who received a less-than-honorable discharge due to incidents related to untreated mental illnesses.
As a result of their discharge status, these veterans were subsequently denied VA benefits to receive healthcare for their war-related mental health issues.
Veterans argue that they might still be serving today if their mental ailments, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, had been treated properly. But without access to medical benefits, the veterans say it was difficult for them to get care for issues that occurred as a result of their service.
Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. ruled veterans could move forward with their lawsuit against Navy Secretary Richard B. Spencer.
“This decision is a victory for the tens of thousands of military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI who are denied the support of VA resources because of an unfair discharge status,” said Tyson Manker, a Marine Corps veteran and lead plaintiff in the case, in a statement.
Manker says he was dishonorably discharged due to his one-time use of an illegal drug.
Students from Yale Law school represented the veterans in this case, and they have filed a similar lawsuit against the Army.
According to Department of Defense estimates, between 20 and 30 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan deal with the effects of PTSD.
Pentagon officials advised last year that review boards take into consideration cases of PTSD, brain injuries, sexual assault, and sexual harassment when weighing a veteran’s discharge status.