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If a veteran was discharged due to homosexual admission during the Don't Ask Don't Tell era, can the veteran use the nature of that discharge as an in-service event/stressor to file a service connected claim for post service mental health issues?


Fritts80

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Hello, vets community. Let me elaborate, can a veteran link that as an event/stressor in service to file a service connected claim for any potential mental illness symptoms like depression and anxiety that may have been aggravated out of service? Yes, it is known you need a diagnosis, symptoms, and a Nexus letter connecting symptoms to an in-service event from medical professionals first.  

Commonly, it was practice for veterans discharged under the DADT Policy to receive a General or Honorable discharge, but the veteran's narrative reason on their DD-214 would state, "Homosexual Admission." The problem is, the veteran could potentially be unwilling outed as homosexual to the public when applying for jobs. Hiring managers could view the veteran's service as undesirable even though their discharge is Honorable because homosexual discharges can carry that negative stigma, which goes back to WWII era. Some people view them as an "easy way out" to diminish the veteran's service, which opens the veteran up to discrimination potentially. 

Reasonably, this could cause the veteran mental and emotional stress out of service. Maybe depression causes the veteran not be focused on school as much, so the veteran is unable to complete school. Maybe the veteran's anxiety of be outed caused the veteran not to apply for higher-paying government jobs. These situations could prevent upward mobility in the veteran's post-service career, which is reasonable to believe are disabling. Any impute on this matter is appreciated. Thank you. 

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A  veteran can claim anything as a stresser, but consider this.

I was actually medically retired from the Army , my DD214 says as much and it classified me as F4 ( Notmedically  fit for service)  can I clam PTSD because of this?  Let me go a bit further, I actually was refused a job at the post office in Killeen Texas in 1988 because of my service connected medical condition, ( it wasn't legal but the PM did it anyway)  could I claim PTSD for this and win, Yes I could place a claim, remember we can place any claim, the question is will I win. I doubt it. Now you question is a what if, my reply was a real situtation. Reasonably, this did cause me a lot of stress and anger, and sometimes it still does make me angry.

No one knows for certain you if  would be sucessful if you filed a claim. Each case is different, the first thing you would have to do is get a diagnosis,  and Nexus, then file the claim.

ADDED: I would not and did not submit such a claim, because on it face it just seems to be part of life and life is not fair.

Edited by Richard1954
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Thanks for your feedback. I would file that claim, especially if you can prove discrimination. The Army's negative evaluation of you definitely caused you harm. I could see a medical professional giving you a favorable Nexus letter. 

The case I posed is unique because the Armed Forces now acknowledges any DADT related discharges as unjust on a case by case basis if requested by the veteran, which makes winning a case like this realistic. DADT veterans can now have their records corrected by their corresponding branch of services' Board of Corrections if it is determined that there was no other violations in service. 

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The good news is you have an Honorable Discharge that entitles you to a full range of VA healthcare and Disability compensation benefits.

I had excellent results in 2003(?) with the Army Board For Correction of Military Records (ABCMR) in obtaining much deserved and earned additional Army awards for my Vietnam combat in Nam as a medevac pilot in 1970.  I also had help from then Sec of Defense Cohn.

Therefore, you should apply for a correction of your records.  The ABCMR website then had all the forms and instructions for downloading needed to apply for your update/corrections and issue of a DD 215.  I still have all my copies including a multipage letter I sent with the forms explaining why my need for request and also evidence to support my application.

Good luck going forward.

My comment is not legal advice as I am not a lawyer, paralegal or VSO.

 

 

Edited by Dustoff 11
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Posted (edited)

You can "file" a claim for anything, but we dont have a crystal ball to see if it will be approved.  While I was in service at least one was outed for this reason.  

My advice for Veterans "finding a path" not taken in the past, if, indeed this is so, is to "go for it".  To find out go to CAVC/BVA cases and search for cases such as yours, using key words.  You might try several terms.  

Very often  (the Veteran's own service connection theory) has been tried before.   I suggest you learn to research CAVC/BVA case law, to find out.  Its not real hard.  

I could see what the judges say, but it often takes considerable time to go through the case law in the search results.  Even then, you know much more about your medical history, and military history than I do, so its better if you do it.  

As far as a "discrimination" law suit, well, you can try that, but remember, AT THAT TIME, it was likely not considered discrimination.  (Race, creed, color, etc).   That one, also, you may need to look up, as I have no idea when you were in the military.    ITs pretty hard to sue someone for violating a law that does not exist at the time it happened.   It could take an act of congress to declare PAST discrimination (that is, prior to the law passage) to be enforced.  

In other words, if your great great grandfather was a slave, for example, Im not sure you can sue for damages if there was no law to prevent it at that time.  

I have found out that, for most Veterans, the VA does not give up its benefits easily (especially if there is no case law precendence) and the road to winning those is long and hard.  Not everyone is willing to travel that long hard path.  

You might try finding an attorney who will represent you for this, some may, others may decline.  My "guess" would be that it would require an attorney to make it happen "unless" you are one of the few people who are great at representing themselves, and have no problem doing things like spending a couple hundred bucks on a Veterans benefit manual.  

I am pretty sure my old (2014, I think) VBM is silent on the topic, but I am not sure.  Again, that would take research.  

 

Edited by broncovet
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I remember sometimes in the Army and even VA medical care I was told to suck it up and get over it or get a grip.  Sometimes I did sometimes I did not.  Today I am doing just fine and not obsessed with the several injustices done to me in the past by VA, Army in Vietnam, private civilian life.  I did make a list one time and may publish it to make others feel better.

I have happily outlived most of my Army and civilian life enemies who were about my same age.  Their boozing or doping lifestyle finished them off early.

For many if not most of us seniors' life has been filled with sporadic episodes of hard, unjust and difficult times. 

Edited by Dustoff 11
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11 hours ago, Dustoff 11 said:

I had excellent results in 2003(?) with the Army Board For Correction of Military Records

Just courious when you retired, I retired in 1986 and we could not appeal to the Army for correction of records,  that is we did not have the option that soldiers have today to appeal to the Army and request an upgrade of a discharge based on medical reasons or any other reason to my understanding. But veterans today can appeal their discharge for any number of reason, I think I have this correct or am I wrong? thanks

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I left the active army and army guard in 74 and received total and final honorable discharge from all usa reserve forces in 82 as a then inactive reservist.  As a former military service member I and anyone else can apply at any time to the ABCMR to update and or correct their records.  Try it you might like it.

For instance, the ABCMR sent me to my surprise additional military medals/awards that I was not aware I was entitled to such as the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and additional air medals plus the ones I requested (with proof) such as PH, CMB, DFC.

I did receive the medals in 70 at Japan U.S. Army hospital but not the certificates until the ABCMR.

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I retired in 1986, at that time there may have been a way for me to ask for a correction of my records,. I don't know. Frankly. I had no reason to request any changes to my service records for any reason.After  I retired I was sent medals,  Certificates and my Retirement Certificate, as well as , wife's Army  Certificate, thanking her for supporting my military service.    These were medals from my last assignment, that they did not give me before I left.   In about 2005, I requested I be retroactively awarded the  Korean Defense Service Medal, and my DD214 was amemded to show the medal. When I mentioned before that during my time we did not have any options to correct records.  I was actually refering to the Discharge review boards that were created for the  specific reasons to up grade dischages to Honorable Discharges. A lot of Veterans during Iraq and Afghanistan were given bad conduct dischages or medicvasl discharges after they had TBI's  which caused mental issues, and other medical/mental issues. The Department of Defense created discharge review boards with the authority to upgrade discharges from other than honorable,  and to retirement because so many were who should have been medically retired were medically discharged, or given bad couduct dischargtes.

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Contact the Modern Military Association of America - Legal Services to see what they would advise. 

Quote

The Modern Military Association of America (MMAA) is the nation’s largest organization of LGBTQ service members, military spouses, veterans, their families and allies. Formed through the merger of the American Military Partner Association and OutServe-SLDN, we are a united voice for the LBGTQ military and veteran community. As a non-partisan, non-profit (501c3) organization, we are working to make a real difference in the lives of our modern military families through education, advocacy and support. We also provide free, direct legal services for the LGBTQ and HIV+ military and veteran communities.

 

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Hi,

I did a Google search and found a website for a group called Swords to Plowshares.  The have been working with Vets for 45 years and they have a PDF with detailed instructions on how to upgrade/fix discharges under DADT.  I know that's not what you asked, but it may be relevant.  As for filing a claim, Vets aren't expected to nail down the reasons for their mental health conditions.  That's why there are VA medical exams and opinions.  In my personal opinion, it's certainly plausible that a Vet discharged under DADT had stressful experiences leading up to the actual discharge.  If it were me or one of my loved ones, I would encourage the Vet to reach out to folks (like the group above) who may have specific knowledge and advice for Vets in this situation.

Good luck to you,

Phury  

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