Veterans who suffered from nightmares, flashbacks, and emotional conditions during their military service may have received a “bad paper” discharge because of misconduct or minor infractions resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This may have ended their military careers with a less-than-honorable status. This can have devastating results and leave veterans ineligible to receive VA disability benefits.

However, the VA has recently taken steps to make it easier for veterans with PTSD to apply for discharge upgrades and receive benefits. On September 3, 2014, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum relaxing the requirements of discharge upgrades for PTSD sufferers. This memo acknowledges that service-related trauma can lead to behavioral problems and misconduct, and soldiers should not be penalized for behaviors caused by this medical condition.

New Allowances for Veterans With PTSD

The memorandum requires the Military Department Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records (BCM/NR) to provide the following allowances for veterans claiming PTSD:

  • Longer time limits. Although most discharge upgrade requests must be received within a few years of discharge, the new memorandum allows time limits to be waived for soldiers requesting upgrades due to PTSD.
  • Relaxed rules. The Secretary of Defense requires the BCM/NR to give “liberal consideration” to petitions for discharge upgrades and changes in characterization of service for veterans claiming PTSD.
  • Renewed applications. A veteran who was denied an upgrade in the past can re-apply under the new guidance, and his application will be considered a new case.
  • Medical review. The memo directs the boards to perform a comprehensive review of all materials and evidence provided by the applicant and allows increased involvement of medical professionals in upgrade determinations.

Our Attorneys Can Help You Build Your VA Disability Case

Before you apply for a discharge upgrade, you should remember that the review board does not have access to your medical and service records. You will have to provide copies of your health records and any other information you wish to have considered along with your application. If you need help gathering your records or have been denied a discharge upgrade once before, contact Cuddigan Law or call (402)933 5405 today to have us help you build a successful case.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska