american flag images 12NEW HAVEN: The Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs, Vietnam Veterans of America, the VVA Connecticut State Council and the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale launched a first-in-nation program for veterans. Connecticut veterans with “bad paper” discharges are provided new and helpful opportunities to seek discharge upgrades and to connect them with resources to help during the process.

“Bad paper discharges have a terrible impact on veterans’ lives,” said Tom Berger of VVA. “Without upgrades, veterans are barred from the federal benefits they earned through their service, including disability compensation, health care and education, and face barriers to private employment and a lifetime stigma due to their military record.”

Any veterans with below “honorable” discharges can go after discharge upgrades in order to access benefits through administrative boards at the Department of Defense. This process has recently been improved for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to advocates for veterans the boards have previously been hostile to post-traumatic stress-based applications and were denied on a “near-categorical basis.” In 2014 then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel highly encouraged boards to give a stronger upgrade consideration to post-traumatic stress evidence that led to veterans’ bad paper discharges.

Through these groups and their collaborative effort, the DVA has mailed out detailed notices to more than 1,000 Connecticut Veterans informing them on how to take advantage of this new program.

Any additional information and resources about the discharge process are available at: CTLawHelp.org/dischargeupgrades.