» Congress’ Passage of Fairness for Veterans Act Opens Doors to Health Care

Congress’ Passage of Fairness for Veterans Act Opens Doors to Health Care

Legal Help for Veterans is a law firm helping veterans get the benefits they deserve.

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 4, 2017 - Congress passed the Fairness for Veterans Act within a larger defense budget bill in December. The legislation is an effort to help tens of thousands of veterans with less than honorable discharges gain access to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care.

The bill requires the military to consider mental health conditions of service members when conducting discharge reviews. Boards must take into account claims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury when troops display behavior the military considers undesirable.

“Receiving a less than honorable discharge can have serious consequences for veterans,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “They are likely to be denied access to the care they need. With the bill’s passage, these service members can finally turn to the VA to get the treatment they deserve and seek help for mental health problems without any stigma.”

Service members with PTSD may often have their symptoms manifest in what appears to be questionable or abnormal behavior that is looked down upon by superiors. In turn, actions such as substance abuse or fighting with others can lead to a less than honorable discharge. Termed “bad paper discharges,” they prevent veterans from accessing any kind of services, including mental health care from the VA.

The Fairness for Veterans Act was the subject of a documentary series titled Charlie Foxtrot, which investigated how service members are denied benefits and medical care despite having symptoms of service-related mental health disorders. It was shown on Capitol Hill to lawmakers and veterans advocates.

Veterans groups welcomed the bill, saying it would help those veterans who are trying to have their discharge status changed. Vietnam Veterans of America’s Kristofer Goldsmith said, “The Fairness for Veterans Act would shift the burden of proof in favor of vets who appeal their discharge to the Department of Defense.”

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