Army to review thousands of discharges following lawsuit

Army

The U.S. Army is reviewing the discharges of thousands of veterans coping with behavioral health conditions following a class-action lawsuit.

A settlement was reached in the Kennedy v. McCarthy class-action lawsuit and was approved in federal court on Dec. 28, 2020.

Read the full settlement here

As per the agreement, the Army will reconsider discharge-status-upgrades made by the Army Discharge Review Board over a nearly nine-year period.

Veterans discharged with a less-than-fully-honorable service characterization, while coping with a behavioral health condition, are eligible to apply for discharge upgrades.

Learn more about applying for a discharge upgrade here.

A virtual hearing on the settlement agreement will be held on Wed. March 24 at 10 a.m. ET to discuss whether it will receive final approval.

Those affected by the settlement are welcome to submit written comments and/or speak at the hearing in support or opposition of the settlement.

The behavioral health conditions include but are not limited to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma.

Read the Army’s full statement below: 

The U.S. Army has agreed to review the discharges of thousands of veterans affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma or other behavioral health conditions, and to change some of its administrative procedures for individuals who apply to have their discharge statuses upgraded in the future. This agreement follows a settlement reached in the nationwide class-action lawsuit Kennedy v. McCarthy. A federal court preliminarily approved the agreement on Dec. 28, 2020.

Under the agreement, the Army will automatically reconsider certain discharge-status-upgrade decisions made by the Army Discharge Review Board between April 17, 2011, and the effective date of settlement that partially or fully denied relief to Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans with less-than-fully-honorable discharges. The settlement also expands reapplication rights for eligible applicants who were discharged and received an adverse ADRB decision between Oct. 7, 2001, and April 16, 2011.

In addition, the Army will implement other procedures, including a program to enable applicants to appear telephonically before the ADRB, more training for board members and updated protocols for decision making in cases involving symptoms or diagnoses of PTSD, TBI, MST or other behavioral health conditions.

Veterans of the Army, including the National Guard and Reserve, who were discharged with a less-than-fully-honorable service characterizations while having a diagnosis of, or showed symptoms of, the conditions listed above may be eligible for relief. Discharge upgrades are not guaranteed and applications will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

A video teleconference hearing on the settlement agreement on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. ET will address whether to grant final approval to the settlement, whether to issue a final order dismissing the lawsuit and other issues. Persons affected by the settlement may submit written comments and/or appear themselves or through counsel to be heard in support of or in opposition to aspects of the settlement. Persons wishing to object must follow specific procedures, which are outlined on the websites listed below.

A court-approved class notice, the full text of the settlement and information about the court’s hearing can be found at https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kennedysettlement.com%2F&data=04%7C01%7CMatthew.Seyler%40abc.com%7Ccaa0e9d3aa424ab0487308d8b70caeab%7C56b731a8a2ac4c32bf6b616810e913c6%7C1%7C0%7C637460612392825576%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=wC5G9cjzCw71myBQftcEkvM25Xc%2BCNghMcZxeSgyDuI%3D&reserved=0 and https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Farba.army.pentagon.mil%2Fadrb-overview.html&data=04%7C01%7CMatthew.Seyler%40abc.com%7Ccaa0e9d3aa424ab0487308d8b70caeab%7C56b731a8a2ac4c32bf6b616810e913c6%7C1%7C0%7C637460612392825576%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=285%2BgE6%2FhS5Q1ehz%2BCwKW679oYw6BkQD0cXm4iSjkEE%3D&reserved=0.

For more information, please contact the Yale Veterans Legal Services Clinic at kennedy.settlement@yale.edu or (203) 364-4588, or visit https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Farba.army.pentagon.mil%2Fadrb-overview.html&data=04%7C01%7CMatthew.Seyler%40abc.com%7Ccaa0e9d3aa424ab0487308d8b70caeab%7C56b731a8a2ac4c32bf6b616810e913c6%7C1%7C0%7C637460612392825576%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=285%2BgE6%2FhS5Q1ehz%2BCwKW679oYw6BkQD0cXm4iSjkEE%3D&reserved=0. 

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