Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Iraq, Afghan war vets win PTSD lawsuit

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars won a post traumatic stress disorder class-action settlement with the federal government, officials said.

The settlement means lifetime healthcare benefits will be awarded to more than 1,000 veterans discharged because of PTSD but were denied disability retirement benefits, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The National Veterans Legal Service Program and government officials asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims last week to approve lifetime disability retirement benefits to 1,029 PTSD-diagnosed veterans who were denied the benefits when they were discharged after their wartime service.

"It's getting your dignity back," said a plaintiff and Air Force veteran Aimee Sherrod, who served three tours in Iraq and Pakistan and subsequently was diagnosed as suffering from PTSD. "It's a huge relief."

The lawsuit alleged military services violated the law by not assigning a 50 percent disability rating to personnel discharged for PTSD, which entitles such diagnosed veterans to disability retirement benefits, the Post said.

"The veterans covered by this agreement were exposed to highly traumatic events during deployment, only to return home and be shortchanged on benefits after the military found they suffered from PTSD that was so severe that they needed to be discharged," said Bart Stichman, the National Veterans Legal Service Program co-executive director.

The settlement, announced last week, must be approved by a judge before it is final.

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