East Haven veteran William Cowles served with the Army National Guard for more than 20 years.
He joined in 1974 and was discharged in 2003 after what he saw in combat in Iraq led him to suffer a breakdown.
“I was discharged from the active duty Army with AD, Adjustment Disorder, and it was not Adjustment Disorder. I realized that when I got home to the VA when the Army discharged me. It was PTSD,” said William Cowles.
Because it was PTSD, Cowles says there was a lot more than should have been done to help him before he was discharged.
“They're trained to not say that it is PTSD,” said Cowles.
On Thursday morning, Cowles and his attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the misdiagnosis and the fact that the Army Board for Correction of Military Records failed to correct his discharge to medical retirement.
“This illegal discharge has had an impact on Mr. Cowles ability to get benefits. He doesn't get Army Retirement benefits, and he doesn't get full education benefits,” said Miriam Hinman, a Yale Law Student Intern with the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic.
Cowles' attorneys say he's lost about $18,000 in benefits and are asking for at least $10,000 of that to be reimbursed.
However, Cowles says this was never about the money. It is about bringing awareness to an issue that he believes has affected tens of thousands of other veterans.
“Awareness to other young vets that are out there, that we're struggling, but I think we're getting some headway in this,” said Cowles.
NBC Connecticut reached out to the U.S. Army’s Media Relations Office for comment on the lawsuit, but did not hear back.