Five Vietnam veterans, including one from Connecticut, and three veterans’ organizations filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit today against the secretaries of the Navy, Army and Air Force for failing to amend the discharge status of tens of thousands of veterans suffering from PTSD before its diagnosis in 1980.
Conley Monk, 65, a New Haven resident and former Marine, says he still has nightmares about what he saw in Vietnam.
“We [were] getting shot at every day. I used to bring in the supplies, I used to bring in the troops and every time I came back, my truck would be full of holes,” said Monk.
When he came home in 1970, PTSD wasn't known to be a disorder associated with war. Monk was therefore given an other-than-honorable discharge, which meant he wasn't entitled to disability compensation or other benefits.
“We have people now that are working on alleviating the problems that the Vietnam veterans are having,” he said.
The lawsuit asks for the discharges to be reviewed and upgraded for those suffering from PTSD.
“The Secretary of Defense literally, today, could grant what this lawsuit seeks on his own authority, correct this injustice, give these Vietnam-era veterans what they deserve by granting reviews that recognizes Post-traumatic stress as a wound-of-war that they suffered before PTS was recognized,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, at a news conference in New Haven.
The Department of Defense said it would not comment on pending litigation.