Manatt Represents Navy and Army Veterans in Requests to Change Service Discharge

Manatt successfully represented a Navy veteran and an Army veteran in requests to upgrade their service discharge.

The Navy veteran, referred to as T.L., served a two-year period of honorable and meritorious service before he suffered sexual trauma during his time in the military, leading to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was then discharged under Other Than Honorable Conditions after a minor misconduct incident. The Manatt team representing T.L. collected documents from his service in the Navy that demonstrated his exemplary performance, as well as information detailing his efforts to rehabilitate himself post-service. The team petitioned to upgrade his service discharge based primarily on newly discovered evidence of mental health considerations, arguing that there was a direct connection between T.L.’s PTSD and his military disciplinary infractions and ultimate discharge.

After formal proceedings, the Board for Correction of Naval Records granted Manatt’s requested relief, upgrading his discharge from “Under Other Than Honorable Conditions” to “Honorable” and also updating his narrative reason for separation, the separation authority, separation code and reentry code. This change in discharge status now entitles T.L. to a new series of VA benefits that he was not previously entitled to and removes a significant blemish from his record. 

The Army veteran, referred to as J.M., is a Vietnam War combat veteran who served honorably for approximately two and a half years with no incidents or misconduct prior to the acts that led to his Under Other Than Honorable Conditions discharge. The Manatt team representing J.M. collected documents dating back to his service in Vietnam, as well as post-service medical records and documents and information with respect to his rehabilitation efforts after his discharge. Similar to T.L.’s case, this petition was based primarily on newly discovered evidence of mental health considerations that bear on the character of the discharge, specifically evidence showing J.M. suffered from undiagnosed PTSD that directly affected his military disciplinary infractions and ultimate discharge.

After reviewing the application and all supporting documents the Army Board for Correction of Military Records granted partial relief, upgrading J.M.’s discharge from Under Other Than Honorable Conditions to Under Honorable Conditions (General) and also updating his narrative reason for separation.

The Manatt team representing the veterans included Partners Chris Dayans and Joseph Laska. The cases were referred to Manatt by Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving veterans that the Firm works closely with on pro bono matters including T.L.’s and J.M.’s applications.



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