A class action settlement announced Friday between the federal government and a group of disabled veterans will award lifetime health-care benefits to more than 1,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were discharged from the service because of post-traumatic stress disorder.
In a motion filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the National Veterans Legal Service Program and the government jointly asked the court to approve lifetime disability retirement benefits to 1,029 veterans with PTSD who were denied those benefits upon discharge from the military following their wartime service.
“It’s getting your dignity back,” said one of the plaintiffs, Air Force veteran Aimee Sherrod, who served three deployments in Iraq and Pakistan from 2001 to 2005 and was subsequently given a diagnosis of PTSD. “It’s a huge relief.”
The NVLSP’s lawsuit in 2008 alleged that the military services violated the law by failing to assign a 50 percent disability rating to those discharged for PTSD — a rating that entitles the veteran to disability retirement benefits.
“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, co-executive director of NVLSP, which filed the class action lawsuit in 2008.
“Today, a terrible wrong to our nation’s war veterans is being righted.”Stichman added.
The settlement must be approved by a judge before it is final.