Many disabled veterans believe that any discharge aside from honorable automatically denies them from seeking veterans’ disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans Today tells a different story.
A recent appeals case is providing hope for many veterans who received “other than honorable” (OTH) discharges and are suffering from service-connected disabling conditions. Navy veteran Stephen Norko is one of the few veterans to win a rare appeal after his veterans’ disability claim was denied due to an OTH.
Norko was discharged after a failed drug test in 1992, but his past record was fairly clean and even contained a few commendations and honorable discharges prior to re-enlisting over the years. Before his appeal, he was homeless, sick, and unemployed with no way to get health care through the VA.
After a VA health care outreach social worker heard his story, the local homeless shelter helped connect him to a veterans’ advocacy group who began to fight for his case. As his appeal began, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro became involved and pulled for Norko to receive VA health care while his case was awaiting decisions.
As his health improved, so did his status with the VA, where some believe that the OTH discharge is being used inappropriately in some cases where dishonorable behaviors are caused by mental health problems. As more research connects military service to increased development of disabling mental conditions, the VA may need to revise its review of discharge status when determining veterans’ disability benefits.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation for any reason you should not give up without a fight! A South Florida disability attorney from Veterans Help Group is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veteran’s disability rights firm today – 1-855-855-8992.