On September 13, 2021, Martin Johnson and Jane Doe filed a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of Air Force veterans discriminated against on the basis of their disabilities at the Air Force Discharge Review Board (AFDRB).

The Air Force forcibly separates thousands of servicemembers from the military with less-than-Honorable discharges due to minor infractions every year, refusing to acknowledge the role mental health or sexual trauma plays in shaping the conduct that led to their discharge. This less-than-Honorable discharge (known as “bad paper”) follows veterans for their entire lives, impairing employment prospects and restricting access to critical government services like GI Bill education benefits, mental health treatment, and disability benefits.

Recognizing the unjust repercussions of less-than-Honorable discharges, Congress established the AFDRB to provide a pathway for veterans to seek relief. Johnson v. Kendall comes in response to the AFDRB’s failure to adequately consider the impact traumatic brain injuries, mental health conditions, or military sexual trauma can have on conduct during service and its failure to apply binding regulatory and statutory guidance respecting those conditions in its adjudications. As named plaintiffs of the proposed class, Johnson and Doe allege that the AFDRB discriminates against individuals with disabilities by failing to consider the impact that their mental health conditions had on their conduct.

Any Air Force veterans who were separated with a less-than-Honorable discharge in the last 15 years or have been denied an upgrade in the last six years, and whose discharge potentially stems from traumatic brain injuries, mental health conditions, or military sexual trauma should contact the clinic team.

Complaint (filed September 13, 2021) 
Memorandum in Support of Class Certification (filed September 13, 2021)


Selected Media Coverage

Patricia Kime, Air Force Veterans Seek Class-Action Suit over Trauma Consideration in Discharges, Military.com (September 13, 2021).

Nikki Wentling, Two Veterans File Class-Action Lawsuit against Air Force over ‘Bad Paper' Discharges, Stars & Stripes (September 13, 2021).

Abraham Jewett, Air Force Doesn’t Care About Mental Health When Discharging Members, a New Class Action Lawsuit Claims, Top Class Actions (September 15, 2021).

Robert Storace, Connecticut Federal Lawsuit Challenges US Air Force Policy on Less-Than-Honorable Discharges, Law.com (September 14, 2021).