On April 17, 2017, Steve Kennedy and Alicia Carson filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of approximately 60,000 less-than-Honorably discharged Iraq and Afghanistan-era Army veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other related mental health conditions.

Since September 11, 2001, hundreds of thousands of veterans have received less-than‑Honorable (“bad paper”) discharges imposing a lifetime stigma, impairing their employment prospects, and denying them access to critical government services, including the GI Bill, mental health treatment, and disability benefits. Many veterans received these "bad paper" discharges are a result of misconduct attributable to conditions like PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

Congress created the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) to help veterans upgrade an unjustly harsh discharge after returning to civilian life—but this Board has routinely denied veterans for decades. The class-action lawsuit filed by the clinic challenges the ADRB’s systemic failure to adequately consider mental health conditions when veterans request that their discharge status be upgraded.

At the press conference announcing the filing, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut explained, "This cause is a matter of justice, plain and simple. I strongly support this legal action to assure that veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress receive the medical care and recognition they deserve.”

In September, the federal district court in Connecticut ordered the Army to reconsider Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Carson’s discharge characterizations without certifying the proposed class. One month later, Ms. Carson was upgraded to Honorable. The Army granted Mr. Kennedy Honorable status in March 2018, more than seven years after he first applied for an upgrade pro se.

Although their honorable service has at last been recognized, Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Carson continue to litigate this action in federal court on behalf of the thousands of veterans who have not yet been upgraded.

Self-help Resources and Contact Information for Further Assistance

Veterans Legal Services Clinic Discharge Upgrade Application Self-Help Guide 

Resources for Veterans Seeking Discharge Upgrades

Court Documents

Amended Complaint, Kennedy v. Speer, No. 3:16-cv-2010-WWE (D.Conn. filed Apr. 17, 2017)

Selected Media Coverage

Peggy McCarthy, Connecticut Army Veteran Gets Discharge Upgrade, Hartford Courant (April 2, 2018)

Julia Bergman, Former CT National Guard soldier wins fight to upgrade discharge, The Day (October 27, 2017)

Justin Schecker, Iraq, Afghanistan Vets With PTSD Sue to Have Discharge Statuses Upgraded, NBC San Diego (April 17, 2017)

Meghann Myers, Veterans with PTSD are suing the Army to have their discharges upgraded, Army Times (April 17, 2017)