Joe*, a Vietnam combat veteran, received a less than honorable discharge more than 40 years ago due to conduct connected to his then-undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. Ever since, he fought unsuccessfully to have his discharge upgraded and to be eligible for VA disability and health benefits. Joe had extremely painful nerve damage as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. Lacking adequate medical care and suffering intense pain, he had resorted over the years to soaking his legs and feet in ice water to get even some modest pain relief.
In 2016, Joe was referred to LSC to get help from its Veterans Legal Clinic. Thanks to a years-long effort by LSC Veterans Legal Clinic attorney Dana Montalto and students Ben Sachs, Shenghao Wang, and Robert Farmer working under her supervision, Joe was finally awarded 100% disability benefits from VA and full access to VA health care. In addition, the Vet Clinic team, in a proceeding before the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, succeeded in obtaining a discharge upgrade for Joe. The Board retroactively granted him a discharge under honorable conditions. All told, Joe has had his dignity and honor restored to him and no longer has to worry about how he will make ends meet. Now in his 60s, Joe had worked part-time as a custodian to meet his basic needs, despite the pain he had been in. He now has plans to fully retire.
* Name has been changed to protect client privacy.