New law opens all benefits to OTH veterans in Connecticut

Jonathan Kaupanger
October 05, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Photo by Sgt. Jeremy Dunkle

Categories: 

Connecticut veterans with an other-than-honorable (OTH) discharge and who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or military sexual trauma (MST) may now access all state-based and municipal VA benefits.

This new law “Provides a way for those with a qualifying condition, who received an OTH discharge, to access all state-based and municipal benefits in Connecticut as if they had received an honorable or general under honorable condition discharge,” says state Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas J. Saadi

Saadi is excited for the law because as a Judge Advocate in the Army Reserve, he’s seen firsthand how some veterans will take the OTH simply because they don’t know any better.  “Because they’re in a difficult position they may take the OTH as sort of the easy way to separate and get on with their lives, not realizing the negative impact it has on their future.”

The law is not meant to wipe away serious misconduct.  It’s for veterans who may have self-medicated after receiving an injury or were fearful of going for psychiatric help at the time of their discharge.  Now, after returning home, these veterans are denied benefits that could help get their lives back on track.

To access benefits under this law, Connecticut veterans must have a diagnosis or determination made by someone licensed to provide health care services at a Federal VA facility.  The healthcare provider fills out the states Qualifying Condition Verification Form, which the veteran then submits with the application for the service they desire and a copy of their DD-214.  

The fiscal impact on the state isn’t expected to be large. The state estimates between 800 to 1,000 veterans will actually qualify.  Saadi is quick to point out that this law is limited in scope and does not include those with a bad conduct discharge or a dishonorable one.

“I’m just very pleased,” says Saadi.  “Connecticut is the first in the nation to have such a law in place.  And we hope that the success here in passing this law as well as the success in implementing it will serve as a model for states across this nation.  And hopefully for the federal government down the road to consider maybe not all benefits but, in the long run, at least an essential amount of benefits that help these individuals address those things that resulted in their other than honorable discharge.  They served our country and now we need to support them.”

            Contact us about this article or share your story at gethelp@connectingvets.com