A Mayer Brown pro bono team in Washington DC, in conjunction with the Veteran’s Consortium, helped a US Marine wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom obtain a rarely granted discharge upgrade from the Naval Discharge Review Board. 

The decorated Marine suffered a traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) after absorbing the blasts of two improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”) only weeks apart and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) after witnessing the deaths of several close friends. In part because military doctors were not able to treat the severe migraines and insomnia caused by his TBI and PTSD, he turned to prescription drugs and alcohol to manage his debilitating symptoms. He had less than two weeks left in his active-duty enlistment when he received an Other Than Honorable (“OTH”) discharge for alcohol-related infractions. This discharge characterization deprives veterans of US Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) benefits, including physical and mental health treatment, limits their job prospects, damages their reputation and destroys self-esteem. Subsequent to his discharge, the military issued guidance mandating that review boards take into account whether behavior that caused an OTH discharge was correctly attributed to injuries received in the course of military service, including TBI, PTSD and military sexual trauma (“MST”). 

The Naval Discharge Review Board agreed with the Mayer Brown team’s argument that the client’s rapid decline from a model Marine to an OTH discharge was directly attributable to the TBI and PTSD he sustained in the course of his service and upgraded his discharge characterization accordingly. He will now be eligible for the benefits that he earned via his nearly four years of service in the American military, which included two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

The Mayer Brown team included IP associate Victoria Murphy and Litigation & Dispute Resolution staff attorneys Marcia Dillon and Seve Gonzales, supervised by IP partner Jamie Beaber.