A veterans’ advocacy group is taking legal action in hopes of forcing the government to restore public access to decisions by each of the services’ discharge review boards. Failure to provide access to these records hinders advocates’ efforts to challenge adverse decisions in behalf of their veteran clients, the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) contended in a lawsuit filed Jan. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The armed services’ discharge review boards, boards for the correction of military records (BCMRs), and the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are listed as defendants.
The lawsuit contends that the defendants wrongly acted last April to make public some – but not all – discharge review decisions. NVLSP also contends that all decisions not only be made public, but be indexed as well – to facilitate research on the part of advocates. Since then, NVLSP contends, the government went further and acted to remove all such decisions. The advocates recognize the government’s contention that the removal is intended to be temporary, but are pressing for an estimate as to when full access to these records will be restored.
“The boards are unlawfully withholding valuable information that NVLSP and others can use to help bring life-changing benefits to veterans and their families,” said Bart Stichman, NVLSP’s executive director.