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The guidelines instructed the review boards to give “liberal consideration” to the possibility that PTSD contributed to a veteran’s other-than-honorable discharge.

The Army board quickly changed course, and its denial rate for applications involving PTSD fell from 96 percent to about 45 percent, according to Department of Defense data. But the Navy board, which oversees both sailors and Marines, has scarcely budged.

Fighting a war with no front line against enemies with no uniforms, he saw violence meted out in similarly senseless bursts in the months that followed. After a handgun accidentally went off, he had to clean the remnants of a friend’s head out of a Humvee.“There was never a chance to grieve, no time to process any of this,” Mr. “We were just expected to be Marines and deal with it.”At the end of the deployment, the Marine Corps gave everyone in his regiment a one-page questionnaire to screen for post-traumatic stress. Manker remembered marking on his questionnaire that he had been exposed to nearly every type of trauma listed, including seeing dead civilians and Marines, killing enemy fighters and civilians, and experiencing nightmares and hypervigilance. A few days after returning to the United States, he said, he smoked marijuana to try to unwind before going on leave.

He was caught and discharged from the Marine Corps.

“They just say no.”A group from the Yale Law School filed a federal class-action lawsuit on Friday against the Navy on behalf of Mr.

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Many were given other-than-honorable discharges that stripped them of veterans’ benefits.

I suspect because of that, when they have a difficult case, they fall back on tradition and defer to commanders.”A Navy spokesman said that its board’s staff was too busy to comment for this article. Manker’s experience, detailed in the class-action suit, shows how the Navy board currently denies upgrades even to veterans with clear diagnoses of PTSD whose enlistments ended with a single instance of relatively minor misconduct.

He had been the top-rated junior Marine in his platoon, and the first to be promoted to corporal.

He was treated privately, gradually rebuilt his life, went to college and law school, and began practicing law in Illinois, his home state.

In his spare time he studied military regulations, hoping to get his discharge upgraded.

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