Veterans' Clinic Makes Headlines for Discharge Work

Friday, April 14, 2017

12 News Phoenix
"PTSD, meth and an unlicensed handgun: A soldier's fight for honorable discharge"
Feb. 16, 2017

Former Army Ranger Jeff Osterhoudt served in Afghanistan and Iraq, suffered with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His military career ended when he was caught with a prohibited and unregistered handgun and hooked on methamphetamine. He was initially given less than honorable discharge, but then upgraded to "General (Under Honorable Conditions)." He is working with the University of Arizona Law Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic to try and upgrade his status further so that he can have access to full health care benefits.

12 News Phoenix featured Osterhoudt's case and the pro bono services the clinic is offering:

Osterhoudt was diagnosed with PTSD, but he believes he showed signs and symptoms long before then. 

"It's a very common theme," attorney Kristine Huskey said.

Huskey runs the Veteran's Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Arizona. She and her staff try to help veterans with "bad paper" discharges upgrade their statuses. 

"It's drugs, alcohol, AWOL's (Absent Without Leave), talking back, aggressiveness," Huskey said. "Those are all symptoms of PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)."

In 2014, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wrote a memo explaining the review boards should err on the side of veterans if they had been diagnosed with PTSD.

So far, Huskey said, the clinic hasn't had a single bad paper discharge overturned.

"They spend a page and a half," Huskey said. "They don't even address our arguments."

Huskey and the clinic are now working on Osterhoudt's case.

Meanwhile, Osterhoudt volunteers to help returning veterans adjust to life away from the war.

See the full story here.
"In Service of Those Who Served: Law Schools & Veterans Legal Clinics"
Feb. 22, 2017 reports on the movement around the country for law schools to provide support to veterans through clinical programs. The article covers work being done at Arizona Law as well as at Harvard, Yale, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest:

For many of America’s veterans, help is coming from an unlikely source—the local law school. From Harvard and Yale to Widener and Wake Forest, law students are providing legal assistance to veterans through clinical programs.

The programs can be a win-win for students and the community. Students gain hands-on legal research and writing skills and apply their coursework to real-world challenges facing actual people, not classroom hypotheticals. 

Numerous jurisdictions ... have set up Veterans Treatment Courts. Over in Arizona, students at the University of Arizona’s Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic are “providing the majority of legal representation to veterans” in that state’s pre-trial diversion court.

Read the full story here.