HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., Oct. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In a long-awaited decision signaling an enlightened Veteran’s Administration, the VA Appeals system approved full compensation benefits for dishonorably discharged (and thus technically not a veteran) Abu Ghraib alumni, Military Police Spc. Megan Ambuhl Graner. The result came from a years-long effort on her behalf by high profile veteran’s advocate, attorney Eric Gang according to a statement released by Elite Lawyer Management.
The present case is about former Army Spc. Graner, an MP reservist who was painted by the media as a war criminal, other than honorably (OTH) discharged, and thereafter refused VA benefits.
Ms. Graner’s service in 2002, deemed “honorable” by the Army, led her to report stress related concerns and possible chemical exposure while serving in a hostile military area with the Military Police in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom. In 2004, Ms. Graner was discharged for failing to report abuse of detainees in the Abu Ghraib scandal, her 2003-2004 service deemed Other-Than-Honorable.
When she filed VA claims for service connected PTSD, a brain tumor, and other maladies in 2011, her medical claims were denied as barred by her OTH discharge.
Graner retained Eric Gang, a veteran’s disability appeals lawyer and controversial author known for taking on and winning complex VA cases where other attorneys see no hope. After several years addressing the VA’s deny-till-they-die policies, Eric Gang’s breakthrough for Ms. Graner occurred based on an innovative argument to the Veteran’s Appeals adjudicators:
- The military justice system is too quick to judgment for misconduct without endeavoring to understand state of mind and surrounding circumstances of that misconduct.
- Military personnel are under tremendous stress in high-conflict theatres which leads to psychiatric disorders for some which can produce severely impaired judgment and impulse control.
- When that circumstance causes them to act in a dishonorable manner, it is really a medical/psychiatric issue caused by their service rather than an opportunity for the military to discard the service member and deny VA compensation benefits.
Gang supported his argument with testimony from a forensic psychiatrist (retained at Gang’s personal expense) who determined Graner had PTSD, caused during her service, and thus met the VA’s definition of “insane” when she committed the offenses, and further:
“…was not only insane for VA purposes at the time she committed the offenses…she had in fact lost touch with reality: everything and everybody became a threat to her…quintessential PTSD and she was thus unable to escape this overwhelming perfect storm of stress. Faced with surreal incongruous juxtapositions of life threatening stress, unsupported by her command, she responded what her command considered dereliction of duty, but was, with all the features of PTSD, her following her basic instinct for survival.”
Based on Gang’s argument and medical evidence, Ms. Graner was given a final award of VA benefits several weeks ago, capping off a 9 year legal battle. Gang applauds the VA decision as, he hopes, a high profile illustration of an enlightened VA accepting medical responsibility for the psychological damage that occurs in outrageously high stress situations and the misconduct that can result.
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SOURCE Elite Lawyer Management