A new state law took effect Veterans Day, called the Restoration of Honor Act. Signed in 2019, the law allows for the potential eligibility of state benefits for veterans with general or other-than-honorable discharges, due to post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, sexual orientation or gender identification.
The New York State Bar Association announced it is expanding its pro bono network of volunteer attorneys to help qualified veterans gain access to more than 50 state benefits, such as real property tax exemptions, extra credits on Civil Service exams and admission to state Veterans Homes.
“More than 100,000 veterans who served in World War II or thereafter received less than honorable discharges due to their sexual orientation alone,” said Bar President Scott Karson. “The United States Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that nearly one in three Vietnam veterans struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. With nearly 260,000 less than honorable discharges received by Vietnam veterans, clearly many people need our help. Our volunteer attorneys, who exemplify the highest ideals of our profession, will step up to meet that need.”
The actual status of the discharges is determined at the federal level and the state cannot make that change.