When a veteran from Indiana looks into getting veterans’ benefits, the process is usually straightforward and simple when the person has been discharged with an honorable or general discharge. It can be much more difficult when a veteran has been discharged with a less-than-honorable discharge. Veterans with that mark on their records have a hard time accessing VA benefits. Veterans’ rights groups and Congress have been looking at ways to change this.

Many veterans who’ve been released from military service with dishonorable discharges have had that label applied because of extenuating circumstances that caused them to behave poorly. When they go to apply for benefits, they’re generally denied. Those benefits can be a lifeline for veterans hoping to return to civilian life.

Veterans’ groups and some members of Congress have discovered that many people who have been dishonorably discharged from the military may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress or other mental illnesses that may have had a hand in their dismissal. They realize that this is unfair to people who may have exhibited behaviors that weren’t their fault. Advocates are trying to change this.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee brought together experts and VA officials, so they could sit down and hammer out how to make the benefits application process easier for vets with dishonorable discharges. Many of those veterans don’t even think to apply for benefits because they assume that they are not eligible, but that’s not always the case. One solution being bandied about is to create a special application process for people who have dishonorable discharges on their records so that their applications can be looked at through a different lens.

Individuals who are looking to recover veterans’ benefits but have been denied because of archaic interpretations of the law may benefit by working with law firms that have experience with advocating for veterans. These law firms will be aware of the latest laws and efforts on the book that aim to make benefits more accessible for all.