Honoring Our Veterans

Since 2013, more than 800 Latham lawyers across 22 offices have taken on over 330 matters with the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). Through NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors Program, our firm helps service members, veterans, and their families receive the benefits they have earned.

This work has ranged from counseling and representing those with service-related injuries to investigating deficiencies in the benefits system established to support veterans. In addition, we directly advise veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have medically retired with combat-related disabilities and are eligible for combat-related special compensation.

Collaborating with NVLSP, our lawyers achieved two noteworthy victories for US veterans this year that will have far-reaching effects.

In the first case, we represented a man who served honorably in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. After our client acquired debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the events he experienced during his deployments, the Navy discharged him for an alleged “personality disorder” — despite the lack of evidence supporting that diagnosis. As a result, our client did not receive medical retirement and was stigmatized by the inaccurate diagnosis in his discharge record.

Following our appeal, in January 2023, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled for our client and adopted a broad rule that will significantly help all veterans seeking medical retirement related to combat-induced PTSD by requiring “liberal consideration” of such applications. 

"As a veteran of the US Armed Forces, I’m proud to see Latham partner with NVLSP to help secure precedential victories that will allow veterans across the nation to obtain adequate disability compensation for their service."

Bradley Hyde, Associate, Orange County

When our client served in Vietnam, PTSD was not a recognized diagnosis. "Liberal consideration" is needed to provide justice for all veterans who were improperly denied medical retirement based on outdated or incorrect understandings of PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma. As a result of the firm's work, justice and compensation for these veterans are now within reach.

In the second case, we represented a combat veteran who was injured while deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom but was denied medical retirement benefits by the US Army.

Over the summer, our lawyers and NVLSP prevailed in the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In its decision, the court held that the Army had improperly denied medical retirement benefits to our client.

The D.C. Circuit’s decision found that the Army’s approach to determining retirement benefits was “inconsistent with the applicable statute and regulations.” It also clarified the standards that apply to all disability determinations, helping ensure that other veterans will be appropriately rated and compensated for injuries they receive while serving in the Armed Forces.

Importantly, the court rejected the federal government’s request to review these types of military decisions under a heightened deferential standard. By doing so, the court set a significant precedent that will help veterans with disabilities more easily obtain benefits.

Robert M. Dell Prize for Extraordinary Pro Bono Service