See Attorney Cave's recent answer to another Soldier at http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/i-want-to-change-my-army-discharge-from-general-un-921268.html?ref=answer_question_serp_title_3 I believe it applies equally to you.
Are there DAMAGES you might collect? Short answer- No.
The government is immune in suits by service members, additionally nothing in your post indicates you were handled in an improperly--you even indicate you continue to the present day struggling with a series of addictions covering 40 years--pretty solid evidence that the Army was correct to separate you with a discharge different from the thousands of other Iowa/Indiana/Ohio farm boys who served and did not use drugs.
That being said, you MAY be able to access SOME VA benefits now--check out this VA fact sheet, http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/assets/documents/publications/FS16-8.pdf about half way down the page--contact the number at the bottom to begin the process of determining if you can access benefits now. Simultaneously contact a military attorney directly who can review your specific facts and determine if you are a candidate at Attorney Cave discussed in the other post.
READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I give a 100% effort to get you on the right track with your issue. Sometimes that means legal educational information, sometimes that means counseling and non-legal guidance. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.
Mr. Raftner is right on point.
My practice is mainly VA law, and there are provisions for VA benefits based upon "Hon. service," including character of service below Honorable. However, to receive VA benefits you have to have some sort a disability that was caused in service, a present disability, and these 2 disabilities must connect.
In your post he stated that you were addicted to marijuana, and then started using illegal drugs while in the Army. The VA most likely would first deny your claim, based on character of service, 2nd would deny your claim that this was a pre-existing condition that was not aggravated by military service, and third Cong. provided under 38 CFR a prohibition against granting benefits for illegal drug use and their resulting disabilities.
Finally, only if you were diagnosed with PTSD or some other mental condition could it normally be argued your drug use was self-medication.
In my opinion neither the Army nor the VA will grant your requests.
First, I understand your difficultiy in asking the question you posted. It is obviously a sensitive issue in your life. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the answers already posted my colleagues.
Even assuming you are able to have your character of disharged upgraded, VA benefits are not available where the claimed disabilty is as a result of willful misconduct. VA regulations state that “the progressive and frequent use of drugs to the point of addiction will be considered willful misconduct.” Unless a veteran can show that the drug addiction is as a result of some other service-connected disability, an application for service-connected disability benefits for drug addiction will not be granted by VA.
Thank you for posting your question, and I wish you the best of luck in your recovery.
Disclaimer: Transmission or receipt of information does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.