Robertson v. Gibson

759 F.3d 1351 (2014)

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Robertson v. Gibson

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
759 F.3d 1351 (2014)

Facts

Army soldier Tony Robertson (plaintiff) enlisted in the Army and suffered a work-related injury that damaged his hearing. In 1965, Robertson was stationed in Thailand when he went absent without leave (AWOL) from his military duties in order to marry and live with a Thai woman who was pregnant with his child. Robertson was arrested 313 days later and sentenced to confinement and a bad-conduct discharge from military service. After being released, Robertson applied to the Veterans Administration (VA) for benefits for his military-caused hearing loss. Because Robertson had a bad-conduct discharge, the VA denied the request. Robertson then applied to a clemency program created by President Gerald Ford for servicemembers who had been discharged for going AWOL from 1964 to 1973. Under this program, Robertson performed approximately 600 hours of community service and received (1) a full presidential pardon for his AWOL offense and (2) an upgrade from a bad-conduct discharge to a clemency discharge. Robertson then applied to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records to have his clemency discharge upgraded to a better status, but the board denied his request. Using his clemency-discharge status, Robertson reapplied to the VA for hearing-loss benefits on eight separate occasions and was denied each time. Robertson appealed the VA’s eighth denial, and the matter ended up before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hughes, J.)

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