A Sidley pro bono team achieved a victory on behalf of Navy veteran Jason Guthrie, who was discharged from the Navy in the late-1990s under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. Despite an impeccable service record, Mr. Guthrie was discharged from the Navy simply because he is gay. Sidley partner Justin Savage and associate Aaron Flyer, both in Washington, D.C., along with Sidley alum Rich Alonso, assisted Mr. Guthrie in petitioning the Navy’s Board for Correction of Naval Records to retroactively upgrade his discharge status to Honorable. Under a new U.S. Department of Defense policy, discharge upgrade petitions are now used to correct the record with respect to the Department’s previous reliance on a clearly discriminatory policy. The change to an Honorable discharge characterization makes Mr. Guthrie eligible for GI Bill educational benefits and reduces barriers to employment.
Sidley’s Veterans Advocacy Project provides pro bono legal assistance to disabled veterans seeking fair and timely benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Armed Forces. In 2020, our lawyers and staff dedicated more than 8,000 hours to 135 matters on behalf of our veteran clients.