Thursday, July 8, 2010
War Veterans Get Some Help With PTSD Claims
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Post-Traumatic Stress Rule Change Could Ease Vets' Access to Benefits
Hundreds of thousands of veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam could be affected by new government rules meant to make it easier for them to apply for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder benefits.
The Veterans Affairs Department regulations would throw out a requirement that vets document the specific events that led to their condition, such as bombings, firefights or artillery shellings, the New York Times reported Thursday. PTSD, as it is called, is characterized by irritability, flashbacks and a lack of emotional responsiveness in the wake of witnessing or experiencing past trauma.
The regulations could take effect next week and may cost the government as much as $5 billion over several years as disability claims are granted, congressional analysts told the Times.
Veterans have complained for decades about the difficulty and amount of time required to track down old combat records. Some veterans groups also say current rules discriminate against those who were deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan -- many of them women -- but did not serve in combat roles.
Under the new rule, the Times said, the government will grant PTSD compensation to veterans who can prove they served in a war zone in a job consistent with the traumatic events they say caused their condition. It would also permit compensation for vets who had a strong reason to fear traumatic events -- or stressors -- even if they didn't actually experience them, the report said. The Defense Department will continue to review all compensation claims submitted to the military branches, yet there are concerns that the liberalization could lead to a flood of fraudulent ones.
But Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement to the Times, "This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served... and suffer from the emotional and often devastating hidden wounds of war. The final regulation goes a long way to ensure that veterans receive the benefits and services they need."
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For further info go to the Veteran's Administration website at http://www.va.gov/ .
Charles M. Grist