Press Release from AMVETS For Immediate Release
VA Eases Evidence Requirements for PTSD Service-Connection
WASHINGTON, July 15, 2010—This week VA published new criteria for veterans seeking service-connected benefits and care for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. AMVETS applauded the rule change, which drops the “additional evidence” requirements for veterans suffering from the invisible wound. VA has published a Q&A on the new guidelines, which is available on the VA Web site by Clicking Here.
“VA’s new rules will ease the path for veterans to receive the care and compensation they deserve as a result of PTSD,” said AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin. “AMVETS has been asking VA to waive this requirement for quite some time and we’re happy to see that Secretary [Eric K.] Shinseki is listening.”
AMVETS leaders believe that the new guidelines will eliminate a significant evidentiary hurdle for veterans of all generation who have suffered from PTSD. Before the new guidelines were published in the Federal Register, veterans seeking service-connected benefits for PTSD had to compile evidence of a combat stressor that triggered the condition. Now, veterans must only provide sufficient evidence of serving in a combat zone—such as a DD-214, with the presumption that they were exposed to a traumatic event.
Veterans must also have a diagnosis of PTSD from a VA doctor—a caveat that AMVETS hopes VA will reconsider.
AMVETS leaders would prefer to see VA also accept outside diagnoses of PTSD, similar to how VA accepts other outside medical evidence.
VA clarified that outside medical opinions would be considered in the overall claim, but that a VA doctor must still have the final say. AMVETS leaders said they will continue to work with VA in an effort to ensure that no veteran suffering from PTSD slips through the cracks, regardless of diagnosis.
Cmdr. Miskulin has made military mental health a personal priority for his year as AMVETS National Commander, helping to commission AMVETS Warrior Transition Workshops alongside Freedom & Honor. AMVETS’ workshops offer recently-returned veterans experiential peer-to-peer support outside of VA and Department of Defense channels, allowing veterans to contextualize their experiences, fostering a smooth transition from warrior to citizen.
If you are a veteran in crisis, AMVETS encourages you to call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press “1” to speak with a live counselor experienced in working with veterans. AMVETS also reminds veterans of the current conflicts that you are entitled to five years of free health care through VA regardless of service-connection.
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.amvets.org.