After nearly four years of working with Veterans, and writing this blog for a majority of that time, I can openly say that I know at least a little bit about VA Disability. If you've read my blogs in the past I have often discussed how much misinformation is out there, and how so much of it is believed to be truth. One thing I keep coming back to is the notion that non-combat Veterans can’t service connect for PTSD. If for any reason this were to be the last thing I ever write, I want it to be known that a Veteran does not have to serve in combat to get service connected for PTSD.
It’s obvious that PTSD is pretty mainstream. With stories airing everywhere from your local news to one of my favorite shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, PTSD is getting coverage. However, the general public only sees PTSD as a result of being in a war zone. This is the furthest thing from the truth. While a lot of Veterans with PTSD did serve in combat, not all have. Also, not everyone who serves in combat has PTSD. It may sound cliché, but every case is different. Even civilians can have PTSD. Simply defined, PTSD can be the result of witnessing a traumatic event.
I personally learn best from examples. I am sharing 4 real life examples of situations in which a Veteran was non-combat and granted service connection.
- Military Sexual Trauma. Sadly, the most common non-combat PTSD stressor I have encountered is MST. Common in both males and females who served in the military. The VA defines MST as sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurred while the Veteran was in the military. This is often filed as a PTSD to include “Military Sexual Trauma.”
- Accidents. Non-combat related vehicle accidents are actually very common when it comes to PTSD claims. Regardless if accidents occurred on base, or when a Veteran was on leave, it can be a stressor for PTSD. I want to clarify the type of accident though. A simple “fender bender” like I had a couple of years ago wouldn't likely be a good stressor for a PTSD claim. However a serious accident in which individuals had life threatening injuries, witnessed death, or became paralyzed as a result of the accident, would be a better example of how an accident can cause PTSD.
- Physical Assault. Something I have seen more recently in non-combat related PTSD claims are Veterans who were involved in some sort of physical, yet non-sexual assault while serving. The Veterans I have encountered who file this type of claim are almost always male. Traditionally it is a superior officer who is either bullying a lower ranking individual or an assault by several of your fellow servicemen at once.
- Death of a fellow soldier. It’s no secret that suicide is one of the biggest issues facing our nation’s military today. I've heard countless Veterans tell me that they have witnessed another soldier commit suicide. This is obviously traumatic. However, this does not just apply to suicide. Many other Veterans have told me about individuals who were killed in training exercises or while in boot camp.
While there are other stressors for a Veteran to claim non-combat PTSD, these are the most common ones I have encountered while working in VA Disability. PTSD as a whole can be difficult to deal with. Too often the Veterans I speak with who didn't serve in combat didn't feel shame about filing a PTSD claim. This is unnecessary. Traumatic events affect everyone differently. A Veteran who served in combat may not have any symptoms of what he or she encountered during that time, but may be bothered by an assault that occurred while living on base in the US. It’s a serious issue and it affects everyone differently. We simply can’t group every Veteran who has PTSD together. That is why the VA rates it at different percentages.
If you have questions about filing a claim for PTSD, feel free to give me a call. Ill be more than happy to tell you what our firm can do for you. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t call now, feel free to fill out this form, and I will contact you at a more convenient time.
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