Tuesday, July 13, 2010

VA Simplifies Access to Health Care and Benefits for Veterans with PTSD

WASHINGTON (July 12, 2010) - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki announced a critical step forward in providing an easier
process for Veterans seeking health care and disability compensation for
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with the publication of a final
regulation in the Federal Register.

"This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have
honorably served this country and suffer from the often devastating
emotional wounds of war," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K.
Shinseki.  "This final regulation goes a long way to ensure that
Veterans receive the benefits and services they need."

By publishing a final regulation in the Federal Register to simplify the
process for a Veteran to claim service connection for PTSD, VA reduces
the evidence needed if the trauma claimed by a Veteran is related to
fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and is consistent with
the places, types, and circumstances of the Veteran's service.

This science-based regulation relies on evidence that concluded that a
Veteran's deployment to a war zone is linked to an increased risk of

Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor
related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA doctor
confirms that the stressful experience recalled by a Veteran adequately
supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the Veteran's symptoms are related to
the claimed stressor.

Previously, claims adjudicators were required to corroborate that a
non-combat Veteran actually experienced a stressor related to hostile
military activity.  This final rule simplifies the development that is
required for these cases.

VA expects this rulemaking to decrease the time it takes VA to decide
access to care and claims falling under the revised criteria.  More than
400,000 Veterans currently receiving compensation benefits are service
connected for PTSD.  Combined with VA's shorter claims form, VA's new
streamlined, science-based regulation allows for faster and more
accurate decisions that also expedite access to medical care and other
benefits for Veterans.

PTSD is a medically recognized anxiety disorder that can develop from
seeing or experiencing an event that involves actual or threatened death
or serious injury to which a person responds with intense fear,
helplessness or horror, and is not uncommon among war Veterans.

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a Veteran for
disabilities that are a result of -- or made worse by -- injuries or
diseases associated with active service.

For additional information, go to www.va.gov <http://www.va.gov/>  or
call VA's toll free benefits number at 1-800-827-1000.