If you are a U.S. Vietnam war veteran or a U.S. Iraq war veteran, then up to 17% of you will have combat-related PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder (Richardson et al., 2010). If you have PTSD related to combat duty, then you may qualify for VA disability benefits. Sadly, many veterans who have PTSD do not apply for disability, while others wait years or decades before they file for disability. How do I know all this? Well, I helped my father obtain his disability from the VA after decades of suffering. He is a Vietnam war veteran. I asked him about why he did not apply for disability sooner, and he stated he didn’t need to see a shrink and that he wasn’t crazy. Also, he thought all the nightmares and flashbacks were just part of being a soldier, and he had to just toughen up. So after decades of suffering, I was finally able to convince him that he should go to the VA office and file for disability for PTSD, and I supported his application by providing a written account of my observations and impressions of my father. My dad was fortunate…he had a son who is a psychiatrist, and the application process went smoothly, although it took many months to complete.
I realize that most of you veterans do not have sons or daughters who are psychiatrists. So to optimize and strengthen your PTSD VA disability application, here are some important items:
- Get written testimony from family members and close friends who know you well
- Gather all your medical records, especially all your medical records while you were on active duty
- Get your own psychiatric assessment…this really strengthens the application, especially if mental disorders like PTSD are diagnosed and documented
I hope this is helpful for you veterans who are contemplating applying for PTSD VA disability benefits.