From left, Michael Walcoff, VA Acting Under Secretary for Benefits; Bradley Mayes, Director of VA’s Compensation & Pension Service; Joseph Violante of the DAV; and Dr. Robert Petzel, VA Under Secretary for Health, attend a press conference on Monday announcing new PTSD benefits claims rules. Photo by Craig Roberts

Legion pleased with new PTSD regulations

Leaders of The American Legion are today celebrating a victory in the government-mandated streamlining of post-traumatic stress disorder benefits claims by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Announcements by both President Barack Obama during a weekend radio address and by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki signal a new and, in the Legion's opinion, more even-handed method of awarding benefits to those suffering the so-called "invisible wounds of war." The Legion played a key role in the VA's recognition and treatment of PTSD two decades ago.

Under new regulations, in effect as of Tuesday, July 13, veterans applying for PTSD-related benefits no longer need to produce official documentation and eyewitness reports corroborating their claims of traumatic stress injury, nor do they need to have suffered the traumatic stress in a direct combat situation. Under the new regulations, the intense fears of injury or death at the hands of not-easily-identified enemy combatants and terrorists, and in implied combat zones not delineated by formal battle lines, are now considered sufficient "stressors" to support PTSD claims. This opens the PTSD claims process to those former military personnel who were stationed in "behind the lines but still in grave danger," and to women veterans who are technically barred from assigned combat duty.

In a statement released Monday, Shinseki said, in part, "We're now moving to treat all veterans equally. Today, VA begins simplifying the process by which veterans with PTSD are able to access health care and receive benefits Streamlining this process will help not just the veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, but generations of veterans who have previously ‘borne the battle' for our nation," the statement read. "We're publishing a regulation today in the Federal Register that simplifies the process for claiming service connection for PTSD by reducing the documentation needed for veterans to validate the specifics of place, type and circumstance of incident. From this point forward, VA will not require corroboration of a PTSD stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA doctor confirms a diagnosis of PTSD, and the stressful experience recalled by the veteran adequately supports that diagnosis.

"This decision to simplify the process has been validated by an Institute of Medicine study, which concluded that service in a war zone is inherently linked to increased risk of PTSD."

In 1980, The American Psychiatric Association began including post-traumatic stress disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This was the result of a long battle by The American Legion and other veterans' advocates in the wake of the Vietnam War. The official diagnosis applies to people who have suffered a psychologically distressing effect "outside the range of usual human experience." The DSM lists military combat as one potential source of trauma, along with rape, severe physical assault and other types of trauma.


  1. For the last four years I have applied and appealed my PTSD. I served in the Gulf, Kuwait, Iraq, and Korea and was stationed at Fort Bliss, Tx and Fort Hood for a total of nine honorable years. As I read the not of the triumph that has occurred with the new ruling for PTSD, but do not believe that is true. It seems unreal because I have supplied the VA with numerous amounts of validity and doctor recommendations. I would like to know if American Legion could help me.
  2. As I said a 89 Years Old mother-inlaw. My wife is at the end of her wits dealing with the VA, we had to move her to an assitted living center due one to many falls. This was about Thanksgivinng, and the VA has yet to pay anything for her care. I am coming off 100%, to 10% for Prostate cancer, and we use part of that money to pay for her care. Hows that for a cluster F#*! Stormchaser
  3. I was on the U.S.S. Tutuila, at Nha-be I watched the fire fights on one side of the river. When we went to G.Q. I was the smallest, so I had to weight untill the larger guys got done. I used to look at the bulkhead, waiting for it to blow open. We slept below the water line. It proabley seems dumb now, but it then it was real then. When I asked about my we were not given combat action ribbions for our time repairing the river boats back into service in record time. We had two Navy Unit comidations, I was told , it was because no enemy fired across ship. I asked what the difference between a mine floating by or in front of us, and a bullet crossing or bow. Never heard back from the VA on this, or the Galentry cross with plam unit, and the Civil Defence what ever class. I feel for you Stormchaser I lost my only Brother in April of 66, in the Darlac Province it earned him a Purple Heart, and a Bronze Star for Valor. They use you up, then turn you lose. Good Luck
  4. i am a viet-nam veteran and after fighting with the va for several years finally got 30% for ptsd and have been fighting with them for disability on my back due to a helicopter crash in viet-nam in 1968. the va told me that the crash had nothing to do with my back being injured to the point i was forced to retire in 2003. i believe the personnel that the va is hiring have never been in combat!!! they do not recognize any military connection with very obvious injuries and mental incapacities.
  5. The envelope with the PTSD "exam" request is still sitting on my desk. I'm debating whether to send it. I have no fewer than "six presumed service-connected disabilities," all documented to high heaven, with no fewer than 110 doctors appointments at the VA over the past 3.5 years alone. My first symptoms appeared just four months after returning from the Gulf War 19 years ago. I have not been able to work at all for the past five years, but didn't swallow my pride and file a claim till January, 2009. It's been 18 months now, and apparently, (according to the VA),even my Congressional inquiry slowed the process down. I love my country, but I have no trust or faith in my government to keep its word about a damned thing. "Not On My Watch" meant something to me. To the government it means "Not In My Lifetime." My traumatic stress isn't "post." It is ongoing. God help the Korean and Vietnam Veterans who have lost their will to fight the system. You're still welcome America!
  6. I served in Viet Nam with 1/27 Wolfhounds in 67-69 on the front lines and in the 68 TET and 4 other offensives. If the government is going to give away money,to someone who's typewriter ran a muck and pinched his or her finger, then where is my cost of living increase this year and next?????????? My mortgage went up, gas went up, & food, but my check did not go up at all. I can hardly make it from check to check. I am 70% P.T.S.D. with a 30% unemployabily with 8 stents in my heart from stress. But congress and them got their raise. Is this really fair?
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