Michael Sullivan, Esq., Founder/Partner, Sullivan & Kehoe LLP, says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) decision to make the claims process easier for war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.) will allow the veterans to receive their benefits more quickly and eliminates the difficulties veterans must face in order to prove they have experienced such a traumatic experience while in combat.
The new rules, which took effect July 13, 2010, eliminates the requirement that veterans document specific events that might have caused P.T.S.D. such as bomb blasts, firefights or mortar attacks. Some of the reported symptoms of P.T.S.D. include emotional detachment from others, irritability and flashbacks.
Since 2001, more than 2 million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, with an estimated 20% or more expected to develop P.T.S.D. The veterans health system has diagnosed over 150,000 cases of P.T.S.D. thus far. However, only 78,000 disability claims for P.T.S.D. have been approved.
According to the VA, when filling out the forms, veterans spend the most time gathering information and evidence needed to support their disability claim. Under the new rules, veterans will not have to provide such documentation, but rather, they can show that they served in a war zone and in a job consistent with what caused their condition without having to prove that they were under attack, served on the front line or saw a fellow soldier killed during combat. The change in the claims process will benefit veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I applaud the VA’s decision to ease these restrictions which have prevented many heroic men and women from receiving the benefits that they deserve in a timely manner,” said Mr. Sullivan, a former U.S. Marine. “Many of today’s veterans still suffer from the traumatic effects of war, even after they have been discharged and returned home.”
With offices in New York City, White Plains, Mineola, Kings Park and Riverhead, Sullivan & Kehoe concentrates in the area of handling veterans disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information, call (631) 269-1515.