One of the most common disabilities associated with serving in the armed forces is post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. It may come alone into your diagnosis, due to things you have witnessed or experienced; or it may come along with a traumatic physical injury. In any event, it is possible to get veteran’s disability benefits for post traumatic stress disorder in Greenville, South Carolina.
The First Step is to Identify and Diagnose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post traumatic stress disorder is not always immediately identified or diagnosed. Many veterans will live with the symptoms of PTSD in South Carolina for months or years before they realize that they have it. This does not mean that the disorder isn’t disrupting their lives and causing tremendous challenges; they simply don’t recognize the symptoms for what they are or are uncomfortable seeking treatment.
The symptoms that you should watch for include flashbacks of a particular event, frequent nightmares, a sense that you are always reliving that event, and an inclination to avoid talking about it and also avoid any situations that would trigger the symptoms (like the flashbacks). You may also feel depressed, anxious, or always on the lookout for any risks in your environment. If you are suffering from any symptoms like this and wondering if you might have PTSD, seek help and resources from your doctor, a mental healthcare professional, and from your local VA.
Your PTSD Must Be Directly Related to Military Service to Get Veteran’s Disability Benefits
While it is established that your PTSD must be directly related to military service in order to be eligible for veteran’s disability benefits, the law was changed in 2010 to make it less challenging to prove the connection. You no longer have to provide evidence that a given event actually occurred. Rather, you have to provide a statement about the traumatic event and it must be consistent with the general circumstances of the military service that you provided. Further, there cannot be any evidence that the incident you are describing did not actually occur at all. Beyond this, you will have to provide evidence of a diagnosis of PTSD and expert testimony that the given stressor could cause the condition.
The Importance of Your Written Statement Concerning the PTSD Stressor
Not all veterans will be required to provide a written statement about the PTSD stressor. Those who have received certain recognitions, such as a Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, etc. are exceptions to the rule when it comes to providing a written statement. If you do not fall into any of these categories, then your written statement is essential to seeking benefits.
You will need to make sure that you have the appropriate support when you are preparing to write this statement, as it may trigger symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks and anxiety. It is helpful to sit down to write your statement when you are not alone, or when you know who to call if it gets difficult. If there are parts of the experience that you don’t remember, you should be honest about this. It is not unusual for certain parts of traumatic and stressful memories to be missing or confused.
You will also want to have access to your military records, your communication records, and any personnel records and medical records, so that you can provide accurate information. If you wrote letters to friends and family during your service, then these can come in handy as well. If you have a journal of your memories, events, and feelings, then you can use this.
The best way to write your stressor statement is on a computer, though you are allowed to do so with pen and paper. You’ll need to include as much information about the traumatic event as you can. If there were multiple events, describe them in order. Discuss the details of when, what, where, how, and why an incident occurred. You want to provide as much information as possible. Avoid minimizing the event and your response to the event, but also avoid exaggerating.
After describing the event to the best of your ability, move on to how you have changed since the event occurred. This can include descriptions of your family relationships, before and after, any problems that you’ve encountered with school, employment, and interacting with others, and any sleep disturbance. Explain the challenges associated with readjusting into your civilian life and any symptoms of anxiety or depression that you’ve been dealing with since returning. You can discuss specific examples of panic attacks, flashbacks, or reactions to external stimuli that are not the norm. For example, if you were immediately transported back to the traumatic event by a scene from the television or a noise that you heard outside, then you could describe this event.
In some cases, people who are struggling with PTSD will end up using drugs or alcohol to self medicate. This is an area of discussion that many would rather avoid, but it is acceptable to do so in your stressor statement. Much of what you include in this statement will be difficult to write about, difficult to be open about, and any alcohol and drug use should be included, however difficult it may be.
Statements from Others Can Also Help You in Seeking Veterans Benefits for PTSD
For some people, the realization that they are suffering from PTSD will come from the intervention of friends and family who have noticed the change. In other cases, you may find out about it on your own, but there is still a good chance that your friends and family have noticed. Any co-workers or medical professionals who have seen changes in you can also be witnesses. It is helpful to get statements from anyone who has seen the effects of PTSD on your life when seeking veteran’s disability benefits.
To learn more about seeking veterans’ disability benefits, contact J. Robert Surface for a free consultation. Our veteran’s disability attorneys will help you every step of the way.