Category Archives: Mental Health

Seeking Help & Compensation for PTSD

ptsd3Thousands of Veterans are struggling with the problems associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Many of these men and women are reluctant to get help for this problem. Let’s face it, it can be very hard to tell a complete stranger deep secrets. Sometimes there feelings are very violent and therefore they may fear reprisal by authorities. Or there are those who just don’t recognize the signs of PTSD and keep themselves isolated so it is hard for others to detect. This is often associated with not just PTSD, but depression and possibly other mental disorders. The VA Mental Health departments at any VA medical facility are no strangers to PTSD. Their doctors and therapists are used to dealing with Veterans with combat-related problems and they have some wonderful methods of dealing with them and some great programs as well. The first step is to ask for help. If you are really bad you may want to suggest that they keep you there for a while in a hospital setting and voluntarily, unless of course you are suicidal, in which case you should seek help immediately by calling the VA Suicide Hotline at: 1-800-273-8255. I have a friend who called and he is so much better today. He can’t talk about it, but let’s just say that he is looking to the future and on the right path.
ptsd1PTSD is also a service-connected disability. I have taken the test and I’m not sure if it is the same everywhere, but when I took it their where several questionnaires and scan-tron type tests. They ask a series of questions such as do you hear voices, do you like being in crowds etc.. and then you have a confidential meeting with a psychiatrist who is there to determine if you qualify for service-connected PTSD. He will most likely ask you about combat related incidents that disturb you to this day, how often you have nightmares and do you feel like hurting yourself or others. If you have claimed other mental disorders as service-connected he will ask you about these as well. Do not be offended by his demeanor as his job is to prove you are not service connected. You will most likely be turned down on the first try for this and have to repeat this exam which is called a compensation and pension exam. Remember not to take anything personally, but make sure to prove your case and do not hold back. If you are suffering let them know and don’t be afraid to answer their questions truthfully. If you don’t know the answer tell them that. It’s a pain, but it’s a necessary process, because unfortunately there are those who are looking to claim things that are untrue. It is a blow to those of us who suffer from these problems. ptsd2The main thing is just be yourself and it should go fine. If you do not get approved you can appeal.
Often times it is suggested that you also try and get a diagnosis from a regular physician outside the VA. This will not hurt your case at all and is worth the expense if you can afford it. See if you can get a list of physicians in your area from your VSO or your representative of physicians who see veterans and are familiar with PTSD and similar mental disorders. If you can’t get a list, try and call around and ask the person who answers the phone if their doctor would perform an evaluation for PTSD. Veteran’s organizations may know of Veteran doctors as well or you can ask your family doctor for a referral to a psychologist.
Vets with PTSDAs we are talking about PTSD anyway, I’d like to take a moment to address a myth. A lot of Veterans I speak to think that you have to be in combat to receive disability compensation for PTSD. That is simply not true. While I will admit that a combat Veteran is more likely to get this benefit, we have seen a lot of cases in which Veterans who served in peacetime, or never left the United States, were granted service connection for PTSD. Remember, Service Connection refers to disability that occurred while in service, as a result of your time in service, or made worse from your time in service. Many traumatic events from a Veteran’s time in service may cause PTSD. So, if you are a non-combat Veteran and experienced a traumatic event in service, you can still be granted service connection if you have a diagnosis from a mental health professional. Why are we making such a big deal about getting diagnosed? To put it simply, the lack of a diagnosis will automatically result in a denial for a PTSD claim.
I am writing this in honor of all those Veterans who did not get help and are not with us anymore. This is a very serious problem in the United States and with our allies as well. If you know a Veteran who is suffering from PTSD, please urge them to get help today. Time is very important and even though some people may seem okay does not mean anything, some people hide their emotions to avoid treatment. God bless.