oday, Congressman Bill Owens announced new plans by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve care for our veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The new guidelines for delivering care will make it easier for Upstate New York veterans, including those who may have been denied benefits in the past, to receive the quality care they have earned.
"Our troops sacrifice a tremendous amount for our nation and our community in Upstate New York, and it is our responsibility to make good on every promise to our men and women in uniform," said Owens. "Back home, I have heard too often from veterans that have been denied the benefits they need and deserve. I am glad to see a step taken in the right direction toward maintaining this pact with our soldiers."
Previously, veterans had to participate in lengthy investigations to apply for PTSD benefits. The VA required extensive documentation of the specific cause of disorder in addition to a specific doctor's diagnosis, which resulted in the denial of benefits to thousands of veterans who were unable to document their disease. Under the new rule, veterans simply need to prove they served in a war zone where the conditions were consistent with their symptoms. The new rule will also make it easier for all veterans suffering from PTSD to receive VA health care and disability compensation, and many Vietnam veterans who were denied PTSD benefits in the past may now be eligible.
"Many of our veterans have suffered with no support or help," Owens added. "These new reforms will streamline the process by simply requiring a VA doctor's diagnosis for veterans who served in a combat zone. This will allow us to continue to pay back our troops what they voluntarily give to our country."
Over two million service members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. It is estimated that 20 percent of these service members will develop PTSD. PTSD is a medically recognized anxiety disorder that can develop from seeing or experiencing an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury to which a person responds with intense fear, helplessness or horror, and is not uncommon among war Veterans.
For more information, see the attached fact sheet. Addition information can also be found at www.va.gov or by calling VA's toll free benefits number at 1-800-827-1000.