Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly praised the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announcement that beginning tomorrow, it will be easier for all veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to receive VA health care and disability compensation, including some who may have been denied benefits in the past.
"We owe all men and women returning from service the highest quality medical care," said Donnelly. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a unique wound that many of our warriors, both younger and older veterans alike, may continue to battle long after returning to their homes and families. Reducing unnecessary burdens to "prove' how these diagnosed but invisible injuries were caused by their service in our defense is the right thing to do. I'm pleased with the VA's announcement today and expect that the change will allow for more veterans to receive the care they need."
Currently, veterans who apply for disability benefits to compensate for PTSD must demonstrate to the VA their illness is service-related, often by attempting to document an incident or specific stressor that caused PTSD, even if it occurred decades ago. This has resulted in a denial of benefits for thousands of veterans unable to document their claims decades after their discharge from service.
With the changes announced today, the VA simplified the process for a veteran to claim service connection for PTSD by reducing the evidence needed if the trauma claimed by a veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran's service. This regulation is based on evidence that concluded that a veteran's deployment to a war zone is linked to an increased risk of PTSD.
Congressman Donnelly has consistently supported easing the process for veterans diagnosed with PTSD to receive health benefits. He is an original co-author of H.R. 952, The Compensation Owed for Mental Health Based on Activities in Theater Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act (COMBAT PTSD) Act, which aims for changes similar to those announced today. Additionally, Donnelly serves on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, both of which held hearings and legislative markups on this issue.