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Claiming Ptsd For Sar Activity


I have been researching this all over the internet and am hoping someone here maybe has experience in a similar situation.

Quick background: my husband is a 22 year AF vet. Retired May 1998. He currently has an disability 80% rating. That is as of todays letter from the BVA granting an increase in one condition from 30% to 50% and denying TDIU. (so it's 50, 20, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10.)

We live rather far from the nearest VSO so I do most of the research and paper-pushing in the claims process. I know just enough to bog down the process and make lots of extra work for the VARO.

What I am trying to determine is rather or not he should file for PTSD based on his work in Search and Recovery - as in recovering human remains at crash sites. He was a SAR instructor, he also participated in a rather horrific mission involving a downed F16 on a mountain in Alaska. Skip the details but it involved fragmented remains and very precarious conditions during which more than one life & death near miss occured to team members.

He was also an instructor and stand-by team leader for the crash of an AWACS at another base. This one involved the loss of friends we both knew. (we met in the service, worked together for a time in the SAR field) There were others, but those are the biggies.

This was before automatic counseling for SAR members. Following the F16 mission he just went home and carried on with life as usual. But it still haunts him. He has nightmares, wants to talk about it yet gets very emotional when he does and has been "self-medicating" with alcohol ever since.

The problem is he has no psychiatric diagnosis. Like I said back when this happened they didn't offer any type of counseling automatically. We just did our job and soldiered on. So there is no record of treatment while in service. Nor is he likely to seek one out voluntarily from the VA - getting him within 10 miles of the local VAMC would require tying him up! He insists it is not a big enough deal and has a rather low opinion of counselors and psychiatrists in general.

I found this:

79. What are the requirements for PTSD claims?

Service connection for PTSD requires (1) a psychiatric diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder; (2) medical evidence that the PTSD symptom logy relates to the claimed stressor (nightmares, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, etc.); and (3) credible evidence that the stressor actually occurred. PTSD is usually associated with wartime events but can also be diagnosed as a result of a sexual assault, being in an automobile accident, or being a participant in (or witness to) in-service deaths, life-threatening injuries or other psychologically traumatizing events.

OK, so we have #3, can probably prove #2 and need to figure out how to get #1. If he files for PTSD will they send him for a psych eval?

Sorry for such a long post, but I like clear and concise information whenever possible!


USAF vet and spouse of a vet, mom of 5 more vets!

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3 answers to this question

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Welcome to Hadit.

You really have to obtain a Diagnosis before a claim will go anywhere.

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Welcome to Hadit.

To get SC'd for PTSD he has to have a current diagnosis, stressor verification

and a nexus from a qualified mental health provider that has reviewed his

service treatment records (smr's).

This does not have to be done by a VA provider - a private mental health provider can do this.

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Welcome Sue! You can have him contact a Vet Center, nearby, and request counseling. They'll give him the diagnosis, if he has it and it's free. You can also do it privately, as Carlie mentioned. Without the diagnosis, the VA generally denies the claim. I believe he has a valid claim with those stressors. Be sure he reviews the PTSD required criteria, prior to having any exams.


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