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  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims

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    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
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  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

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    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

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pyrotaz

PSTD-MST Questions

Question

Looking for some guidance. I served on active duty in the Navy from 87-90 overseas on a ship. My original plans when I enrolled was to do 20 years,  Back in Dec of 2018 I met with and amazing Veterans Service Officer about a tinnitus claim which was approved. While there she had handed me a bunch papers about claims and one was on PTSD and MST. She was copying  and I was reading the PTSD-MST document and it triggered a bunch of emotions where I started shacking and tearing up. The VSO walked in and noticed my state and asked me if I was ok. I tried to answer her but, couldn't she went and got a male VSO and a male nurse to come in. Once the nurse helped calmed me down the male VSO noticed the document I was reading and we talked for awhile about it and I briefly explained a little. He recommend  that I file a DBA for PTSD-MST and recommended the following.

  1. I document everything I can remember about the events is causing my stressors: I wrote an eight page document in details about the events.
  2. Talk to my wife about what happened and have her write a document on what she sees and how it effects our relationship: After having an very hard emotional talk with her, she wrote a two page document. My 20 year old son also wrote a two page document on things he as seen, even though he only knows a little about what happened.
  3. Talk to my doctor about what happened: Made an appointment and discussed detail what happened and he diagnosed me with severe PTSD and anxiety placed on Xanax as needed. He wrote a Nexus letter and has sent it into the VA for me

Now I explain a little about what when on when arriving on ship I was assigned to a steam generator room and assigned watch with two other sailors one was a 2nd Class Petty officer and the other a 3rd class.  At the time we were doing 12 hour watches 12 on 12 off.  The first few watches went well. We were getting ready to pull into Subic Bay Philippines for a few days before heading back to Japan. They both stated " We want you to come out and drink with us and then we can tag team a few girls". Now a little history alcoholism runs in my family and I don'y shy away from drinking I just know my limits. When we arrived in port I hung out with a few of my buddies instead. When we headed back to sea things went down hill. On my first watch back with them they yelled to me to come to the watch booth which was big enough for 2 chairs and a small table/chair between them the whole booth was maybe 4 feet by 6 feet with a center door and windows. When I went in I noticed they both had towels over their laps which wasn't unusual do to it being over 100 degrees in there.   I was told to sit down and did then one of them stated we figured out why you didn't go out with use you must be gay and not like girls. I didn't get a chance to answer when they ripped the towels off and exposed  themselves to me. I tried to leave but they held the door laughing. I was finally let out and was very shaken up. This happened many time the next few day the both continually exposed themselves to me. I would ask them to stop and would be ignored.  I went to my Chief Petty officer and told him what was going and and got this remark back " Why you trying to get them in trouble they are just playing with you". I went to back to my watch and was cornered by them and verbally threatened to keep my mouth shut. With out going in two many details things escalated to the point where I wold come done to watch and they would be masturbating in the open I'd try to move away and they would chase me around. One time I was working in the bilge( bottom area of ship lots of stinky water and valves) under the floor of our work space  crawling around attempting to fix a valve when I felt what I thought was water coming down on me upon looking up realized they were urinating on me. A lot more worse things happened. I was very depressed and felt helpless. I tho ought about suicide many time and even cut my wrist once when things were at its worst. Got scared and told everyone I fell and sliced it still have the scar.  Other than my failed attempt to tell my Chief about it I never told a soul about it. I ask myself why didn't I fight back? Lets put it this way at the time I weighed about 125 lbs soaking wet and about 5'7". They both were about 170-180 and were both over 6 feet. I was working in a space alone with them at anytime they could injury me say I got hurt working it was my word against the 2 of them.  Why has it taking so long for me to open up about this? I always thought that Sexual trauma only happened to woman. I was scared and embarrassed to admit he happened to me. How has this affected me.

  1. I have nightmares weekly.
  2. I have flashbacks. Something will trigger memories and I'll have panic attacks.
  3. I have intimacy issues. 
  4. I have ED issues that started at an early age.
  5. I have issues in places where there may be Male Public Nudity ( Locker rooms, even public restrooms  I'll use a stall ) Just because it triggers flashback of them and what they did.
  6. I have issues with Male authority figures. I have the tendency to back down from and conflicts even though and right. Fear retaliation
  7.  And the big one still fear retaliation from them. Still fear after almost 30 years that exposing them and what happened they will find away to get me.  
 
Thank you to everyone who reads this. Now my questions:
 
  1. Is there anything else I should include to help my case?
  2. I'm aware that after my meeting with the VSO they will set me up with a DBA with someone from the VA. What can I expect from that meeting and how should I prepare for it?
  3. What about secondary PTSD symptoms what applies? After meeting with my personal doctor he actually interned  at the VA center I going to. He suggested  apply for ratings secondary to the PTSD rating for the following. Erectile dysfunction, hypertension. Do you feel that these are ok? Are there others that I should consider or be aware of?
 
 

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Again, its back to the basics. (The Caluza elements).  1. You need a current diagnosis of PTSD/MST. (For PTSD this has to be a VA doc).  2.  You need documentation of an "in service event or stressor".  I have no idea if you have any such documentation or not.  Did you seek medical help for it in service?  That should suffice.  

3.  You need a nexus, or doc opinion that your (current diagnosis) is at least as likely as not due to (one or more) events in service.  

If you have documentation of the above, its likely you will be SC.   If not, its likely you will not be sc.  An IMO wont help you if you did not report the incident(s) in service.  

The VA "relaxes" the stressor verifciation for combat Vets PTSD, but it sounds like that did not apply.  

I wish you the best, but the VA is likely gonna tell you that you can not document "now" what should have been documented while in service.  

YES, a buddy letter may suffice.  If you told your friend some/all of what you saw IN SERVICE, he could provide that testimony.  Lay testimony is often sufficient to document an in service event, even if this lay testimony person was NOT present at the actual sexual event, but he could or did testify what you reported.  YOu know what I mean:

"My bunkmate on the USS ______ reported to me he was sexually assaulted....by ...(who) on approximately (the dateS)."  

We can testify as to what someone told us.  We can also testify as to what we observed.  But lay testimony does not diagnose anything, and it does not provide a nexus, which needs to be made by a doctor.  

My advice is to check your records for documentation.  Absent documentation, its my opinion its unlikely to fly, even tho your symtpms are real, and I dont doubt your story.  

The Board can make a determination if they find your testimony credible.  Usually that would mean that your story is consistent with the facts (or inconsistent if they dont beleive you.  ) . 

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In service stressor can be many things for a mst-ptsd claim. Change of documented behavior, infractions, article 13s, documented request for a change of unit/base, anything that is documented showing a negative change. Before you even start working on that tho. Get into treatment and get a ptsd diagnosis from the VA. Get yourself on sturdy ground. 

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