Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans – New Disabilities, New Challenges.

Attorney Wade Coye

Wade Coye, Disability Attorney

In a recent study, it was found that 45 percent of the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are in the process of applying for, or are currently receiving Veteran Disability Benefits . This percentage is more than double the number of veterans that were eligible for disability benefits after returning from the Gulf War. With these estimates, it suggests that almost all returning veterans have a service-related disability.

You might ask what has changed, from then till now that would account for such a large increase in disabled veterans. The short answer is new injuries. One of the most reported claims to the VA is hearing loss from being too close to the site of a bomb ignition. Along with this widespread hearing loss, the frequency of concussions, or other traumatic brain injuries, with prolonged symptoms has increased. Roughly 20% of all active duty troops suffer from repeated concussions, and of those one third deal with semi-permanent symptoms.

Something else that has changed for the veterans returning home now is the recognition of PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, as a disability. Whether or not a veteran comes home with a physical disability, the mental scars of the warzone could last a lifetime. The integration of women into the warzone also provided a new reason for PTSD. 12% of all claimants of disability benefits are women with PTSD as a result of sexual trauma.

Some of the most unique disabilities to come out of the Iraq/Afghanistan Conflict are prolonged back, neck, and shoulder injuries sustained from carrying around the heavy packs on top of the body armor that has been integrated into the military service.

The disabilities that body armor is causing are a small price to pay for the impact it has created. Just about 95% of all wounded troops from Iraq and Afghanistan have been saved. As unrealistic as that number may seem, warzone medicine and this body armor has advanced far enough to the point that most wounds sustained can be considered survivable. With this higher survival rate, the number of veterans coming home with disabilities would drastically increase.

With so many new disabilities recognized, it isn’t surprising that the average number of claims a veteran has would have increased. Currently, the average is 11 to 14 problems, whereas during the Vietnam era that average was 4 or less. Because of this constant influx of claims, the average time it takes to process has increased to about 8 months, during which, the Veterans are receiving no disability compensation.

If you are going through the process of filing a veteran disability claim, you may need the assistance of an experienced Veteran Disability Lawyer. You can contact a local Orlando Disability attorney, here at the Coye Law Firm, for a free consultation.

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