Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been a serious problem for a number of veterans over the last several decades. After serving the country overseas and being exposed to life-threatening situations, many soldiers return home to deal with the mental and emotional ramifications of flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety provoked by any situation which triggers their memory of the traumatic events they have suffered. These veterans need help recovering from these experiences, and need to be made aware of the benefits available to them.
According to a 2010 report released by the Congressional Research Service 67% of new military PTSD cases each year served in the US Army, and the unemployment rate of 18-24 year olds is over 25%, partially because veterans return home with skills, but with disabling PTSD symptoms that prevent them from finding and keeping gainful employment. Additionally, those that have been discharged were no longer entitled to military medical, base-access, or other benefits without having the means to pursue potentially arduous legal action against the Defense Department.
These statistics are staggering and disheartening, and it seemed as if our young veterans were simply getting a raw deal all around. In 2008 the Defense Department issued a memo that mandated service members diagnosed with PTSD receive a 50% disability rating upon retirement, which ensures them lifetime TRICARE medical coverage, amongst other benefits. Many service members discharged between 2003 and 2008 never had their records updated, and were not receiving these due benefits, until the December 22, 2011 US Court of Federal Claims settlement of their class action lawsuit. The settlement has now required that the Defense Department adjust the records of more than 2000 veterans named in the case to reflect a 50% disability rating, and instate them with the other benefits due to service members who received the same rating.
Now that this aspect of veterans’ disability claims has been decided in the Federal Claims Court, service members should begin to receive the medical and other benefits due to help them with their disabling PTSD condition. As active duty members of our country’s military, these brave men and women fought and experienced horrors that civilians don’t understand in order to protect everyone’s rights to democratic freedom. It is regrettable that the Defense Department had to be prompted by legal action to fix the “cracks” in the system that allowed these soldiers, airmen, and sailors to be overlooked in the updating of records, and it is commendable that the legal team who worked so hard to ensure these veterans receive their benefits did not stop until the settlement was successful.
If you or your loved one has been discharged from the military and continue to suffer from the disabling symptoms of PTSD but are not receiving benefits, contact us for a free consultation on how to receive the help you need to get the veterans’ benefits you deserve.