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Press Release

July 19, 2010

No. 10-016

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Vietnam Veterans of America Praises President, Salutes Secretary Shinseki For Move to Make PTSD Claims More Just

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) thanks President Obama and salutes Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki for the regulatory move to make the claims process less onerous for certain veterans who have legitimate claims for service connection for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but who have difficulty obtaining documentary evidence.

“This will make it possible for some veterans who have been unjustly denied, because they could not document the details of the stressors that caused them to have chronic acute PTSD, to finally succeed in getting justice and their claim approved,” said John Rowan, VVA national president. “This regulatory amendment will make it easier for veterans to prevail regarding their claim for PTSD where their claimed stressor is related to legitimate fear of hostile military forces or terrorist activity and is consistent with their military service.” A psychiatric wound is every bit as real as a gunshot wound, and this President and his team are now taking steps to recognize this fact.

“While VVA is strongly supportive of these new regulations, we urge Secretary Shinseki to reconsider the decision that only a VA or VA-contracted psychologist or psychiatrist can make the diagnosis of PTSD,” Rowan said. “At the same time that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is moving to accept medical evidence from non-VA clinicians for disability claims for physical injuries, there should be no separate set of rules for diagnosing mental wounds like PTSD.”

“We strongly believe that all psychologists and psychiatrists, VA or non-VA, who conduct PTSD examinations, should be required to use the best medical science known,” Rowan said. “This diagnosis can be both objective and accurate, but only if the protocols recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science (NAS) are rigorously followed. Both VA and the Department of Defense should be ensuring that our active-duty war fighters, and our veterans of every generation, have the best care that medical science can provide, beginning with getting the diagnosis right.”

“The previous Administration refused to implement the best medical science in assessing PTSD, because they said it was ‘too expensive,’ ” Rowan said. “With the VA having recently hired almost 4,000 additional clinicians to provide mental health care to veterans suffering from their wartime experiences, the VA has no excuse why the best practices, recommended in their own VA commissioned study by the IOM, can’t be followed. They need to get it right the first time.”

(To see the IOM recommendations regarding the best medical science, go to:
http://iom.edu/Reports/2006/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder-Diagnosis-and-Assessment.aspx )

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”


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