Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is perhaps the psychiatric disorder most commonly associated with military conflict. After experiencing a traumatic incident, veterans will sometimes develop feelings of hopelessness, despair and shame. While it is normal to have disturbing memories of such stressful events, most people begin feeling like themselves again after a few weeks. When the feelings of anxiety and depression do not fade as expected, the person may have PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD
Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include recurring memories or nightmares of the event(s). Insomnia, emotional outbursts and feelings of isolation are also common among people with PTSD. It is easy for people suffering from the disorder to feel guilty about what they survived and begin avoiding the ones they love most. Some turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress. Sometimes these symptoms take months or even years to show up. They can also come and go. If the symptoms don’t go away or are getting worse and disrupting your daily life, you should be evaluated for PTSD.
Veterans & PTSD
It is no secret that many veterans coming back from a combat deployment are often plagued with PTSD symptoms. By some estimates, one in five vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience symptoms of PTSD or major depression. Given that there are over 2.3 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, PTSD is sadly all too common. Many of these service members don’t seek treatment because they fear it will harm their careers. Untreated, PTSD and depression can lead to cascading problems, such as drug use, marital problems, unemployment and even suicide.
Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD
Many people associate PTSD with its prevalence in the military, particularly among veterans of active combat. The reality is that PTSD can stem from all kinds of trauma, including sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. When a military serviceman or woman is pressured into sexual activity against their will, PTSD can develop afterward. The VA considers any such experience that occurs while the individual is on active duty to be military sexual trauma, or MST. MST claims are rated by the VA under PTSD or depression.
Filing a PTSD Claim Based on MST
Veterans filing PTSD claims are usually required to submit service records as evidence that a stressful, traumatic incident occurred. Because sexual assault is not documented in the same way, PTSD claims based on MST require slightly different forms of evidence. Veterans may opt to submit proof that MST occurred in the form of:
- Police reports
- Medical documentation
- Counseling records
- Records from a rape crisis center
- Pregnancy test results
- Sexually transmitted disease test results
- Statements from family members, roommates, members of the clergy or other service members
Behavioral changes can also indicate that an MST has occurred. Panic attacks, depression, transfer requests and substance abuse problems can qualify as evidence that a stressful incident happened. Unexplained social and economic changes, as well as a deterioration in quality of work can also qualify.
Veterans struggling with PTSD do not have to go it alone. A lawyer knowledgeable about PTSD and MST can be a veteran’s closest ally and best advocate. The Veterans Law Group can help those with PTSD seek the maximum compensation possible for their disability claim. If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD after a traumatic experience in the service, contact the Veterans Law Group for compassionate representation.