Veterans who abuse alcohol or develop alcohol use disorder (AUD) often suffer with both an emotional and physical dependence. The risk for this disorder is significantly higher in military personnel than in civilians. For example, approximately 10 percent of soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have alcohol and drug problems—with AUDs the most common and widespread among all military personnel.

If you’re a veteran suffering from AUD, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you can service-connect your condition.

Service-Connecting Alcoholism: Understanding Willful Misconduct

How the VA may allow benefits for service-connected alcoholismFor veterans to show a service connection between their AUD and time in the military, it must be proven that alcohol abuse isn't willful abuse or willful misconduct. The VA defines willful misconduct as “an act involving conscious wrongdoing or known prohibited action. A wrongful act is either inherently wrong in itself, or forbidden by law. Willful misconduct involves deliberate or intentional wrongdoing with knowledge of, or wanton and reckless disregard of, its probable consequences.” 

However, it’s possible to service-connect alcoholism as a secondary condition arising from another medical issue—often a mental health condition. For example, if a veteran is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and experiences the psychological and physical symptoms of this condition, he may use alcohol to cope with them. Thus, AUD can be linked to the veteran’s initial PTSD diagnosis and ongoing symptoms.  

As long as a veteran’s AUD isn't determined to be of result of his own willful misconduct, the VA may give a disability rating for the symptoms and conditions from which the veteran suffers due to alcohol abuse. 

Our Nebraska-Based VA Disability Lawyers Help Veterans Nationwide Get The Disability Benefits They Deserve

At Cuddigan Law, we understand that veterans who suffer from PTSD can face many types of other medical conditions, including alcoholism. Our VA disability attorneys have supported veterans for years, and we can help you if you need VA disability benefits following a diagnosis of PTSD or any other health condition. Contact us today, and you’ll speak to an intake specialist for free.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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