distraught soldierPosttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can happen to anyone who’s been through any type of emotional or physical trauma. This trauma is usually a shocking, terrifying, or dangerous event that a person witnesses or experiences and feels he can’t control, and believes his life or the lives of others are in danger.

Experiencing trauma isn't uncommon. Approximately 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience a traumatic event in their lives.

There are a variety of factors that increase the chance they will develop PTSD, including if they were exposed directly to the traumatic event or injured by it.

It’s estimated that 8 million adults have PTSD each year, and 9 percent of soldiers age 18 or older who returned from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffered from PTSD, and 31 percent suffered from the condition a year after deployment.

If you have PTSD after serving in the military and your symptoms make it impossible for you to work, hiring a VA disability lawyer can be beneficial in helping you get compensation.

PTSD and Military Personnel

When you’re deployed for military service, it’s possible that you’ll experience combat or be on missions that expose you to horrific, hazardous, and life-threatening events. All of them can produce symptoms of PTSD. Consider the statistics for recent wars:

  • Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Approximately
    11–20 percent of every 100 veterans who served in these wars have PTSD in a given year.
  • Gulf War (Desert Storm). Approximately 12 percent of every 100 veterans who served in this war have PTSD in a given year.
  • Vietnam War. Approximately 30 percent of every 100 veterans who served in this war have had PTSD in their lifetime.

When you’re involved in combat, there are circumstances that can produce additional stress and contribute to PTSD symptoms, including where the war is fought, the kind of enemy you face, the political issues of the war itself, and your individual role in the war. Additionally, PTSD can also be caused by military sexual trauma (MST), which can happen to both men and women. Among those veterans who utilize healthcare from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), approximately:

  • 23 percent of every 100 women in the military reported sexual assault.
  • 55 percent of every 100 women and 38 percent of every 100 men have experienced sexual harassment when in the military.

How to Tell If You’re Experiencing PTSD

You may experience PTSD days, months, or even years following a traumatic event, and the symptoms are different for each veteran. However, symptoms are often classified in four general clusters:

  1. Recurring, interrupting reminders of the trauma. This can include nightmares, upsetting thoughts, and flashbacks that make you feel the event is happening all over again. You may experience extreme physical and emotional responses to reminders of the trauma such as heart palpitations, shaking, and panic attacks.
  2. Avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma. This can include avoiding places, people, situations, or thoughts that you correlate with the event. You may feel withdrawn from your family and friends, and may lose interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  3. Undergoing negative changes in your mood and thoughts. This can include having extreme negative ideas about the world or yourself and constant feelings of shame, guilt, and fear. You may be unable to feel positive emotions.
  4. Feeling “on guard” all the time. This can include feeling jumpy, emotionally reactive, angry, irritable, reckless, and hypervigilant.

VA Disability for PTSD

If you’re a veteran who now suffers from PTSD, you may find that you’re unable to work consistently at any job. If so, you may want to apply for disability from the VA. To receive compensation for PTSD, the Blue Book listing of impairments outlines how to qualify under Section 12.15, Trauma- and stressor-related disorders. You must satisfy parts “A” and “B” or “A” and “C.”

The VA disability lawyers at Cuddigan Law can help you with your service-connected PTSD application for compensation. Call us today to discuss your disability case (402) 933-5405, or download our free book, The Essential Guide to VA Disability Claims.


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