Many veterans who return home from active duty experienced or witnessed a traumatic incident or event while serving their country. Combat situations can put military personnel in life-threatening, terrifying situations that are difficult to forget about.

PTSDSome veterans may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after seeing or being part of these types of terrifying and emotionally upsetting events. Some veterans may not present symptoms of PTSD for months or years after the event; others have symptoms immediately. According to PTSD United, approximately 70 percent of U.S. adults experience a traumatic incident in their lives, and nearly 20 percent develop PTSD because of it.

Understanding PTSD

PTSD affects each individual differently, but there are some common symptoms and reactions that may indicate you're suffering from it and need to see a doctor. These include:

  • Reliving the traumatic incident repeatedly by having ongoing nightmares or memories of what happened
  • Feeling angry and irritable; difficulty concentrating and making decisions; feelings of low self-esteem.
  • Refusing to talk to friends or family about the incident and avoiding any type of similar situation that might trigger memories of what occurred
  • Feeling depressed, uninterested in the hobbies and activities you once enjoyed, and detached or numb
  • Feeling keyed up or on “high alert”—needing to watch for danger at all times

Submitting a VA Claim for PTSD: The Stressor Statement

If you have symptoms you believe are related to PTSD and want to submit a claim for disability benefits from The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for this condition, the VA will typically send you a letter that acknowledges its receipt of your application and ask that you write a “stressor statement.”

A stressor statement is a description of the traumatic incident you experienced while in the military which you believe led to the development of PTSD. You’ll write this incident on the Statement of Support of Claim form the VA includes with the letter it sends you.

Since 2010, combat soldiers and any veteran who experienced fear of a terrorist activity or a hostile environment no longer have to provide proof of the actual event. They simply need to detail what happened. Here are some guidelines for writing a successful stressor statement:

  • Use your military records and other communications to help provide details of the event. You may want to request a copy of your military personnel and medical records. If you kept a journal, or your friends have letters you wrote them about the event, use these to help with your statement.
  • Describe the sequence of events in the order they took place. Give details about where the event happened, at what time, and the situation as it unfolded. Include the feelings you had at the time. It’s okay to state that you can’t remember parts of the event.
  • Describe how the event changed you. Explain what you were like prior to your military service and what you’re like now. If you’ve started using drugs or alcohol to deal with your PTSD, include this in your stressor statement. You can include statements from friends and family that provide examples of how they believe you’ve changed since returning from duty. They need to cite their relationship with you and how long they’ve known you. You can also ask for statements from employers, co-workers, and clergy.

Call Cuddigan Law

If you believe you have service-connected PTSD and need help filing your claim or writing your stressor statement, Cuddigan Law can help. Our experienced VA disability attorneys are committed to helping veterans, and we'll examine your case, develop the best strategy, and work with you to submit a claim that increases your chances of receiving disability benefits. Contact our office today.


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