Lets split the difference and say that 20% of all the veterans then and now suffer from PTSD of some intensity.
The Veterans Administration confirms that approximately 19,196,000 veterans are still living. That would mean that some 3,838,200 veterans suffer from PTSD and as of July 1997 only approximately 500,000 were being treated and only 102,000 are receiving disability compensation. This means that only approximately 1.3% of those veterans are being treated and only .3% of those being treated are receiving disability compensation.
During that YEAR My son forced me out of our small Internet business because I was becoming very combative with our customers and angry with him over everything, I was unable to drive my vehicle in heavy traffic without getting physically ill and VERY angry and I began to seclude myself in my home because of depression and anxiety.
Within 30 days I had submitted a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) for the PTSD based on my deteriorating mental condition. After SIX more miserable months I was granted a hearing with the Regional Decision Review Officer (DRO) and after SIX more months, I received an upgraded to my PTSD claim to 50%. It took 2 years and 5 days. I applied for and upgrade to my PTSD and for un-employability in the year 2000. In Mar 2001 I was awarded 70% for PTSD and un-employability (which makes me 100% disabled).
In VERY simple terms:
What causes PTSD in combat veterans? A Traumatic Event and then MEMORIES of that event. These memories cause a chemical imbalance in the brain when they are TRIGGERED by conscious and sub-conscious events.
This is the worst part of untreated PTSD, not only do conscious reminders (war buddies, smells, sounds, movies) cause the brain to go GAGA but unconscious thoughts will trigger the chemical imbalance (anniversary dates, seeing someone who looks like a buddy lost in combat). Days, weeks, months and sometime years later you begin to have anxiety attacks or become depressed. In most of us these events are short lived and we go on as before, with no noticeable change in our lives.
In many of us the events build up and finally drag us down, as happened in my case and as has happened with some of you.
1. Contact the nearest VA hospital or clinic and make an appointment with the Mental Health department. The VA will not process your application unless you have been diagnosed with PTSD by a VA doctor.
2. File a "statement of Illness" letter. This establishes the DATE of possible disability. (call 1-800-827-1000 for your Regional Office Address if you do not know what it is).
3. If you are eligable, file a claim. There should be a Service Representative in the VA facility.
4. Continue your treatment program and start on your Stress Letter.
5. Submit your Stress Letter. (Do this even though you may not be required to so you can establish Evidence of Record)
Note: The extent to which you were stressed in combat has no major bearing on the amount of your disability determination (This does, however, establish service connection). The amount of disability you may eventually end up with will be determined by your CURRENT social in-adaptability.
6. C & P (Compensation and Pension ) Interview - This is where a medical doctor describes your current mental condition for the record.
7. Your Claim file is then returned to your regional office for review and determination.
Herein lies the heart of your disability determination. Your fate is decided by the comments of the C & P interviewing official, the VA "Rating Specialist", and the VA Rating Board.
There is a serious problem in the system that you should be aware of. In Feb of 2000 I attended a resident PTSD program that lasted for 45 days. I was pretty strung out when I arrived and felt some better when I left. When you attend these programs you will be given an update of your GAF score when you depart. If you show some improvement and your GAF is changed (you could be asked how you feel or you may be rated on your conduct and attitude in the program), to a higher number, the VA may request you be re-evaluated to see if they can decrease your disability rating because of your improved condition.