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WASHINGTON – The government is taking what President Barack Obama calls "a long overdue step" to aid veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, making it easier for them receive federal benefits.

The changes that Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will announce Monday fulfill "a solemn responsibility to provide our veterans and wounded warriors with the care and benefits they've earned when they come home," Obama said in his weekly radio and online address Saturday.

The new rules will apply not only to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but also those who served in previous conflicts.

No longer will veterans have to prove what caused their illness. Instead, they would have to show that the conditions surrounding the time and place of their service could have contributed to their illness.

"I don't think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application," the president said. "And I've met enough veterans to know that you don't have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war."

Veterans advocates and some lawmakers have argued that it sometimes could be impossible for veterans to find records of a firefight or bomb blast.

They also have contended that the old rules ignored other causes of PTSD, such as fearing a traumatic event even if it doesn't occur. That could discriminate against female troops prohibited from serving on front lines and against other service members who don't experience combat directly.

"This is a long overdue step," Obama said. "It's a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they've been there for us. We won't let them down. We take care of our own."

A study last year by the RAND Corp. think tank estimated that nearly 20 percent of returning veterans, or 300,000, have symptoms of PTSD or major depression.

A senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs said the agency doesn't expect the number of veterans receiving benefits for PTSD to rise dramatically, as most veterans with legitimate applications for benefits do eventually get claims. The goal is simply to make the claims process less cumbersome and time-consuming, said the official, who would speak only on condition of anonymity ahead of the VA's announcement.



Department of Veterans Affairs:

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I was watching a couple shows this week that dealt with veterans and PTSD issues. One was intervention. A kid who went to Iraq while serving in the Marines comes home and starts to drink 1 bottle of vodka a day. While being interviewed for the show, he begins to punch himself in the head and you can see scuffs and scratches on his knuckles. He's clearly suffering from PTSD because this was his reaction when asked to talk about Iraq. I thought to myself, instead of trying to get this guy to a fancy expensive rehab in Florida, get him over to his regional VA hospital for free treatment and assess him for disability. He's absolutely entitled.
The next story I was watching was on 20/20  about Colorado Springs. How soldiers suffering from PTSD are getting stationed in the city after doing tours in Iraq and the murder rate suddenly goes up along with the assault rates. The city is having real problems with this. They interviewed a public defender and she told the story of how one soldier she defended for murder. Instead of getting the help he needed after pulling a gun out on his girlfriend, the soldier was discharged and went on to murder someone within the week. 
I've been seeing stories in the media about this since 2005 about veterans who have become violent or hooked on drugs and alcohol in an effort to self medicate. A lot of the men were disciplined instead of getting the treatment that they deserved from the very military they were serving for. This was before this initiative to try to appear to do something about PTSD. The military just doesn't want to deal with this financially,in terms of manpower or morale. Additionally, the VA's funding under the Bush Administration was drastically cut. I'm not sure if this administration will bring the funding up, but they should. And the military could do more than what they are doing to help single military personnel adjust to dealing with these feelings and thought patterns caused by Traumatic Stress.
  You know this is looooooong over due.  Cuz I remember the Vietnam vets strugglin with this especially the ones afflicted with the results of agent Orange.  I remember one time we were driving a family friend home.  We had all got into a hot debate about sumthing at dinner...I don't remember the topic....but!  I guess I made him angry-I do have that affect on folks some times   Anyway....I said something smart back to  him.....and he LOOKED at us blank faced and said "vets are known to kill family and friends when they can't cope."  Whoa! Where the fock did that comes from?  We hurried up and dropped his azz off.  We agreed to NEVER invite him to our home again.  Cuz this man was dead serious and we knew it. He was not the same as he once was.  He was dark and creepy.  There's no other way to describe him.  I did not WANT him around my children period.  Cuz he had the potential to snap.  So I'm glad they finally realized that sumthing has to be done to help vets and returning soldiers.  Cuz they really cannot help how they are.  And some of 'em can't handle blending back into society and will kill themselves and take a few folks with them.  And it's only fair that the govt do their share in rehabilitating those who fought for our country.  About time...but!  I'm just sayin
I thought to myself, instead of trying to get this guy to a fancy expensive rehab in Florida, get him over to his regional VA hospital for free treatment and assess him for disability. He's absolutely entitled.

The problem with this is that the VA/government has refused to diagnose vets like him with PTSD.  They call it something else or just ignore it all together.    It's sick and sadistic, if you ask me.  Both as the government and as a health facility ... refusing to help people you that you know are mentally and physically suffering.  it's a damn shame.

So they don't give them treatment (for something they don't have), nor consider them to have a disability (since they don't acknowledge a mental illness).  Vets may be entitled to health benefits through the VA.  But actually receiving them is a whole 'nother matter all together!

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