How Many Veterans Have PTSD?

What Is PTSD? 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that affects many people in the months and years following a traumatic experience. While trauma can leave a person with unpleasant memories that can stay with them for life, the symptoms of combat-related PTSD can be  so severe that they make it impossible for a Veteran to hold a job or stay employed.. 

Although some people may recover relatively quickly from a traumatic experience, others might develop lingering, persistent symptoms due to their trauma. When the after-effects of a traumatic experience last a long time and are severe, these are usually telltale signs that a person is affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD can develop years after a traumatic experience occurs. For many Veterans who deal with PTSD, the disorder does not show up for decades after leaving the military. This late onset of PTSD symptoms may be due to repressed memories of traumatic experiences – the impact of an extremely intense, life-altering experience can take years to set in.

For Veterans, the most common causes of PTSD are combat experiences. Serving on the frontlines means a soldier may witness horrific events that can haunt them for years. The traumatic nature of combat is one reason it takes such bravery and sacrifice to serve in the military. However, traumatic combat experiences can negatively affect even the strongest men and women.

Veterans can also develop PTSD as a result of sexual trauma in the military. These experiences can leave a person severely affected and often take years to heal from.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can be divided into four categories – arousal, avoidance, reliving, and negative thoughts and feelings. Below are brief explanations of these four categories of symptoms.

Arousal 

One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is a sense of always being on edge. A traumatic experience can cause someone to feel deep-seated, lingering anxiety that is difficult to shake. This anxiety can be crippling in many cases. It can be challenging for someone who has PTSD to work, spend time with friends and family, or fulfill everyday responsibilities due to the severity of their anxiety.

The hyper-arousal caused by PTSD can also make certain situations incredibly uncomfortable for someone with PTSD. Anything that reminds a person with PTSD of their trauma can lead to intense feelings of stress and anxiety. The anxiety caused by a trigger can be so overwhelming that people with PTSD may start avoiding certain places and people that remind them too much of their trauma – these triggers may lead to anxiety that is too much for the person to bear.

Avoidance 

Although avoiding anything that serves as a reminder of trauma is not an effective way to heal, avoidance is often the default behavior that people with PTSD fall into. The pain, stress, and anxiety caused by triggers can make someone with PTSD feel so overwhelmed that it can feel impossible for a sufferer of the disorder to engage with the world around them, let alone confront their trauma.

There’s no easy way to face a traumatic experience, but avoidance can have a major negative impact on the life of a person with PTSD. In an effort to avoid being reminded of past trauma, many sufferers of PTSD live in self-imposed isolation. Cutting off from the rest of the world in an effort to prevent traumatic memories can make it extremely difficult to stay connected to loved ones, keep a job, and stay healthy.

Reliving 

For many people with PTSD, the most painful symptoms come in the form of reliving traumatic experiences. Flashbacks and nightmares are common in individuals with PTSD, as is insomnia. The near-constant stress and anxiety caused by the disorder can make it difficult for many individuals with PTSD to sleep at night. It can have an intense impact on everyday life.

One of the most effective ways to diagnose PTSD is through observing self-reported occurrences of flashbacks and nightmares. These symptoms are telltale signs of the disorder, and a mental health professional can interpret them as indicators that someone is suffering from the effects of a traumatic experience.

How Common Is PTSD In Veterans? 

A shocking amount of US military Veterans are diagnosed with PTSD. Thirty percent of Vietnam War Veterans currently have PTSD or had some form of PTSD in the past. In fact, 12 percent of Desert Storm Veterans have PTSD. PTSD has been diagnosed in 11 to 20 percent of Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

These statistics show that PTSD is extremely common for Veterans and that the condition affects many former soldiers regardless of when or where they served. Many Veterans deal with PTSD and its symptoms for years, even while getting treatment. However, medication, therapy, and other methods can help treat PTSD. Many Veterans with PTSD even find comfort in the company of a service dog. Service dogs are provided to qualifying Veterans through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and can provide companionship and reduce stress.

PTSD From Military Sexual Trauma

Thousands of Veterans file claims to receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs each year. A staggering number of these claims are for PTSD related to military sexual trauma. Although there is an established connection between these PTSD cases and Veterans’ service in the military, the VA does not always approve these claims. In fact, in 2017, almost half of the over 12,000 claims filed with the VA for PTSD related to military sexual trauma were denied.

If you have filed a claim with the VA to receive benefits for PTSD and had your claim denied, Berry Law can help. One of our uncompromising attorneys can help you make an appeal to the VA and get you the outcome that you deserve.

What To Do If You Are A Veteran With PTSD 

If you are diagnosed with PTSD, you may be eligible to receive significant compensation from the VA. In order to qualify for disability benefits for PTSD, you’ll need to file a claim with the VA first. You can submit a VA disability claim by mail or drop one off at your regional VA office. Once you have submitted a claim, the VA will begin its decision-making process regarding whether they will give you benefits for your disability.

To qualify a Veteran for benefits, the VA has to rule that the Veteran’s disability is service-related. In many cases, mental health issues like PTSD are assessed inaccurately by the VA. Conditions like PTSD can be more challenging for the VA to assess and connect to military service. However, independent medical records, military service records, and testimonials from trusted friends and fellow soldiers can help make a case to the VA that your PTSD is linked directly to your military service.

Anyone filing a claim with the VA to receive disability benefits must take the VA’s Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. The C&P exam involves a basic physical and psychological examination that can influence the VA’s decision regarding your claim. In order to qualify you for disability benefits for PTSD, the VA will need to verify that there is a connection between your disability and your military service. The information gathered through the C&P exam helps the VA establish this connection.

In addition to filing for disability benefits from the VA, any Veteran with PTSD can benefit from seeking treatment. Medication, therapy, and other treatments can make a significant difference in how PTSD affects your life. The VA is also more likely to continue granting you disability benefits if you consistently seek treatment for your disability.

PTSD can be a crippling disability, and it’s hard for anyone to handle – that’s why you shouldn’t have to handle it alone. The Berry Law team is dedicated to helping Veterans with PTSD get the benefits that they deserve from the VA. We know how difficult it can be to live as a Veteran with PTSD, and we want to do everything we can to help you get the support you need.

If you have filed a claim for disability benefits from the VA and your claim has been denied, Berry Law can help. Even if you have been approved for benefits but have received a disability rating that is lower than you deserve, we can help you appeal the VA’s decision and get a better outcome. 

 

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21834189/

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1996-00417-008

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jts.20348