Help for Veterans with PTSD and
A National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet
Veterans experiencing the symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD) often request several types of assistance, as do their
families. As a research and education organization, the National
Center for PTSD cannot provide this assistance, but we can refer you
to the people who can provide assistance. Here are the answers to some
questions about PTSD and service-connected disability that are
frequently asked by veterans and their families.
Do I have PTSD?
A natural first question is whether the symptoms really are due to
PTSD. Stress symptoms are not always due to PTSD, and it is helpful to
know if they are specifically the result of psychological trauma and
if they are the full condition of PTSD. Such symptoms may be due to
other conditions created by stressors other than trauma (for example,
work or financial pressures), medical problems (such as heart
conditions or diabetes), or other psychological conditions (such as
depression or anxiety).
The VA Medical Center system's specialized
PTSD clinics and programs can provide to eligible veterans
educational information and diagnostic evaluations concerning PTSD.
The Readjustment Counseling Service's community-based Vet
Centers can provide educational information and diagnostic
evaluations concerning PTSD to any veteran who served in a war zone or
in a military conflict (such as in Panama, Grenada, or Somalia).
If I have other stress, medical, or psychological problems, do I
also have PTSD?
Veterans with PTSD often have other types of stress, medical, or
psychological problems in addition to PTSD. Sometimes PTSD is
unintentionally overlooked when other problems seem particularly
pressing, and it can be helpful to know if PTSD also needs to be
VA Medical Center specialized
PTSD programs and VA Readjustment Counseling Service Vet
What kinds of education and treatment can help me (or my veteran
There are several types of education and treatment for PTSD that
have proven helpful to veterans and their family members. These
include classes on dealing with PTSD symptoms, stress, anger, sleep,
and personal relationships. Individual, group, and family
counseling and selected medications have also been helpful.
You may wish to begin by reviewing the general information on PTSD
provided on our Web site. For specific options for education and
treatment in your local area, contact the closest VA Medical Center
specialized PTSD program or VA Readjustment Counseling Service Vet
How can I establish that I am disabled due to PTSD caused by
A determination of service-connected disability for PTSD is made by
the Compensation and Pension Service, an arm of VA's Veterans
Benefits Administration. The clinicians who provide care for
veterans in VA's specialized PTSD clinics and Vet Centers do not make
this decision. A formal request (claim) must be filed by the veteran
using forms provided by the VA's Veterans Benefits Administration.
After all the forms are submitted, the veteran must complete
interviews concerning her or his social history (a review of family,
work, and educational experiences before, during, and after military
service) and psychiatric status (a review of past and current
psychological symptoms and of traumatic experiences during military
service). The forms and information about the application process can
be obtained by Benefits Officers at any VA Medical Center, Outpatient
Clinic, or Regional Office.
The process of applying for a VA disability for PTSD can take
several months and can be both complicated and quite stressful. The Veterans
Service Organizations provide Service Officers at no cost to help
veterans and family members pursue VA disability claims. Service
Officers are familiar with every step in the application and interview
process and can provide both technical guidance and moral support. In
addition, some Service Officers particularly specialize in assisting
veterans with PTSD disability claims. Even if a veteran has not been a
member of a specific Veterans Service Organization, the veteran still
can request the assistance of a Service Officer working for that
organization. In order to get representation by a qualified and
helpful Service Officer, you can directly contact the local office of
any Veterans Service Organization. You may also wish to ask for
recommendations from other veterans who have applied for VA disability
or from a PTSD specialist at a VA PTSD clinic or a Vet Center.
My claim for a VA PTSD disability has been turned down by the
Benefits Office, but I believe I have PTSD due to military service.
What can I do?
Contact a Veterans Service Officer who can explain how to file an
appeal and who can help you gather the information necessary to make a
successful appeal. You may want to contact a Service Officer who has
extensive experience in helping veterans file and appeal claims
specifically for PTSD.
I can't get records from the military that I need for my
disability claim. What can I do?
Veterans Service Officers can help you file the specific paperwork
required to obtain your military records. If your Service Officer is
not able to help you get necessary records, ask him or her to refer
you to another Service Officer who has more experience in getting
The information on this Web site is presented for
educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical
advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a
mental health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental
health care provider.
All information contained on these pages is in the
public domain unless explicit notice is given to the contrary, and may
be copied and distributed without restriction.
For more information call the PTSD Information
Line at (802) 296-6300 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page was last updated on Wed Dec 4 12:22:01 2002.