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From the Desk of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy - May 21, 2010

Veterans Administration Plans to Improve Care

For Our Veterans Suffering From PTSD

Earlier this week, Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eric K. Shinseki announced a critical step toward easing the process for veterans seeking health care and disability compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The new rules will make it easier for veterans – including those who may have been denied benefits in the past – to receive the care and benefits they need and deserve.

Previously, veterans had to undergo lengthy investigations in order to apply for disability benefits for PTSD.  The VA required extensive documentation of the specific cause of the disorder, in addition to a doctor’s diagnosis, and ultimately denied benefits to thousands of veterans who were unable to document their experiences.  The new reforms will simplify the process, requiring a VA doctor’s diagnosis for veterans who served in a combat zone.

Nearly one in five veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression, and many veterans on Long Island have been suffering silently without the care they need and have earned.  The VA expects that this rule will decrease the time it takes to decide access to care and claims falling under the revised criteria.

I applaud the Veterans Administration’s plan to improve care for our veterans suffering from PTSD.  Without the sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces, our nation and its citizens would not be able to enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy that we take for granted today.  We have a responsibility to recognize these sacrifices and do all that we can do to support our brave men and women in uniform.