The "stressor" often cited in VA PTSD claims means the incident or events that were life threatening. In some cases, a non-life-threatening scenario can be considered a "stressor" (ie: seeing dead bodies) but usually not. The veteran generally must be able to prove that his life was in some imminent danger. Sometimes the veterans record book will reflect this, such as service in an infantry unit, accompanied by the combat operations that unit was in, etc.

There have been many incidents I've personally experienced when a veteran made claim that something in his military service (non-combat) caused stress. Unless there is some notation in the person's record, proof and a subsequent claim award are very difficult to come by.

The most common way of obtaining "proof" not in the record is by statements from others who were with the veteran at the same time and can validate the veteran's claim of what happened. Many veterans' magazines run "locator" sections for just this purpose. Other methods include searchs of unit records.

The bottom line is this. The VA claims to be non-adversarial, but that is an utter joke. When a claim is made, they are as adversarial as can be. In order to succeed, the burden of proof is on the veteran. There is no "benefit of the doubt." In order to win, you need patience, perserverence, and persistance. But you also need "proof."

Bill Lewis

PTSD: record in a diary all you can remember and how you feel each and every day about it. Also, have your wife or girlfriend keep a diary, too, recording how many times you get up at night and did you have the sweats, dreams -- what's going down in your nights -- put it down on paper. Then after a month of this, read what you wrote.

If you need any other help call me.

Keith Miller
Veterans' Attorney


The above information should be enough for you to check your local public or college libraries for the books or to order them through a local bookstore.

Ann Kelsey


Revised 02-04-98 by DGS