Our Returning Iraq War Veterans

Many wounded returning Iraq War Veterans are not being advised well about filing their VA claims for benefits. Most of the time, the only assistance the veteran receives is one printed sheet that they get during the discharge process that tells them to get on the VA website and to file their claim electronically. If an Iraq veteran has been wounded with a permanently disabling injury, the veteran needs to file a claim.

Unfortunately, returning vets with PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) are often mentally unable to complete the forms needed to file a claim. Their stress levels leave them unable to concentrate on the task of completing the forms, gathering documents needed, and stating the cause of their PTSD. Simply writing down the events frequently leaves them so stressed and anxious that they are unable to function on a daily basis. Ironically, these veterans need help with their PTSD as soon as possible.

Vietnam veterans fought the VA to be acknowledged as disabled with PTSD. PTSD is nothing new. In wars past, it was called “shell-shock” (World War I) and “combat fatigue” or a “nervous condition” (World War II).

Gulf War veterans, too, have “undiagnosed” problems with aches and pains and odd symptoms that doctors are unable to put their finger on to treat. These veterans, too, need to file VA claims. Their problems are caused by exposure to harmful chemicals and gases that were used by both sides fighting in the Gulf.

Returning Iraq War veterans that have permanent injuries, burns, scars or other problems from combat are advised to file VA claims. Scars, especially on the face, are considered “disfiguring” and are worthy of a disability rating by the VA.

Even if a disability is rated at zero-percent disabling by the VA, it is important for these young veterans to have the disability acknowledged by the VA. As a person ages, disabilities that seem very tolerable at 25 years of age become arthritic and painful to a person at 50 years of age. The disability can be re-rated at a later date and it is much easier to have a disability re-rated at a higher rating than to try to establish the disabilty 30 years after discharge.

Deborah Mann and her husband, Richard, have helped many veterans with their disability claims for over ten years. The Manns have helped veterans get claims as far back as 1955 and are masters at dealing with the Veterans Administration.

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