Op-ed: Expanding PTSD benefits is the right call

Monday - 7/12/2010, 1:14pm EDT

New regulations promulgated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and scheduled to take effect this week will make it easier for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to claim disability benefits. Under the old system, veterans were required to provide evidence of a specific traumatic incident or stressor -- an exploding bomb, an air raid -- that might have triggered their disorders. Now, they have to prove only that they served in a war zone where the conditions were consistent with the stress they claim. A Washington Post op-ed says the new regulations seek to account for the character of wars against terrorists, in which the enemies are elusive and the threats of violence unceasing. The ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are marked by the constant fear of improvised explosives and the lack of a clear front line. To address this, the change would expand benefits to cover those without direct combat experience who had nonetheless experienced the intense fear of impending terrorist or hostile activity characteristic of PTSD.

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