Federal Court Addresses PTSD Stressors

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirms that VA must apply a generous standard when evaluating the lay testimony of veterans suffering from PTSD concerning their combat experiences and PTSD stressors.

Sanchez-Navarro v. McDonald

In Sanchez-Navarro v. McDonald, the federal court found that VA erred when it rejected a veteran’s statements concerning his experiences while serving near the Korean DMZ from 1958 to 1959. VA refused to provide the veteran with a Compensation and Pension examination to evaluate his PTSD, which could have been useful to his case. The VA instead found that the veteran had failed to present evidence corroborating his personal account of what he experienced in the DMZ.

The federal court said that VA shouldn’t have so hastily rejected the veteran’s personal account. It pointed to a VA rule that applies to many veterans who encountered hostile military and terrorist activity while on active duty. This rule generally requires VA to accept the veteran’s personal account, so long as a VA examiner confirms that the traumatic event could cause PTSD and the veteran suffers from PTSD that is related to that event, and the veteran’s personal statement is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of his or her service. In determining whether the veteran’s personal account of events was trustworthy, the federal court said that the VA should have been focusing on whether it was consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of his service.

It is not uncommon for veterans who suffer from PTSD to have trouble proving what they went through in the service. The federal court’s new decision only reaffirms VA’s long-standing duty to develop claims in a sympathetic manner.

Help for VA PTSD Claims

Visit our Veterans’ PTSD Resources pages for more information on PTSD, or learn about VA disability compensation benefits for veterans suffering from PTSD. If you have questions or need assistance pursuing your claim, we welcome you to contact Veterans Help Group at 855-855-8992 or complete our free evaluation form.

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