I often like to get up on my high horse and pretend that I know everything about everything. This may explain why I’m so unpopular. Though I pretend to have all of the knowledge in the world, I often get knocked off that high horse when I am proven wrong. One such instance occurred recently when I was talking to a Veteran about his PTSD symptoms. The end result was a valuable lesson about how PTSD is different for everyone.
It’s no secret that I love working with Veterans. I really enjoy getting to know individuals who served for many reasons. However, I will confess that it’s not always easy discussing PTSD with a Vet. When we take a new client on who happens to have a claim for PTSD, I have to discuss how it occurred in service. This is necessary because we have to get a good baseline of information about each individual case. It’s just like if you are claiming a shoulder injury. I have to how your shoulder was injured in service. One can’t simply respond by saying that they were injured in service. I have to know what led up to the shoulder injury. Did you fall? Was it a combat injury? Did it occur because of wear and tear? When it comes to PTSD, things are a little different. You can’t just say “I have PTSD because I was in combat,” and expect to get it service connected right away.
Some might say “Combat Vets don’t need prove their stressors when it comes to PTSD.” Well, yes, that is true. We can argue that combat action is your stressor. However, this goes well beyond proving why you have may or may not have PTSD, we have to look at the severity of PTSD too. This is why we ask individuals to describe what caused their PTSD. We also have to look at non-combat Veterans too. They have to prove their stressors, so we need to know what caused their PTSD.
You might still be asking why this is important. Well, it’s simple. We thoroughly review Claim Files so that we can better represent our clients. Knowing ahead of time what to look for will make our review more efficient, and quicker.
So, the Veteran who reiterated an important lesson to me about individuals with PTSD was a combat Veteran. He explained to me what events led up to his traumatic experiences, and made copious notes. I then had to ask how PTSD affects him now. This will determine severity. Once again, not all combat Veterans have PTSD, and it does affect everyone differently. Two people could have had the same experience in a war zone and one could be mildly affected while the other was severely affected. That is why we ask how it is affecting Veterans now. He mentioned that he was having issues sleeping, issues with his wife, and he couldn’t keep friends, and even struggled at work. This is all pretty common for an individual struggling with PTSD. However, it wasn’t until I asked the following question that I was surprised. “What about large crowds, or public places, do you have issues there?” Keep in mind that almost every Veteran I have asked that question to previously replied by saying yes. They usually tell me that they avoid public places because of their PTSD. Well, this Veteran told me that it was not an issue for him. I was so surprised by this that I asked him again just to make sure. He assured me that it was no problem to go out in public or be in large crowds. While he did have several other symptoms of PTSD, this very common one was not an issue for him. I was surprised.
Too often we want to throw a blanket over everyone who has a condition. Regardless if it’s something like PTSD, or even something physical like a knee injury, we think it affects all individuals the same way. It’s easy to group everyone who has PTSD together. It really does affect everyone differently. While I am aware of that, it’s easy to forget when you see so much of it every day. There are different degrees of PTSD, and that is why the VA has a rating scale. It’s also why they make use of things like the GAF score.
Overall the experience I had with this Veteran was a great reminder that everyone is different. Further, since PTSD affects everyone differently, we can’t assume that one form of treatment will be effective for every Veteran. Because of this, I encourage all Veterans with PTSD to find the type of treatment that works best for them.
If you would like to know more about this topic, or if you’d like a free consultation for your VA Disability Claim, give me a call. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather we call you at another time, feel free to fill out this form so that we may contact you at a later date.