Lawmakers Had Urged Elimination of Burdensome Rule In Letter to Secretary Shinseki
U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, and Congressman John Salazar today welcomed the Department of Veterans Affairs agreement to streamline a burdensome and tangled VA process after the lawmakers sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki urging him to make it easier for veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) get the benefits they deserve.
The change, which could take effect as soon as next week, will eliminate the requirement that a claims adjudicator corroborate a veteran’s PTSD injuries before benefits can be awarded. PTSD is one of the most frequently occurring injuries among veterans.
“Veterans I met with during my statewide veterans tour this year told me the VA claims backlog tops their list of concerns,” Bennet said. “This decision can help veterans with PTSD receive the benefits they’ve earned more quickly. Given how much they have contributed to our nation, we shouldn’t make this process any more difficult than it needs to be. Now we can cut some of the red tape and remove the hoops these veterans currently have to jump through to get the treatment and benefits they have earned.”
“Not only is this a long overdue change in regulations, but it’s the right thing to do. Any service member who serves in a combat zone and has been properly diagnosed with PTSD should never have to jump through hoops to get their deserved benefits,” said Mark Udall, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“As a former member of the Veterans Affairs Committee and a current member of the MilCon VA Subcommittee, it is very clear that PTSD and TBI are the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The issue is so prevalent that it often came up in seemingly unrelated hearings. I applaud Secretary Shinseki for his dedication to connecting veterans with the services they have rightfully earned. It is decisions such as these that demonstrate the VA’s commitment to serving America’s veterans. I am hopeful that with this new policy, the VA will be better equipped to diagnose and treat our nation’s heroes,” Salazar said.
In the letter sent to Shinseki last year, the three lawmakers wrote that current regulations unfairly burden veterans with having to produce incident reports and statements from fellow soldiers to confirm a link that common sense confirms, even if they have already been diagnosed with PTSD. For more on the letter, click here.