Wednesday, August 26, 2009

PTSD Compensation Simplification Rules Await Your Comment

Just publised in the federal register:
"The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposes to amend its adjudication regulations governing service connection for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by liberalizing in some cases the evidentiary standard for establishing the required in-service stressor.

This amendment would eliminate the requirement for corroborating that the claimed in-service stressor occurred if a stressor claimed by a veteran is related to the veteran’s fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and a VA psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD, provided that the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service and that the veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.

This amendment takes into consideration the current scientific research studies relating PTSD to exposure to hostile military and terrorist actions. It is intended to acknowledge the inherently stressful nature of the places, types, and circumstances of service in which fear of hostile military or terrorist activities is ongoing.

With this amendment, the evidentiary standard of establishing an in-service stressor would be reduced in these cases. This amendment is additionally intended to facilitate the timely VA processing of PTSD claims by simplifying the development and research procedures that apply to these claims.

DATES: Comments must be received by VA on or before October 23, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted through http://
; by mail or handdelivery to Director, Regulations Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273–9026. (This is not a toll free number).

Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to ‘‘RIN 2900–AN32—Stressor Determinations for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.’’ Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management ... In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) at"
MUCH MORE INFORMATION in the Register here.

Here's the press release from the VA :
"WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking steps to assist Veterans seeking compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“The hidden wounds of war are being addressed vigorously and comprehensively by this administration as we move VA forward in its transformation to the 21st century,” said Secretary Shinseki.

The VA is publishing a proposed regulation today in the Federal Register to make it easier for a Veteran to claim service connection for PTSD by reducing the evidence needed if the stressor claimed by a Veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all comments received.

Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA psychiatrist or psychologist confirms that the stressful experience recalled by a Veteran adequately supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the Veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.

Previously, claims adjudicators were required to corroborate that a non-combat Veteran actually experienced a stressor related to hostile military activity. This rule would simplify the development that is required for these cases.

PTSD is a recognized anxiety disorder that can follow seeing or experiencing an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury to which a person responds with intense fear, helplessness or horror, and is not uncommon in war.

Feelings of fear, confusion or anger often subside, but if the feelings don't go away or get worse, a Veteran may have PTSD.

VA is bolstering its mental health capacity to serve combat Veterans, adding thousands of new professionals to its rolls in the last four years. The Department also has established a suicide prevention helpline (1-800-273-TALK) and Web site available for online chat in the evenings a" -August 24, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cushman v. Shinseki: Constitution Requires Fairness in Veterans Disability Claims

Noting that the "right of due process of applicants for veterans' benefits is an issue of first impression for this court" the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has reversed a Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) judgment where a veteran's due process right to a fair hearing was violated by tainted medical evidence.

Spelling out what would seem to an ordinary person to be patently obvious, but seems to have eluded CAVC for decades, the court ruled a veteran "has a constitutional right to have his claim for veteran’s disability benefits decided according to fundamentally fair procedures."

Read the Full text on Findlaw; Cushman v. Shinseki offers hope to a great many Americans!

And thanks again to Larry Scott of VA Watchdog for giving this the publicity it deserves!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Free Grant Writing Services for VISNs 1-23

From the Homeless Veterans Provider Technical Assistance Center:
"Free Grant Writing Services for VISNs 1-23

The free grant writing workshops provide participants the skills needed to prepare a Grant and Per Diem and Per Diem Only application. The workshops will consist of didactic instruction, exercises, and the provision of handouts and other resources.



  • To increase your awareness of the Capital Grant and Per Diem Only program opportunities under the VA Homeless Providers GPD Program and determine your eligibility
  • To help you determine whether or not you want to apply for the GPD
  • To provide you with information to complete a grant application



  • Completion of a Governor's Institute training AND
  • Current or pending 501(c)3 status (if your organization does not have non-profit status, please call us toll free at 1-877-838-8221)


  • To provide an overview of developing a budget in compliance with OMB guidelines
  • To enhance your skills in developing a budget and completing the federal forms
  • To provide information about other grant opportunities


Please do not register for the Developing a Budget Workshop only, unless you are registered for both days or have completed a Governor's Institute training.


  • Individualized review of your grant application with feedback and suggestions
  • Individualized consultations by phone and e-mail

You must register online.
Registration will close 2 weeks prior to the event due to travel arrangements of the trainer(s).

We reserve the right to adjust our workshop schedule and policies as necessary. Please click on Privacy Policy to review our procedures.

Registration Questions: Please contact our registrar.
Phone: (919) 843-3018 E-mail:

Content Questions: Please contact
Kristy Termina, MSW ( or
David Zell ( or
call toll free at 1-877-VET-TAC1 (1-877-838-8221)

A minimum number of participants is needed for a training to occur.
If a workshop is closed or full and you are still interested in attending, please contact Kristy Termina or David Zell.

***Please contact your Network Homeless Coordinator or GPD Liaison if you do not see a workshop in your VISN.

*** Please see the Network Coordinators' button at the top left of the screen."