Young veteran with PTSD holding her head in her hands because she is upset

How PTSD Affects Veterans

Legally reviewed by
  • PTSD affects veterans’ lives in terms of their relationships, careers, capacity to care for themselves, and their health.
  • Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and even suicidal ideation.
  • Even with treatment, in most cases, PTSD affects veterans for months or years after the initial trauma.

As awareness of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has increased over the past decade, diagnosis of this mental disorder has increased significantly among veterans. Unlike physical injuries, the effects of PTSD do not inflict physical scars but still have a tangible impact on the daily lives of veterans. 

PTSD is treatable and the stigma around this mental disorder has decreased. However, many veterans still struggle with symptoms. VA disability benefits claims give eligible veterans the ability to better contend with the effects of PTSD but sometimes claims encounter obstacles from the VA.

If you are a United States Military veteran suffering from PTSD and have had your PTSD claim denied by the VA then consider contacting the accredited veteran claims lawyers at VetLaw about your case. You can schedule a free case evaluation with us by calling (336) 355-8387 or filling out a contact form on our website.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder where a person who has experienced a traumatic and dangerous event experiences a variety of negative symptoms triggered by memories and reminders of the event. 

PTSD usually arises as a result of the difficulty with processing and coping with the intensity of traumatic events. The condition is treatable through a variety of methods. 

Historically, PTSD has also been known as shellshock or combat fatigue. These nicknames are misleading since PTSD can develop as a result of traumatic experiences that have nothing to do with combat

Anyone can suffer from PTSD regardless of age, gender, etc. although veterans have been found to suffer from PTSD at higher rates than the general populace. PTSD has historically also been an issue that has been largely disregarded and led to many veterans living with their disorders untreated. 

Shame, pride, and lack of awareness were primarily to blame. Current attitudes and education on the subject have changed PTSD from a misunderstood phenomenon to a treatable psychological condition. 

PTSD Symptoms in Veterans

Veterans with PTSD will often begin to display symptoms around one month after the inciting traumatic experience. However, some cases can take several months, and occasionally even several years, to see how PTSD affects veterans as their symptoms begin to manifest. PTSD symptoms are divided into 4 categories consisting of intrusive memories, avoidance, cognition and mood symptoms, and hyperarousal symptoms. 

Intrusive Memory Symptoms

  • Flashbacks and recurring memories of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares involving the traumatic event or similar elements
  • Physical stress symptoms (sweating, tremors, pain)
  • Stressful thoughts

Avoidance Symptoms

Cognitive and Mood Symptoms

  • Strained relationships
  • Feelings of detachment and numbness
  • Memory issues with remembering details of the traumatic event
  • Persistent negative emotions relating to oneself 
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Self-destructive behavior

Hyperarousal Symptoms

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Persistent tension, fear, and/or anxiety

To be diagnosed with PTSD, patients need to exhibit the following symptoms for at least one month. 

  • At least one avoidance symptom
  • At least one re-experiencing symptom
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms
  • At least two hyperarousal symptoms

How Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD Affects Veterans’ Lives

Like many mental disorders, PTSD can affect almost every facet of a person’s life. Emotionally, PTSD can take an immense toll on someone’s happiness and create significant dissatisfaction with their life. These emotions may be going on inside of a person’s head but they can manifest problems with how they function day-to-day. 

It is very common for PTSD to be accompanied by other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. The severe negative emotions and other mood-related symptoms of PTSD go hand in hand with major depressive disorder symptoms. The hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD also parallel many anxiety disorder symptoms as well.

The Emotional Toll on Veterans and Their Families Caused by PTSD

The emotional turmoil and other symptoms caused by PTSD almost always put a strain on relationships. This includes relationships with romantic partners, families, friends, and even coworkers. 

Many a relationship has given out under the strain caused by these symptoms which can compound the anguish suffered by those with PTSD. Feelings of alienation and loneliness tend to increase when loved ones are shut out due to paranoia, shame, and guilt over PTSD. 

How PTSD Affect Veterans Financially

Financially, PTSD can create significant losses on a veteran’s economic position as symptoms affect their career and generate additional expenses. 

PTSD symptoms can lead to issues at a place of employment as they can affect a person’s ability to interact with others and perform their duties. This might lead to the need to take time off, change positions, or even lead to termination from a place of employment. 

Losing a source of income this way is a further blow which is made worse by additional expenses generated by PTSD. Treatment of PTSD does not come free and the expenses can add up. Medications, therapy, and psychiatrists are expensive and can strain veteran’s finances. 

How a VA Disability Benefits Claim Can Help With Veteran PTSD

The good news is that veterans suffering from PTSD can seek VA disability benefits for their condition by filing a VA disability claim. The VA does consider PTSD a disability and provides benefits based on the rating you receive through a Compensation and Pension Exam

Veterans filing a VA claim for PTSD need to be able to connect their PTSD to a traumatic event that occurred during their service. In many cases, this service connection can be obvious. For example, the link between service and PTSD is clear when a vet has experienced combat, time as a prisoner of war, or a tragic accident. 

However, evidence does need to be provided to support these PTSD VA claims. Evidence can consist of medical evaluations, service records, statements from superiors, and incident reports. 

The VA still might deny a claim for a number of reasons. They may consider the evidence to not be sufficient, there may be errors in the application process, or there may even be an error on their part. 

Regardless of why, denial of a VA disability claim for PTSD does not have to be the end of your pursuit of benefits. You can still file a supplemental claim, request a higher-level review, or initiate the Board of Veterans’ Appeal process.

Contact VetLaw If Your VA Claim For PTSD Disability Benefits Has Been Denied

If you have filed a VA disability claim to seek benefits for your PTSD and have been denied then consider contacting the veterans lawyers of VetLaw for assistance. Our accredited VA lawyers specialize in cases involving PTSD. We can leverage our experience to get you the benefits you deserve. 

To contact VetLaw about your PTSD VA disability claim either fill out a contact form on our website or call VetLaw at (336) 355-8387. We will work closely with you to secure the VA benefits you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I file a VA claim for PTSD related to Military Sexual Trauma?

Yes. The VA recognizes PTSD as one of the most common mental health conditions caused by Military Sexual Trauma.

Does the VA offer 100% disability benefits for PTSD?

The VA does approve 100% disability benefits for PTSD claims provided that the vet meets certain criteria. Vets with a 100% disability rating for PTSD have extreme difficulty working or socializing, as well as accurately perceiving reality. For vets who were discharged for exhibiting PTSD, the VA offers an automatic 50% PTSD disability rating for 6 months. 

Can I receive Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits for PTSD?

Yes, it’s possible to receive TDIU benefits for a PTSD claim if you meet the following conditions:

  • Your PTSD is service-connected
  • Your PTSD disability rating is at least 70%, or in combination with another service-related disability your total rating is at least 70%

For exceptional circumstances, your veterans disability attorney may recommend pursuing an extra-schedular rating for TDIU. PTSD affects veterans differently, so this may be necessary to accurately assess your disability.