Non-Combat PTSD Stressors and VA Disability Benefits

A stressor, as defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is an event that results in post-traumatic stress and may eventually develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). PTSD is a common result of stressors experienced by veterans during combat. However, PTSD can also result from stressors experienced during peacetime. These types of stressors are known as non-combat PTSD stressors. In order to receive VA disability benefits for non-combat PTSD, veterans must submit specific information to the VA for consideration in their claim to help support the criteria. Below is an overview of non-combat PTSD stressors and VA disability benefits. If you suffer from PTSD and need assistance obtaining VA disability benefits, please contact our Michigan veterans benefits attorneys.

Evidence Required to Verify a Non-Combat PTSD Stressor 

When considering a veteran’s PTSD non-combat claim, the VA must verify the stressor. However, it isn’t enough to simply confirm that the event occurred. The VA must also confirm that the veteran was present and witnessed the event in some manner. This is accomplished via the submission of evidence which may come in a plethora of formats and from various sources. 

Primary Evidence

The first type of evidence that a veteran may submit to demonstrate a non-combat PTSD stressor is called primary evidence. The VA considers primary evidence to be the most reliable means of verifying non-combat PTSD stressors. There are many types of primary evidence, including:  

  • Service personnel records 
  • Pay records
  • Evidence of military occupation
  • Hazard pay records
  • Military performance reports
  • Verification of combat pay/imminent danger pay/hostile fire pay
  • Unit and organizational histories
  • Staff journals
  • After action reports
  • Operational reports-lessons learned 
  • Radio logs
  • Deck logs
  • Ship histories
  • Command chronologies 
  • War diaries
  • Monthly summaries 
  • Morning reports

Secondary Evidence

The VA also accepts secondary evidence of non-combat PTSD stressors, including:  

  • Contemporaneous diaries and letters 
  • Newspaper archives
  • Buddy statements

This last piece of evidence, the buddy statement, can be particularly relevant in non-combat related PTSD claims. The VA may accept a buddy statement from another veteran who you served with, for example, to corroborate a claimed in-service stressor if it is consistent with the information provided by the veteran seeking VA disability benefits. Without a buddy statement, it can be particularly difficult to prove a non-combat PTSD stressor. 

Examples of Non-Combat PTSD Stressors 

Examples of non-combat PTSD stressors include: 

  • Severe weather events
  • Plane crashes
  • Auto accidents
  • Witnessing another person’s injury or death outside of a combat situation

Contact a Michigan Veterans Benefits Attorney 

In order to obtain VA disability benefits for both combat-related PTSD and non-combat PTSD, you must submit the correct documentation and meet the VA’s stringent criteria. Otherwise, your claim will be denied. In order to ensure that you submit everything required to support your claim, you need a team of experienced Michigan veterans benefits attorneys on your side. At Disability Law Group, disability is all we do. Please contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.