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Jodi Opunui
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I am a veteran service rep who helps veterans apply for benefits. (I am also a veteran) I agree with most of this article, but take exception with the remarks about PTSD and TBI's. Just because the wounds are not visible does not make them less real. Sometimes those are the wounds that go deepest. There will always be a small number who find a way to milk the system, but the majority of veterans do not. Until the rules were relaxed in 2009, it was very difficult for veterans to prove their stressors. The new rules are only valid for veterans whose service record verifies service in a hazardous duty zone. Even the clerks who were at Camp Victory or Bagram Air Field lived with the daily threat of mortar attacks, but they were not the ones the relaxed rules were put in place to help. Nothing breaks my heart like seeing a 70, 80 or 90 year old veteran break down in tears recalling the death and carnage they witnessed as they try to come up with dates, unit information, locations and names of other people killed or injured in combat in order to try and justify why they still suffer mentally after 40 or more years after the experience. THAT is why the requirements were relaxed. Yes, there will be some who will use this to their advantage, but the majority of veterans I have worked with did not file previously because "there was someone else who needed the help more than me." In time, the VA will find ways to weed out the legitimate from the milkers, but the pendulum tends to swing wide one way before coming back the other way.
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Dec 5, 2011