In July 2010, VA finalized regulations that liberalize the evidentiary standard for veterans in a war zone claiming service connection for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This regulation will now simplify and streamline the processing of PTSD claims. A veteran will now be able to establish the occurrence of an in-service stressor through his or her own lay testimony, if:
1) the veteran is diagnosed with PTSD,
2) a VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or a psychiatrist or psychologist with whom VA has contracted, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a PTSD diagnosis,
3) the veteran’s symptoms are related to the stressor, and
4) the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service and the record provides no clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
The hope by this change in regulation is that the claims process will be faster without requiring the VA to search for records and verify stressor accounts, and that a veteran will not be penalized for poor record keeping by the Department of Defense (DoD) regarding stressful incidents.