Veterans Disability Info Blog

Entitlement to Service Connection for PTSD Granted After 42 Years

In April 1975 U.S. Forces participated in Operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind.  These operations were designed to help evacuate Saigon and Cambodia.  Our client, Larry, participated in these evacuations and he experienced the fright that comes from fear of impending hostile attack.  He recalls the mortar fire and the rocket attacks as he was engaged in helping to evacuate U.S. concerns from these areas in the spring of 1975. 

As a result of his involvement he developed post-traumatic stress disorder.  His PTSD symptoms included flashbacks, nightmares, hyperarousal, hypervigilance, and these things resulted in total social isolation and an inability to work.  He’s not been able to work since the late 1990’s.  He lives a socially isolated life, unable to function in society.  He remains isolated in home still dealing with the frequent reminders and flashbacks of his experiences in Southeast Asia.

Larry filed a claim for VA compensation 13 years ago.  The VA denied his claim on the grounds that they could not verify that he was exposed to a stressor that could have caused the PTSD.  We fought that claim all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2010.  We were able to get it remanded from the U.S. Court of Appeals and the matter was sent back to the Board.  The Board of Veterans’ Appeals in turn remanded the claim again to the Regional Office. 

The VA continued further development of the claim for many years, eventually leading to a continuation of a denial by the St. Petersburg Regional Office of the VA.  We continued to fight this claim until finally, almost 42 years since the participation in Operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind, we received a Board of Veterans’ Appeals decision that granted service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of client’s participation in the evacuation of Saigon and Cambodia.

When I called to tell our client of the news of victory he was overcome with emotion.  He cried at the joy of finally being vindicated after more than four decades of being denied and ridiculed.  Too many Vietnam veterans experienced the hostility of returning the United States, amid protesters and anti-war activists.  Then the disdain is further magnified by VA’s refusal to grant service connection for their injuries and disabilities. 

These traumatic experiences are further complicated by a lengthy appeals process and repeated levels of denial and bureaucratic red tape.  Fortunately for our client, we were able to come to his aid and finally help him win his benefits 42 years after his participation in those faithful events of April 1975.

Some of the key elements that we utilized to win this claim involve utilizing the exceptions to the stressor requirement that came into existence in 2010 concerning the fear of hostile attack while stationed in a combat theater.  We were able to successfully argue that his participation in the evacuation of Saigon placed him in Vietnam when enemy attack was about to occur.  We also further enhanced the case with expert testimony from hired gun experts who were able to ascertain objectively a true level of impairment and the causation for his disability. 

These factors together were sufficient to force the VA to grant his claim and to finally bring vindication to our client after more than four decades.

Our client gave up the best of his life to serve our country and unfortunately it took our country more than four decades to recognize his service and to grant him service connection for the disabilities that resulted from his service. 

If you or someone you know has been fighting VA for years and years on appeals and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, then I invite you to contact our veterans’ disability benefits law firm.  We concentrate in difficult and hard to prove cases that have been on appeal for multiple years.  If the case was easy, it would be granted right away and we would not be able to get involved.  However, if you’ve been on appeal for any number of years and you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere, then I invite you to contact our office.