Requesting correction of record to reflect combat-related injuries instead of non-combat?

Swiper

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I am currently rated 70% DOD on PDRL and 100% VA P&T.

I was medically retired from the Army for Major Depression and Anxiety in 2016. I ended up on the PDRL with 70% DOD rating with the determination that it was not caused by combat or an instrument of war. I always thought that my depression and anxiety had their roots in traumatic experiences while deployed to Afghanistan in 2005. However, I wasn't able to get a PTSD diagnosis while in the Army due to not fitting perfectly into their diagnostic criteria. I was unable to answer yes to the questions like if I was having nightmares as I am completely unable to remember dreams, good or bad. I also avoided bringing up my deployments when going through therapy while on active duty. I was ashamed and also discounted the severity of my own experiences. Sweeping them under the rug essentially. Until today, I have never talked with anyone about my experiences downrange, not even with my family and friends. I have now finally been diagnosed with PTSD by VA and is currently being treated at their PTSD Clinic. I was also recently made 100% P&T by VA.

Is there any reason for me to file some kind of appeal or request for correction of record to get my non-combat PDRL retirement be changed to combat-related? At the time of my medical retirement I had 17 years of active duty time.
 
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Makarov

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The moderators, here, have noted that the DoD denies about 80% of CRSC claims. You can always try again. The worst they can say is “no”. Just review the evidence you have that provides a nexus to a specific event. Simply being in a combat zone does not qualify, alone, as evidence for a CRSC claim. You’ll need a specific, documented event that contributes to your PTSD. An example would be like constantly reliving a specific day when you saw someone killed, were shot at, or had to kill an enemy combatant. Documents would be buddy letters from others in your unit, news paper articles of a specific conflict you were in, muster reports showing you were there, etc. Gather as much evidence as you can.
 

Makarov

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Swiper

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I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t mean to scrutinize and I’m sorry if this is too personal so please stop me if I’m going to far. But did you actually witness the crash or see your friend after the crash?
I was in the Brigade TOC on FOB Salerno when the Chinook went down. I followed the event and recovery mission on the TV screen. Didn't get confirmation about his death until the next morning when I contacted HQ at Bagram to inquiry about his whereabouts (as I had been unable to reach him). 15 years later I am still struggling with a feeling of guilt about having failed him by not preventing him from boarding the aircraft. A lot of could have, would have, and should haves.
 

Makarov

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I was in the Brigade TOC on FOB Salerno when the Chinook went down. I followed the event and recovery mission on the TV screen. Didn't get confirmation about his death until the next morning when I contacted HQ at Bagram to inquiry about his whereabouts (as I had been unable to reach him). 15 years later I am still struggling with a feeling of guilt about having failed him by not preventing him from boarding the aircraft. A lot of could have, would have, and should haves.
I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately your PTSD will not be seen as caused by an armed conflict because the Dutch and media outlets reported the crash as an accident caused by bad weather. An instrument of war would be a tough sell, I think, because the helicopter didn’t cause your PTSD. Witnessing the crash on TV and realizing it was the aircraft your friend was on, is the nexus. I think the best route for you, would be to file it under extremely “hazardous duty”. Use your deployment records to show you were at the base with him. Get buddy letters explaining how close y’all were and recalling your reaction when seeing the crash and how it affected your work performance. Show evidence of receiving hazardous duty pay during the time. That would probably be the best route for you, IMO.
 

Swiper

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Thank you for your input. I do appreciate it. I will probably not file anything yet. I will think about it again once my treatment at the PTSD clinic is over. At the moment I don't think that I could handle the stress from preparing a claim packet.

I don't think I can get any buddy letters. I don't remember the names and faces of the people I served with at FOB Salerno. I have memory issues and mTBI so I easily forget names and faces of people. I don't even remember the names of my two my ex-girlfriends. I recognize their faces, but I can't tell you their names.

I was his NCOIC and he was my subordinate. His safety, health, and welfare in Afghanistan was my responsibility and I failed him. If I had stopped him from getting on the aircraft that day, he would still be alive today. I spent the rest of my Army career doubting my ability to take care of Soldiers and I did my best to avoid taking on leadership duties as not to cause something similar in the future.
 

Makarov

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Well you just checked the boxes for a few classic PTSD symptoms. I’m sorry it took so long for you to get the help you need. I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Definitely take your time and do what’s best for you. Just remember, it’s not your fault. No matter how much you don’t believe it, you need to know that it’s not your fault. There’s no way you could have foreseen an accident and you both signed up to do the job. It still would have happened even if you weren’t the NCOIC and it still would have happened even if it was someone else on the aircraft instead of him. I lost a friend 3 months ago because he constantly blamed himself for an attack that happened on his deployment for Task Force Sinai. The darkness sneaks up on us sometimes. If it ever happens to you, just remember that no one blames you. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
 

Swiper

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Thank you! I have been trying to tell myself for years that it is not my fault, but I still fall back into the mindset that I could have done something to prevent it from happening. That I should have stopped him from getting on that bird and my inaction resulted in him getting killed. It's irrational, but I still get stuck in that thought process.

It is kind of funny how our minds work. The reason that I couldn't get help earlier was that I couldn't answer affirmative that I was having nightmares. I don't remember any of my dreams and I sleep by myself so there was no way I could confirm that I was having nightmares, only that I sleep restlessly and move about a lot in bed.

I started to look into PTSD again earlier this year. I went on a cruise with some friends of my family. During the cruise I decided to watch the movie "Megan Leavy" while waiting for the cruise to arrive at port. I usually avoid watching any movies about Iraq and Afghanistan because they make me feel very uncomfortable, but this time I couldn't resist because it looked so good. During the movie I was getting more and more uncomfortable and started thinking about the incident in Afghanistan. For the rest of day I was thinking about the incident obsessively and I couldn't stop evaluating myself and my actions that day. During the night was sleeping very restlessly and I woke up at least five times but I couldn't remember if I was dreaming about anything (as I cannot remember dreams at all). The next day, the people sleeping in room next to me told my family that I had a rough night as they had heard me scream in my sleep all night long. One of the guys described it as me having "PTSD nightmares".
 

Makarov

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I completely understand. All of my doctors have depended on my wife, heavily, for information about my symptoms. They want to hear from a family member or a work colleague how you are coping so they can respond with the right treatment. I didn’t even think about how hard it must be for people who live alone. I still have trouble accepting that my issues are PTSD, sometimes, even though I’ve been diagnosed by 6 different doctors. The first time I took it seriously is when I pushed my wife away, at the grocery store, and half-way drew my concealed carry because I thought someone walked into the store holding a shotgun. It was an umbrella. Ever since then, I’ve been doing all the recommended treatments and trying my best to just stop looking out the window every time a hear a ‘bang’.
 

RonG

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The moderators, here, have noted that the DoD denies about 80% of CRSC claims. You can always try again. The worst they can say is “no”. Just review the evidence you have that provides a nexus to a specific event. Simply being in a combat zone does not qualify, alone, as evidence for a CRSC claim. You’ll need a specific, documented event that contributes to your PTSD. An example would be like constantly reliving a specific day when you saw someone killed, were shot at, or had to kill an enemy combatant. Documents would be buddy letters from others in your unit, news paper articles of a specific conflict you were in, muster reports showing you were there, etc. Gather as much evidence as you can.
Hello @Makarov ,

I must have overlooked the "denial of about 80% of CRSC claims" reportedly mentioned by moderators. I suspect there is a valid basis for that assertion, but I have yet to find it in a publication or report. Admittedly, I spent not more than five minutes searching for it.

I did find, "An article in the June 2009 Air Force Personnel Center Newsletter reported: The approval rate of claims for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) is currently running 66 percent, but the program is still not attracting a third of the number of people thought to be eligible." Obviously, that is ancient information.

Perhaps a certain type of CRSC application/claim results in a high rate of denial.

Edited to add from Military Times, 2013:
"A review of recent actions shows that, in July, the [Army]Special Compensation Branch processed 321 CRSC claims for PTSD.
Of those claims, 289 were approved, and 32 disapproved, for an approval rate of 90 percent.
In August, the branch processed 435 claims and approved 391, for an approval rate of about 90 percent."
See full article at: New criteria prompt resubmission of PTSD claims <---LINK

Ron
 

Swiper

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I completely understand. All of my doctors have depended on my wife, heavily, for information about my symptoms. They want to hear from a family member or a work colleague how you are coping so they can respond with the right treatment. I didn’t even think about how hard it must be for people who live alone. I still have trouble accepting that my issues are PTSD, sometimes, even though I’ve been diagnosed by 6 different doctors. The first time I took it seriously is when I pushed my wife away, at the grocery store, and half-way drew my concealed carry because I thought someone walked into the store holding a shotgun. It was an umbrella. Ever since then, I’ve been doing all the recommended treatments and trying my best to just stop looking out the window every time a hear a ‘bang’.

Thank you for sharing. I got rid of all my weapons about five years ago after an episode of severe depression and I almost committed suicide. I have problem with impulse behavior and mood swings so I don't thrust myself with having firearms in my home. I think that not having any firearms in my home will give me enough time to "get in a better mood" when I have an episode again.
 

Swiper

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I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately your PTSD will not be seen as caused by an armed conflict because the Dutch and media outlets reported the crash as an accident caused by bad weather.

Would it matter that he was posthumously awarded the "Purple Heart" according to official military sites?
 

Makarov

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Would it matter that he was posthumously awarded the "Purple Heart" according to official military sites?
No. The criteria for the Purple Heart entitles veterans who are killed or injured during a military operation outside US territory as part of a peacekeeping force. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be an armed conflict with an enemy combatant to get a Purple Heart. But it is a requirement if you want to use “armed conflict” as the criteria when requesting CRSC. I think the “hazardous duty” criteria would be the best route for your CRSC claim
 

Makarov

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Hello @Makarov ,

I must have overlooked the "denial of about 80% of CRSC claims" reportedly mentioned by moderators. I suspect there is a valid basis for that assertion, but I have yet to find it in a publication or report. Admittedly, I spent not more than five minutes searching for it.

I did find, "An article in the June 2009 Air Force Personnel Center Newsletter reported: The approval rate of claims for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) is currently running 66 percent, but the program is still not attracting a third of the number of people thought to be eligible." Obviously, that is ancient information.

Perhaps a certain type of CRSC application/claim results in a high rate of denial.

Edited to add from Military Times, 2013:
"A review of recent actions shows that, in July, the [Army]Special Compensation Branch processed 321 CRSC claims for PTSD.
Of those claims, 289 were approved, and 32 disapproved, for an approval rate of 90 percent.
In August, the branch processed 435 claims and approved 391, for an approval rate of about 90 percent."
See full article at: New criteria prompt resubmission of PTSD claims <---LINK

Ron
Ron,

I apologize for misrepresenting the moderators. I thought that the ~80% figure had been said on on a previous CRSC thread I had seen. After looking back, I believe I may have mistaken the statement that oddpedestrian said about 78% of burn pit claims being denied. That was my mistake. In the future, I’ll be sure to look up the threads and provide links when citing what someone else has said on other threads.

 

chaplaincharlie

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I don't know the exact percentage, but most claims are denied. Largely because CRSC is hard to comprehend. So people who have no chance of being approved apply and are denied.
 

RonG

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I don't know the exact percentage, but most claims are denied. Largely because CRSC is hard to comprehend. So people who have no chance of being approved apply and are denied.
Perhaps the type disability makes a difference.

Military Times, 2013:
"A review of recent actions shows that, in July, the [Army]Special Compensation Branch processed 321 CRSC claims for PTSD.
Of those claims, 289 were approved, and 32 disapproved, for an approval rate of 90 percent.
In August, the branch processed 435 claims and approved 391, for an approval rate of about 90 percent."
See full article at: New criteria prompt resubmission of PTSD claims <---LINK

Did not find more recent material citing approval percentages.

Ron
 

chaplaincharlie

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Perhaps the type disability makes a difference.

Military Times, 2013:
"A review of recent actions shows that, in July, the [Army]Special Compensation Branch processed 321 CRSC claims for PTSD.
Of those claims, 289 were approved, and 32 disapproved, for an approval rate of 90 percent.
In August, the branch processed 435 claims and approved 391, for an approval rate of about 90 percent."
See full article at: New criteria prompt resubmission of PTSD claims <---LINK

Did not find more recent material citing approval percentages.

Ron
Ron,

Recently the USA changed the criteria for approving PTSD and reconsidered some prior applications. While the number of PTSD applications approved will increase, I think the the numbers we are seeing right now are the result of a past injustice being righted.
 
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