Stressor Statements

So you’ve filed for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a VA rating? Whether it be on your own accord or with the help of an accredited veteran services officer (VSO), documenting your PTSD properly is paramount to winning your claim and getting the compensation and disability rating you deserve.

When you submit a claim for PTSD you’ll most likely be contacted by the VA after they receive your claim. They will have examined your claim and may reach out to you to provide a “stressor statement,” to support your claim. And you may wonder to yourself what the heck is a stressor statement exactly?

What is a stressor statement?

A stressor statement is a description of the stressful experiences you had in the military that led to your developing PTSD. The VA will ask you to provide a statement on a VA form 21-0781. If your stressor is related to a personal assault, to include military sexual trauma and physical attacks, you would file a VA form 21-0781a.

These forms are used to gather information so the VA can find records corroborating in-service stressors for PTSD (Any trauma not related to personal assault should be reported on a 0781). Let’s take a look at the information needed for this form.

Date of Incident

I’d like to examine the Date of Incident portion. I would say this is the one part of the form that gives veterans the most trouble. You mean to tell me that you need the exact day that this happened and it was way back in the 70’s? It is already stressful enough to recall the incident in question. Often the case is that it has been that so much time has passed that you honestly cannot recall the date.

Just the sheer amount of time that has passed makes this a difficult piece of the puzzle. And it might be that the incident in question has even caused memory loss! That’s ok believe it or not. It’s acceptable to think that you may not recall the exact date. But here’s what I don’t want you doing.

DO NOT GUESS! A guess is you telling the VA that is the date you want their research to center around. Try and recall something that would help reference the time. Early summer, late winter. Stating that the incident happened a couple of days or weeks around a holiday is always a great reference. If you recalled that it happened around your wedding anniversary or your birthday or something to that effect that would pay huge dividends in the VA nailing down a timeframe of the incident. And please make sure you then provide that date in your remarks. You do not want the VA questioning the validity of your claim. Once the validity is questioned, your chances of victory have now entered the category of slim to none.

Description of Incident

The next portion of the form is one that I find is the most difficult. The Description of the Incident may be painful to fill out. I get it. But it is very important for your claim. Be specific as possible. If specificity is lacking than be vague but DO NOT BE WRONG! Details do matter! And the details can be used in your favor.  

Behavior changes

The final portion of the form I’d like to examine is the space provided for behavioral changes occurring after the incident. To me personally, this is what I see matter the most when the VA decides your claim. This is not the time to be proud. It’s time to get real. Think about how your life has been affected by this stressor. Having problems on the job or trouble holding down a job? Talk about things you used to love doing. Things you have no interest in anymore. Even if you are dealing with intimacy issues, now is not the time to be shy about those. As open and honest you can possibly be is how you need to be with regards to the effects. Godspeed vet!

Brett is a retired U.S. Air force Master Sergeant of twenty years and calls Orlando, Florida his home nowadays.  He is a husband to wife Catherine and proud father to twin boys Mason and Cannon. You can contact him at [email protected]

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