According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 50 percent of veterans who need mental health treatment will get the treatment they need and are entitled to. Eligible veterans have the option to file a VA Disability Mental Health claim which can provide a range of extra benefits.
There are many reasons why this can be, most of those reasons being that the vet chooses to avoid filing a claim.
One of the main reasons is the military culture prevents active-duty members from seeking military mental health.
Don’t be that person.
The VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities categorizes several mental illnesses that are eligible for compensation for disability.
A quick list reads:
- Cognitive disorders (diseases affecting the brain)
- Anxiety (which includes PTSD, panic disorder, and other phobias)
- Dissociative disorders (for instance, multiple personalities or forgetting where you were or what you did)
- Bulimia and anorexia
- And adjustment disorders (for example, feeling stressed to the point of being self-destructive)
Any of these will qualify for a disability rating.
Currently, it’s believed that 20% of vets who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or major depression (this is according to a study by the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research).
There is nothing to be gained for not filing a claim. You don’t have to keep going without help.
How to file a VA Disability Mental Health Claim
If you’ve even slightly experienced any of the disorders mentioned above since your service (or if they became worse after you served), you are best serving yourself and your loved ones to file a claim and begin to get help.
The old saying “Time heals all wounds” may still be popular, but there is no truth to it. Many studies have shown that mental illness will only continue to get worse if left untreated.
As of this writing mental illnesses can receive a rating of 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. Even if your symptoms are currently manageable, a 0% rating can still get you eligible for VA health care and other benefits (although you won’t receive monthly cash).
In order to make sure you get the full quality of care, you deserve to be sure to be ready to answer questions thoroughly without exaggeration. Preparing a statement ahead of time can be very helpful, as can an explanation of your illness in day to day life with family and friends. The VA does not give out high ratings easily for mental illness, so it is recommended to have as much information as possible at hand.
As awareness of mental illness grows, there has never been a better time to get the help you need.
The stigma around mental health
For some time, there has been a stigma attached to those dealing with mental illness that has been unfair and wrong. Whether it’s from pride, embarrassment, or another excuse, the time of believing that one should “get over it” is long gone.
Many veterans have experienced unique stressors and trauma most people will never know. The consequences of those experiences on the human mind and emotions is still just beginning to be understood.
The truth is that you deserve to get your life back. With the right treatment, it is entirely possible. File a claim today or encourage a vet you know who has been avoiding it to file a claim themselves.
You don’t have to fight alone.