THE BLOG
07/09/2010 02:22 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Administration Sets the Standard for Veterans Care

Post-traumatic stress disorder is the signature injury of the post-9/11 combat veteran. For years, as Veterans returned home with the invisible wound, VA red-tape has made it difficult to obtain a disability rating for the condition. Strange rules make it nearly impossible to prove the affliction. For example, Veterans have had to prove the existence of a "stresser" in order to qualify for a rating.

Most service members weren't whipping out their iPhones in the middle of firefights to get a video of them being shot at while holding up a copy of that day's edition of the New York Times, or obtaining certificates of having seen a child blown up by a suicide bomber.

To make matters worse, many women find their claims rejected with the VA assuming that they could not have been in combat when females on the front lines are theoretically prohibited. While women might not be carrying an M-249 in an infantry squad, female medics certainly are at the spearhead, female logistics Soldiers drive supply convoys on treacherous, IED laced roads, and female linguists, such as VetVoice's own Kayla Williams, have become an invaluable part of the force.

Even if a Soldier never encounters an IED, firefight or other defined "stresser", certainly walking patrols, running convoys or door-gunning a Chinook helicopter requires a state of long term hyper-vigilance that undoubtably effects the mind.

After already increasing VA funding and signing a bill to insure advanced funding for the Department, President Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs plans to announce next week that it is removing the speed-bumps that hindered PTSD afflicted Vets from obtaining a disability rating:

The government is making it easier for combat veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder to receive disability benefits.

The Veterans Affairs Department plans to announce Monday it will no longer require veterans to prove what might have triggered their illness. Instead, they would have to show that they served in combat in a job that could have contributed to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The nearly 20 percent of Veterans who return with signs of PTSD will now find it easier to obtain what they earned when they bravely defended their country. Making the process for obtaining benefits as smooth as possible is the least we owe these heroes. This decision to streamline the process for PTSD claims illustrates a commitment to our Veterans from this Administration that was absent for eight years under previous leadership.

For example, even with all the previously mentioned hurdles, Vets wishing to obtain a PTSD rating had even more impediments under the President's predecessor. As VoteVets uncovered in 2008, the VA of those days deliberately misdiagnosed Veterans to reduce the cost of treatment and disability payments:

On March 20, 2008 a VA hospital's PTSD program coordinator sent an e-mail to a number of VA employees, including psychologists, social workers, and a psychiatrist stating that due to an increased number of "compensation seeking veterans," the staff should "refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out" and they should "R/O [rule out] PTSD" and consider a diagnosis of "Adjustment Disorder" instead.

This doesn't even address the Bush Administration's under funding of VA and general lack of concern for Veterans and caring for them. The treatment received by Vets from George W. Bush was shameful, but President Obama has raised the bar and set a new standard for the way we care for Vets.