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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

Guidelines to be Simplified for PTSD Benefits

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It may soon be easier for veterans to qualify for disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder.

— It may soon be easier for veterans to qualify for disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is changing rules for veterans seeking disability benefits for PTSD.

Veterans will no longer have to document a specific traumatic event they witnessed. They will only have to show they served in a combat zone in a job that would expose them to the type of events they say they experienced.

Veterans Village of San Diego CEO Phil Landis said more young veterans are seeking counseling for PTSD. He expects the new rules will help.

“On balance we’re going to provide appropriate benefits to more people than we would without it,” he said.

Studies have estimated that about 20 percent of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD.

Veterans advocates like William Rider hope the simplified process will lead more veterans to seek help. Rider is the president of American Combat Veterans of War. Although he says he is optimistic that the new guidelines will help veterans, he worries a possible influx could overwhelm the system.

“There are not enough services now, not only in San Diego but in other parts of the nation, in the VA," he said. "But, they’re actively trying to recruit doctors, clinicians, point of contact people. But, it’s a long process.”

A representative of Veterans Affairs Health Systems in San Diego says they meet local veterans' current needs and expect to adapt quickly to any increase in patients.

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