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Veterans Groups Clash with VA Over Who Can Diagnose PTSD

I've written before here about the Department of Veterans Affairs' reluctance to take advantage of the many resources in the private sector to help veterans. This is another example. As Noel Brinkerhoff at points out, at the same time that the VA made it easier for soldiers to file a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claim, the agency also made it more difficult to receive such a diagnosis, prompting veterans groups to sue the government over the latter change.

As Brinkerhoff and others have reported, the VA decided veterans no longer need to provide witnesses to substantiate a claim of PTSD. This move was heralded by veterans' organizations. But then it was learned that the agency adopted another new rule that states PTSD diagnoses must come from VA doctors, not private physicians.

This decision could have a negative impact on such worthy non-governmental organizations as Give an Hour, a nonprofit founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C., that has already recruited several thousand highly qualified private-sector therapists who are willing and ready to offer free mental health assistance to the troops and families affected by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and assist the Department of Defense, and help the VA with its backlog of PTSD and other mental health claims.


Richard Cohen, executive director at the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA), told

As a result, NOVA, along with the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Modern Warfare, are suing the VA, arguing that the agency has offered no proof that only their doctors are best qualified to diagnosis PTSD.