Vet groups seek update in combat definition

By Kimberly Hefling – The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Mar 25, 2009 12:56:06 EDT

WASHINGTON — A World War II-era law established that veterans who “engaged in combat with the enemy” receive special treatment when they seek disability compensation, making it less burdensome for them to prove the injury was from their time in the service.

But members of veterans groups testified Tuesday that the law is outdated, and some veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling to obtain disability benefits because they don’t meet the definition.

There is particular concern, they said, that the rule interferes with disability benefits for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder whose trauma may not be documented by the military. PTSD can affect people who experience a traumatic event. Symptoms can include flashbacks and anxiety.

At his news conference Tuesday night, President Barack Obama acknowledged that returning veterans haven’t always been given the benefits and treatment they need for post-traumatic stress and serious brain injuries.

“Unfortunately, over the last several years, all too often the VA has been under-resourced when it comes to dealing with things like post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, dealing with some of the backlogs in admission to VA hospitals,” Obama said, in response to a question about spending in defense and veterans programs.


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