June 01, 2018

Not Alone: Sensitivity to Veterans’ Mental Health through Mindful Legal Representation

Leonard Simmons, Seward & Kissel, New York, NY

In many ways, the process to obtain veterans benefits is at odds with the health and well-being of the servicemembers it is designed to support.  Based on their service, veterans may be entitled to healthcare, rehabilitation, and disability compensation benefits.1 However, the application process to obtain these health-related benefits can itself be painful.  Veterans must navigate a complex administrative regime and submit claims requiring a combination of expert-level medical and legal analysis, often impeded by the same disabilities that they are seeking healthcare and compensation for.  For example, veterans seeking compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are required to prove that their condition has a legally cognizable nexus to their service and that their diagnosis conforms to the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).2 Although health laws are beginning to ease the burden on such veterans, many remain unable to prepare these filings without the assistance of counsel or private physicians.3

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