What does it take.?
Patience, and lots of it. Too many cases go unresolved, and the Veteran expires before the claim is properly awarded. For you Marines like me, expires means dies.
My personal experiences suggest this problem is not going to change and come to a happy ending for us veterans. Logic would suggest with stacks of research showing a clear relationship between PTSD and many related illnesses, such as, organ failure, major depression, sleep disorder, irritability, hypertension and heart-related illnesses, it would be a no brainier. Sadly, this is not the case.
You only have to suffer the effects to know the years of pain from this hellish problem. Meanwhile, you suspect the VA knows the damage of long-term, untreated PTSD. If they have not had to deal with PTSD on a personal level they cannot know what the veteran has gone through. So it is up to veterans to explain their claim clearly enough that the Decision Review Officer (DRO) can grant the claim. The claims process is long, and the length of time is increased when the DROs have little knowledge of the veteran's medical conditions.
Knowledge about the effect of the trauma of war on our veterans has been known since the Civil War (irritable heart). Following subsequent wars, they called it battle fatigue and shell shock. Following Vietnam, it was called PTSD. Yet it is addressed as a new finding. The finding of the effects of PTSD is not new in my opinion. The effects of trauma on the soldiers of the Civil War in 1860 is not new. What is new is “awareness."
"To quantify trauma experienced by Civil War soldiers, researchers used a variable derived from percent of company lost to represent relative exposure to trauma. Researchers found that in military companies with a larger percentage of soldiers killed, the veterans were 51% more likely to have cardiac, gastrointestinal and nervous disease."
What makes this particularly sad to me is that it is treatable. Treatable if addressed early. However, for many of our veterans, early detection is not the case. When many of the veterans discover they have dealt with a lifetime of PTSD, it is due to early organ failure, like the heart. When the problems are recognizable the condition has reached a point that the damage is irreversible, and the progression of aging greatly accelerated. PTSD itself can be treated with limited success, but organ failure cannot.
Clearly, early detection through debriefing, and treating the effects of PTSD before it has time to do permanent damage.
How does that help our veterans of earlier battles? It doesn't, and processing their claims will not be accelerated as fast has their progression of premature aging and poor heath conditions. It is not like, "OK I will work on the PTSD and the other illnesses will go away." The die has been cast, and I believe their claims should be accelerated and everything done to make their final years more comfortable. Why some of these brave veterans can qualify for medical care, but not dental. Does this make sense? No more than the long delays in getting their claims filled.
Think of getting legal help for your filing of a claim, and an expert medical evaluation as a second opinion. Especially if you suspect the VA C&P doctor suffers from burn out, and the veteran's best interest becomes secondary.
The above is my personal opinion based on my experience.