The VA rejected an Afghanistan veteran's disability claim for PTSD last month, citing his membership in VoteVets.org as a reason for the denial.
Staff Sergeant Will King retired from the Army in late 2003, after serving in both the first Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. As one of the first troops into the Afghan theater after 9/11, Will had been awarded a Bronze Star after participating in fierce fighting in the Shah-e-Kot Valley in March 2002. I know, because I was there with him.
As the months turned to years after his retirement, however, Will started having problems as the Iraq War dragged on. Depressed and unable to sleep, he thought it might be PTSD. Because, as those who study PTSD know, this is perfectly normal: The symptoms of PTSD frequently have a delayed onset that can take months or years to fully materialize. That's why, in April 2007, Will filed a claim with the VA for combat-related PTSD. The VA eventually agreed with Will and diagnosed him with mild PTSD. But Will felt like his condition was worse than that. And to boot, he thought it was getting worse. So Will appealed, and filed another disability claim with the VA in November 2007: He felt his symptoms were serious enough to warrant an increase in his disability rating from "mild" to "moderate."*
Unfortunately for Will, the VA denied his claim six months later, in May 2008. And while I won't challenge the VA's ultimate decision (I'm not a doctor), I find it repulsive that they cited Will's membership in VoteVets.org as a reason to deny his claim.
This is what the VA told Will in his denial letter:
The examiner states your PTSD symptoms are still present but you do not report symptoms at a degree or level which appears to suggest more severity. The examiner concurred with the previous diagnosis and assigned Global Assessment of Functioning Score of 52, stating you have occasional suicidal ideation but are able to cope with these symptoms and continue to function. The treatment reports from Memphis show you are currently involved with VoteVets.org, an advocacy group for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. You indicated involvement with this advocacy group makes you feel coping with your symptoms is worthwhile. The treatment note of March 10, 2008, indicates no homicidal or suicidal ideation and no thought disorder.