America's veterans deserve the very best medical care. Some come home with their battle scars on the inside suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Monday the government held a press conference to announce changes to make it easier for these veterans to get the help and benefits they deserve.
Robert Kingsley watched the announcement from a conference room at a V.A. hospital where he spent much of the past two years. He is just one of hundreds of thousands of veterans whose lives changed Monday, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.
"What I'm thankful of now is the fact that every man and woman coming home now is going to really get the help they need," said Kingsely, an Iraq veteran.
The Veterans' Administration is cutting away red tape to make it easier for Kingsley and other vets to get benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We made them jump through, really, jump through hoops in order to get this well-deserved benefit," said Michael Walcoff of the V.A.
After Kingsley came home from Iraq, V.A. doctors told him his flashbacks and nightmares were symptoms of PTSD.
"I sent in my claim in July of 2009 and I did not hear anything from them at all," said Kingsley.
Under the old regulations, he had to submit paperwork to prove not just that he had PTSD but that he had been exposed to a specific event like a roadside bomb that could cause PTSD. Finally the paperwork was kicked back to him because of a misspelling.
"I had already gone through a year in the process with my PTSD," said Kingsely.
A year in which he felt like a burden on his community and his parents.
"I could see it just building and building in him and to see your child torn up over and over again…" said Kingsley's father, David, his voice trailing off.
Over the years, 400,000 veterans of all wars have qualified for PTSD benefits and for many the wait was even longer than Kingsley's.
"These are people that had to wait in come cases years," said Walcoff.
Under the new regulations, all a veteran with PTSD has to do to qualify for benefits is prove he served in a war zone.
By one estimate there are 294,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with PTSD. The V.A. could end up paying out more in benefits but the burden of untreated veterans on society will be less.
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