During the years 2007 through 2015, more than 24,000 veterans were denied proper TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) medical examinations in connection with their disability compensation claims. This admission, made by VA Secretary Robert McDonald, was announced in conjunction with the recent granting of “equitable relief” to the large number of veterans who were denied proper examination and treatment.
Secretary McDonald’s decision to correct this injustice means that the veterans can have their claims reprocessed and undergo complete TBI examinations. “Traumatic brain injury is a signature injury in veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” noted McDonald. “Providing support for veterans suffering from a TBI is a priority and a privilege, and we must make certain they receive a just and fair rating for their disabilities.”
The VA did not follow its own policy for TBI exams, which required that they be conducted by a psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon, or neurologist. The VA now admits that it had “issued a number of guidance documents that may have created confusion regarding the policy.”
“We let these veterans down,” said Secretary McDonald. “That is why we are taking every step necessary to grant equitable relief to those affected.”
The VA is said to be reaching out to veterans to invite them to have their claims reprocessed. The legitimacy of the claims—and extent of the injustice during the years 2007-2015—is indicated by the VA’s admission that more than 13,000 of those affected are “already receiving service-connected compensation benefits for TBI at a ten-percent disability evaluation or higher,” meaning that their TBI diagnosis has been established.
The VA employs 12,000 clinical social workers, whose expertise in behavioral health extends well into the care of the thousands of veterans who are suffering from TBI.
Source: VA News Release, June 1, 2016, “V.A. Secretary Provides Relief for Veterans with traumatic Brain Injuries”