BVA1316336: In-Service Incurrence / Aggravation

Citation Nr: 1316336 Decision Date: 05/17/13 Archive Date: 05/29/13 DOCKET NO. 08-14 287

FINDING OF FACT

The Veteran does not have posttraumatic stress disorder or another psychiatric disability which manifest or began in service, was aggravated by service, or is causally related to service.

CONCLUSION OF LAW

The criteria for service connection of a psychiatric disability have not been met.
38 U.S.C.A. § 1110 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.303, 3.304 (2012).

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSION …

Service connection is also not warranted for a psychiatric disability other than PTSD. The Board acknowledges that the probative evidence indicates that the Veteran has a mood disorder. The probative evidence does not indicate that the mood disorder began during, was aggravated by, or is causally related to military service, however.

Initially, the Board finds the psychiatric disability did not begin during service. The service medical records reflect no diagnosis of a psychiatric disability, the service personnel records reflect no notations suggestive of a behavioral change due to psychiatric symptoms, the first diagnosis of a psychiatric disability dates more than eight years after separation from military service, and VA examiners have provided opinions indicating that the current psychiatric disability did not begin during service: although the examiners did not explicitly make that determination, the Board finds the determinations that the condition preexisted service are de facto determinations that the condition did not begin during service. The Board acknowledges that the Veteran has reported that his psychiatric symptoms began during service. Although the Veteran is competent to report that his psychiatric symptoms began during service, the Board finds any such history is not credible in light of the varied and conflicting histories of record as to the date of onset of the psychiatric symptoms. Rucker v. Brown, 10 Vet. App. 67, 74 (1997); Layno v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 465, 469 (1994); see also Caluza v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 498 (1995). Thus, the Board finds any such history is not probative evidence of an in-service onset of a psychiatric disability. In sum, the Board finds a psychiatric disability did not begin during service.

Additionally, the Board finds the psychiatric disability was not aggravated by service. The Board acknowledges that the record includes histories and findings of a preexisting psychiatric disability. The probative evidence does not suggest that the preexisting psychiatric disability underwent an increase in severity during service, however. The service records contain no notation indicative of an increase in psychiatric symptomatology, and VA examiners have provided probative opinions that the preexisting psychiatric disability was not aggravated by service. Nieves-Rodriguez, 22 Vet. App. at 304. Furthermore, the Veteran has not provided credible lay evidence of an increase in symptoms during service: although he has competently reported that his symptoms increased during service, the Board finds the histories of an increase are not credible based on the conflicting histories provided by the Veteran as to the existence and nature of the psychiatric disability before, during, and after service and the highly probative medical findings of over-endorsement of symptomatology. Nieves-Rodriguez, 22 Vet. App. at 304. Thus, the Board finds the Veteran’s histories are not probative evidence of aggravation of a psychiatric disability during service.

The Board acknowledges that the Veteran was noted to be clinically normal with respect to the psychiatric system at entry to military service. The service medical records (i.e. the service treatment and examination records) and personnel records include no notations suggesting the current psychiatric disability was manifest during service, however, and although the Veteran has competently reported that he manifested psychiatric symptoms during service, that Board finds the Veteran is not credible based on the conflicting histories he has provided as to nature and date of onset of his psychiatric symptoms and the multiple medical findings of over-endorsement of symptomatology. In sum, the Board finds a psychiatric disability did not manifest during military service, and the presumption of soundness does not apply. Gilbert v. Shinseki, 26 Vet. App. 48 (2012) (presumption of soundness applies only when there is manifestation of a disease or injury during service).

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