BVA1334312: In-Service Stressor

Citation Nr: 1334312 Decision Date: 10/29/13 Archive Date: 11/06/13 DOCKET NO. 13-00 341A

FINDINGS OF FACT …

8. There was no in-service PTSD stressor and no psychiatric disorder or symptoms of a psychiatric disorder occurred during active service. …

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW …

8. The criteria for service connection for an acquired psychiatric disability, to include PTSD, a mood disorder, and alcohol abuse, have not been met. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1131, 1154(a), 5107 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.304(f) (2013). …

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS …

The evidence required to establish the occurrence of an in-service stressor depends upon the nature of the stressor. Special provisions allow that the occurrence of a claimed in-service stressor can be shown by certain kinds of credible supporting evidence where the claimed stressor involved personal assault, fear of enemy or terrorist activity, combat, service as a prisoner of war (POW), or diagnosis of PTSD during service. 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(f). None of the stressors reported by the Veteran fit into these categories. In cases such as this, credible supporting evidence of the occurrence of the stressor must be provided by someone other than the Veteran and cannot be provided solely by after the fact medical nexus evidence. See generally Cohen v. Brown, 10 Vet. App. 128, 145 (1997). …

The preponderance of evidence is against a finding that any of the reported in-service stressors occurred. In this regard, the most probative evidence of record shows that the Veteran’s reports of in-service events are not credible. There are two DD Form 214s of record, one for period of active service from July 1980 to July 1984 and one for the period from January 1985 to January 1988. For the period from July 1980 to July 1984, he had one year, one month, and twenty-seven days of foreign service and his awards for that period include a sea service deployment ribbon. For the period from January 1985 to January 1988, he had four days of sea service and no foreign service. This is evidence against a finding that he ever served in Okinawa during the period that he reports such service. This is inconsistent with his reports noted above. His reports are therefore afforded little probative weight.

Lay evidence can be sufficient to prove service connection, but due consideration shall be given to the places, types, and circumstances of such veteran’s service as shown by such veteran’s service record, the official history of each organization in which such veteran served, such veteran’s medical records, and all pertinent medical and lay evidence. 38 U.S.C.A. § 1154(a) (West 2002). All evidence shows that the Veteran’s MOS was that of a cook and there are numerous fitness reports from 1985, 1987, and 1988 that refer to his duties as a cook. Injuries involving repelling from helicopters and in helicopter training to rescue POWs and hostages is inconsistent with the Veteran’s documented service. This inconsistency tends to show that his reports of those in-service stressors are not credible, further reducing the probative weight afforded his statements.

The July 2010 psychological evaluation report and the August 2010 chiropractor report are based entirely on the Veteran’s report of his service. The most probative evidence shows that his reports of his service are not credible and therefore the July 2010 psychological evaluation report and the August 2010 chiropractor report are afforded only the most minimal of probative weight. His service treatment records include numerous normal clinical psychiatric evaluations documented in reports of medical examination over the course of his military service. There is no mention of a psychiatric condition or symptoms of a psychiatric condition until many years after his separation from active service. The Board therefore concludes that the preponderance of evidence shows that the in-service element of service connection is not met with regard to any psychiatric disability claim, including whether service connection is warranted for a mood disorder.

As to the PTSD issue specifically, the Veteran’s own reports, which is the only evidence favorable to his claim of entitlement to service connection for a psychiatric disability, are not sufficient to satisfy the requirement of credible supporting evidence of the occurrence of any reported in-service stressor. The Board is aware that he reported that he was stabbed in the leg during Reserve duty. However, nowhere is that listed as a stressor related to PTSD or as an event related to any other diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Hence, the special provisions for claims involving in-service personal assault stressors do not apply in this case.

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