BVA1413417: In-Service Incurrence, Causal Nexus

Citation Nr: 1413417 Decision Date: 03/28/14 Archive Date: 04/08/14 DOCKET NO. 93-13 862

FINDINGS OF FACT …

3. The appellant has not been diagnosed with PTSD, and an acquired psychiatric disorder other than PTSD has not been shown to have begun during service, been aggravated by service, or have otherwise resulted from the appellant’s military service.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW …

3. Criteria for service connection for an acquired psychiatric disorder, to include PTSD, have not been met. 38 U.S.C.A. § 1110 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.303, 3.304 (2013).

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS …

In this case, the appellant was repeatedly found to be psychiatrically normal on the physical examinations during his active duty service. It is true that he reported having experienced nervousness or depression on several medical history surveys, but such notations were clarified by the medical officer to be referring to his hospitalization during college (that is prior to his active service). A September 1970 document indicates the hospitalization had occurred three years earlier, again, prior to active duty for training in 1969, and involved a situational depression following his father’s death. The in-service examinations found the appellant to be psychiatrically normal, and the psychiatric evaluation in September 1970 found he was fit for duty, with no residual psychiatric defects. As such, there simply is no in-service manifestation of any psychiatric problem. Thus, without any in-service psychiatric manifestation, the presumption of soundness does not apply. See Gilbert, supra.

Following service, the appellant has been treated for several psychiatric problems. However, no psychiatric disability has been shown to have begun during, been aggravated by, or have otherwise been caused by the appellant’s brief military service. To this end, the appellant has not specifically identified any medical professional who has made such a connection; and the appellant lacks the training and experience to render such a nexus opinion himself. See Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F. 3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

Moreover, the medical evidence of record suggests other causes for the appellant’s current psychiatric impairment. …

The appellant’s mother wrote in February 2002 that the appellant had gone to Virginia State College and then served in the U.S. Army. She asserted that he seemed to have problems dealing with stress since having gone into the service. His brother However, this statement does not specifically show the onset of psychiatric symptoms while the appellant was on active duty for training or active duty, or suggest that such service caused an acquired psychiatric disorder to develop.

Moreover, like the appellant, his mother may be confused about what constitutes service. It is quite understandable that a lay person might perceive either ROTC participation or inactive service while in the Army reserves (as the appellant had from January 1970 until he was separated from the reserves in April 1974) as constituting “military service.” However, as explained above, neither constitutes military service for the purpose of service connection. Here, the appellant was clearly hospitalized in college while in the ROTC. Likewise, the appellant may have experienced some psychiatric problems while still in the reserves in the wake of his motor vehicle accident in 1971 which caused significant physical limitation. However, he was not on either active duty or active duty for training at either time, and therefore any psychiatric manifestations during those times would not warrant service connection.

As described, to the extent that the appellant currently has an acquired psychiatric disorder, it is not shown that such a condition either began during or was otherwise caused by his military service, or was in any way aggravated by such service. Rather, the appellant is frequently shown to have psychiatric problems as a result of post-service injuries. Thus, the criteria for service connection have not been met, and the appellant’s claim is denied.

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