BVA1431031: In-Service Incurrence

Citation Nr: 1431031 Decision Date: 07/10/14 Archive Date: 07/15/14 DOCKET NO. 09-25 944

FINDINGS OF FACT …

2. The evidence does not show an in-service incurrence of mental health problems.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

2. The criteria for service connection for an acquired psychiatric disability have not been met. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 5107 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.304 (2013).

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

The criteria for service connection for an acquired psychiatric disability have not been met. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.303.

The Veteran has current mental health diagnoses and treatment. VA treatment from 2013 shows diagnoses of bipolar disability, PTSD, and polysubstance abuse. Dr. AMS diagnosed mood disability in May 2012.

The evidence does not show an in-service incurrence of mental health problems. Service treatment records from February 1974 note psychiatric problems prior to entering service. The Veteran was given a mental health evaluation prior to acceptance for service. A pre-service history was noted, but no current neurosis or psychosis was found. Despite the noted history, the Veteran was found fit for duty without any psychiatric disability at the time of entrance into service. Thus, the presumption of soundness could be for application in this claim as well. 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(b). However, before the presumption of soundness is for application, there must be evidence that a disease or injury that was not noted upon entry to service manifested or was incurred in service. See Gilbert v. Shinseki, 26 Vet. App. 48, 52 (2012). There is no evidence in the Veteran’s service records of any treatment or complaints of mental health problems. The Veteran has also not reported any mental health symptoms during service. Therefore, the presumption of soundness is not for application and there is no in-service incurrence of mental health problems.

Claims for service connection for PTSD require an in-service incurrence, or stressor, accompanied by credible and supporting evidence that the stressor claimed to be the cause of the disability occurred in service, or specific circumstances of combat or hostile military or terrorist activities consistent with the nature of said service. 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(f); Cohen v. Brown, 10 Vet. App. 128, 138 (1997). In a February 2012 letter, the Joint Services Records Research Center coordinator determined that there was insufficient evidence in the Veteran’s claims file to corroborate any stressor associated with a claim for PTSD. The Veteran has not provided a statement of a stressor event of any kind. Therefore, service connection for PTSD cannot be established. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.304.

Service connection for substance abuse is prohibited by law. 38 U.S.C.A. § 1110.

Private treatment records show treatment for situational depression in 1979 and continuous mental health treatment in the 1990s and 2000s. Additionally, an opinion from Dr. AMS concludes that the Veteran’s mental health conditions are aggravated by his back condition. However, his back condition is not service-connected and cannot provide a basis upon which to grant service connection for his mental health disabilities. Moreover, with no in-service incurrence of mental health problems, service connection cannot be granted and a discussion of the nexus element is moot. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.303.

The preponderance of the evidence is against service connection for a low back disability and an acquired psychiatric disability. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.303. The benefit of the doubt was given and is otherwise inapplicable. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.102.

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