BVA1455333: In-Service Stressor

Citation Nr: 1455333 Decision Date: 12/16/14 Archive Date: 12/24/14 DOCKET NO. 12-14 433

FINDING OF FACT

The Veteran has been diagnosed with PTSD medically linked to an established in-service stressor related to engaging in combat with the enemy.

CONCLUSION OF LAW

The criteria for service connection for PTSD have been met. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 1154, 5107 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.304, 4.125 (2014).

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSION

The Veteran’s claim is based, in part, on his contention that his PTSD resulted from his combat experiences while serving in the Republic of Vietnam. For the following reasons, the Board finds that service connection for PTSD is established. …

Second, as to verification of an in-service stressor, when the evidence establishes that the veteran engaged in combat with the enemy and the claimed stressor is related to that combat, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and provided that the stressor is consistent with the circumstances, conditions, or hardships of the veteran’s service, the veteran’s lay testimony alone may establish the occurrence of the claimed in-service stressor. 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(f)(2).

The phrase “engaged in combat with the enemy” means that the veteran must have personally participated in events constituting an actual fight or encounter with a military foe or hostile unit or instrumentality. VAOPGCPREC 12-99 (October 18, 1999); Gaines v. West, 11 Vet. App. 353 (1998). Certain military citations can constitute sufficient evidence that a particular veteran engaged in combat, absent evidence to the contrary. See VAOPGCPREC 12-99. Such citations are awarded primarily or exclusively for circumstances relating to combat. Id. The Veteran’s Form DD 214 reflects that he was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, thus he is presumed to have engaged in combat with the enemy. See id. In addition, his combat related stressor, that he was on a destroyer in Vietnam that was hit three or four times by shells, is consistent with the circumstances, conditions, or hardships of the Veteran’s service. Accordingly, the Veteran’s lay statements establish the occurrence of the claimed in-service stressor. See 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(f).

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