Board Failed to Explain Treatment of Conflicting Evidence in PTSD Denial
Summary of the Case
The Veteran served honorably in the United States Army from September 1984 to April 1992, and from January 2002 to December 2009. While stationed in Iraq in May 2008, the Veteran began counseling for feelings of depression and anxiety. He was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder with disturbances in emotions and conduct, and his term of duty was shortened.
He filed a claim for service connection for an adjustment disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in October 2009. He underwent a VA examination in November 2009 in which the examiner opined that his symptoms of depression were likely related to health, relationship, and unemployment problems, and not trauma.
He was granted service connection for major depressive disorder with anxiety disorder in December 2009, but the Regional Office denied service connection for PTSD. The Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement with the decision in which he stated that he saw soldiers die in combat, which caused his symptoms of sleeplessness, anger, and stress. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals remanded the veteran’s claim for PTSD twice, in August 2010 and October 2016.
In March 2017, the Board denied the Veteran’s claim for PTSD based on a VA examination which stated that although the veteran experienced trauma, he did not report that he experienced “recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of combat,” and therefore did not have PTSD. However, evidence in the Veteran’s record showed that he did relive his trauma.
CCK Appeals Service Connection for PTSD to Court and Court Remands Veteran’s Claim
CCK appealed the Veteran’s March 2017 Board denial for service connection for PTSD to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). CCK argued that the Board erred when it failed to explain how it treated evidence that the veteran did relive his trauma, and instead relied on the VA examination in its denial.
The Court agreed that the Board did not provide adequate reasons and bases for the denial, as the Board has an obligation to explain its treatment of conflicting evidence. Because the Board did not explain its treatment of the favorable evidence, the Court remanded the Veteran’s case back to the Board for readjudication.
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