Board ignored favorable evidence in PTSD denial
CCK successfully appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims a Board decision that denied the Veteran service connection for posttraumatic stress disorder. The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1971 to 1975. His military records indicate foreign service. The Veteran stated that during service there were two stressor events in particular that caused his PTSD. He recovered remains from a helicopter crash and saw combat in Vietnam.
He claimed service connection for PTSD in June of 2006. The VA denied his claim in April of 2007 and the Veteran submitted a timely appeal. The Veteran underwent a VA examination in November of 2007. The examiner noted the Veteran’s combat experience in discussing his PTSD symptoms. Additionally, a medical record from November of 2013 noted the Veteran’s symptoms in relation to his service.
BVA denies service connection for PTSD
The Board issued a decision in March of 2016 that denied the Veteran service connection for PTSD. In its decision, the Board found that a medical examination was not necessary to fulfill VA’s duty to assist. In explaining this determination, the Board stated that the record did not contain any competent or credible evidence, lay or medical, indicating a link between the Veteran’s diagnosed PTSD and service.
CAVC agrees with CCK’s argument that Board committed error
CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred when it failed to address the favorable evidence of record in its decision in terms of its finding that an examination was unnecessary. Specifically, the Board did not address a PTSD diagnosis and symptoms related to this diagnosis when it found that there was no competent or credible lay or medical evidence indicating a link between the Veteran’s symptoms and service. Additionally, the Court determined “a brief review of the record shows that this PTSD diagnosis was related to his service.”
Accordingly, the Court remanded the case back to the Board for provision of an adequate statement of reasons or bases for whether the duty to assist was satisfied.