Citation Nr: 18132355
Decision Date: 09/06/18	Archive Date: 09/06/18

DOCKET NO. 15-36 616
DATE:	September 6, 2018
REMANDED
Entitlement to service connection for a psychiatric disability, to include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression, is remanded.
REASONS FOR REMAND
The Veteran served on active duty from June 1973 to February 1975.
Entitlement to service connection for a psychiatric disability, to include PTSD and adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression is remanded.
The Board finds that further evidentiary development is necessary before the Board can adjudicate the claim on appeal.  Although the Board sincerely regrets the additional delay, it is necessary to ensure that there is a complete record upon which to decide the claim.
The Veteran contends that he has a psychiatric disability related to in-service events.  Specifically, in multiple statements and at a June 2018 hearing, the Veteran has stated that he was assaulted multiple times by a shipmate, and that he began having emotional problems as a result of being assaulted.  The Veteran has also reported on multiple occasions that he witnessed the death of a pilot in-service.  Deck Logs from the USS Oriskany for the period of time in which the Veteran served aboard confirm that an aircraft accident led to the death of an aviator in March 1974.  The Veteran was aboard the USS Oriskany at that time, and VA has found that the claimed stressful event was corroborated.  
At a June 2012 VA examination for PTSD, the examiner diagnosed adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression, and noted that the Veteran presented with Cluster B traits.  The examiner found that the stressor of repeatedly being hit during service by a fellow serviceman was adequate to support the diagnosis of PTSD, and that the stressor was related to the Veteran’s fear of hostile military or terrorist activity.  However, the examiner found that the Veteran did not meet the full criteria for PTSD.  The examiner did not address the stressor of witnessing an aviator’s death in an accident aboard the USS Oriskany, or whether that stressor was adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD in the Veteran’s case.  The examiner opined that the Veteran’s current depression and anxiety were likely caused by employment, finance issues, limited body mobility, and an unstable living condition.
A May 2013 addendum opinion was obtained because the Veteran’s claims file was unavailable for review.  The May 2013 examiner opined that the diagnosed adjustment disorder with anxiety and depressed mood was less likely than not related to the Veteran’s report that he was assaulted in service because the diagnosis referred to the Veteran’s current acute life stressors.
The Board finds the findings in the June 2012 VA examination are contradictory and incomplete.  The May 2013 addendum did not adequately provide a complete opinion as it was based on the June 2012 VA examiner’s findings.  Therefore, additional VA examination is needed which considers all evidence of record, specifically the conceded stressor of witnessing the death by accident of an aviator aboard the USS Oriskany.  
The matter is REMANDED for the following action:
1. Identify any VA or private medical records of treatment that are not already of record and associate them with the claims file.
2. Schedule the Veteran for a VA psychiatric examination to determine the etiology of all psychiatric disabilities found.  The examiner must review the claims file and should note that review in the report.  Any further indicated tests and studies to include psychological studies should be conducted to identify all current psychiatric disorders, to include any diagnosis of PTSD due to in-service personal assault or witnessing the death of an aviator.  The examiner must address the Veteran’s lay statements.  A complete rationale should be given for all opinions and conclusions expressed.
(a.) The examiner should diagnose all psychiatric disabilities present.  With respect to PTSD, the examiner should review the claimed in-service stressors to determine whether exposure to the claimed in-service stressors of personal assault, and of witnessing the death of an aviator in service, have resulted in PTSD.  The examiner should determine whether the diagnostic criteria to support the diagnosis of PTSD pursuant to DSM-IV have been satisfied.  The examiner should specifically state whether or not each criterion for a diagnosis of PTSD is met.  If a PTSD diagnosis is deemed appropriate, the examiner should comment upon the link between the current symptomatology and the claimed in-service personal assault or witnessing death in service.
(b.) With respect to all other psychiatric disorders found upon examination or diagnosed during the appeal period, to specifically include adjustment disorder and anxiety with depressed mood, the examiner should provide an opinion as to whether it is at least as likely as not (50 percent or greater probability) that each current psychiatric disability, to specifically include adjustment disorder and anxiety with depressed mood, is related to any incident of the Veteran’s active duty service, to include the claimed in-service events of personal assault or witnessing the death of an aviator in service.
 
Harvey P. Roberts
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	H. Ahmad, Associate Counsel

For A Complete Guide To VA Disability Claims and to find out more about your potential VA disability case and how to obtain favorable VA Rating Decision! Visit: VA-Claims.org

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