Citation Nr: 18132227
Decision Date: 09/06/18	Archive Date: 09/06/18

DOCKET NO. 16-09 022
DATE:	September 6, 2018
ORDER
Entitlement to service connection for an acquired psychiatric disorder (claimed as post-traumatic stress disorder, behavior issues, depressive disorder and recovery of memory) is granted.
FINDING OF FACT
Resolving all doubt in the Veteran’s favor, the Veteran’s diagnosed dissociative disorder is at least as likely as not related to service.
CONCLUSION OF LAW
The criteria for establishing service connection for dissociative disorder have been met. 38 U.S.C. § 1110, 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303, 3.304 (2017).
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSION
The Veteran served on active duty from August 1966 to June 1967 and June 1967 to June 1969, to include service in the Republic of Vietnam.
This matter comes before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) from a June 2012 rating decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO).
Service connection may be granted for a disability resulting from disease or injury incurred in or aggravated by service. 38 U.S.C. § 38 1110, 1131; 38 C.F.R. § 3.303. Regulations also provide that service connection may be granted for any disease diagnosed after discharge, when all the evidence, including that pertinent to service, establishes that the disability was incurred in service. 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(d).
Generally, in order to provide service connection, there must be competent, credible evidence of (1) a current disability, (2) an in-service incurrence or aggravation of an injury or disease, and (3) a nexus, or link, between the current disability and the in-service disease or injury. See, e.g., Davidson v. Shinseki,     581 F.3d 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2009). 
The Board finds the medical evidence of record shows the Veteran has a current acquired psychiatric disorder, diagnosed as dissociative disorder and depressed disorder. The evidence does not indicate a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Thus, the question before the Board is whether the Veteran’s current acquired psychiatric disability is related to service.
The Veteran asserted his psychiatric disorder was caused by trauma he experienced during service in Vietnam. He stated that he began to have flashbacks of memories in Vietnam, has had recurrent and distressing recollections of these memories and recalled one distressing event, in particular, in which, as part of a combat engineer unit that cleared land mines, he stepped on a land mine that did not detonate. The Veteran’s service personnel records indicate he was a combat engineer and served in Vietnam from July 1968 to June 1969. A May 2012 formal finding by the U.S. Army Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC) confirmed the Veteran was part of a combat group that cleared land mines in Vietnam. The Board finds the Veteran’s statements are consistent with the places, types and circumstances     of his service.
A May 2012 VA examiner indicated diagnoses of dissociative disorder and depressive disorder. During the examination, the Veteran described an inability to recall important personal information that had occurred since he was in Vietnam and that, in the past three years, he had begun to spontaneously recall memories of Vietnam. He also reported symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, trouble concentrating and trouble sleeping. He reported recurrent and distressing recollections of events, persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, an inability to recall important aspects of the trauma, and feelings of detachment and estrangement from others. He reported a distressing event of moving 3000 pounds of explosives and stepping on a landmine that did not detonate and realizing how close he had come to “being vaporized.” 
The examiner concluded that the Veteran’s dissociative disorder was as likely as    not incurred during military service as a combat engineer in Vietnam due to his     fear of hostile military activity. The Board finds the opinion of the VA examiner     to be highly probative and persuasive, as it is based on a review of the evidence of record and is supported with a reasoned medical explanation. See Nieves-Rodriguez v. Peake, 22 Vet. App. 295, 302-04 (2008). Following reviewing the evidence of record and evaluating the Veteran, the examiner reasoned that the Veteran reported experiencing combat trauma in Vietnam, which he had forgotten until approximately three years ago, and that after returning home from Vietnam, he began experiencing 
large gaps in his memory that were not trauma-related. He concluded that dissociative symptoms are often characteristic of trauma experiences, and the Veteran reported   that the earliest memories he was recalling were of his service in Vietnam. Regarding the Veteran’s current depressive disorder, the examiner concluded it was less likely than not related to his in-service experiences, reasoning the Veteran did not describe depression related to service but rather due to job regrets and family strains. There is no medical evidence of record to the contrary.

The record also contains several years of medical treatment records, including those in April 2009, October 2010 and January 2012, in which the Veteran consistently reported his account of events and symptoms.
In light of the probative medical opinion linking the Veteran’s currently diagnosed dissociative disorder to service, and after resolving all doubt in the Veteran’s favor, the Board finds that the entitlement to service connection is warranted.

 
KATHY A. BANFIELD
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	M. C. Birder, 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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