Citation Nr: 18160567
Decision Date: 12/27/18	Archive Date: 12/27/18

DOCKET NO. 17-04 765
DATE:	December 27, 2018
REMANDED
The claim of entitlement to service connection for a back disability is remanded.
The claim of entitlement to service connection for an acquired psychiatric disorder, to include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder, is remanded.
REASONS FOR REMAND
The Veteran had active service from October 1977 to October 1980, with subsequent Reserve service.  
1.  Entitlement to service connection for a back disability
Service treatment records for the Veteran’s initial period of service include a January 1980 treatment note indicating low back strain.  
As noted, the Veteran had Reserve service following his initial period of active service.  An August 1981 treatment record indicates complaints of lumbar pain, which had improved.  The impression was low back strain, resolved.  
The Veteran asserts that he sustained a back injury while on active duty in 1982, while at NAS Fallon, Nevada.  Service personnel records do show duty during June 1982, but do not specify the type of duty or its location.  Moreover, a record of Naval Reserve service contained in the service personnel records indicates that the Veteran participated in various drills during 1981 and 1982, but do not specify their dates and locations.  
Because it appears that the Veteran did have periods of Reserve duty, but their nature is unclear, the Board concludes that records reflecting the Veteran’s Reserve duty status should be obtained.   
The Board additionally concludes that, following development for Reserve records, an examination should be conducted to determine the nature and etiology of any current back disability.
2.  Entitlement to service connection for an acquired psychiatric disorder, to include PTSD and major depressive disorder
The Veteran seeks service connection for an acquired psychiatric disorder.  The record contains diagnoses of PTSD and major depressive disorder, in addition to diagnoses of substance abuse and dependence.  
The Veteran has reported his belief that his psychiatric disorder is related to an incident during service.  The record contains a report regarding the April 1980 crash of a P-3 Orion aircraft in Samoa.  The article indicates that the aircraft was based out of NAS Moffett Field.  Service personnel records indicate that the Veteran was stationed at Moffett Field as a member of Patrol Squadron FIFTY at Moffett Field from March 1978 to October 1980.  The Veteran attributes his psychiatric symptoms to this incident.  
The Board concludes that an examination is warranted to determine whether the Veteran has an acquired psychiatric disorder that is related to any incident of service.  
The matters are REMANDED for the following action:
1.  Consult the October 2017 Statement in Support of Claim submitted by the Veteran listing his Navy Reserve units.  If additional information is needed from the Veteran, he should be contacted and asked to supply that information.  Advise him that he may submit any records pertaining to his Reserve service in his possession.  
Contact the appropriate entities to request from each unit, or other appropriate records repository, a definitive certification of all periods of active duty, ACDUTRA and INACDUTRA.  
Then, document for the record a chronological listing of these periods of service and the type of service.
2.  Thereafter, schedule the Veteran for a VA examination to determine the etiology of his claimed back disability.
The claims file must be made available to the examiner.  All necessary tests and studies should be accomplished, and all clinical findings should be reported in detail.  
Following review of the record and examination of the Veteran, the examiner should provide an opinion with respect to whether it is at least as likely as not (50 percent or more probability) that the claimed back disability is related to (a) any event of active service; (b) a disease or injury incurred during a period of ACDUTRA; or (c) an injury incurred during a period of INACDUTRA.  
In rendering this opinion, the examiner is advised that the Veteran is competent to report his symptoms and history.  Such reports must be acknowledged and considered in formulating any opinion.  If the clinician rejects the Veteran’s reports, he or she must provide an explanation for such rejection.  The examiner is not to improperly discount the Veteran’s lay statements or mistakenly rely on an absence of medical evidence in the record to support his or her conclusions.
The complete rationale for all opinions should be set forth and a discussion of the facts and medical principles involved would be of considerable assistance to the Board.
If an opinion cannot be provided without resorting to mere speculation, the examiner must provide a complete explanation for why an opinion cannot be rendered.  In so doing, the examiner must explain whether the inability to provide a more definitive opinion is the result of a need for additional information, or that he or she has exhausted the limits of current medical knowledge in providing an answer to that particular question.
3.  Following completion of the development directed in paragraph 1, schedule the Veteran for an examination to determine the nature and etiology of any diagnosed acquired psychiatric disorder.  
The evidentiary record, including a copy of this remand, must be made available to and reviewed by the examiner.  
After the record review and examination of the Veteran, the examiner should indicate all current acquired psychiatric disorder diagnoses present during the appeal period.
If PTSD is diagnosed, the examiner must identify the stressor or stressors upon which the diagnosis is based.  
Regarding acquired psychiatric disorders other than PTSD, the examiner should provide an opinion regarding whether it is at least as likely as not that any such disorder was incurred in, or is otherwise related, to active service.
In rendering these opinions, the examiner is advised that the Veteran is competent to report his symptoms and history.  Such reports must be acknowledged and considered in formulating any opinion.  If the clinician rejects the Veteran’s reports, he or she must provide an explanation for such rejection.  The examiner is not to improperly discount the Veteran’s lay statements or mistakenly rely on an absence of medical evidence in the record to support his or her conclusions.
The complete rationale for all opinions should be set forth and a discussion of the facts and medical principles involved would be of considerable assistance to the Board.
(Continued on the next page)
 
If an opinion cannot be provided without resorting to mere speculation, the examiner must provide a complete explanation for why an opinion cannot be rendered.  In so doing, the examiner must explain whether the inability to provide a more definitive opinion is the result of a need for additional information, or that he or she has exhausted the limits of current medical knowledge in providing an answer to that particular question.
 
DONNIE R. HACHEY
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	J. Barone, 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

For More Information on Veterans Disability Compensation Benefits! Visit: DisableVeteran.org ~ A Non-Profit Non Governmental Agency


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