Citation Nr: 18160410
Decision Date: 12/27/18	Archive Date: 12/26/18

DOCKET NO. 17-07 814
DATE:	December 27, 2018
REMANDED
Service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is remanded.
REASONS FOR REMAND
The Veteran had active service from July 1965 to May 1969, November 1990 to December 1991, and December 1996 to January 2007. This matter is on appeal from a July 2012 rating decision.
1. Service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is remanded.
The Veteran was afforded a VA examination in December 2011. Unfortunately, the VA examiner indicated that only medical records were reviewed and the claims file was unavailable. Additionally, there is no indication the examiner considered all the Veteran’s symptomatology as the Veteran’s wife provided a statement that described nightmares, avoidance of crowds, diminished interest in family activities, irritability, and exaggerated startle response that are not shown in the December 2011 examination report. Accordingly, a VA addendum opinion is required. See Barr v. Nicholson, 21 Vet. App. 303, 312 (2007) (When VA undertakes to provide a VA examination or obtain a VA opinion, it must ensure that the examination or opinion is adequate.).
Additionally, in April 2017, the Veteran appointed Maine Veterans’ Services (MVS) as his representative, thereby revoking his prior power of attorney. See 38 C.F.R. § 14.631(f)(1). MVS has not yet been offered the opportunity to submit evidence and argument in support of the Veteran’s claim, and must be provided the opportunity to do so on remand. See 38 C.F.R. § 20.600.
Lastly, in the Veteran’s February 2017 Substantive Appeal Form 9, he did not affirmatively indicate whether he desired a hearing before the Board in connection with the appeal. If the claim remains denied following readjudication, please remind the Veteran of the opportunity to request a hearing if he so desires. 
The matter is REMANDED for the following action:
1. Afford the Veteran’s representative, the Maine Veterans’ Services, the opportunity to review the claims file and to submit a VA Form 646 or equivalent on the Veteran’s behalf.
2. Obtain an addendum opinion from the VA examiner who rendered the opinion in December 2011. If the examiner is not available, seek an opinion from another clinician. The electronic claims file, to include a complete copy of the REMAND, must be made available to the clinician designated to examine the Veteran, and the report of examination should include discussion of the Veteran’s documented history and assertions.
The Board leaves it to the discretion of the clinician asked to offer the opinion whether the Veteran should be reexamined. If examined, all indicated tests and studies should be accomplished, and all clinical findings should be reported in detail. 
The examiner is asked to determine the nature and cause of any PTSD. If the Veteran is diagnosed with PTSD, the examiner must explain how the diagnostic criteria are met and opine whether it is at least as likely as not related to a verified in-service stressor.  
If any other acquired psychiatric disorders are diagnosed, the examiner must opine whether each diagnosed disorder is at least as likely as not related to an in-service injury, event, or disease, to include the Veteran’s combat- related injuries.  
In reaching any conclusion, the examiner is asked to consider the October 2011 statement provided by the Veteran’s wife that describe the Veteran’s symptomatology and the October 2011 and July 2013 statements provided by the Veteran that describe his combat stressors.
A rationale for any opinion offered should be provided.
3. If the claim remains denied, remind the Veteran that he may request a hearing before the Board if he so desires.
 
MARJORIE A. AUER
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	Kelly A. Gastoukian, Associate Counsel

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