CS: There is still room for improvement in the way PTSD cases are treated

CS Chairman Jesper Korsgaard Hansen:

There is still room for improvement in the way PTSD cases are treated

For many years, Denmark has sent soldiers on international missions. Not all made it home alive, and not all of those who came home escaped physical or psychological harm from their deployment. With several years of experience, the Armed Forces have become better at taking care of their returning veterans, but there is still ‘gray areas’. Especially when it comes to compensation for these injuries.

It has been the practice that the soldier himself/herself must be able to prove that he or she has been harmed – physically or psychologically – because of his deployment. Consequently, many veterans have been denied compensation because they could not prove that their PTSD was caused by the deployment(s).

The rejections were based, among other things, on the fact that their PTSD could come from trauma in their childhood or family life and not necessarily because of a military mission.

For several years, CS has worked hard to influence politicians so that the rules around compensation and PTSD diagnoses could be changed. And now the current Secretary of Defense will finally make it possible for more PTSD-stricken veterans to receive compensation. This can be done, by reversing the burden of proof, so that it is no longer the soldier who must prove that he or she is ill, but rather the Armed Forces who must prove the opposite – that the soldier is not ill.

The proposal for a reversed burden of proof has previously been recommended by legal experts, and CS chairman Jesper Korsgaard Hansen welcomes the initiative.

“There is still room for improvement in the way PTSD cases are treated. When the politicians send soldiers out on missions the politicians also have a great responsibility when they return home”, he says.

A 2019 analysis of veterans’ workers’ compensation cases concluded that the current processing of cases means that too many have their claims for compensation dismissed, despite having been diagnosed by specialist doctors with PTSD and having been exposed to stress during their mission.

According to Danish media, only 12 percent of those who have received a new specialist (doctor’s) report – a so-called ‘second opinion’ – have had their case resumed.

The reasons for the rejections in this ‘second round’ are primarily ‘undocumented load, insufficient load and lack of temporal coherence’. Many soldiers with PTSD only received their final diagnosis several years after deployment, and this can make it extra difficult for the individual to remember details about the mission. At the same time, it has been difficult to convince the authorities if your life has been in danger during the mission. Because if you are not physically injured, have you been in danger then?

Therefore, CS is very much looking forward to new guidelines from the minister, which will make it significantly easier for the individual veteran to be awarded the compensation they are entitled to.

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