F.B. sought representation from Friedman Disability in 2014 following a rating decision in which the VA denied service connection for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). FB served as an MP in the United States Army Military Police Corps on a Hawk missile base along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. Hawk missile bases would have been a priority target for North Korean artillery strikes in the event of any conflict, and F.B. served during the especially tense period following the 1968 USS Pueblo event and therefore had even more justification to fear enemy attack, in addition to the fact that the Korean War had never officially ended.
The VA erred by initially denying service connection for F.B.’s PTSD even though he had served under the very real threat of enemy attack.
By obtaining sworn declarations from his treating physician and psychologist, detailing his employment history, and obtaining and submitting declassified documents detailing the service history of his unit, Friedman Disability persuasively argued that the VA should have granted F.B. both service connection for PTSD and a TDIU rating because (1) F.B.’s PTSD was caused by his fear of hostile military or terrorist activity during his service along the Korean DMZ and (2) his PTSD symptoms prevented him from following any substantially gainful occupation (SGO).
As a result of these efforts, in 2018, the VA granted F.B. service connection for his PTSD in the form of a 70 percent schedular disability rating as well as a TDIU rating and Dependents’ Educational Assistance, resulting in an award of more than $227,000 in past-due benefits. Our subsequent appeal to add F.B.’s spouse to these benefits resulted in an additional award of more than $14,000 of past-due benefits.