PTSD compensation not enough, veterans say

Roughly 500 million kroner has been set aside to compensate war veterans who have developed delayed-onset PTSD, but veterans’ group calls it “a very low amount”

The government has set aside nearly 500 million kroner to compensate war veterans who have suffered from delayed-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A new agreement means that the pool of money will be set aside between 2013-2017 to compensate soldiers who have developed PTSD more than six months after their return from the front. Soldiers who reported their PTSD symptoms after six months had previously had their claims wrongfully rejected for years. The workers' compensation board, Arbejdsskadestyrelsen, had previously rejected the claims with the argument that it was simply following protocols established by the World Health Organisation protocol (WHO). WHO officials, however, said the organisations guidelines are not as rigid as the Danish interpretation implies and in June it was decided that those with delayed-onset PTSD would be eligible for compensation.

“We have a responsibility to support the soldiers who have taken good care of Denmark,” the defence minister, Nicolai Wammen (S), said in a press release. “So I am pleased that we have agreed that the veterans who have developed PTSD because of their service can get the support they deserve.”

READ MORE: Veterans secure PTSD compensation

Not good enough
Veterans who have been wrongfully denied compensation and have had their cases re-processed using the new criteria will begin receiving compensation starting from the beginning of 2014. 

Andreas Reckeweg Godfrey, a spokesperson for the national veterans' centre, Veterancentret, praised the decision. 

"This has affected many Danish veterans and their relatives in regards to receiving both support and recognition," Godfrey told The Copenhagen Post. "Veterancentret is glad that a decision has now been reached."

But Benjamin Yeh, a spokesperson for Danish war veterans, doesn’t think that the amount set aside is enough, citing the rising number of PTSD cases.

“In the short term, the compensation will give veterans peace of mind because many have fallen through the cracks of society and are fighting to hold their finances and families together,” Yeh told Berlingske newspaper. “But 500 million kroner is a very low amount because there is a continuous new stream of veterans who need help.”

According to Arbejdsskadestyrelsen, between 200 and 250 cases involving soldiers who developed serious psychological problems after returning home from combat deployment will be re-opened.

A work-related injury
The employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (S), echoed Wammen’s sentiments, arguing that it is important that all wage earners in the nation can go to work knowing that they are secured in the case of work-related injury.

“That also includes our soldiers who have been deployed on behalf of Denmark,” Frederiksen said in a press release. “It’s good that we sorted out the PTSD issue so that our veterans suffering from PTSD can get the acknowledgement that they’ve yearned for all these years.”

Under the previous rules, PTSD cases were not approved as work-related injuries if the condition developed more than six months after a soldier returned from conflict zones. But a new report by the occupational health clinic at Copenhagen's Bispebjerg Hospital showed that every fourth case of PTSD develops more than six months after the occurrence of a traumatic experience.

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