Alcohol abuse is another characteristic of PTSD.  Why?  The pain, suffering, and psychological turmoil you are struggling with is often drowned in booze.  Many veterans with PTSD consume alcohol to mask depression, reduce anxiety, or divert their feelings.  Albeit, this is not a good way to fight against PTSD, but those with PTSD abuse alcohol often.  Again, another symptom of PTSD.     
Those veterans diagnosed with PTSD who experienced multiple combat traumas often suffer with “survivors guilt.”  They often ask themselves, “How did I survive when others did not?”  Or, “Why I am alive?  The other guys that died were so much more deserving of life.”  Tree hugging mental health professionals will certainly sympathize with those veterans who show signs of survivor’s guilt.       
Lastly, during your interview it is important to note that all of your symptoms occurred after your tenure in the war zone.  Before heading to war, you were happy, extroverted, and positive about your future.  This suggests to mental health professionals that war trauma has changed you in dramatic fashion.           
Understanding Your GAF Score      
After your interview, the mental health professional who did your assessment will provide you with a GAF score.  The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) is a measure of your immediate daily functioning.  It is a score from 0-100.  The higher the score the healthier you are, psychologically speaking.  Veterans with PTSD generally have a GAF score of 40 – 49.  Once your interview is completed you may want to ask your interviewer what GAF score they assigned you.  If you receive a score over 60, you may want to inject a well rehearsed, “Oh, I forgot to tell you…”         
Developing A Documentation Trail     
So much of making the bureaucratic evaluation system work is to “play the game.”  The mindset of VA mental health professionals is such, that if you are not actively working on helping your condition, then you do not have a condition.  If a veteran is not involved in individual or group psychotherapy, then, according to VA personnel, that veteran does not have a condition.  If PTSD has been previously diagnosed and the veteran refuses treatment or rarely attends treatment, then that veteran is in jeopardy of losing his or her benefits.      
When pursuing service-connected benefits a veteran must show that he or she is attending treatment programs offered by the VA.  Vet Centers are great vehicles for developing documentation trails.  Your local Vet Center will help you put together the documentation you need to show proof that you are interested in working on your PTSD.  After several weeks of attending group or individual therapy, your therapist at your local Vet Center can provide you with a 2-3 page letter illustrating your involvement in the Vet Center program. 

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