The Rating Board will want a "Stressor Letter" from you. This letter does not have to be a story about your complete tour of duty in Vietnam. You only need to write a specific incident or tragic event which took place while you where in Vietnam. We have included some examples of stressor letters to help you have an idea of how to write yours. Again, names, addresses, social security numbers, VA file & claim numbers have been blackened out to protect the privacy of the individual whom the stressor letters belong to. These examples can be found in the Chapter 24 "Example Stressor Letters”.
If you have received an award, a CIB Badge or a Purple Heart because of a traumatic event you should include a copy of the Special Orders which warranted the award. This information helps confirm and establish the fact that the stressor incident did happen. The VA has been known to fail to acknowledge a stressor letter saying they have no proof of such an event taking place.
If you have a specific event which took place, but you did not receive any award or purple heart during the event, then perhaps you can get in touch with some other Veterans who also witnessed the event. Ask them to write a short letter for you describing what happened. They can write the letter to "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN” and then forward it to you. Ask them to sign and date the letter. The letter can be hand written.
Another way to help prove you experienced a specific event is if there were any American KIA’s (Killed In Action) when the event took place. If you remember their names it is very easy for the VA to confirm whether your claim of being at a specific spot is verifiable. As you know there is a Wall in Washington with names of those who died in Vietnam. Each name has a story behind it. The VA is familiar with each story. They know what unit the person was assigned to, how, when, and where that person died. If you establish you were also assigned to the same unit, at the same time and at the same place this can help prove what you say about your specific traumatic event is true.
You do not have to have been awarded any medals or Purple Hearts to have PTSD or receive compensation for PTSD. Just being in Vietnam under a long term sustained life threat can cause PTSD.
It is more difficult to receive a 100% award for PTSD if you did not have a combat MOS or you were in a rear area with a real cushy job. However, even those who may have never been in actual combat can have PTSD. They may have been under Rocket Attack's, Mortar Attacks, had Sniper’s shooting into their area, Mid-Air Crashes, Fires, etc. Sometimes it is difficult to prove these events happened, but it is not impossible. Again, if a Veteran experienced this type of traumatic event and if he/she can get some other Veteran(s) who were there to write a letter of support, this can help. Some Veterans wrote letters home telling about what they were experiencing. If you still have some letters you can use them to help establish your traumatic event.
The Armed Forces also kept records about day to day events. These are called "After Action Reports" or “Sequential Listing of Significant Events". An example of an After Action Report can be found in Chapter 26 "After Action Reports”. Many After Action Reports are available to you. These types of reports can help confirm your claim about specific traumatic events. You will also find a list of addresses of where to write requesting copies of these reports. These examples can be found in Chapter 29 “Addresses - Where to Write”. Sometimes they will agree to make copies for you or they may charge a fee for doing so. On occasion the Armed Forces from which you are requesting an After Action Report will not be cooperative and refuse to make copies for you. Then you must request permission to go to the location of the documents, view the reports and make copies of them yourself.
If you would like to contact a Commanding Officer whom you served under to help verify a specific event, that may be possible too. You must write what is called an "OPEN LETTER". You send your Open Letter to the Commandant of the Armed Forces in which you served. You request him to forward your Open Letter to the Commanding officer which you are writing to. You will find an example of an Open Letter in Chapter 23 “Example Letters".
To send an "Open Letter" you must write a cover letter to the Commandant of the Armed Forces which you served. Your Open Letter must include a copy of your DD 214. Your cover letter should explain who the Commanding Officer is, what Unit, Battalion, Division, where and when he was your Commander, etc., and why you wish your Open Letter to be forwarded. The more information you can provided the Commandants' office, the easier it will be for them to find your Commander. We have provided you with a list of the current Commandants of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps with their address. You will find this list in Chapter 29 “Addresses - Where to Write".