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Meshberg-Cohen S, DeViva JC, Rosen MI. Counseling Veterans Applying for Service Connection Status for Mental Health Conditions. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2017 Apr 1; 68(4):396-399.
Veterans with mental health conditions that were either caused or aggravated by their military service are eligible to receive service-connected disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The process of applying for service connection status is complex, and it is not surprising that veterans frequently develop beliefs about service connection that may not be accurate and that could interfere with treatment. The authors describe some of these beliefs and offer suggestions to clinicians for addressing them. Veterans may believe that their clinician is directly involved in service connection determination or that therapy notes will determine the outcome of the claim. Veterans may not understand the basis for award of service connection and may interpret rejection of their claim as reflecting disrespect for their service or degree of distress. The authors argue that discussing these beliefs with veterans might enhance therapy by demonstrating familiarity with an important aspect of veterans' experience and by helping veterans address a significant and distressing issue.