Sponsored by Disability Assistance Subcommittee Chairman John Hall, D-N.Y., and 16 other Democrats, the bill would allow a veteran to qualify for the monthly compensation for combat-related PTSD just by demonstrating that the psychological disorder was caused by something that happened while he or she was serving in the "combat theater" as defined by the Defense secretary. Currently, the Veterans Affairs Department requires proof that the stress occurred during "combat with the enemy."
Hall said that narrow definition was not what Congress intended when it passed legislation providing the financial compensation. He said it denies financial assistance to the many service members who experienced traumatic incidents while performing support functions. It particularly impacted women veterans, who are defined as noncombatants, he said.
But Subcommittee ranking member Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., protested that the bill was too broad and could cover hundreds of thousands of veterans.
Hall promised to work with Lamborn and the Republicans on possibly refining the qualification criteria before the bill goes to the full committee, perhaps next week.