The widow of an Iraq War veteran who committed suicide in 2008 has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs alleging that her husband received substandard mental health care after his return from combat. The solider, Scott Eiswert, was denied veterans disability benefits for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) three times in the three years after his return from war.According to the lawsuit filed by Tracey Eiswert, her husband was exposed to several traumatic events while serving in the military, including a roadside bomb incident that killed 93 people. When he returned to the United States and was honorably discharged, he reported suffering from depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and extreme irritability. In addition, he had difficultly holding a job and communicating with his family.
Eiswert sought counseling and veterans’ disability benefits in the years after his military service. However, his benefits were denied each time because of issues with his application – such as not providing enough detail or not referring to the correct Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Eiswert’s condition deteriorated and he took his own life in three years after he was discharged.
His wife believes that the VA had a responsibility to do more to help her husband after his return, and that his disability benefits should not have been denied in such a manner. Since his death, the VA has changed the process in which soldiers with PTSD are treated when applying for disability benefits.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.