Service Officer - Martin Snowden

6437 Garners Ferry Road
Suite 1124
Columbia, SC 29209

(803) 647-2442 / 2443
Fax: (803) 647-2313

Hours of operation 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Friday - 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed on all Federal Holidays.


The VA has changed the stressor requirement for PTSD claims. Previously, the veteran had to provide a “verifiable” stressor of a traumatic event to establish a claim for PTSD. The veteran no longer has to provide a "verifiable" stressor, per se. The new law reads (38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 3.304):

Sec 3.304(f) Posttraumatic stress disorder. Service connection for posttraumatic stress disorder requires medical evidence diagnosing the condition in accordance with Sec. 4.125 (a) of this chapter; a link, established by medical evidence, between current symptoms and an in-service stressor; and credible supporting evidence that the claimed in-service stressor occurred. The following provisions apply to claims for service connection for PTSD diagnosed during service or based on the specified type of claimed stressor.

(3) If a stressor claimed by a veteran is related to the veteran’s fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and a VA psychiatrist or psychologist, of a psychiatrist or psychologist with whom VA has contracted, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD and that the veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and provided the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types and circumstances of the veteran’s service, the veteran’s lay testimony alone may establish the occurrence of the claimed in-service stressor. For purposes of this paragraph, “fear of hostile military or terrorist activity” means that the veteran experienced, witnessed or was confronted with an event or circumstances that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of the veteran or others, such as from actual or potential improvised explosive device; vehicle-imbedded explosive device; incoming artillery, rocket, or mortar fire; grenade; small arms fire, including suspected sniper fire; or attack upon friendly military aircraft, and the veteran’s response to the event or circumstance involved a psychological or psycho-physiological state of fear, helplessness, or horror.

The effective date of the new rules in July 12, 2010, and affects claims filed after that date, claims filed prior to that date if they are pending adjudication, claims filed prior to that date that are in an appellate stage before the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) or the Court of Veterans Appeals. Veterans previously denied PTSD, but had a diagnosis of PTSD, due to not having a verifiable stressor, may wish to reapply.



Copayments for VA outpatient medications paid by nonservice-connected Veterans with higher incomes enrolled in Priority Groups 7 and 8 go up $1 for each 30-day prescription on July 1, 2010. The increase to $9 from $8 is the first change in VA's medication copay since Jan. 1, 2006. This change does not impact Veterans in Priority Groups 2 through 6 who will continue to pay $8 for each 30-day supply of medications for their non-service connected conditions unless otherwise exempted. Priority Group 2 through 6 Veterans will also continue to have their out-of-pocket expenses for VA outpatient medications capped at $960 per calendar year. Veterans who have an injury or illness connected with their military service resulting in a disability rated 50 percent or greater enrolled in Priority Group 1 are exempt from this copay.

New VA Support Line Provides Important Assistance to Caregrivers

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is increasing its support to caregivers with a new, toll-free telephone line for the caregivers of Veterans of all eras. The National Caregiver Support Line -- 1-855-260-3274 -- will serve as the primary resource and referral center to assist caregivers, Veterans and others seeking caregiver information. The support line will provide information regarding new caregiver benefits, referrals to local caregiver support coordinators as well as emotional support to those concerned with their ability to provide care to loved ones who are Veterans. The National Caregiver Support Line will be open Monday through Friday. 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern time; and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern time. Licensed VA social workers and health technicians will staff the support line. Local caregtiver support coordinators are available to assist Veterans and their caregivers to understand and apply for VA's many caregiver benefits. VA also features a Web page, with general information on other caregiver support programs available through VA and the community.


The ships and dates of inland waterway service are listed below. If a veteran's service aboard one of these ships can be confirmed through military records during the time frames specified, then exposure to herbicide agents can be presumed without further development:

All vessel of Inshore Fire Support (IFS) Division 93 during their entire Vietnam tour.

USS Caronade (IFS 1)
USS Clarion River (LSMR 409)
USS Francis River (LSMR 525)
USS White River (LSMR 536)

All vessels with the designation LST (Landing Ship, Tank) during their entire tour.

All vessels with the designation LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) during their entire tour.

All vessels with the designation PCF (Patrol Craft, Fast) during their entire tour.

All vessels with the designation PBR (Patrol Boat, River) during their entire tour.

USS Ingersoll (DD 652) - October 24-25, 1965.
USS Mansfield (DD 728) - August 8-19, 1967 and December 21-24, 1968.
USS Tichard E. Krause (DD 849) - June 2-5, 1966.
USS Basilone (DD 824) - May 24-25, 1966.
USS Hammer (DD 718) - August 15 - September 1, 1966.
USS Conway (DD 507) - Early August 1967.
USS Fiske (DD 842) - June 16-21, 1966.
USS Black (DD 666) - July 13-19, 1966.
USS Providence (CLG-6) - January 1964.
USS Mahan (DLG-11) - October 24-28, 1964.
USS Okanogan (APA-220) - July 22-23, 29-30, 1968 and August 5-6, 1968.
USS Niagara Falls (AFS-3) - April 22-25, 1968.


The following Army units were exposed to the herbicide agent orange while service in Korea along the DMZ during the period of April 1968 to August 31, 1971. As such Veterans may be entitled to service connection the same as Vietnam in-country Veterans, if they have a presumptive disability.

Elements of four combat brigardes of the 2D Infantry Division

72ND Armor - 1st and 2d Battalions
7th Cavalry - 4th Battalion
9th Infantry - 1st and 2d Battalions
23 Infantry - 1st, 2d and 3rd Battalions
3rd Brigade, 7th Infantry Division
73 Armor - 1st Battalion
10th Cavalry - 2nd Battalion
17th Infantry - 1st and 2d Battalion
32nd Infantry - 3rd Battalion
2d Infantry Division - 2d Military Police Company

If you served in Korea with one of the above Army Units, you may be entitled to service connected benefits. Contact the State Service Officer at (803)647-2442


Certain combat veterans who served after Novemberf 11, 1998 and who were discharged from active duty before January 28, 2003 have until January 27, 2011 to take advantage of the advantage of the enhanced health care enrollment opportunity. These veterans will still be able to apply for VA health benefits after January 27th but will have their status determined under normal VA procedures based on the severity of their service connected disability or other eligibility factors. This could mean some veterans could face income or asset-based restrictions, as well as delays in establishing their VA health care eligibility while their disability status is determined.

The law continues to provide the enhanced five year health care enrollment period to combat veterans who were discharged or released from active duty on or after January 28, 2003.
Veterans can apply for enrollment online at or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

VA intends to designate nine (9) conditions as presumptively related to service in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan.

On March 18, 2010, VA published a proposed change of regulations in the Federal Register. This change, if implemented, would add nine (9) conditions to the list of disabilities currently presumed to be related to service in the Gulf War and Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The disabilities, with proposed presumptive periods, are shown below. We have also attached the proposed regulation, a VA fact sheet, and a set of questions and answers.

VFW Service Officers should begin taking claims immediately. However, veterans should be informed that benefits, if awarded, will be paid only once the regulation becomes final. We expect that the regulation will become final before the end of calendar year 2010.

Please note that the proposed regulation provides a list of symptoms or secondary conditions caused by each of these conditions. Be aware that these symptoms or secondary conditions are not, of themselves, eligible for service connection based on this proposed rule. They are to be considered for service connection ONLY if one of these presumptive disabilities is granted service connection.

Name of Disease Presumptive Period
(Generally begins upon discharge from service in which served in SE Asia)

Brucellosis - 1 year
Campylobacter jejuni - 1 year
Coxiella bumetii (Q fever) - 1 year
Malaria - Become manifest within 1 year of service or at a time when standard or accepted treatises indicate that the incubation period commenced during service
Mycobacterium tuberculosis - Open
Nontyphoid Salmonella - 1 year
Shigella - 1 year
Visceral leishmaniasis - Open
West Nile virus - 1 year

Any Persian Gulf veteran's, to include Afghan veterans, who suffer from any of the above disabilities should contact the VFW State Service Officer concerning filing a claim for service connected disability compensation.


Agent Orange, in and of itself, is not a disease. It is an herbicide used during the Vietnam Conflict as a defoliant. Every serviceperson who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange.

The following diseases have been accepted by the Secretary, U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as presumptive disabilities associated with the exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange (Ref: 38 CFR 3.309(e)):

      Parkinson's Disease
      B Cell (Hairy) Leukemia
      Ischemic Heart Disease
Chloracne (must have manifest itself to a 10% or more within one year from last exposure).
Diabetes Mellitus (Type II)
Hodgkin's Disease
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Multiple Myeloma
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Acute and sub-acute peripheral neuropathy
Prophyria Cutanea Tardia (must have manifested itself to a 10% or more within one year from last exposure).
Prostate Cancer
Respiratory cancers (the lung, bronchus, larynx or trachea)
Soft Tissue sarcoma

If you now have, or have ever been, diagnosed with any of the above disease's, and served 'in-country' in Vietnam, you should file a claim for entitlement to service connection compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Point of Contact: Martin Sowden, VFW State Service Officer, 6437 Garners Ferry Road, Suite 1124, Columbia, SC 29209, phone (803) 647-2442

Donations Made to Department to assist with the funding of the
Veterans Service Office

The below listed Posts, Districts and individuals have made donations specifically to our State Veterans Service Program. These monetary donations allow our VFW State Service Office to better care for our disabled veterans, their dependents and surviving spouses. Their generous donations are greatly appreciated.

Posts: 3034, LA3034, 3447, 5928, 6500, 6561, 7735, LA8346, LA10980, 11079

Districts: LA D-2, D8, D2

Individuals: Angela Burke, Fred Davey

Veterans Service Officers Activity Report
March 2013
# of Awards Pay Awarded Projected Annual Amount Total Amount brought into South Carolina Communities
157 $1,407,826.00 $1,118,004.00 $2,525,830.00

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