June 11, 2010

Label Me Not: PTSD Voluntary Placement on GA Driver's Licenses

A close friend of mine posted this article yesterday and the more I thought about it...the more it made me really mad. I want you to read over it and see what your thoughts are on this.
Some Georgians could soon be carrying a unique driver’s license – one that says they have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lawmakers recently passed legislation that would allow current and former military to request the PTSD designation on their driver’s licenses.

The legislation, which has to be signed by the governor to become law, would likely make Georgia the first state with a driver’s license that denotes a specific health problem, other than poor eyesight.

Some veterans and law enforcement officials say they can’t image that many servicemen and servicewomen will want their PTSD diagnosis put on display when they present their driver’s licenses to cash a check, buy alcohol, board an airplane or face a traffic cop.

“Why would I want to put out there on my license – hey, I’m a nut job,” said Marvin Myers, president of the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance Inc.
Read the rest of the story and Uncle Sam's Mistress' opinion on the whether a combat vet should wear a 'scarlet P' on our drivers license.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, like military combat, natural disaster or a physical or sexual assault.

Sen. Ron Ramsey (D-Decatur), the bill’s sponsor, said he sees the potential benefits and no downside.

“It is totally voluntary,” he said.

Ramsey said he had just finished speaking to a veteran’s group when he was approached by a former serviceman, who has PTSD and was worried that he might have a bad encounter with law enforcement.

“He said, ‘God forbid anybody put handcuffs on me. I’d go berserk’,” the senator said.

The veteran suggested a PTSD notation on driver’s licenses could help, Ramsey said.

“This is how it is supposed to work -- an ordinary citizen came up and said, ‘This is what I need’,” he said.

Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle), an Army veteran who co-sponsored the bill, said a safer encounter could be the result.

“The police officer would know that a sudden move [by the motorist] wasn’t necessarily an offensive move,” Douglas said.

Ramsey's bill sailed through the General Assembly, despite attempts by some lawmakers to expand it to include other medical conditions. Feedback, was “nothing but positive,” Ramsey said.

Lea R. Flowers, an assistant professor in Georgia State University’s Department of Counseling & Psychological Services, said Ramsey’s bill has some positives in that it may raise awareness of PTSD and calls for strictly voluntary participation.

“But it could be a slippery slope,” she said. “Will we offer that for bipolar? Schizophrenia?”

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police didn’t take a stand on Ramsey’s bill as it moved through the Legislature, said Frank Rotondo, the organization’s executive director.

“It probably benefits for law enforcement to know that a person believes that, under stress, they can melt down,” he said.

The bill, which could become law July 1, would require a sworn statement from an MD or psychologist, verifying the service member’s diagnosis of PTSD. It also requires a waiver of liability for the release of the driver’s medical information.

The state Department of Drivers Services has yet to decide how the PTSD diagnosis would be displayed on the driver’s license, spokeswoman Susan Sports said.

The department currently offers an identification card for the disabled that has a wheelchair symbol and can include the cardholder’s medical information, Sports said.

“This ID is primarily used by the individuals to secure priority seating on buses, et cetera,” she said. “The ID is not for driving.”
Perhaps I am being cynical, but how many of our vets are going to voluntarily stick this on their licenses? Why is PTSD suddenly singled out? What if this goes to a bill passed that mandates all PTSD vets must have this on there. You would not be able to go buy a gun, alcohol or anything without someone freaking out and comparing you to the Ft. Hood shooter, or Ted Kaczynski. The downhill portion of this is, is the Vet who is pushing this really that much in trouble with the law that he is requiring special treatment because of his PTSD? Why don't police officers get trained in mental health problems because I am sure they pick up people with Bi-polar, schizophrenia, and others? Hell, a woman with severe postpartum depression can be just as dangerous as we all have learned from the past. What are your thoughts on this? I know I am probably being biased because I write about PTSD/TBI and married to a Vet. However, we have endured enough of the "labeling" on our Veterans let alone stick it on your driver's licenses.

I am hoping that this will get done by one or two Vets, then voluntarily go away! I don't believe the Vietnam Veteran's Associations, and all the Vets across the United States will ever let this get to the point of being mandatory. Oh and to my dear friend Oz, have no shame of this because you live there! Silly Woman, not your fault!

Label My Vet Not,

Uncle Sam's Mistress


  1. I don't know how much my opinion matters but, in reading this, I had to respond to you. I have to admit that I am surprisingly upset by this. You know I would really like PTSD to recognized in the Vets that have defended our country with such valor. It seems, however; when someone does recognize our soldiers, its more negitive then positive. I am no speaker and certainly do not have as much knowledge of this as most. I am simply speaking from a wifes perspective. Putting PTSD, bi-polar, or any person issues on our drivers license sounds awful to me. Why lable it like that? It seems its not acknowledged in any way except in the negitive. PTSD is definatley not positive, but it can be handled with a more positive approach. Our seviceman need help! Positive help would be a change. The families of our brave need help! Why in the hell do our men an women that risk their lives so freely to protect our country have to come home to be made to live as outcasts?

  2. Positive, yes yes and oh yeah! I know it's just this one state, and probably one Vet who lives in the jail cell....as he is the one who originally pushed it. But to me this stories speaks VOLUMES on how PTSD is a. labeled wrong, b. lack of training on PTSD period and c. how PTSD is often misconstrued based on lack of education. What upsets me about this is, why PTSD? I mean, unless they have a ton of vets down their with PTSD who are resisting arrest, flipping out, and then possibly assaulting an officer, I can't see why this is even necessary. I know it's voluntary and probably not something we need to worry about, but it makes PTSD look bad. An otherwise unaware person would be like "Wow dude, that shit must be bad for them to put it on a driver's license"

  3. Yeah I don't think there is any worry that it would become mandatory anywhere. Why one would want to voluntarily place a label on themselves is beyond me. It does frustrate me that time and money went into this rediculous legislation. Wouldn't the time and money been better spent creating legislation that would ensure these guys and gals get the help they need?

  4. You would be surprised at the hoops they make us service-connected veterans jump through. It is ridiculous to subject a combat wounded vet to the savage Means Testing they subject us to. Means Testing is the measure of if you qualify with the expectation that you do not and with the culture of you will not. Much of why some social work gives the profession a bad name, there is only so much money going around so the goal is to protect the budget.

    It we want to get into a clinic, we have to be near death for them to do anything other than medications. I used to take 14 medications and I am only 42! I only take 7 now, I cut them down on my own. 7 psych meds that were only killing me inside, dead inside without emotion. I stopped taking them and now I can have feelings and emotions again. It feels wonderful at times and others I just cry and cry and cannot get it all out.

  5. 14 medications at one time dang! I might be surprised at some of it but probably not much. The whole sysytem in place meant to help is just plain messed up putting it politely. It makes me so mad that people can put there lives on the line and make so many sacrifices yet the almight dollar is worth more then then them. Do they not see even when the wars have ended, the war continues on for many. They have new battles they must fight everyday. Who stands up for them?

  6. PTSD on drivers licenses now?! Another reason for society to label us as freaks!

    I had a friend that was working at a facility for broken home girls. She mentioned to a co-worker that she had been to Iraq. One of the female patients reported(lied) that she had a flash back on a patient and she was suspended! Whta kinda crap...?! Of course the administration believed the patient over the co-worker eyewitness!


  7. I have bi polar disorder and PTSD and there is no way I would want either one posted on my driver's license. I couldn't imagine getting a new job and handing over my license to be copied and my new boss seeing that. Not to mention all the other places which I use my liscence. Good post.


  8. The VA system is very convoluted, but if we learn how the VA operates we can receive better care. If we demand service, and have a good grasp of our own medical care then we can and will get the help needed. IF you are under the care of the right doctor. Otherwise you will be 1 to 6 months out on an appointment to see a new DR!!! Crazy as that sounds...thats the reality of VA medical care.

    We must stand up for ourselves, learn the VA directives and policy and learn of your benefits and learn our rights. The old legal adage that if you do not know your rights then you do not have any applies to the VA as well.


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