February 8, 2012

A Ruse Indeed: Wanna Be Therapists

Comment from a guy who originally placed on his Facebook education and work page that he worked for me here on this blog. I asked him to remove it, he apologized and gave me a huge line, I accepted his apology and gave him the benefit of the doubt. But then he makes this comment on my last article, this guy says he is a clinical social worker and I am sure he is. I was astounded when he referred to his clients as "wanna be's". Please plow through his wordage, at the end you will be rewarded as I tear him up real nicely.

February 7, 2012

Army Review of PTSD May Reinforce Combat Veterans Not to Seek Help

This article seems to say they are passing out PTSD diagnosis to anyone who walks by and sneezes. It is not easy to get a PTSD diagnosis, that is the truth. When this same issue was brought up in the Veterans Administration, the government investigation showed that there was less then 1% actual fraud on PTSD diagnosis and service-connection compensation. When we do get that term put on our records as a service-connection, it is not a favor done for us. It means that we owe these men and women who have been destroyed in mind, body and spirit by the incredible sacrifices the average person would not think possible.
In a lecture to colleagues, a Madigan Army Medical Center psychiatrist said a soldier who retires with a post-traumatic-stress-disorder diagnosis could eventually receive $1.5 million in government payments, according to a memo by a Western Regional Medical Command ombudsman who attended the September presentation.
The psychiatrist went on to claim the rate of such diagnoses eventually could cause the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs to go broke (By Hal Bernton, Seattle Times staff reporter).
We did not hit the lottery because we get this diagnosis, this in not a windfall or something special in terms of winning. The diagnosis for PTSD is not permanent as it suggests, we are subject to reviews yearly and can be called to come before the Compensation and Pension Board. The 100% rating is a living wage paid monthly to us while we heal, and some of us may never heal completely. Most of us do not get the 100% rating, to suggest that this is the normal 'payout' for this detrimental psychiatric wound is dead wrong. Most veterans diagnosed with PTSD carry a 30% rating, not much to live on.

The system is overloaded not because of fraud which research shows is under 1% at the VA; the problem is not veterans or soldiers trying to work the system. The problem is not taking care of our soldiers and veterans when they become symptomatic, its not taking them seriously when they get home. This type of culture in the military and the VA effectively keeps soldiers and veterans from getting help in the beginning when it would do the most good.
As axiomatic to veterans as the oath they swore to defend the U.S. Constitution is the reality that a veteran filing a disability benefit claim encounters the VA’s ‘deny-delay-and-hope-you-die’ culture (Micheal Leon, Veterans Today).
It is sad that the we are being labeled as malingerer's again by another government organization trying to balance their budgets. I was called a malingerer to my face by nurses, doctors, psychiatrists and many people at the VA for the first 5 to 10 years due to a hostile culture towards veterans in the 90s in Louisville, KY (VA is better now in Kentucky). It was after the overwhelming evidence from the wreckage of my life I was finally diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 and received my 80% compensation in 2010.

I was actually service-connected in 2002 with hearing loss and tinnitus due to enemy artillery, but they had issues with reconciling my personal combat experience with the way Desert Storm was portrayed in the media; the myth that the First Gulf War was a bloodless conflict of buttons and smart-bombs. When I told them of the Highway of Death and driving seven (7) days without sleep, about what it looks like to see the world erupt in so much death in so little time; the 100 Hour Ground War was an enemy meat grinder. I was the Point Driver, an Mechanized Infantry Soldier leading our Main Battle Tanks to the enemy. My vehicle led 5,000 men into combat in the Biggest Tank Battle in the History of War. Driving in between explosions, mind screaming to go anywhere but here. I'm looking to move a brigade, not just myself. I am scanning the immediate ground and the terrain for the best movement for our unit, the landscape has a moon quality due to all the craters erupting from explosion after explosions. Their artillery was as good as ours, I hear it most days, boom, boom, boom in the distance, but when near you can feel the meat in your body shake like jelly and you try and control your movements to keep going, no time to die.

We operated at exponentially high stress rates everyday of our deployments, living on the edge of life and death to serve our country and freedom. Knowing you should have died a hundred times can leave us numb to everything; our loved ones included. This country owes those who cannot cope with life or make sense of what we did and saw in combat; this may take decades. That is what we should focus on, how do we reduce the amount of time it takes to reconcile war trauma so that we may live without the red vistas of war spraying all over our reality today.

Any therapist or psychiatrist worth their salt can discern malingering, lets test them on that and not the veteran. To blame the soldiers or veterans just alienates them further and reinforces "If you go forward with asking for help then you cannot be trusted." We loose 18 to 22 veterans a day to suicide, this culture of denial is killing more of our soldiers and veterans then the last 10 years of war, over 60,000 veterans to suicide in the last ten years. That's not counting the suicide in the military.

NOTE: I am so very grateful for the courage the Army investigators showed for blowing the lid off this repugnant practice based in an outdated culture within our military.