Why The VA Doesn't Want To Diagnose Iraq War Veterans' PTSD

Earlier this month, Dr. Norma Perez an employee of a VA hospital somewhere in America wrote the following email and sent it out to a number of VA clinical employees:

"Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I'd like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, R/O PTSD."

"Additionally, we really don't or have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD"

"Also, there have been some incidence where the veteran has a C & P, is not given a diagnosis of PTSD, then the veteran comes here and we give the diagnosis and the veteran appeals his case based on our assessment."

"This is just a suggestion for the reasons listed above"

Sounds awful, doesn't it? At first glance it seems to be confirmation that the VA is motivated to withhold care and benefits from needy veterans. It may well mean exactly that too; we don't know yet. Apparently, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, who serves on the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee has asked for an investigation, and maybe we'll learn more as a result of that. Time will tell. Whatever else the above email indicates, it is certainly an internal communication that was never intended to be broadcast publicly, and it certainly looks bad.

Because people may be wondering what exactly goes into a diagnosis of PTSD, and what exactly Adjustment Disorder R/O PTSD might be, I thought I'd write on these subjects so as to provide some clarification.

The Nature of PTSD

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a disorder that can occur after (post) someone has been exposed to trauma which has caused intense stress. Trauma, used in this context, has a specific meaning. It refers to situations that involve death, or the likely threat of death, or at the very least, intense violence. People sometimes define trauma more loosely saying things like, "it was traumatic for him when his parents divorced". While that sort of situation is undoubtedly traumatic in a lessor sense, that is not really the sort of situation that can cause PTSD. Trauma of the sort that triggers PTSD may occur in the wake of a serious car accident, torture (including water boarding), a rape, a violent beating, a threat of lethal force, a bomb explosion, a natural disaster involving death or threat of death, a combat operation. We need a new term for lesser but still significant emotional traumas.

The simplest way to think about PTSD is to think of it as an interrupted grief process. What is grief but a stressful adaptation to significant (and often rapidly occurring) life change? Think of times in your life when you've experienced a sudden, overwhelming loss, such as at the death of a close friend or family member; one you've depended on deeply. People's reactions to such an event tend to be polarized and intense. Reactions vary between excruciating, unrelenting emotional pain, and numbness and unreality, often swinging between these extremes. Seldom is there a feeling of normality. Mood swings typically continue for weeks and months, perhaps varying in intensity at different moments, but ultimately the trend is for the intensity to die down. Grief never entirely ends, but at the conclusion of the practical grief process, people feel back to normal again and their moods do not swing noticeably more than they did prior to the loss.

Substitute a trauma experience (or more than one) for a grief-triggering loss and you have PTSD. Except a few things happen differently than in a typical grief progression. For one thing, the emotional intensity of the trauma experience is significantly greater than that which accompanies a typical loss. In grief, we mourn for people we have loved and lost. This is personal and painful, but not as personal or painful as trauma. In grief there is generally no actual threat to our own lives or to our most fundamental beliefs. In trauma, however, we are directly threatened ourselves, as are in many cases, our fundamental understanding of the world as a safe, predictable place.

The trauma experience violates and shatters expectations in a way that normal losses do not. This combination of intensity and expectation violation causes the trauma experience to become indelibly written into the trauma victim's memory, such that it becomes impossible for the person to stop thinking about that experience without resorting to heroic and often self-destructive methods.

The major symptoms of PTSD mostly are a reaction to the "burned in" and intense quality of trauma memory.

Intrusion:

First, the trauma victim experiences intrusive trauma memories at inconvenient times. Often there is an intense clarify of recall such that the memory is more vivid than a regular memory and more like a recreation of the trauma event. Nightmare recreations are common, and even hallucinations of trauma related events can occur. The threshold for recall of trauma memories is very, very low, making it quite inevitable that they will be triggered to reoccur at the smallest provocation.

The constant re-experience of the trauma memories is horrifying, overwhelming and generally agitating, just as is the case with grief. Unlike grief, however, in PTSD, trauma memories do not become less horrifying and agitating with time. This is a critical aspect of the disorder and probably the defining thing that makes it a diagnosable illness rather than just a variety of grief or stressful adaptation. There is no simple way to face and adapt to the trauma memory as there is in normal grief. As a consequence, a lot of trauma memory avoiding occurs, and irritability results, along with fear reactions (which could be termed panic attacks), and anger problems. Trauma victims can become so irritable that they end up attacking the people around them, or running away from those people so that they don't attack them.

Avoidance:

In an effort to escape the vivid trauma memories, trauma victims do what they can to numb themselves or escape from trauma-memory-triggering stimulation. Frequently, this takes the form of substance abuse (on the theory that if you drink or drug yourself into oblivion, you can't re-experience the trauma memories). Another common strategy is to hide from other people, sometimes quite literally by moving to very rural locations, or by becoming a recluse. The idea here is to minimize irritation and stimulation by minimizing exposure to stressful interactions (which can becomes most all interactions in some cases).

Arousal:

The third major symptom is jumpiness and startle. This is not so much a reaction to the trauma memory as it is a byproduct of the process by which that memory became so vividly burned into the victim's brain. All people have a fear threshold pass which they will experience startle and panic. Exposure to trauma has the effect of lowering people's fear threshold so that it takes very little to get them into a state of fear, startle and hyper-awareness.

The VA's Conflicting Dual Roles

With this background information in place, we can return to the issue of diagnosing PTSD as spelled out in the email we started with.

The VA system is more than a healthcare system; it also pays out cash disability payments (called service connections) in monthly installments to veterans who have been disabled during their service. Becoming service connected means that you will receive, often for the rest of your life, a monthly payment in partial compensation for your disability. Unfortunately, as dispenser of service connection payments, the VA system has to worry about the possibility of fraud; a scenario where a veteran would claim a disability payment that is unjustified. In this time of uncritical support for the troops, this is perhaps not something nice to discuss, but there is is. I don't think this sort of thing is particularly common, but it does occur nevertheless.

To combat the possibility of inappropriate payment, the VA likes to be careful about signing off on diagnoses that might lead to a service connection. In cases like PTSD, they like to do things like document that a trauma actually occurred. When I worked at a VA hospital in the mid 90s, it wasn't enough to take a veteran's word for where they had served. Instead, we would have to verify with documentation that tours of service actually matched veteran's claims.

In her email, Dr. Perez suggests that clinicians not diagnose PTSD right away, but instead diagnose Adjustment Disorder R/O PTSD. In order to unpack the meaning of this statement, we need to define Adjustment Disorder.

To quote DSM (page 681), "Adjustment Disorder is a residual category used to describe presentations that are a response to identifiable stressors and that do not meet the criteria for another specific Axis I disorder." In other words, if someone comes to you for diagnosis after encountering a stressor, if you can't legitimately fit their issue into a defined disorder category within DSM, what you should do is to give them the Adjustment Disorder diagnosis, which tells everyone who needs to know that something significant is going on in the wake of a stressful event, but it doesn't fit criteria for some other illness. Adjustment disorder might be diagnosed in the wake of a person's breakup from a treasured relationship, or in the wake of the loss of a job, if the person displays significant anxiety or depressive symptoms that seem to stem from that stressful event.

The use of the abbreviation "R/O" above stands for "Rule Out". This is a clinical term telegraphing to clinicians that another condition may be present, but cannot yet be diagnosed cleanly, so that other diagnosis is not being made. The idea is to rule the other disorder in or out conclusively by collecting more definitive diagnostic data.

So, the line of thinking Dr. Perez was suggesting in her email suggesting was probably something like the following:

  1. PTSD is both a complex diagnosis to make, requiring documentation and testing that generally takes more than a single visit, and also a desirable diagnosis to have because of the possibility of service connection disability payments.
  2. When it isn't absolutely crystal clear that a PTSD diagnosis is correct, a rule out diagnosis the best policy should be to be conservative and withhold the PTSD diagnosis. Care must be taken to get the diagnosis right, so that the possibility of fraud is minimized.
  3. The Adjustment Disorder diagnosis can be made instead of the PTSD diagnosis, so as to inform other clinicians that PTSD is likely.

Adjustment Disorder is a residual diagnostic category. It is what you use when you can't use something more specific, as is the idea of a rule out diagnosis. It is also a stress disorder in its own right, and not at all inappropriate to use when PTSD is suspected but not confirmed yet. I should clarify that last statement: It is entirely appropriate to diagnose Adjustment Disorder when the the intention is to follow through over time with the research and documentation that is necessary to confirm or reject PTSD and ultimately make the most appropriate diagnosis. The acceptable reason for delaying diagnosis is to insure accuracy. If the goal is not accuracy but rather to substitute a less specific diagnosis for a more specific one for political purposes (e.g., to save the VA from having to pay out money to a disabled veteran), then that more or less would amount to malpractice.

Even the desire to avoid fraud is not reasonable under the present war-time circumstances, however. The serious issue is not how soon veterans get a service connection; it is how quickly can they can get the care they need to address their healthcare concerns. I don't know whether the delay in diagnosing PTSD for purposes of being careful about service connection payments also results in a delay of connecting veterans to appropriate care for their PTSD. The important question for us to ask becomes, "If a veteran has been diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder, R/O PTSD, are they eligible to be included in PTSD treatment programs?" If the answer to this question is No, the VA would be basically saying with their policies that it is more important to conserve money than it is to provide expedient care to those who need it. I hope this is not the case. It should not be the case, ethically and morally. I suspect that it could easily be the case, however. Removed as they are from the consequences of their decision-making, policy-making bureaucrats all too frequently seem to think in just such inhuman, abstracted terms.

If it is the case that the VA is more concerned with money conservation than with fast and accurate matching of patients to care and the provision of that appropriate care, it is particularly ironic and disgusting inasmuch as there is certainly no shortage of money available for continuing the war. We're happy to fund the actions that break our troops, but not to fund the actions that help to put them back together again.

To summarize my points:

  1. Dr. Perez's email looks worse than it actually is, I think. It looks like the VA doesn't care about veterans at all. What it probably more likely reveals is that the VA is worried about the possibility of fraudulent disability claims.
  2. While taking time to make correct diagnoses and to avoid fraud might be a legitimate concern during peace-time when there are fewer wounds to work on, it seems less appropriate to a period of war-time when there are many urgent wounds that need caring for right now.
  3. If a veteran can't get a legitimate diagnosis of PTSD because the VA wants to save money; and if this keeps the veteran from getting timely PTSD care, that would be especially disgusting and wrong.

All of which lead to a final point on which I'll close:

The VA has a dual relationship with the veterans it cares for. It is both their healthcare provider, and also their judge as to whether they are disabled. The intermingling of the service connection and healthcare divisions of the VA puts VA clinicians into a dual role that interferes with their ability to do their jobs. They become, in effect, both clinician and judge, and veteran patients can't help but sometimes feel that their clinician is judging them, or denying them due benefits by failing to make a desirable diagnosis. The care process can start to feel adversarial in such an environment, and that gets in the way of good provision of care. It would be far better if the VA divisions that handle disability and health care were wholly split into different groups with a strong firewall between them. Compensation judgments should never be allowed to impact care decisions.

If someone who has recent VA experience has any information that could help clarify the issues and concerns I've written about here, I'd appreciate it greatly if they could share that information with us in the form of a comment below.

Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    I married a man who not only lost his wife on 9/11 but narrowly escaped his own life. When I eventually recognized something was very wrong with him, it took me over a year to get him properly diagnosed and get him effective PTSD treatment. Many Psychologists, Social Workers, and Psychiatrists SAY they treat the illness but in fact they have no idea how to treat it. My husband was first diagnosed as a compulsive liar by a therapist, then was diagnosed with Bi polar disorder by a psychiatrist. He was heavily medicated with Bi polar meds which made him virtually unfunctionable. Without me constantly questioning the doctors and searching for better treatment I shutter to think what would have become of him. This is not to pat myself on the back but rather to point out that the very symptoms of PTSD make the sufferer incapable of seeking and evaluating treatment.

    My advice: If the place you are going to is not administering a medically recognized PTSD test prior to treatment, Run, don't walk, out of there.

    I eventually got my husband help at NYU Institute fro Trauma and Stress. 212-263-2488 . They tested him before treatment and ruled out Bi Polar disorder. His testing came back with a high PTSD rating.

    They administered a 14 week program, with a very specific agenda (no 'tell me about your childhood' open ended discussions). Half way through the program, I met with them to ask them to find him a new psychiatrist so they could change his meds to PTSD appropriate meds. After two years of misery, I finally, within three months of this visit, began to see significant changes. Today he is back to work and I see more improvements every day.

    If someone you know and love is suffering, I urge you to take the bull by the horns and get them effective help, and don't stop until you find it. My three year old daughter and I are happy we did.

  • Chris

    I was diagnosed with ptsd 11 yrs ago. I was tramatized long before that. Each person is different- I was not able to open up and talk about it- I denyed it and or anything happend. I had my time with it and decided to move on from it a week or two later after it happend. Within 2 weeks,- I I was in shock still- but this epsisode ended up for years and years- I couldnt open up. I was not that way. I was a quiet laid back kid - loving parents and enjoyed life and fishing- nothing bothered me much- until those things happend. It was that and then- it all balled up.

    I agree- the sooner the treatment the better- the earlier the better- I was given serveral chances to talk but couldnt- I denied anything happend. I lied- but it was documented- you cant make someone talk about it till they are ready and that only makes it worse by trying to make them talk., But my advice is- to the earlier the better but on the other side of the fence - be there for them when they are ready. It could be years and years- like me and two divorces later and episodes later and snow balls.

    here is a website i made and now what i need- a service dog out of it which is i beleive my symptoms will lower now.

    thank u for listening.

    http://chrisa4animals.vets.yuku.com/

  • JOHN

    I think they should investigate all ptsd cases. I am retired from the air force and my brother who only served nine years gets more ptsd fraud money from the va then I receive in military retirement pay. My brother never went to war. He was stationed in england in 1988 and said he took leave to attend an air show in germany. Two italian planes hit each other in mid air and crashed into the people watching the show on the ground. Many were injured and killed . My brother said he saw all of this and now has ptsd. He did his homework and learned all about ptsd symptoms. He did take leave to go to germany but not at the time of the air show!! I reported the fraud to the va inspector general but they told me if they do not spend all the money they receive they will not get as much the next year . What a joke !!! I know for a fact there is ptsd fraud in the va and you can not tell me any different.. As a retired member of the air force I have seen it first hand!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous-2

    I Have a brother who was in Vietnam and recently was granted 100% disability benefits for PTSD. After reading the criteria for diagnosis I have to say that he fits none of it. He once bragged to me how he beat the system by studying the symptoms for PTSD and apparently a website that tells what answers to give during the interview. In other words - he studied for the test. If it's this easy to just memorize some answers and get a $3000 check every month then it's no wonder there is fraud and the VA should rethink the entire process.

  • David W. Miller

    We was inside Kuwait City Limits, when I seen 1st hand an Army Ranger spraded with shrapenal across hid waste line. It it did not hit him I was in the direct line of fire. I have not opened up about this until now because of the security clearence I had, But Now I was told that all of Desert Storm is declassified. Please help me if you can or send me into the right direction. Bye the was that Army ranger saved my life as he felt to the ground and I pulled him out of harmes way with his guts hanging out.

  • wallace mcnabb

    i was a contractor in iraq doing convoys and recovery for the military. hired by kbr. i was shot and have shrapnel in my hand and arm. this happened in 05 and i returned to iraq after i healed up because i wanted to help kill those sob's who shot me in wierd way. after i got back to the states i had some really bad nightmares and had bad startle responses and extreme vigilance.

    i went back to iraq after 17 months in the states. i can not tell you why, i just had to go back. i now know it was a mistake. can anyone tell me why i felt the need to go back. i think it was because i wanted to get back on the horse and try to prove to myself i was ok, but i wasnt. i still have the symptoms and i took the tests and all that. aig, kbr's insurance company will not pay anything till a labor dept. judge says they have to. i cant afford treatment and i will not take any medicine because then they wont let me work. so i just have to wait to see if the insurance company will pay me. im having a rough time.

  • Anonymous-3

    Not only is that e-mail insulting to those who have PTSD but so are some of the comments downplaying the severity of the illness. I am losing everything to this illness. I only wish it was something we made up in our heads. I only wish this was just another nightmare!

    There is no amount of money that could pay for what I have lost.

  • Anonymous-4

    You have no idea what is like to be in combat, get hurt and see your friends die you think money can replace that? F*CK YOU!!! and your welcome for the freedom you are enjoying.

  • Anonymous-5

    I have an idea of how to diagnose a veteran with PTSD....talk to his wife or someone close to him/her. My husband is an Iraq veteran who served a 2 year deployment with the National Guard. This was his second deployment. We are struggling to recieve any benefits through the VA and they often tell us that they are "too busy" to deal with us. I think it is disgusting and inhumane the way that veterans are treated. My husband and I have been through more than any civilian marriage could ever handle and we are still here, waiting for some kind of recognition from the VA. People have no idea the persistent struggle veterans with PTSD have. My husband relives graphic scenes from combat on a daily basis which impairs everthing about his life. It's no wonder Vietnam vets are stereotyped as homeless beggers when the VA didn't help the majority of them. Currently the VA is trying to dispell the diagnosis of PTSD for my husband becaue "some kind of trauma could have happened after the deployment." !!!!!!!!!!!! He was in intense combat for TWO YEARS STRAIGHT! WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED AFTERWARDS THAT IS MORE TRAUMATIC THAN THAT???? I am so utterly disturbed and infuriated by the lack of support for veterans in this country. Sure, everyone has their little bumper sticker that says "Support Our Troops" but that shouldn't end when that soldier steps foot off the plane on home soil. People have no idea what veterans and their families go through on a daily basis and the VA should be ashamed to have withheld ANY kind of help--monetary or otherwise.

  • Anonymous-6

    I went to the Dayton OH VA as a Cilvian Contractor with complaints of trauma issues. They diagnosed me with Adjustment disorder. I have no gain by them since my tour in Iraq was not service connected. I have seen a private psycholigist and he diagnosed me with PTSD. I am currently filing a claim with the DOL for PTSD issues. No I do not believe the VA diagnosed me properly since I spent 22 mo in Iraq experiencing many rocket attacks and small arms fire.

  • Mark Rogers

    All of the above comments came from people seeking money for a disability that cannot be objectively tested. The VA cannot possibly tell who has PTSD when so much secondary gain is at stake. Take the money out of the system and then see how many people calim PTSD. Offer unlimited treatment but no money and the claims will go away. No? Try to find someone getting PTSD money who would be willing to have his claim viewed by the public, even with his identity disguised. I saw hundreds of these claims working at VA and never saw one that I thought a jury would buy, if there were someone arguing each side.

  • Allan N Schwartz

    Hi Mark,

    Sorry to disagree strongly with you but I must. You see, I have met with and worked with many of these men and know that what you are stating is fundamentally wrong. First, whoever gave you the notion that PTSD cannot be objectively diagnosed? This is not true. Second, one of the characteristics of the PTSD suffered by these veterans is TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury. TBI is very real, carries with it vast bain damage, amnesia, uncontrolled emotional outbursts, insomnia and PTSD. This is not opinion, this is fact. In addition, did you know that these veterans, with what you are calling their "fake" PTSD come home and experience multiple divorces and remarriages, alcoholim, suicide attempts and successful suicides?

    Are you going to say that these veterans commit suicide because they did not receive enough money? Come on, now!!

    Dr. Schwartz

  • Larry Brooks

    I was diagnosed with PTSD years ago from a shooting incident which triggered horrible nightmares that has lasted since 1996. I did not go after VA. benefits (I am a veteran). When I went to a dr. in georgia recently the first thing out of her mouth as that she needed to diagnose me with what could be either PTSD or personality disorder. I told her that I merely needed advice or help to reduce my dreams so I could get some sleep and that I was not after benefits. It became very clear to me what her agenda was and that was exactly what Ms. Perez wrote about. I sincerely believe that VA. has instructed their staff to avoid using PTSD in any communications and to diagnose veterans with anything but PTSD in an effort to keep vets from getting any benefits. I saw a pchychologist and she said she did not have time to treat me and that some kind of group therapy would be best in a few months, nice huh? V.A. currently does not seem to care about getting vets help with PTSD and are obviously focused on blocking benefits to people that have trouble dealing with others, are withdrawn and suffer from sleepless nights. It pisses me off to no end and you are so wrong about your position defending Ms. Perez. If you ask the vets dealing with her they will tell you the truth.

  • Larry Brooks

    There may be some folks that might try to take advantage of the system but I can tell you that V.A. has shown me no sign of being even slightly interested in helping vets with PTSD. I am not seeking benefits at all, just merely asking for some help with bad dreams that I have about past experiences that haunt me. I don't like being treated as a person that shows up asking for help as if I am after benefits with some false intentions. Veterans Administration has a lot of hype on their website and on the internet about us reporting PTSD problems and that they care to help. However when I go to talk to them I only get the runaround and "no help" at all. I can't afford to see a private psychologist about this. There are veterans living in hell right now and V.A. is doing nothing to help them. Ms. Perez should be ashamed of herself but to me its perfectly obvious that her stance merely reflects V.A.'s upper managements position and strategy. Based on what I am seeing, its V.A. wide and just a game to them. If they gave a shit about helping vets with PTSD, they would be talking to them and setting up appointments for counseling with qualified people. I heard a Dr. say that vets returning from war merely miss the adrenolin rush they felt in war !!! Are you kidding me ????@# Imagine a Dr. believing this? They don't want to go back to war for an adrenolin fix, they live it every night in their dreams, and want peace. How can doctors have this attitude and really convince anyone that they know what a vet feels? I wish some doctors could spend one of my nights and see what I see then they might take some action to help others. Its not all about benefits folks, maybe V.A. thinks it is but its not, its about helping these people with a real problem. Call it whatever you wish but this problem will shut you down and ruin your life.

  • ADAM C. MILLER

    THE V.A. DOES NOT CARE ABOUT VETS!!! I HOPE THAT OUR COUNTRY WILL REALIZE THAT MANY YOUNG AMERICANS SUFFER! AND IT'S A HARD AND A MISERABLE WAY TO LIVE, BUT THAT'S WHAT WE GET FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY... THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE TROOPS!!! BUT HOW DO YOU SUPPORT THEM???

  • 03 04 OIF IRaq Vet

    WOW.... Some of the comments... I love when people are so angry they say things that put down people that in most cases put their life on the line so most of you wouldn’t have to. I am just a young guy. Joined the Army in January of 2001, and was shipped off to war in 03 to Iraq. I was there when Bush and Clowns said we would be greeted as liberators. The day you are sitting under a sky of fire and you’re digging a whole just so you can hide yourself from the bullets and the motor/rocket fire raining down on you begging to Jesus, Muhammad, and anything else that might be listing. Only then will you have the right to sit there and call it a sham. Everyone has their reasons for why they do what they do. Sure there are scammers throughout the whole world no matter what, but unless you have served and you where standing next to the hero in his boots, in his war zone, don’t you judge. Every day I am reminded of the war, every little thing takes me back to that point in my life. I feel no matter what I will wake up with it in my head till the day I die.

  • Dr. Diane England

    If you are a wounded warrrior who is quite certain you have PTSD but was misdiagnosed--propably with an adjustment disorder or a personality disorder--and therefore are not currently entitled to benefits, but must get your records changed to facilitate this process, you might find an article I wrote helpful . I had wanted to include it in a self-help book I have coming out in August, 2009 called The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship. However, the publisher claimed it was too long to include--even in an Appendix. Therefore, I decided to place it on my website. Thus, please go to www.PTSDRelationship.com if you are facing this challenge. You'll find helpful links within the article as well as others at the website.

    I sincerely hope this article proves helpful to you--and I certainly wish you the very best with this, your latest battle. I so regret this country has not treated many of you harmed in the war zone more decently. But please, make sure you somehow get treatment for the PTSD--and do pursue the benefits you'll need likely for the future. Also, don't hesitate to utilize the help of others to accomplish this. As a PTSD sufferer, you might find it nearly impossible to fulfill everything you must if you take this on alone.

  • Andrew

    When I retuned from Iraq a very moronic DR tried to gaignose me with a personality disorder. It was soon changed to PTSD. I experience anxiety on dsily basis, my wifee gets beat up at night when I sleep beside her because of my violent dreams. Some days I feel like just shooting myself toend the constant painand turmoil in my head. Does that sound like someone faking? I have moments where I just want to lash out in public. Im always onalert, I cant sleep. And I just want the peace of mind I had before. Is that too much to ask? I would love someone to come up and tell me i was faking. When I got done he would need Treatment for PTSD

  • Notorious Kelly

    We all know that there is the 'face' of an issue, and then the reality of it.

    A soldier says he is joining the military to "serve my country", but the primary reasons are employment, job training, travel and college money.

    Likewise, the Machine expresses 'concern' over the dismal situation of veterans, but pays little more than lip service to the issue.

    Meanwhile, gerdillions of taxpayer dollars go to the IMF and other foreign interests.

    Why? Because we aren't raising enough hell.

  • 3rd ID- Mike

    I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe PTSD. I initially placed a claim with the VA 3 years ago. It took 12 months before I could be reviewed for this case, all I was looking for at the time was compensation for therapy due to my severe social anxiety and insomnia. After an additional 4-5 months I was awarded 10% compensation for my PTSD. If you are unfimiliar with disability claims, 10% is basically a B.S. number that they typically give people they are trying to brush off. I appealed this after 3 months and I was finally given the opportunity to talk to a review officer regarding this, she immidiatly told me that just from her review of my file that I should be awarded at least 50% and possibly more.

    Now it has been almost 3 years since my initial contact with the VA and I am waiting again to get reassessed for my condition. I am expecting to wait for another 6 months before this is finalized. Does 3 1/2 years sound like an appropriate time frame for a review on PTSD?

    One thing the VA should consider is that most people with PTSD have Anxiety issues, I get severe anxiety due to these appointments and meetings... the longer they drag on the worse it gets. How can the VA justify doing this? 3 years!

  • Anonymous

    There are veterans who fake having PTSD to receive benefits.

    Should we take benefits from the people with real PTSD and give it to the ones who are faking it? Should taxpayers pay for benefits for people who don't really have PTSD and don't deserve the benefits for it?

    If your answer to either of these questions is "no," then you're implicitly supporting a process of determining who is real and who is fake.

    And that process would happen anywhere else in the real world. There's no reason why veterans should feel so special or entitled as to have that process not apply to them.

  • Glenn

    Ignoring for a moment that VA employees spend their day scouring the internet for articles like this (not doing their job of course), then flooding the comments section with heart-rending tales of woe. Those dirty veterans, bunch of fakers! Its all THEIR fault! Yet few if any of these moral titans have anything to say about the recent expose of rampant evidence shredding at 41 of the 57 VA Regional Offices. Or the $24 million (yes million) in bonus checks the VA IT department gave itself over a 2 year period. Or, the Miami VA medical center exposing hundreds of veterans to infectious disease because the VA hospital staff simply couldnt be bothered with sterilizing the colonoscopes between rectal exams (yes, you read that right, google it, or check out www.vawatchdog.org for clarification). Where is the outcry over the countless other crimes against humanity the VA inflicts on a daily basis. Selective indignation is little more then hypocrisy.

  • Female Veteran

    First of all, after reading all of the Comments on this page, I would like to say Hooah!" I agree totally. I am a geared up female from the Army Active Duty. I was discharged after a Sexual Assault Against me. I was told that I should transfer out of my Unit to avoid retaliation against me reporting the offense. I stayed, and hung in there. However, I was faced with alot of issues on retaliation. It lead to my Honorable Discharge because I developed PTSD because of my hyper vigilance, started having chronic High Blood Pressure problems, and other situations. Since, I returned I could no longer be in a successful relationship with my husband of ten years. I recently separated from him, I became anti social towards my family and friends, and I have become angry and hostile towards men (almost anyone). However, after being treated unsuccessfully for my blood pressure issues, I was referred to be screened for PTSD. I denied any of the symptoms in shame and fear of exposure to others, so I lied about having any of the symptoms. I know that what happened to me is not my fault, but why do I feel guilty and angry. I cannot keep friends, or get into other successful relationships. I started drinking almost a 6-pack of beer a day and lead to me drinking a week, however, it has subsided some. However, when I drink I get paranoid and think that I hear noises at the door and grab for my gun. Yes, it scares me and to even write this on the internet and read it, makes me cry. I feel ashamed of it. I live everyday as you term it a "FRAUD", because I want to continue to be a hero and not a mental patient. This is why I deal with it in silence. I have small children and I get scared for them, because I might think accidental harm them. It is a true fear that you have. I was in an Artillery Unit Combat, and I am proud of it. To answer the question of the other Soldier why would you have the need to want to go back? I feel the same way. I get angry knowing that there are other soldiers overseas that are suffering just like me and I am at home not helping. I want to be in the fight. I joined after 9/11 because I did not want my country to loose another innocent person behind a fight that was brought to us. If I have to be in a fight it will be holding a gun and defending my family and my country. I hold to that today. I am not a chick S**t by no account, I know other female veterans that feel the same way. About the money and receiving Compensation, I have not received anything and I suffer still every day. I have gone several times to treat my chronic high blood pressure with no success to be greeted and entertained by non veteran doctors and employees that patronize my condition and experiment on me with different types of medicine. It is something, when you are back home they want to say you are crazy, but when someone has to fight you are Sane. WOW!

    However, to my fellow Veterans, I am greatly proud that you served with me and continue to fight for our Country. I still believe that this Country will once again be great. I am still fighting I am majoring in Nuclear Engineering with a minor in Occupational Safety and Health. Continue to be strong!

  • Anonymous-7

    I do agree that something has to be done...

  • Amber

    My veteran husband was just diagnosed in 09 with ptsd, after many many struggles and confusion as to what was going on. Your article today is helpful to read, but it was difficult getting help back in 2005 when he first got out. Barely in 09 did they pay attention,... or have resources ready for soldeirs coming out of OIF

  • Charlie

    I am an OIFIII Vet, I have been seen by the VA for PTSD and told that I do not have it. I am tired of fighting with them on what is wrong with me besides PTSD. I know their are others out there that have been told the same thing, what can we do to get what we deserve like the VETS before us did. I had a good VFW REP working for me and other Vets' like me and the VA fired him cause he was trying to get us what we deserved and the VA did not like that. HOW CAN WE GET HELP???

  • Anonymous-8

    I read the post of the former VA person who seems to think all PTSD is fake.

    I am here to challenge you. Live with my PTSD for 10 days. Do not sleep. Do not leave your house and do not comunicate with others for that ten days.

    Have horrific nightmares and wake up drenched in sweat once or twice a night.

    You dont have the first clue what it is like. I do not wear my PTSD on my sleeve. You cant see it.

    But I deal with it 22 hours a day 7 days a week with ocasional respite in sleep because I am just to exhausted to continue.

    I collect the pittance the VA gives you for losing your life. And believe you me, I have no life anymore. I suffered this way for over ten years before I was willing (read humble) enough to ask for help.

    I would GLADLY give up my VA bennies if I could just hold a job. If I could just sleep 8 hours without serious interuption.

    Thake the money out of it. All you will do is kill a bunch of veterans. You sound like you would be proud of that.

  • Distressed Military Wife

    Hi,

    I am a military wife whose husband has been going to VA for medical problems and was forced into a medical retirement for those problems. He has been attending VA dr.s for about 8 months or so. It might be more, I just can't remember when we started this whole mess. My husband was seen by VA and he was happy to report to me that he didn't have PTSD. They told him he was just "hyper aroused" and having trouble adjusting. He's been recieving minimal treatment from VA for 8 months for mental health and various other symptoms, with no mental health diagnosis. Finally, two nights ago, he comes home and says, the Psychiatrist told him he has SEVERE PTSD.

    Now just let me tell you that my life with this man has been hell for the last year. He is practically a poster child for the symptoms of PTSD. In fact our marriage is disintegrating before my very eyes becuase of his PTSD. But they couldn't be bothered to give him a proper diagnosis and proper treatment. In my opinion, beacause they don't want to pay his disability payments. He even came home and told me he didn't think he would get any payments for any of his MANY problems because VA is trying to minimize their expenditures. Not to mention the fact that since the first dr. he saw, point blank, told him that he did not have PTSD, he did not see himself as needing any mental health treatment and was and still is resistant to any sort of treatment. This has made him almost incapable of having healthy relationships. Maybe if they had said right away, "well you fit this diagnosis perfectly" so we are going to get you some help, and you need to make sure that work hard and do not make rash decisions right now" I wouldn't be getting a divorce. Please don't think I am bitter and ranting. I am not. This is truly how I see things and have heard similar stories from many other vetrans. To this day, he does not think he has a problem and probably never will thanks to somebody who didn't want to diagnose becuase that would have meant payment. I hope this investigation will help to spare other families the pain that we are living with because thier little directive has killed mine.

  • Anonymous-9

    I did ordnance from Kuwait for air operations over Iraq.

    I was there for the kickoff of OIF. my unit dropped 750,000 lbs of ordnance on that country. We were subjects to briefs that informed us that we were a likely target due to the size of our footprint in kuwait. Several times we ran for our lives to don our mopp suits and gasmasks and wait to die in our sand bag shelters. I did not start by seeking the VA for help. I went to the VA because my Vietnam veteran father had issues i wanted to help him with. I was hiding out in college at the time.

    The VA counselor gave me the information I asked for pertaining to my father, and then candidly said to me "and how about you?" I was shocked because I hadn't thought about it. After returning from Kuwait I continued in the Marines drinking myself to sleep alone in my room with a bottle of Capt. Morgan. I returned to my home and stayed at home alone for several months and then began college. I had my first embarrasing outburst when a teacher gave me a "C" on a project I worked very hard on. During college I kept intensely to myself and went home immediately after classes when I could I rarely used the Library or went to outings.

    I thought this was normal until that question. It is now 2010 (I got out in 2005) and I still don't have a rating for PTSD. I have an r/o ptsd as you mentioned. I have tried several jobs and they havent worked out. feelings of intense anxiety, nervousness etc. interfere with my performance. I was hired as an English teacher for two days, the students complained that I was too intense and i frightened them. I now work at a commissary and get through my day by avoiding my manager. But, she is on to me and asked me the other day if I am on medication. She told me that I have an anger problem as I have had a few small outbursts. I am currently living out of my car and sleeping on a cot in a sleeping bag next to my car parked in various secluded places.

    I was in a Veteran program for homless vets but had three roomates besides myself. I finally couldnt handle that and left for the seclusion I so crave. I am thankful that the initial Vet counselor got my attention and made me aware that something wasnt right but, I still dont know what to do to fix myself.

    Dr. Dombeck's Note: Not possible to say what symptoms mean in the absence of a full history and face to face interview, etc., but something is going on, it would appear, that is interfering with your functioning. It could indeed be PTSD, but it could also be something else. Since you talk about other people telling you that you have an anger problem and are "too intense", one reasonable place to start might be an anger management program, which the VA can probably provide you with if you ask for it. We have some information on how such programs are structured in our Anger Management topic center.

  • mars

    i'll write a bit here although i find it angers me just to write a little about it. first, my issues with ptsd would be non-combat. i served in the military, honorable-medical discharge.

    spinal injury while on duty. just before surgury they find a csf infection. they cancel surgery, and they start sending me to a shrink due to nerve issues, balance issues, anger issues, sleep issues, sensation issues, chronic pain issues and have me on limited duty with the ortho dept waiting on more spinal tests.

    a second spinal tap is done, still positive for obands in csf, a high IgG protein index. more shrink sessions due to my unexplained issues and i'm starting to get a really bad attitude.

    they are now going to board me out, and at the time i was happy to do so. neuro surgeon orders another spinal tap. from reading my old records, i think that would make 3 spinal taps.

    it comes back that the csf infection is going down but the obands are still in the csf and the lab said there wasn't enough fluid to test the IgG protein index again.

    more shrink visits and i'm starting for the first time to feel really like an odd ball. of course i drank too. no denying that. i mean feeling like i was crazy. not a fun lovin wild guy, but mentally nuts. i start with drawing.

    the navy sends me to a navy neurologist who writes a page of statements stating that the tests were false positives and that i didn't have MS and he didn't know what i had but probably had like mild back problems or something like that. basically he dismissed the 2-3 spinal taps that were positive as false positives and sent me on my way. and, he never took into account the shrink visits where i was sent for my neuro issues because they thought i was probably making them up or were just in my head. beats me.

    no surgery due to it being too risky due to the above reasons. MS was called a false positive, and off i go for more shrink visits.

    i got discharged, i was told the VA would take care of everything. just after that i got divorced, withdrew more, still had the mind-numbing insane headaches, pain, balance issues, loss of sensation issues, anger, sleep disorders, relationship/intimacy issues, etc, i ended up on the street for awhile. thankfully i made it back. i got rescued so to speak.

    the VA said it was all due to drinking, that i was bi-polar, i was schzoid, i was panic prone, low self esteem, and a few others that i don't want to remember. i'd never been called those things before. i was losing wieght, and i started compensating mentally and by actions, due to i thought i was nuts.

    all the while i was having neurological problems though i didn't know it at the time. like i said, i thought i was nuts and the VA was pretty good at reinforcing that.

    fast forward 23 years later the VA finally gave me the spinal tap i had repeatedly asked for for years to rule the obands out and rule out MS. wouldn't you know it, it came back positive for obands. so then i had to fight a bit to have high power MRIs with the MS protocol to rule out MS. wouldn't you know it, the MRIs came back positive for demyelinating disease, classic "dawson fingers" images.

    now, i say had to fight for the MRIs. what i didn't realize is there are varying power(strengths) of MRIs. the VA used the low power ones on me before, so they would always say my issue was "migraines". though even on low power the radiogist would mention both migraine and demyelinating disease, that is it would be hard to differintiatie.

    so, all these years of having neuro problems, with the VA always telling me it was all in my head, etc. and all these years compensating for the neuro issues as best i could.

    so, wtf, i'm a loner, like to eat alone, avoid many social situations and i get extremely nevous to go to a VA. it is an uphill battle to get anywhere within that system and the stress of what goes through my mind on those occasions, and to know all these years there really was something wrong that they just swept under the carpet hoping i'd fade away.

    i have non-VA board certified neuros assessing me with rrms and some other neuro issues related to my spine. it took those outside assessments to get the VA to prescribe a DMD for me. the VA still will not call it MS. they call it "unspecified demyelinating disease", with all mimics ruled out.

    i have speech and cog and balance problems now, and the chronic pain never did leave. sleep? who can get comfortable with MS?

    the VA still brings up drinking and smoking and anxiety as maybe a cause for my symptoms!!! i kid you not. i quit drinking 19.6 years ago, and quit smoking 12 years ago.

    so Dr. Dombeck, would you remotely think i have any reason(s) to have some form of anger-stress filled non-combat ptsd? or, did i just get unlucky?

    i write this for other veterans too that may read it. i hope those in similar situations don't have to do a vertical climb at the VA. but, from reading the posts here, it looks like they will, sorry to see.

    Dr. Dombeck's Note: Your presentation is genuinely complicated and a lot of time has gone by. I can't comment with any accuracy except to say that I'm sorry that things have been complicated and difficult for you.

  • mars

    thank you for your reply. since you don't know me or have studied my med records, i won't comment on your vague reply.

    being mis-diagnosed isn't complicated. ensuring diagnosis doesn't occur during the 7-year wait period isn't complicated. many veterans from the agent orange era to the GW syndrome era have similar stories.mine isn't unique at all. far better veterans than i have found themselves in the same situation.

    complicated symptoms, yes indeed. differential diagnosis finds one disease that accounts for 90% of of my symptoms along with objective positive organic test results: MS. that isn't me talking, that is paraphrased from a top neuro who [has] studied my case and medical history.

    i'll keep going to my MS support groups, help another vet, take my DMD, stay sober, and move on with my life justlike i've been doing for years.

    btw, don't be sorry, veterans appreciate quality medical diagnosis and quality medical treatments. "sorry" doesn't solve anything.

    i wish i hadn't posted here, it just reminds me of the VA in general, a waste of time : though i do appreciate your reply.

  • tonda

    Combat Vet in OIF2 2003-2005. I spent over a year in theater. Returned in 2005. It took VA almost 3 years to diagnosis me with PTSD. Now that I'm 100% PTotal they stil harse me. Now they want to control the money being spent. VA charge 4% of Vet Benefits ea. month for handling fee. VA is just like the moffia with all the same tactics of killing, lying and stealing with an incentive to fraud ea. American Combat Vet. If you were in a hot zone like me you deserve service connected. I hate holiday, crowds, noise, can't drive with expercing Iraq all over again and just nervous all the time. Other problems are blader issues, thyroid hyper, back injury, headaches, infection for out of nowhere (immune system jacked up) and the VA gang bangegme by saying it's from being a mother, with and a leader but never admitting that Iraq was the problem. I've been over dosed, held against my will and threaten by the VA Memphis,TN and Jackson,MS.

  • JoMarine

    Serving almost for 14 years, two deployments to Iraq, Combat Action Ribbon, and Purple Heart.

    What the hell is wrong with the VA??? Don't official military records hold enough weight?

    What about military medical records? Multiple psyciatrists, doctors, and psychologists. Is the VA saying that their doctors are "RELIABLE"....and the military's shrinks are "WORTHLESS"

    Come on now??? The VA spends more time trying to prove a claim for medical care and benifits to be false then is does in processing the claims.

    This huge delay could be avoided if they "ACTUALLY LOOKED AT OUR MILITARY RECORDS."

  • tammy

    Hello, as I read through everyones comments and see points in most i have no choice but to base my opinion on my life with my husband and our family. I want to cry when I read some and scream when I read others. Our story is this, my husband is a Navy vet he served during the Persian Gulf war, he was on the Uss Midway the first aircraft carrier into the gulf as war was being declared, though his stories are breif they are there lots of them lots of trama. One brings goose bumbs and fear to my stomach whn he broke down and told a VA Dr he was nopt there for "benifits" just a check up, but this story was never mentioned to me in almost 15 years of marrige he says that while on manevors out at sea in Japan they had a bad explosion and fire my husband was a firefighter on that ship and had just got off the night ship and was in his bunk he said there was a huge explosion and thy where all called down to the flight deck well there was a huge fire and they all go to help well long story short by the time it was over my husband was pulling the body of 1 of the dead out of the flodded area where the fire was at he referred to it as a horrible ripping sound as he put his friend in a body bag. The story went on then my husband broke, or shold I say shut down. That is one story he has many and im sure a few more he hasnt talked about. My husband wont go out of the house very often we do not have friends or a social life I laugh at times of a story i have told about my class reunion i finally talked him into going with me, it was a t a small bar and there was no windows and it was smoky something my husband cannot take is the smell of smoke any smoke, weel it took me hours to find a outfit and i was excited to be going somewhere cause at 34 married for 13 years at the time we had been nowhere he cannot take it anyway we get there and within 10 min he was white as a ghost and sweating breathing hard and make the comment to me " I will get you out I will save you just let me get to you" I remember looking at the fear in his eyes and say 'come on lets go home" It was terrible. My husband will not sleep in bed he sleeps upright in a recliner saying he has to have his feet close to the ground so he can "get out fast" if he does lay down i couldnt tell the the night i have woke up with him screaming at me run run run or trying to push me out of bed. To some this is funny but we acually sleep sidways in our king size bed when he does sleep there in his mind he can get out faster if we sleep that way instead of the normal way. In 15 years we have never been on a vacation or out on a dinner date with friend because we have none my husband cannot be around people he will dissapear if there are people around. As far as work I had became a police officer just prior to our marrige but shortly after we where married I knew that carrer was not going to happen, my husband cannot work out in public or around otheres we own a small resale shop and we both run it, I say both most of the time me, there are days and days he has to stay home because he cant be around other people. I could go on and on but people who have never dealt with this dont know how it affects everyone in the family our son me and most of all him. My husband will not take medician and untill 2 years ago when his 21 year old niece died in Irag because of a mortar bomb then a "friend of mine ask him to go check on his wife and she had commited sucide and my husband found her dead, he said that the sound of the blanket ripping from the fluid around her mouth rushed back things he could not handle. That was the time I finally after 15 years got him to go talk to a Dr at the va. we are uninsured so we never had the money to seek other help we have basically just lived the last 15 years for me and 18 years for him since his return from the war as prisoners in our home and for him prisoners in his mind. So my question is for thoughs who think our vetrans with ptsd or outher problems should not be helped what do you suggest we as the people that love them do? Im scared I love him and he is slipping away slowly. I love our American Vetrans above all they deserve everthing! My feelings is take it from the welfare make those people go to work! If Americans are helping anyone it shou be first our Vetrans and Second our elderly and widows and orphans not welfare rats!

  • Anonymous-10

    In many places, the VA is not compitent to perform their job regardless of what the diagnosis guidelines are. Most of the time it is "ten minute oil change" style medicine at best. I gave up on government treatment of my PTSD from both military medical care and the VA centers after their attempts to "help" caused more harm than good. Their attempts to treat me only served to retraumatize me. It made my symptoms worse which nearly cost me my career.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • Anonymous-11

    Even though there are both true victims of PTSD and frauds the topic should be about the Military and VA's need to improve Mental Health. My son was 18 years old when he entered the Army in March of 2006. He enlisted because we are from Upsate NY and there was limited job opportunies in our area, he had no skills just being fresh out of high school and he wanted to get out of the small town enviroment and experience the world. He had no idea what he wished for was going to come true.

    I October of 2006 he was deployed to Iraq bound for Sadar City in the heart of Baghdad in the height of conflict in that region. Within a short time of arriving his unti experienced 2 losses and they were kicking in doors looking for insurgents everyday sometime for days at a time with minimal equpment, supplies and creator comforts like a shower or even a place to sleep comfortably.

    He was set to return home in October of 2007 but they were extened until January of 2008. Once they returned home they had a few classes, counseling sessions, physicals and debriefing on info not to share with their family and friends.

    Then they are let loose into society in the evening and on the weekends and back to the base for duty during the day like everyone else and as if they had not come from hell 30 days prior. He never was able to readjust because he was a 20 year old that had never been left to take care of himself even in Iraq.

    So needless to say he fell apart asked for help an was harrassed by his superiors for beng weak, a baby and a pansy. Once he was seen by the Mental Health people at Fort Carson he was sent to a civilian Psychiatrist because they did not have the staff to assist him since he was not one of the worst cases. The civilan Dr. saw him for a few months sent a letter to the Mental Health contact at Fort Carson that my son suffered from PTSD, the Mental Health stated in his medical file that she disagreed with the civilan Dr she sent my son to and he was labled with Personality Disorder, discharged for misconduct.

    He was never told vital information on servival like until he finds work he might be able to get unemployment, or that he was discharged with a general discharge under honorable conditions which caused him to loose his seperation pay, vaction pay accruded not paid, no milage for driving back to NY, his educational benefits were forfitted and he only was eligible for a physical at the VA.

    He came home with $0.00 and no work to come home to but he did get a few jobs minimum wages jobs but nothing for more that 2 or 3 months then some thing wold happen he would be fired. He got angry one night at me and in stead of hitting me which later he said was his urge, he used his hands and feet to destroy his 2004 Mustang GT Convertible. The police came and we happened to have a OEF Vet on our local police force that helped him start his process with the VA.

    Even though he goes to some VA appointments he is slowly falling further into an whole. He says they push meds, want him to hash out the experiences he had in great detail and to top it all off his Dr is a Women who has never seved in the military, been in combat or even fired a weapon for that matter, because he asked that very question, and she is of Arab/ Middle Eastern heritage. He said does the VA have no clue that she might be better off dealing with WWII or Vietnam Vets not Gulf War, OEF or OIF Vets.

    I sent the Army my 18 year old child and in return they sent back a 20 year old broken child. I say this because according to what I have read if he does not get proper care he will never mature beyond the level of maturity he was at when he was traumatized.

    So who cares about the money my son is no different that a son someone lost on the battlefield because I will never have my child again. He doesn't want the help for the monitary benefit he wants his mind fixed.

  • WIFE of former SF

    It is like living with Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyd, a vet with PTSD. For some reason, admitting the problem is hard for veterans to do. At first I thought it was a man-ego thing but it is real and a mental disorder. I don't feel like a wife anymore, just a mother to our children and a psych nurse maid to my husband. We are compensated but our family is limited on what we can do outside the household, in fear of neglect to the vet. I have gone with super high operational tempo for 20 years, and was alone, now I am still alone but with more responsibility. None of us can speak to him without arousing his anger or limitations on memory. I wish the army would have some kind of training for caregivers of PTSD. I feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and at times, disconnected out of sheer exhaustion. Is there someone that I can contact or call for help? We are all working together as a family to help him cope with everyday life. My kids are going to grow up extremely compassionate.

  • Susan Slay

    My son's Primary Dr at the VA clinic Pensacola Florida told him he didn't want to go thru the hassle of going thru PTSD treatments several several months back. Now he is drinking heavily, taking his drugs, spending money like crazy, not paying bills, has a family, and very much mental abusive with spouse and children because of his mood swings. We don't know what or where to go for help, because the VA Dr.s are a farce. All they do is prescribe more drugs and send them on their way. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • RONALD HAFER

    my case is one of finally getting my compensation 100% after 21 yrs, but i am still blacklisted for getting treatment, i am one of the veterans who has experienced the vas long term inability to come to terms with my case and the 2 decades , am now suffering many ailments from lack of treatment,denial of treatment,downright erasing tests results, was awarded 100%september 2009 , for major depression disoder , to which was stated in my award letter, permanant in nature,directly service connected, but before a decision was rendered, it has been determined that the va thought i was trying to defraud the government and thus withheld much needed and timely medical treatment, now since i have been out of the service for some 24 years, my ailments have become very troubling, and now the va doesnt want to treat me for the depression wont go away in the event of doing anything in real medicine, so it has and always has been used against me, i was sent to the mayo clinic in minn for a month and the findings and recommendations were all rejected by the va docs, they said they were baffled by my ailments and then said the mayo was wrong, my depression to them ,the doctors consider to override doing anything physical like correcting my cervicle, only they believe it wont help my depression, i was diagnosed first with adjustment diorder, then major depression, then ptsd, but they said my ptsd was non service, then said for 18 yrs that the depression wasnt connected to service, along the way for the injuries of services just kept cropping up and getting worse and denial and neglect of treament was handed to me time and time again, so after all that neglect , my ailments have increased to a bad point, the doctors say its too late to do anything now, so yes i agree with the part, that there cases of treatment being screwed up by the va docs design through wording amongst themselves, that docs in fact discourage a vet from getting timely and needed correct treatment for ptsd,all depressions, and the physicals issues are pushed aside ,because of that reasoning. if you want to know more, then email me, ronald hafer 100% U.S NAVY VETERAN, 1984-aug 87

  • SPC Starth

    Okay, so I met with a phys. former navy and he said I don't have PSTD but I need anger management and offered me some pills to see if I can get back to "normal". THANKS VA for all your help. Maybe we should counsel these desk-perts. Watch a few babies and some grown men die in front of you and then let's experiment with your life. Honestly for all its worth, I would have NEVER served in the military if I knew this was the treatment waiting for me as the end result. Everybody keep your head up and keep your guns up, because they don't understand us: BUT THEY SURE APPREICIATE OUR SACRIFICE- what a bunch of bullshit.

  • ptsd too

    i am not a vet of war but was set up for rape years ago. quite horrifying org crime to contemplate even thirty years later. i am doing book one auditing through the church of scientology. there ie hope, just not where most people look for it. triggering and flooding therapy is cruel and experimentation on you. we need thatcharge removed, not restimulated.

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Extreme Caution:

    Dianetics, or Scientology is very controversial and worse than that, is considered to be a cult and a dangerous one, at that. I urge all readers to exercise caution with regard to this.

  • Chickadee

    The VA often doesn't cover treatments or the full financial costs of procedures. A friend of mine's husband is a vet who had a lot of issues with his PTSD. They got in touch with the nonprofit Healing Heroes Network and they found him a doctor to do some type of oxygen therapy and covered the expenses completely. It was really awesome. If you have problems with the VA, you could look into them or other nonprofits that help benefit veterans.

  • Anonymous-12

    My therapist tried to teach me streatching exercises. finally they, (The VA) told me they couldn't help me, and not to come back.

  • c. west

    My case seems like a sob story, but trust me, to me it's not. I was part of the original push through fallujah. To say that it was a "stressful" situation is an understatement. In a separate incident, a gunnery sergent took a direct impact from enemy mortar fire. We were given bags and told to pick up what was left of him, scattered on the ground. After returning home, I made mention of my recurring nightmare several times with the ussual reply being, It'll go away, give it some time. After more than a year of dealing with this, surprise, surprise, I became dependent on alcohol and whatever else I could get my hands on to make it go away. After realizing this, my unit locked me in the brig on a 180 day sentence. My rank stripped, no pay while I waited on my "punitive" discharge, and worst of all, still no help. It's been 7 years, my nightmare is relived at least one night a week. I sure hope that some vets at least get a little help, or maybe some recognition that there is a real problem. RIP Nick, we still miss you buddy.

  • Dean

    Lately, i've pretty much been living in a war zone. My sisters had to move with family in another state, and I have had to help support my mom. Could be related to a horror story even. My stepdad, who's been deployed several times is really struggling. He's been asking for help, the way he is supposed to for about 2 years. They pretty much just tell him it will go away with time. It's so bad now, where he hasn't been to work in about 5-6+ months. No pay, and he's COMPLETELY out of it. Never was a trouble maker before, but now it's like he lost complete control. He twitches uncontrollably, makes like alien had movements, and sometimes he makes noises he doesn't realize he's even making. This is an all day, daily thing. It used to not be...
    It's SO bad. It's literally like, he's a 3 year old trapped in a mans body. Throwing food, having fits, throwing things. This is NOT the man I know. It got so bad, he's been having run in's with the police, and we can not get any help for him. Please look at this news article(with video). http://www.wsmv.com/story/16002733/wife-seeks-help-for-husband-with-ptsd-following-arrest
    He desperately needs help, he's sitting in jail like some sort of criminal. He's fought for our country, now he's just been tossed aside... Please help him get the help he needs. Feel free to contact me @ mrstarrbornn@gmail.com

  • jim

    I have served 26 years in the Army 1st Gulf War, Somalia and this last turn in both countris. Now the Army says I have PTSD, after the VA saifd I didn,t and will be sending me out on the street in the next few months. Guess this is what you get when you trust your leadership!

  • gulf war veteran wife

    My husband came back with headaches, rash, memory problems, gastr, etc. Documented in Germany three seperate times. Came to Ft. Riley, still had problems, after car wreck much worse. He even changed personality wise. Sometime during this time he also developed a strange limp. Other wives and soldiers started warning us to stop talking to the army doctors. Rumors were that soldiers were dying and many showing symptoms were being forced out. With this mind set my husband refused to talk or go to the va. He had talked to amvets and was told he would be locked away for two to six weeks for evaluations. He wouldn't go. We dwelt with his problems for twenty years before his symptoms, the same as when he came back started, got extremely worse. He finally went. First thing was to put him on depression meds. Wouldn't listen to us that he wasn't so much depressed( He relied on God and prayed a lot when down) as so much as was having seizures. Wouldn't listen about severe memory problems. Wouldn't listen about headaches that never stopped, etc. Instead told us that since the blood work kept coming back normal it was just PTSD. We told them it was something to do with the brain. Since he came back he doesn't get colds or flus. He talks funny, his eyes act funny. Muscles under the skin move while resting. Body temperature intolerance and fluctuations, twitching, muscle pain only on right side whereas headaches only on left side, etc. Muscle stiffness so severe at times as to cause knee to give out or look like Frankenstein walking(only right side doing this) They over medicated him on depression meds whereas he was a zombie most of the time. It took two years to get someone to listen. The day he stopped those meds - pain came on so intense that he became suicidal. They even told him he needed to choose pain or zombie. He now trips/ falls. He now has depth perception problems not related to his eyes. He now has longer and frequent seizures, still not being treated for. (They claim test show he's not, since the doctors haven't seen one.... - funny his primary doctor and nurse witness one February the 13th this year. She put down that he was agitated, alert, and awake instead. She did not report his eyes acting funny, slurred speech, memory loss, him trying to sleep even when pressured not to. She didn't report this took a five minute cycle. Nor did she report that after he walked out within another five minutes he fell against the wall and couldn't walk for about thirty minutes. Another nurse saw him and rushed to get a wheelchair. His doctor did ask me was this what I was talking about and I said yes. She stated OH My God!. Her report left everything out that could have gotten him help.) He has been diagnosed with TBI and only has thirtyseven percent short term memory not including other memory problems. He is not allowed to drive, etc. Now after two years of hell, the doctors are sending him to occupational therapy for gulf war illness therapy. Basically it still a mental and wrong thinking problem( I looked up the va occupational therapy program for gwv) I was told someone had to be around him at all times, so how can I work? Caught three doctors changing and deliberately not documenting info. Don't matter, va regional won't listen to anyone but their own. Been told outside doctors aren't specialized to proper diagnose a veteran, nor do they give any credits for their opinion. His orimary doctor is a geriatric doctor. Their agenda has been to deny him real help and now do what ever they can to get him back to work even if it is a fraction of what he made to cover up what they have done. I also agree that the statement from them about how they appreciate what he has done very flat.

    Been coming across more gulf war veterans and hearing more horror stories. I want him tested for ALS - He has been getting worse recently not better. They refuse.. I'm hearing from others that they are deliberately not giving diagnoses till its to late so as to not treat the vets. I know of five that have died because of this. I love him, I can't understand how the va, government/ doctors with staff can do this and sleep at night doing what they are doing.

  • MrM

    Thought this might be worth mentioning here. If its of any consolation to Iraq War vets and their families about getting service connected for PTSD. Don't feel bad. Us Vietnam veterans are in the same pickle-barrel as you. Been fighting VA for 42 years so-o- don't give up!! War may be hell but fighting the VA is even WORSE!!! (:

  • Anonymous-13

    here is my issue. i am a military spouse with a husband that has served 4 combat tours and 1 hardship tour although the later was before the war started. My husband does go through bouts wuth PTSD...and he still serves honerably gets up at 4 every morning and goes to work until 6 or 7 at night. Now my problem would be with the other half of the neighborhood that al have DV on their cars 1 neighbor in particular that served for six months fell off of a fuel tanker..no bombs, no grenades just misstepped and fell. he claimed he had severe back pain and they opperated, i remember in the front of the house he used to ride his scooter but in the back hed be hammering away.But then he claimed he had PTSD and Sleep Apneia. He had a pool put in and completely remodled his whole house and yard and every weekend would have huge parties until people started to ask the question mainly fellow sioldiers what did you do to get all of this. an example of this was on meet the teachers day when he was walking around with his cane...but the minute we got home he traded it in for his Harley Davidson

  • Allan N. Schwartz, Phd

    There are always a few who take advantage of and cheat the system. However, there is a dismaying and tragic number of vets who commit suicide. Those vets are not faking it, obviously. The problem of PTSD is very real and is very life threatening.

    Dr. Schwartz