PTSD

July 7, 2010

 

V.A. Is Easing Rules to Cover Stress Disorder

By JAMES DAO

The government is preparing to issue new rules that will make it substantially easier for veterans who have been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder to receive disability benefits, a change that could affect hundreds of thousands of veterans from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

The regulations from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will take effect as early as Monday and cost as much as $5 billion over several years according to Congressional analysts, will essentially eliminate a requirement that veterans document specific events like bomb blasts, firefights or mortar attacks that might have caused P.T.S.D., an illness characterized by emotional numbness,

irritability and flashbacks.

For decades, veterans have complained that finding such records was extremely time consuming and sometimes impossible. And in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, veterans groups assert that the current rules discriminate against tens of thousands of service members — many of them women — who did not serve in combat roles but nevertheless suffered traumatic experiences.

Under the new rule, which applies to veterans of all wars, the department will grant compensation to those with P.T.S.D. if they can simply show that they served in a war zone and in a job consistent with the events that they say caused their conditions. They would not have to prove, for instance, that they came under fire, served in a front-line unit or saw a friend killed.

The new rule would also allow compensation for service members who had good reason to fear traumatic events, known as stressors, even if they did not actually experience them.

There are concerns that the change will open the door to a flood of fraudulent claims. But supporters of the rule say the veterans department will still review all claims and thus be able to weed out the baseless ones.

“This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served this country and suffer from the emotional and often devastating hidden wounds of war,” the secretary of veterans affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, said in a statement to The New York Times. “This final regulation goes a long way to ensure that veterans receive the benefits and services they need.”

Though widely applauded by veterans’ groups, the new rule is generating criticism from some quarters because of its cost. Some mental health experts also believe it will lead to economic dependency among younger veterans whose conditions might be treatable.

Disability benefits include free physical and mental health care and monthly checks ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $2,000, depending on the severity of the condition.

“I can’t imagine anyone more worthy of public largess than a veteran,” said Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy group, who has written on P.T.S.D. “But as a clinician, it is destructive to give someone total and permanent disability when they are in fact capable of working, even if it is not at full capacity. A job is the most therapeutic thing there is.”

But Rick Weidman, executive director for policy and government affairs at Vietnam Veterans of America, said most veterans applied for disability not for the monthly checks but because they wanted access to free health care.

“I know guys who are rated 100 percent disabled who keep coming back for treatment not because they are worried about losing their compensation, but because they want their life back,” Mr. Weidman said.

Mr. Weidman and other veterans’ advocates said they were disappointed by one provision of the new rule: It will require a final determination on a veteran’s case to be made by a psychiatrist or psychologist who works for the veterans department.

The advocates assert that the rule will allow the department to sharply limit approvals. They argue that private physicians should be allowed to make those determinations as well.

But Tom Pamperin, associate deputy under secretary for policy and programs at the veterans department, said the agency wanted to ensure that standards were consistent for the assessments.

“V.A. and V.A.-contract clinicians go through a certification process,” Mr. Pamperin said. “They are well familiar with military life and can make an assessment of whether the stressor is consistent with the veterans’ duties and place of service.”

The new rule comes at a time when members of Congress and the veterans department itself are moving to expand health benefits and disability compensation for a variety of disorders linked to deployment. The projected costs of those actions are generating some opposition, though probably not enough to block any of the proposals.

The largest proposal would make it easier for Vietnam veterans with ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and hairy-cell leukemia to receive benefits.

The rule, proposed last fall by the veterans department, would presume those diseases were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant, if a veteran could simply demonstrate that he had set foot in Vietnam during the war.

The rule, still under review, is projected to cost more than $42 billion over a decade.

Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia and a Vietnam veteran, has asked that Congress review the proposal before it takes effect. “I take a back seat to no one in my concern for our veterans,” Mr. Webb said in a floor statement in May. “But I do think we need to have practical, proper procedures.”

More than two million service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001, and by some estimates 20 percent or more of them will develop P.T.S.D.

More than 150,000 cases of P.T.S.D. have been diagnosed by the veterans health system among veterans of the two wars, while thousands more have received diagnoses from private doctors, said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, an advocacy group.

But Mr. Sullivan said records showed that the veterans department had approved P.T.S.D. disability claims for only 78,000 veterans. That suggests, he said, that many veterans with the disorder are having their compensation claims rejected by claims processors. “Those statistics show a very serious problem in how V.A. handles P.T.S.D. claims,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Representative John Hall, Democrat of New York and sponsor of legislation similar to the new rule, said his office had handled dozens of cases involving veterans who had trouble receiving disability compensation for P.T.S.D., including a Navy veteran from World War II who twice served on ships that sank in the Pacific.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are an infantryman or a cook or a truck driver,” Mr. Hall said. “Anyone is potentially at risk for post-traumatic stress.”


VA to Accept Military's PTSD Diagnosis

February 25, 2008

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Overview  Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can occur following a life-threatening event like military combat, natural disasters, terroristincidents,serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time.
  However, some people have stress reactions that don't go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD.
People who suffer from PTSD often suffer from nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and feeling emotionally numb. These symptoms can significantly impair a person's daily life.
PTSD is marked by clear physical and psychological symptoms. It often has symptoms like depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other physical and mental health problems. The disorder is also associated with difficulties in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.
If you are suffering from PTSD, or know someone who is, the following list of resources and information will help you find help in dealing with PTSD and related conditions.
 

  • PTSD Frequently asked questions
     

  • What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
    Find out about the symptoms of PTSD and how they develop.
     

  • FAQs about PTSD
    Frequently asked questions about PTSD.
     

  • Treatment of PTSD
    Describes the treatments shown to be effective for PTSD and what you can expect from your therapist.
     

  • How common is PTSD?
    Find out how many people have PTSD and who is most likely to develop PTSD.
     

  • What can I do if I think I have PTSD?
    Learn what you can do if you think you have PTSD.
     

  • Helping a Family Member Who Has PTSD
    Ways you
     

  • National Center for PTSD
     

  • PTSD Resources.org
     

  • Readjustment Counseling Resources
     

  • PTSD Facts for Veterans

    PTSD
    FRIDAY, April 30,2010 (HealthDay News) -- Injecting a local anesthetic next to a group of nerves in the neck,
    known as the stellate ganglion, is a fast-acting and effective way to treat combat-related post-traumatic
    stress disorder (PTSD), U.S. military researchers report.

    The 10-minute procedure, called a stellate ganglion block, has been used to treat chronic pain and certain
    other health problems since 1925, according to background information in a news release about the research.

    The team at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., tested the block procedure on two patients:
    a 36-year-old man whose PTSD symptoms began after the battle of Fallujah in Iraq and a 46-year-old male
    veteran whose PTSD symptoms began 18 years ago in the first Gulf War.

    Both men had been receiving drug treatment for more than a year, but it had been ineffective in treating
    their PTSD symptoms, according to the Walter Reed report. In addition, both men suffered side effects from
    the drugs, including depression, sleepiness and erectile dysfunction.

    "Unlike conventional treatments for PTSD, SGB appears to provide results almost immediately," Dr. Sean W.
    Mulvaney, the Army lieutenant colonel who led the Walter Reed research, said in the news release. "Both
    patients experienced immediate, significant and durable relief."

    The cases studies were published online April 20 in Pain Practice.

    SOURCE: Advanced Pain Centers, news release, April 30, 2010

    HealthDay

After math of war coping with PTSD too
A Safe Haven of Support for those whose battles live on in The Aftermath of War.

Compassion and love heal.

Together, we can end the war at home.

Bob,
 This is very special to me.  This is my story since Viet Nam.  This is something that the Worrier's  who have been in the killing fields, need to hear as part on their debriefing.  Not to EVER lose the last line, "and, I would need cleansing in all these things".   Their feelings need to be validated by the old worrier's, and to know that help is in the worriers tent with the medicine man, the chief, and GOD.  There can be much cleansing done!
A warrior gave this to me in a PTSD group therapy session.  Author is unknown, you can use it.
Tom Duthie


Nez Perce Warrior's Reflection:

They said I would be changed in my body.
I would move through the physical world in a different manner.
I would hold myself in a different posture.
I would have pain where there was no blood.
I would react to sights, sounds, movement and touch in a crazy way, as though I were back in war.

They said I would be wounded in my thoughts.
I would forger how to trust, and I would think that others were trying to hurt me.  I would see dangers in the kindness and concern of my relatives and others.

Most of all,  I would not be able to think in a reasonable manner, and it would seem that everyone else was crazy.

They told me that it would appear to me that I was alone even in the midst of the people, and that there was no one else like me.

They warned me that it would be as though my emotions were locked up, and I would be cold in my heart and not remember the ways of caring for others.

While I might give meat and blankets to the elders, or food to the children, I would not be able to feel the goodness of these actions.  That I would do these things out of habit and not from caring.  They predicted that I might do harm to others without plan or intention.

They knew that my spirit would be wounded.

They said I would be lonely and that I would find no comfort in family, friends, elders or spirits.  I would be cut off from both beauty and pain.  My dreams would be dark and frightening. My days would be filled with searching and not finding. I would not be able to find connections between myself and the rest of creation. I would look forward to an early death.

And, I would need cleansing in all these things.

A Guide to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder brought on by exposure to extremely traumatic events deemed beyond normal human experience.

PTSD in Female Veterans

Some findings from a National Study of Women Vietnam Veterans

The Legacy of Psychological Trauma of The Vietnam War For American Indian Military Personnel
Utilizing data gathered from the large-scale VA Matsunaga study, describes the effects of trauma on American Indian veterans.

The Legacy of Psychological Trauma of The Vietnam War For Native Hawaiian and American of Japanese Ancestry Military Personnel

Utilizing data gathered from the large-scale VA Matsunaga study, describes the effects of trauma on Native Hawaiian and Japanese-American veterans.

Specialized PTSD Treatment Programs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Brief information about the Department of Veterans Affair’s network of more than 100 specialized programs for veterans with PTSD, including the Vet Centers operated by VA's Readjustment Counseling Service

Info Source: National Center for PTSD

PTSD Frequently Asked Questions Page 2  

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Thank you,  Bob

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