Tuesday, June 19, 2007

VA Mental Health Overhaul Sought

Congress and the White House are pushing for reforms in the Veteran's Administration and other military hospitals to overhaul the mental health care provided to people serving in the military -- particularly those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan -- and those who have already served.

Today's Washington Post states:
Over the past two days, The Post has published stories detailing the bureaucratic and health difficulties of troops returning home with PTSD.
The Army is hiring 200 more psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to help soldiers with mental-health problems, and next month it will launch an educational program on stress for all soldiers and commanders, said Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, the acting surgeon general of the Army.

The Army is also expanding a pilot program at Fort Bragg to offer behavioral-health treatment at primary-care facilities to reduce the stigma for soldiers seeking care, Pollock said.

"The tragic cases of combat stress discussed in the Washington Post June 17-18 are powerful and concerning to the U.S. Army," Pollock said in a statement. She emphasized that the Army is continuing to address the problems of soldiers with PTSD, including placing hundreds of mental-health specialists on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan to counsel soldiers with combat stress.

Pollock cited efforts such as post-deployment health assessments, begun in 1998. Based on a 2004 study by Walter Reed researchers, the Army added a second screening for soldiers a few months after their return to catch problems that are not quickly apparent, such as PTSD.
Cruz, who helped capture Saddam Hussein, has been plagued by anxiety and nightmarish images of dead Iraqi children since returning home. Yet VA has denied his claim for compensation, ruling that his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army and that he had not proved that he saw combat.
The Washington Post has set up a special online area for this topic, "Walter Reed and Beyond," here.


Anonymous said...

don't you just love how we take care of our soldiers? NOT. I am never a supporter of any war, least to say, the Bush fiasco. But, when we send young men over to "Shock and Awe" and then act like being a witness to such violence will not need follow up life long therapy is a sin. And we wonder where our street people come from...a sin. We don't want to think about these Americans who are disturbed. After all, we didn't have to go to war. We didn't have to see dead children. And really, we have our own problems. The dynamics of our family, the mortgage. Our personal demons. It is all about me, right? Make me safe from terrorists but don't make me really think about the fall out. And for God's sake, don't tell me how many hurting soldiers there are out there. I might have to get more personal therapy. Just go kill those people and let me be. I have soap opera's to watch and dogs to walk. Oh, and by the way, I really do support you American's over there fighting for my right to forget about you when you get home. Thanks.

I'll get off my soap box now. When are we, the people, going to take full responsiblity for such a travesty?

QuestRepublic said...

The VA Health Care (which is NOT part of the mediocre DOD Health System)is doing a pretty good job with the budget is has.

The Compensation portion of the VA is a disaster and needs not only lots of money but especially good leadership, not the kind of mismanagement and cost-deferring tactics that have been practiced for generations.

Here is the rub -
Americans are getting the quality of care for our Soldiers, Sailors and Marines that we pay for! If taxpayers do not bug their elected representatives for reform, then they should not blame the Republicans (or the Democrats, like when medical care was screwed up during Vietnam) for their own failure to pay attention to the type of mistreatment of young servicemembers that was also going on forty years ago.


Sarebear said...

Wait. Cruz came face to face with a very evil man, even if he was brought down much in circumstances, and they say he can't prove he was in a combat situation? Geez, the second you have the guy, you are a target 1000 times more than you were before.

i would think, though, that just encountering such an individual as Saddam Hussein, with everything he's done, could and would be traumatizing, let alone worrying about revenge from his followers . . . .

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to write that it may benefit active duty veteran family’s / friends of veterans to read a recently released book titled, “Still the Monkey: What Happens to Warriors After War?” "Author Alivia C. Tagliaferri became inspired to write Still the Monkey: What Happens to Warriors After War after she visited the Walter Reed Medical Center in the summer of 2003, and saw first hand the casualties of the War on Terror. Her later interview with a former Marine and Vietnam Veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder helped cement her determination to express the devastating toll of war. Still the Monkey is a historical fiction novel about a Vietnam veteran plagued with pain and sickness, and his fateful meeting with an Iraq veteran who lost both his legs. For ten days inside the walls of Walter Reed's Monologue House, the two of them begin a painful yet ultimately cathartic progression toward healing and learning to live again, one day at a time. A poignant and powerful novel, written out of the deepest respect and admiration for the men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of their nation.” - Midwest Book Review. At http://www.ironcuttermedia.com/ you can learn more about this book, which is reality-based work of historical fiction that depicts the problems caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among returning veterans. I hope this post helps educate people out there that need assistance. Take care and God bless.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the UK. We have free universal healthcare (albeit limited by what we can afford as a society) but we still have issues about what separate care should be provided for soldiers.

As someone who was a soldier and a combat medical technician, and one who has been a patient in a military hospital, I fail to see why soldiers should get different care from anyone else that serves their country. Why soldiers and not firefighters or paramedics? Are broken bodies worse to see when you see them in a far off country? Is it worse to see your colleague fried alive in Iraq than in your own country?