Showing posts with label veterans mental health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veterans mental health. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Veterans: "worst impacts to their mental health could come after the immediate crisis is over."

Suicide risk for veterans could grow as coronavirus crisis winds down

Military Times
May 22, 2020
Before March, about 15 percent of all VA mental health appointments were conducted over the phone or via video conferencing. Today that figure sits at 80 percent. Telephone appointments for those patients rose from about 170,000 a month before the pandemic to 768,000 in April alone.

Veterans’ isolation and stress from the coronavirus pandemic could increase their chances of suicidal thoughts, but health experts are warning that the worst impacts to their mental health could come after the immediate crisis is over.
An orthopedic technician takes a patient's swab sample during a screening for COVID-19 symptoms outside the Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., on March 23, 2020. (Kemberly Groue/Air Force)

That’s because of long-term problems with personal finances, lingering health issues and misplaced expectations of mental health issues disappearing with a return to pre-crisis life.

“During the actual crisis, suicides can go down. It’s in the aftermath that it gets worse,” said Barbara Stanley, a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, during a press call sponsored by National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention on Thursday. “We expect to see fallout in terms of possible increases in suicide as a tail going forward.”
read it here

Monday, November 5, 2012

Military Mental Health “Treatment” Becomes Frankenpharmacy

Two Soldiers Prescribed 54 Drugs
Military Mental Health “Treatment” Becomes Frankenpharmacy
The mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) announces the second in a four-part series by award-winning investigative journalist Kelly Patricia O’Meara exploring the epidemic of suicides in the military and the correlation to dramatic increases in psychiatric drug prescriptions to treat the emotional scars of battle.

The second installment covers psycho-pharma’s disastrous chemical experimentation within the military ending in sudden unexplained deaths, including those of Marine corporal Andrew White and Senior Airman Anthony Mena who were prescribed a total of 54 drugs between them, including Seroquel, Effexor, Paxil, Prozac, Remeron, Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft, Ativan, Celexa, Cymbalta, Depakote, Haldol, Klonopin, Lexapro, Lithium, Lunesta, Compazine, Desyrel, Trileptal, and Valium.
by Kelly Patricia O’Meara
October 30, 2012
The devastating adverse effects mind-altering psychiatric drugs may be having on the nation’s military troops are best summed up by Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein, writing “nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

Just as the fictional character, Dr. Frankenstein, turned to experiments in the laboratory to create life with fantastically horrific results, the psychiatric community, along with its pharmaceutical sidekicks, has turned to modern day chemical concoctions to alter the human mind.

The result is what many believe is a growing number of equally hideous results culminating in senseless deaths, tormented lives and grief-stricken families.

The nation’s military troops are taking their lives at record numbers and seemingly healthy soldiers are dying from sudden unexplained deaths. That’s a fact. The data are clear, yet, despite growing evidence pointing to the enemy among us, the monstrous psycho-pharmacological experiment continues (see Part 1: Psychiatric Drugs and War: A Suicide Mission).
read more here

Why isn't the press on suicide watch?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Iowa vets lobby for free counseling, mental health court

Iowa vets lobby for free counseling, mental health court
By Mike Wiser Lee Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES - State support for free counseling services and establishing a mental health court that would cater to veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder are the top two priorities of the veterans lobby this year.
Steve Mulcahy, chairman of the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs, said he hopes to work with legislators this year for greater recognition of mental health issues many veterans face when they return from combat.
"PSTD is the main issue right now," Mulcahy said following a series of short speeches today by Gov. Terry Branstad and three of the four legislative leaders of the Veterans Affairs Committees in the House and Senate in the Capitol Rotunda.
"Last year we had legislation that any counseling visit by a veteran would be covered, but it didn't make it out by the end of session," Mulcahy said. "Every veteran goes through some readjustment when they return from deployment to what we call ‘the life' and we're working for greater support of that."
Mulcahy's presence and the speeches by the governor and lawmakers were part of the events set up for today's Veterans Day at the Capitol. Roughly 300 people, many of them wearing hats signifying the Legion or VFW post they belong to and the years of their military service listened to the speeches and browsed among the display tables set up by organizations such as the Gold Star Mothers.
read more here
Iowa vets lobby for free counseling, mental health court

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Veterans Suicide Report Earns Emmy

Keep in mind with all of this, with all that happened, NAMI Veterans Council thought it was a good idea to award Dr. Katz for being behind all of this and forced to act to save lives.

It is not as if they didn't know what was going on.

National Alliance on Mental Illness
Submitted to
Subcommittee on Military Construction,
Veterans’ Affairs and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives

March 20, 2007

The General Accountability Office (GAO) issued a startling report last year to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs documenting VA’s failure to spend several millions of available dollars in pursuit of important initiatives that would move VA in the right direction to reform its mental health programs. The Veterans Council Executive Committee met recently with Dr. Ira Katz to discuss his plans to improve the allocation of funds dedicated to the initiatives under the new strategic plan. We hope Congress will closely monitor VA’s implementation of the new strategic plan to ensure it meets that promise.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Anyway, a reminder of what was behind all of this can be found here

Friday, July 3, 2009

Dr. Ira Katz award slaps veterans
I still believe in NAMI but I no longer believe in the NAMI Veterans Council. The decision to award Dr. Ira Katz for suicide prevention is akin to awarding a vampire for testing blood. Katz, as reported here countless times, was refusing to admit there was a problem with veterans committing suicide. Everything he did, what they are awarding him for, he was forced to do. The Veterans Council is giving him an award for what it took an act of Congress to do!

Veterans Suicide Report Earns Emmy
CBS' Armen Keteyian's Investigation Exposing a Cover-up by the VA Honored by Award
(CBS) The "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" won an Emmy Award last night in the category of Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast for a series of reports by Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian that exposed how officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs tried to cover-up the true risk of suicide among veterans.

Play CBS Video Video Suicide Cover-Up Runs Deep
New information reveals that statistics related to veterans' suicides was explicitly withheld from the public and from CBS News. Chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.
Video Veterans Suicides In Question
In a recently filed lawsuit, the Department of Veterans Affairs is accused of deliberately misinforming the American public about the number of veterans committing suicide. Armen Keteyian reports.
Video Veteran Suicides, An Epidemic
CBS News first reported on the staggering number of veteran suicides in a report last year. Now, newly-released data shows that vets who get help from the VA are still at risk. Armen Keteyian reports.
Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans
Veteran Suicides: How We Got The Numbers

Excerpts of the veteran suicide coverage:
Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans
Veteran Suicides: How We Got The Numbers
Congress Vows Action On Vets' Suicides
VA Admits Vet Suicides Are High
VA Says E-mail Was "Poorly Worded"
VA Official Grilled About E-Mails Soldier Suicide Attempts Skyrocket

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

PA. group to help vets with post-traumatic stress

Pa. group to help vets with post-traumatic stress
An Allentown nonprofit is converting a vacant 90-year-old church school into a residential "veterans sanctuary" to specialize in treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
New Treatment Trends will create a short-term therapeutic home for 60 veterans, with room for counseling, training and group therapy.
Executive director Robert Csandl (SAN'-del) says veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder often turn to drugs or alcohol.
City Councilman Mike Donovan says the center will be downtown, close to key government and health care services. Council president Michael D'Amore says it will provide needed services for veterans returning from war.
New Treatment Trends hopes to open the center in the spring of 2010.

I found this video online

Friday, January 16, 2009

VA diagnosing higher rates of PTSD

VA diagnosing higher rates of PTSD
By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jan 16, 2009 16:18:25 EST

More than 44 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who have sought treatment at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility have been diagnosed with one or more possible mental disorders, according to the agency’s most recent summary of veteran health care.

All told, a total of 178,483 veterans who came to VA for help were diagnosed with possible mental disorders from fiscal 2002 through September 2008, according to the January report of the VHA Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards.

Of that total, 92,998 service members, or 23 percent, were diagnosed with possible post-traumatic stress disorder, while 63,009, or 16 percent, were found to have possible depressive disorders.

The VA figures overlap to an unknown extent because officials say a veteran may have been diagnosed with more than one disorder.

In addition, the total of those who have come to VA for health care is a limited sample of the 1.7 million service members who have served in the two wars — as of Sept. 30, 2008, 400,304 war veterans had sought such treatment over the past seven years, or about 24 percent of the totals number of troops who have served in the conflicts.
click link above for more

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stunning statement of devaluing the veterans

Chaplain Kathie

We keep hearing how the veterans are so important to each president, that is when they want their votes, but not when it really counts and the veterans need the president to really support them.

It looks like Truman was the last real friendly Commander-in-Chief the veterans had.

Government Spending Priorities
Posted by DJ Drummond
Published: February 4, 2008 - 5:17 PM
One thing that has puzzled me about Republicans in the last few years, has been spending. Like tax reform, we hear so much about how it's got to change, yet little seems to change. But I also understand that to know how to solve a problem, you have to get a handle on the problem. So, I took a look to see where we've been spending money.
It's interesting. Here's a summary by Administration on what areas got money in the budgets. Because inflation is a factor to consider, I represent the numbers as percentage of the total budget, and show the categories which claimed 1% or more of the budget:

Truman (1946-52)
Veterans Benefits 9.6%

Eisenhower (1953-60)
Veterans Benefits 4.7%

Kennedy (1961-63)
Veterans Benefits 3.6%

Johnson (1964-68)
Veterans Benefits 2.9%

Nixon (1969-74)
Veterans Benefits 2.9%

Ford (1975-76)
Veterans Benefits 2.9%

Carter (1977-80)
Veterans Benefits 2.4%

Reagan (1981-88)
Veterans Benefits 1.9%

G.H. Bush (1989-92)
Veterans Benefits 1.6%

Clinton (1993-2000)
Veterans Benefits 1.6%

George W. Bush (2001-08)
Veterans Benefits 1.6% click link for more

It's been bothering me that we still really don't know where all the money went that was supposed to be given to people working with veterans.

But then you'd have to have been reading articles like the following making you believe they have finally arrived in the eyes of the elected as important again.

Spending on vets exceeds 1947 high
Updated 7/23/2008
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The federal government is spending more money on veterans than at any time in modern history, surpassing the tidal wave of spending following World War II and the demilitarizing of millions of troops.

Expenditures hit $82 billion in 2007, because of the rising cost of health care, the expense of caring for an aging population of mostly Vietnam War veterans and a new crop of severely wounded troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That exceeds the $80 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars spent in 1947 after most of the 16.1 million Americans serving in World War II left the service, according to a Congressional Research Service report submitted to Congress last month.

An 11% hike in spending to $91 billion is slated for this fiscal year, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed $94 billion for 2009. And still more is needed, says U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who is seeking another $3.3 billion for the 2009 budget proposal.

"While we are spending more than in previous years, we are still not meeting many of the health care and benefits needs of our veterans," Murray says. click link for more

When it comes to the percentage of the budget, we see that the percentage has dropped after Truman.

Senator Joe Biden, the next Vice President, had this to say during the campaign. "My Dad told me not to tell him what I value. He told me to show him my budget and then he'd know what I value." or words to that effect.

That means they were worth 9.6% to President Truman but only 1.6% for the last three presidents. Some will argue that the older veterans have died off, but they would not be looking at the newer veterans that took their place. Vietnam veterans were really beginning to understand PTSD and Agent Orange during Bush 41's administration and kept coming during Clinton's and Bush 43's administration. Then you can add in the Gulf War veterans, Iraq veterans and Afghanistan veterans also seeking treatment and compensation. The truth is that Bush actually cut funding for veterans in 2005. There were less doctors and nurses, along with claim processors, than there were after the Gulf War. If this is not a stunning statement of devaluing the veterans, nothing is.

During the lives of the older veterans from WWI, WWII and Korea, they were not treated for PTSD even though they were dealing with the wound just the same. It was not until the Vietnam vetearns cames home and made sure it was treated like a wound and they were taken care of. The percentage of the VA budget should have gone up considering they were then treating more conditions like PTSD, Agent Orange, TBI, depleted uranium and whatever else is causing the Gulf War veterans to suffer they way they have.

Next time you hear an elected official talk about how much the veterans mean to them, tell them to prove it in their budget.

I really hope and pray President-elect Obama will be true to his word and take care of the veterans and their families better than the list of others have. We'll be watching and waiting to see what he does.

In between now and then, we need to do what we can to help them. After all, someone has to.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

VA tsunami: Iraq and Afghanistan veteran patients

Months ago I wrote the problem with the VA and the new cases of PTSD and/or mental health was so huge that what they have done so far is equal to trying to hold off a tsunami with a beach shovel. While they are controlling a few drops of the tidal wave, the rest of the devastating wave manages to crash all around the shovel. Does it help? Sure if you focus only on what the shovel catches. The problem is when you look at what passes by without anything being done to catch the rest.

Sep 4, VCS Releases New VA Fact Sheet: VA Treated 350,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans

Paul Sullivan, Executive Director, VCS

Sep 04, 2008
Veteran Patients 347,750 40% of Veterans
Mental Health Patients 147,744 42% of Patients
PTSD Patients 75,850 22% of Patients
Vet Center Patients 302,503 87% of Patients

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Senator Patty Murray to make speech on veterans mental health care

From Paul Sullivan, Veterans for Common Sense
FYI – This should be a very interesting press conference given the recent incident in Washington State where VA appears to have improperly denied emergency medical care to a suicidal veteran, leading the reporter’s discovery of six recent suicides of veterans receiving care at the same VA facility, including recent Iraq War veterans:

Or go here for the article and read my comment.

Senator Patty Murray


Tuesday, July 22, 2008 (202) 224-2834

Senator Murray to Deliver Speech on Veterans Mental Health and Suicides

(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will deliver a speech to raise awareness of the continuing problem of veterans struggling to get the mental health care they need and the epidemic of veterans suicides.

Senator Murray will use the examples of recent veterans suicides in Spokane, Washington and the highly publicized tragic death of Joseph Dwyer – an Army medic made famous in a photo taken during the first week of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – to illustrate the need to take action.

Although, Senator Murray will acknowledge that the VA is taking some helpful steps to address suicides including running advertisements highlighting their 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, Murray will call for more to be done. In her speech, Senator Murray will call for an increase in resources to boost outreach, breakdown barriers to care, and ensure that veterans are not turned away when they seek mental health care at VA facilities.

WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

WHAT: Floor Speech on Veterans Suicide

WHEN: Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not before 5:00 PM ET/ 3:00 PM PT

*E-mail notification on timing will go out closer to speech time.

WHERE: Senate Floor

C-SPAN 2 in Washington State

AUDIO: Following speech a transcript and mp3 audio file will be released.

Monday, June 30, 2008

St. Cloud City Council ok's rehab for veterans

Military can open facility near school -- with strings
Kumari Kelly Sentinel Staff Writer
June 29, 2008
ST. CLOUD - A residential substance-abuse treatment facility for veterans and active-duty military members will be allowed to open near a playground for schoolchildren with strict limits on how the center is used, the City Council voted last week. Despite protests from parents and the principal at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, who expressed concern about the potential for crime and the safety of their children, the council voted 3-1 to allow Transition House to open an 80-bed center. It will be at 3800 Fifth St., about 500 feet west of Brown Chapel Road. The school is at 800 Brown Chapel Road, but its playground backs up near the property. The center is also about a half-mile from Lakeview Elementary School and within the two-mile boundary for 114 students who could be walking to school, a county school district official said. Officials with Transition House agreed that only veterans -- and no former inmates or those with criminal histories -- will be allowed at the house.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Judge let down veterans across the country-after government did

Do you think this judge could have figured out he had no power to do anything before he took the case?

Judge dismisses suit charging VA with shoddy mental health care
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

(06-25) 11:00 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a nationwide lawsuit by veterans groups today that sought major changes in the Department of Veterans Affairs' mental health system because of long waits for treatment and benefits.

Veterans' advocates accused the VA of making mental health care virtually unavailable to thousands of discharged soldiers through perfunctory exams, delays in referrals and treatment, and a prolonged and complex system of awarding medical benefits.

They cited internal department e-mails, released in response to the suit, that reported 18 suicides a day among all veterans and 1,000 suicide attempts a month among those under VA care. About 30 percent of the nation's 24 million veterans receive medical care from the department, which is required to provide care for five years after a veteran is discharged from active duty.
go here for more

It really would have been great if he figured that part out before he let all this time go by and then left the veterans out in the cold still. What's the answer? Who has the power to make sure the veterans are taken care of if the Bush Administration won't, Congress has limited itself on what it is willing to do and the rest of the American people have not taken enough interest in them to fight for them?

Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense, should be proud of the effort he put into this law suit and so should everyone else on the veteran's side. That's really all I have to say on this right now because this whole thing is really sickening. Do we care about our veterans or not? Then when are we going to prove it?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Military vets and families need to know your rights with PTSD


January 10, 2006

Aloha Senator Akaka and other members of Congress. It is an honor to have this opportunity today to testify at these important congressional hearings on "The State of VA Care in Hawaii." I still vividly recall when I had testified before you at the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings in Washington, DC in 1993 to address concerns about "VA Mental Health Programs."

As a result of those hearings, Public Law 104-262 was passed in 1996, thereby expanding eligibility for Vet Centers and authorizing the extension of readjustment counseling to all combat veterans and their families. This landmark legislation made it possible for combat veterans, and their families, to receive free counseling in convenient locations at 207 Vet Centers nationwide. More importantly though, it helped to eliminate the stigma often associated with mental health care. Public Law 104-262 was a critical step towards the development of seamless and comprehensive care for our returned war veterans.

At Vet Centers, veterans receive counseling for war-related issues, including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), in a comfortable community-based setting that is confidential, private, and without stigma or embarrassment.

The law authorized the Vet Centers to provide family therapy as a core component of readjustment counseling. As provided at Vet Centers, family counseling is available as necessary in connection with any psychological, social, or other military-related readjustment problem, whether service-connected or not.

As a special authority in the law, veterans' eligibility for readjustment counseling is determined by military service in a combat theater and does not require the veteran to go through the enrollment procedure. Additionally, providing family services at Vet Centers is not time limited, but rather available as necessary for the veteran's readjustment throughout the life of the veteran. Veterans' family members are included in the counseling process as necessary to address the whole range of family adjustment issues stemming from the veterans' military experience and post-military readjustment.

Early intervention via outreach and preventive family counseling services help returning veterans stabilize their post-military family and work lives, thereby reducing the risk of subsequently developing more chronic forms of PTSD and associated family problems.

As you know Senator, I am one of the original hires in the Vet Center program. For over 25 years, I have had the opportunity and unique privilege of serving Hawaii's combat veterans, and their families, in the sometime difficult readjustment process. The Honolulu Vet Center has served over 10,000 veterans and their families since opening in 1980. Our clients range in ages from 19 to 90 and reflect the diversity that distinguishes Hawaii from any other place in the world. For example, 47% of our caseload is composed of Asian Pacific Islander veterans and a full two-thirds of our caseload lists their ethnicity as "other than Caucasian."

In addition to readjustment counseling for combat-related issues, the Honolulu Vet Center provides assessment and counseling for PTSD, sexual trauma, family counseling and employment. The Vet Center provides services and referral to homeless veterans and does extensive outreach, education and networking to ensure that veterans have access to comprehensive care and assistance within their community.

In 2003, the Secretary directed that Vet Centers be the focal point for delivery of bereavement counseling to families who lost a service member while on active duty. To date, we have provided 11 families with bereavement counseling and support. As you can imagine, these have been amongst our most difficult cases. The pain of these families runs deep. However, I know that our efforts have made a difference.

Our most recent annual workload data reflects that we have served 628 unique veterans, recorded 5500 visits and opened 250 new cases. At present, the approximate breakdown of new clients who have served in a combat theater are 40% for Vietnam, 30% for WWII, 15% for OIF/OEF and 15% for Other Combat Ops. With the anticipated return of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the recent hiring of our OIF/OEF outreach worker, we expect our proportion of OIF/OEF clients to rise accordingly.

While all clients are offered individual counseling, we also provide group counseling. Group counseling is an extremely effective therapeutic modality as well as an efficient one. At present, the Honolulu Vet Center offers 10 different groups. These include groups focusing on combat, sexual trauma, bereavement, family members, life skills, meditation, and POWs. Many of these groups are held in the evenings to better accommodate our veterans and their families.

As you know Senator, Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers with a small core staff of 3 or 4 employees. At the Honolulu Vet Center, we have four full-time staff: a team leader, two counselors (a social worker and psychologist) and an office manager. In addition, we have a part-time sexual trauma social worker. In November we hired a recently returned Iraqi veteran to serve as our outreach worker. His role is to be the bridge for our returned OIF-OEF veterans and their access to Vet Centers, the VA and other community resources. In addition, we have augmented our Vet Center with a comprehensive employment program through the State of Hawaii Department of Labor Disabled Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP). A full-time DVOP counselor out stationed on site provides veterans with immediate access to a full-range of computerized job listings and placement services geared to the needs of veterans.

I am deeply proud of our dedicated and committed staff, Senator. Through their efforts in serving Hawaii's veterans, the Honolulu Vet Center has received both local and national recognition. Two of our counselors have been awarded the VA Secretary's prestigious "Hands and Heart Award" that is presented annually to an employee involved in direct patient care who does the most to exercise professional expertise, to provide emotional support, help and guidance to patients. I have no doubt that the staff will continue to provide the same level of dedication and commitment to ensuring that our returning OIF-OEF veterans receive the best possible care and support.

As you know, the 1996 legislation (Public Law 104-262) expanded eligibility from a single group of war veterans (Vietnam) to all war zone veterans. This resulted in a significant increase in eligible veterans without increasing staffing, and, recently, VHA authorized 100 additional outreach specialists, themselves veterans of OEF/OIF, to enhance the Vet Center program's ability to extend timely services to this new era of war veterans. The dedication and can do attitude of the Vet Center staff ensured that combat veterans of all wars received complete and comprehensive care and services. Similarly, the recent addition of bereavement services required a deep commitment of the staff to ensure that families were provided with immediate and sensitive assistance as well as a full-range of comprehensive services and care which the staff undertook willingly in a professional and compassionate manner. As already noted, with the increased success of our OIF-OEF outreach worker, we anticipate added demands will be placed upon our current counseling staff.

The additional number of veterans who we anticipate may reside in Hawaii after discharge from their OIF-OEF service will add to the Vet Center's demand. As a result, the role of the Vet Center will likely continue to be significant in providing for their readjustment needs.

In closing, I would like to thank you for this opportunity, Senator Akaka, to be able to address those issues facing Hawaii's veterans; particularly those who have served in combat, as well as those still deployed in combat areas. Your willingness to identify the problems facing our veterans, and your commitment to finding appropriate solutions is deeply appreciated.

Senator Akaka, this concludes my statement. I will be glad to answer any questions that you or other members of the Committee may have.

If they tell you that they do not have to take care of the whole family as well as all veterans, copy and print the above and hand it to them. See what excuse you get after that. If there are not enough mental health providers, get it in writing and pass it onto Senator Akaka.

Friday, May 30, 2008

PTSD:Fix Tri-Care or hire more VA doctors

Military Insurance Falls Short on Mental Health Care

Halimah Abdullah

McClatchy Newspapers

May 29, 2008
May 28, 2008, Washington, DC - Across America, soldiers, veterans and their families are running into red tape and roadblocks when they try to use their military insurance to get treatment for ailments such as post traumatic stress disorder.

Since 2003, some 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with PTSD. The number of cases rose by roughly 50 percent in 2007, according to Pentagon statistics released Tuesday.

The deployment of hundreds of doctors and therapists to Iraq and Afghanistan and the shortage of military health care providers has forced patients at U.S. installations to wait for months for appointments — and longer if they need to see a specialist, according to advocacy groups for members of the military and their families.

Meanwhile, civilian doctors and psychiatrists say they're often faced with tough decisions about whether to turn away patients on Tricare, the Defense Department program that insures 9.2 million current and former service members and their dependents, because its reimbursement rates are low and its claims process is cumbersome.

Others volunteer their time and services rather than navigate Tricare's red tape for what may ultimately prove to be a small reimbursement for services.

"We do have a lot of doctors who are seeing Tricare patients almost on a pro bono basis because they care and for the love of their country. But it's easier to do that if it's a dozen patients than if there are 100 patients," said Steve Strobridge, the director of government relations at Military Officers Association of America.

Tricare's reimbursement rate are linked to Medicare levels. Health care providers who treat patients on both programs will take a 10 percent pay cut on July 1 and a second, 5 percent, pay cut on Jan. 1, 2009.
go here for more

Monday, April 21, 2008

18 Veterans a day commit suicide and 1,000 a month try to

VA urges dismissal of health care lawsuit
By PAUL ELIAS Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 04/21/2008 01:42:21 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO—A government lawyer on Monday urged a judge to dismiss a lawsuit charging the Department of Veterans Affairs with failing to properly treat thousands of veterans for mental illness, saying the VA runs a "world class" medical care system.
In opening statements of the trial, veterans' lawyers painted a diverging portrait of the system, one in which suicides and suicide attempts are rising at alarming rates because of VA incompetence and recalcitrance to address the issue.

Two veterans groups have joined in a class-action lawsuit against a sprawling VA system that handled a record 838,000 claims last year. U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti is hearing the case in a two-week trial, without a jury.

Justice Department lawyer Richard Lepley argued Monday that the VA has responded to the unprecedented number of claims, which officials say is being driven by aging Vietnam veterans and other warriors of the Cold War era, by launching a massive new hiring process.

Lepley told the judge that the VA has added more than 3,700 new "mental health physicians" to a mental health professional staff of 17,000 that treats increasing cases if post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems in the last year.

"We are staffing up," Lepley said. "We can't do it overnight."

Government lawyers say the VA has been devoting more resources to mental health and making suicide prevention a top priority. They also argue that the courts don't have the authority to tell the department how it should operate.

Earlier in the morning, veterans lawyer Gordon Erspamer told the judge that the VA isn't doing enough, calling for the judge to order a massive overhaul of how the VA processes claims and perhaps hire a "special master" to preside over the agency.

Erspamer cited a RAND Corp. report released last week estimating that 300,000 U.S. troops—about 20 percent of those deployed—are suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Erspamer showed the judge two e-mails written last year among high-ranking officials that said an average of 18 military veterans kill themselves each day—and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide. Another e-mail said 1,000 veterans under VA care attempt suicide each month.
go here for more