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March 13th, 2012
02:10 PM ET

Is America doing enough for veterans?

By Erin Burnett

According to a study by the Defense Department, 1 in 6 returning soldiers show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

The condition often leads to addiction, domestic violence and suicide.

And yet less than 40% of veterans that exhibit symptoms of PTSD actually seek help.

Mostly, they say, because it would make them seem weak and keep them from promotion.

Former U.S. Marine Lieutenant Karl Marlantes served in Vietnam.

He is an advocate for returning soldiers and the author of a book called, "What It Is Like to Go to War" which has been given to every member of Congress.

Last month he came OutFront to discuss soldiers coping with PTSD.

Marlantes has suggested that counseling be mandatory for returning soldiers.

"What goes on here is that you have decent people, and we've been trained and we've been brought up to not kill anybody," said Marlantes. "It's thou shalt not kill. It's a Judeo Christian culture. Suddenly, you take a 19-year-old to say, now, go ahead and kill. Well, how does that – how does a kid handle that?"

Other companies have taken up the cause too.

Today The Walt Disney Company pledged to hire and train at least 1,000 military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those are BIG IDEAs and important ones.

But there are little things we could be doing too such as simply adding veteran designations to driver's licenses.

It would be relatively easy - but would help veterans get benefits and discounts from stores without having to carry their discharge papers with them.

And, more importantly, if they had trouble adjusting to life away from combat, and did engage with police, they would be more easily identified as a veteran returning from war.

What are your thoughts on PTSD? Is America doing enough for its enlisted men and women? Do you have ideas on how our country can better serve the veterans who served our country?


Filed under: Erin's Essay
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Jack Yianitsas

    I am a veteran of war. For five years, I experienced the debilitating symptoms of fear, anxiety, and depression. Often these symptoms are diagnosed by physicians as panic attack disorder or anxiety disorder. In a constant state of anxiety and panic, I searched desperately for a way out of my forest of despair. Following what seemed to be an almost insurmountable degree of frustration and disappointment, I found the way to permanent recovery from my severe anxiety symptoms. I have created a website to help others, including fellow veterans. Please visit my website @ http://www.frompanictopeace.com for more information.

    July 6, 2012 at 11:15 am | Reply
  2. shannon

    i think its horrible how americas veterans are treated we treat are mentally retarded and developmentally disabled citizans better if you realy think about it a veteran at some point signed a blank check to the us that garuanteed he would give up to his life to this nation instead when they are done with there service we send them on there way and when they go to get benefits it can take years where others it just takes days and the veterans are grateful the others are not thay think society owes them

    May 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  3. BASIC

    Unfortunately we as Country do not do nearly enough for the men and women who bravely defend our freedom. Vets are coming back and being diagnosed with several disabilities (leading cause being PTSD) in record numbers. When it comes to housing returning Vets are last on the Totem Pole. Many of the large banks who years ago were bailed out when they needed a hand, are only interested in the bottom line and getting more money on their balance sheets as fast as possible. Let me explain, for the last 2 years distressed properties (REO's and Short Sales) have driven the housing market in many areas of the Country. When offers are made on these properties an asset manager selects an offer that meets the banks previously agreed upon minimum acceptable offer. Multiple offers are made and unfortunately for our Vets, cash is King. In fact they are at the bottom of the Totem Pole when it comes to accepted offers with the order being (Cash, Conventional Financing putting 20%+ down, FHA adn then finally VA). This is just shameful. The VA loan is a wonderful program designed to help Vets get into homes. In my opinion we owe it to them to design a system where it gives Vets a shot a winning in a bidding for these homes. Now I am not suggesting that banks take less of an offer from a Vet but should give Vets priority should they make a full price offer as a way of just saying, Thank You!!!!

    April 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  4. gage

    Veterins deserve more than what there getting now.I feel there good people for giving the.re lives for us in the us

    March 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  5. gage

    no they fought for our country the deserve more for almost or hane giving there life for america.i think the deserve more than what the are getting now.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  6. b Williams

    As a retired Marine,Ive seen PTSD victims go to the doctors and complain about these problems only to be convinced by a paid doctor that they don't even have PTSD,SO that they won't go file for V.A. Compensation,Iv'e seen these Med Doctors who stop V.A. payments because they say you no longer have diabetes,but they still give you the medicine. There are no heroes just people who get used overseas and then come back home to nothing.

    March 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  7. dgdm

    There is ALWAYS grant money being issued to the VA. Somehow it does NOT get to the veterans. Is it because the adminstration takes off the top for their salaries leaving litte for the veterans who need it the most? In Louisiana there is a VA representative at the Workforce Centers (employmet offices) (for what, I don't know) because all he does is REFER. "Heres the address for the food stamp office, heres the address for the homeless shelter, heres......." Where is the money (vouchers) for career training? For community college tuition? For housing? For groceries? For assistance with utilities? THere is something DEFINITELY wrong here................................

    March 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  8. William Richards

    Erin,
    We will never be able to repay Our Veterans
    For Putting Their Lives On The Line however
    We Must Never Stop Trying Never Stop Trying
    they Are The Real Heros of The World & God Bless
    Every Veteran for Everything They do to Make America Safe.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  9. William Richards

    Erin,
    We will never be able to repay Our Veterans
    For Putting Their Lives On The Line however
    We Must Never Stop Trying No Never Stop Trying

    March 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  10. Jim970

    Article shouldn't be asking if America is doing ENOUGH FOR veterans. It should be asking if America is doing TOO MUCH TO veterans. Those who served in the military and are now retirees are being actively targeted by the president and his "team". While touting health care reform, the administration is setting up to make health care unaffordable for many military veterans. The cost of medical insurance for retirees is planned for dramatic increases in the Obama budget. When people joined the military in the past, they were promised free lifetime healthcare if they made a career of military service. Of course, the government was smart enough to never put this in writing. So now, military veterans are not just being ignored, they are being targeted by that same government/nation that they served. What a slap in the face to everyone who served.

    March 15, 2012 at 11:52 am | Reply
  11. Soljagirl

    I NEED YOU TO READ THIS...... NOT EVERY VA FACILITY IS BAD. IF YOU ARE MISTREATED THREATEN THE FACILITY WITH A CONGRESSIONAL. CALL YOU CONGRESSMAN/WOMAN AND TALK ABOUT IT. WE GIVE OUR LIVES FOR THIS COUNTRY TO GET TREWATED BAD, NO WAY WILL I LET THAT HAPPEN ANYMORE. GIVE IT TIME, IT WILL GET BETTER. MY FACILITY IS GREAT AND GETS US VETS IN AND OUT WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT. I AM FULLY SATISFIED. MAYBE I JUST DONT TAKE ANY S*1T FORM ANYONE.... THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SERVICE...

    March 15, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
  12. NavyDoc

    As a Navy physician treating active duty marines, one of the biggest headaches we have are the servicemembers trying to falsely claim PTSD and TBI for purpsoes of getting VA compensation. Truthfully, for my me and my colleagues, we usually find the ones that are readily claiming PTSD to be the most fraudulent. The true victims are often reluctant to come forward. It really is a sad situation. The whole VA disability system is a mess also. I served before I became a physician, and used to think that when I saw a DV license plate (Disabled veteran), that there was a real hero. Now that I am an active duty physician, I realize that a significant portion of them are claiming disablities that are service connected (they happened while on service), but are in no way combat related. I know one individual who receives 50% disability for a femur fracture while skiing on Active Duty, yet regularly completes in marathons running sub 8 minute miles. Furthermore, many of them are working full-time civilian jobs, doing activities that they claimed prohibited them from continuing to serve, while collecting full slaries on top of VA compensation. it really is egregious. I will occasionally ask someone with DV license plates who appears to be ambulating without problem what their service related disability is. The amount of hostility I receive is usually an indication as to degree of spuriousness their claim is. Try asking a DV plated veteran when you can't see an obvious disability, you will probably be surprised.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:41 am | Reply
    • John Laurie

      If you have so much experience,why didn't you know being in combat is not a requirement for the plate.Nor are all DV plate owners eliegible to park in handicap parking.They just like the public must have a handicap logo on the plate.In that way,they and the public handicap plaques are given the same consideration for handicap parking.You sound like one of those volunteers hanging around the VA mad at everyone because they are getting something what you percieve as something for nothing.And you rather have it said we are getting nothing from the vets while offering them something.You are a bad man,and uniformed.

      March 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
    • John Laurie

      Combat was never a requirement for the plates,so why say it is or act so blattanly insulted because of your own stupidity for thinking it was.

      March 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
      • NavyDoc

        Bad and stupid, maybe. I have 22 years in now, and more to come, with all the deployments, combat time, etc, etc. just my own humble observations. I usually take to task 23 yo's who have made one deployment, and in the last yearhave been to medical more times than I have in 22. That and they want to me give them diagnosis that will "help me with the VA". And i am sorry, but if you are getting 50% VA compensation for a broken femur, yet show up to run a 3 hour, 15 minute marathons in a Disabled Veteran plate, i do have a problem with it. Personally, i will qualify for all the PTSD, TBI, sleep disturbances if I want to claim it, but i won't. I'll be grateful that my country let me serve this long, and get an MD degree out of. I'll take my retirement and be happy, i won't be looking to take you and the other tax payers for a ride.

        March 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
        • John Laurie

          I used to get that too.Guy out in the field who came to me every day,asking if his feet were water rotted enough to go to the rear.After a week of this I had to say yes.In aid stations the same person showing up over and over again for libirum.It was my job,so I gave it to them.What do you do for the herion addicts?

          March 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Reply
        • John Laurie

          Lack of perception about the dv plates.Whats your gripe, a whopping 85 dollar exemption?Can't wait to see how you handle the civilian population who want a handicap plaque.You going to take they're money or go with out?Are you getting paid for spying on marathoners?Maybe your missing your calling,although I don't think that one will take you to far.

          March 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply
    • Disabled Vet

      NavyDoc,
      As a 100% Disabled Veteran with DV plates what gives you the right to judge us? Just because you are a MD? Well guess what MDs arn't the know it alls and has no right to judge others unless you are personally involved in their care and even then you have no right to belittle those of us who have made sacrafices for are country.. A person doesn't have to show scares to be disabled and don't need to prove to you why. I'd be hostal also if anyone questioned my rights to benifits witch are due... So put it where the sun don't shine....

      March 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Jaina

      Navydoc you are a shame to the uniform and the armed services. How do you know the PTSD "fakers" are not just aware of their symptoms? how do you know ANYTHING about what is going through a person's head? You sound like the Doctors at Madigan, who focused more on the "cost to the government" rather than the welfare of the injured. Your JOB sir, is to treat soldiers.... it's the PEB and VA's job to weed out malingerers and liars. Do your fracking job, and try to do it without deeming soldiers fit enough to enter, be deployed, and serve as having "Personality disorders" or some other pre-existing condition hooplah that denys the veteran any benefits to treatment or compensation.

      March 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
    • John C

      Doc,
      WHAT IS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD?!! DV Plate? As a modifier for determining a disability? Not to mention the fact that you are "catching" the fakers?

      Doc, time to be a medical practioner not a automaton for the brass. Time to realize that PTSD is far more virulent then any other maledy. We (family, when I was much younger) met a guy on a ferry crossing a lake (probably Lake Michigan); found out the guy was retired (very young guy too); we asked why? The guy did undercover work for the police in San Francisco, was caught by the criminals and interrogated/tortured. The up shot is, they put a pistol in his mouth and blew the back of his head off. In other words, the guy did not die. In other words, after surgery and hair regrowth, you could not visible tell of the trauma. THE GUY HAD SEVERE PTSD.

      Doc, you need to wake up. Maybe it is you with the PTSD and hold everyone else accountable. Having a response like that is not uncommon.

      I do not know what you are a "doc" of or if you are an actual licensed practioner, but, psychology is not a simple subject to so rudimentarily discard as ethereal. PTSD is real and you need to be certain the proper practioners, not general practice or ENT or pediatrists or neurologists, etc., are making improper diagnoses without proper training.

      S/F
      John
      CWO2 Active

      March 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Reply
  13. Lois

    Retired Major, United States Air Force Reserve. It is very difficult adjusting to civilians. Alot of civilians do not have the discipline and work ethic required by military personnel. Nor do they appear to have morals or manners. They are quick to judge, gossip and pidgeon hole. I stand up for myself and my morals and get chastised for it. It's lonely but I am happy to be home.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:18 am | Reply
  14. USARMY13B

    I also Serverd in peace time 88 to 90 but i did fall with a 155 shell in my arms down a ditch hurting my back. i never thought about it that much till 2008 when the pain in my back arms legs and neck got so bad i could not sit or stand for long peroids of time. as of now i cannot work becouse of this condition but the comp and pen are taking way to long to get this right you have to appeal appeal appeal becouse for some reason they have math problems in the VA with 2+2 equals 4. this is not rocket science fall =back injury+ pain medication = unable to work. but right now my family has to live with my small 40% check of 644 a month which puts alot of strain on my marrraige.

    as for my medical treatment i have no complaints my doc does a great job with treating me.

    @ Deb i had a similar experiance from a older vet when i was at the hospital talking i had never real thought any thing about me server being special becouse i had not had to face war untill this gentle man told me that serving during that time was a great defense to our nation and that i should be proud of my time in uniform.

    As for adding our status to our drivers licnse is not needed you get a VA ID when you enter the VA system and every place in my local town takes it as proof of service for discounts.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
  15. Patrick

    These crybabies are getting far more than any group of veterans in our history. Far more than they deserve for 10+ years of being loser to two of the poorest under-armed countries in the world. We have already spent way too much on them for doing nothing for America. The only thing we should do for them is to bring them all home and send them out to find jobs with the rest of America's unemployed.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:15 am | Reply
  16. marion

    Retired from the AF after 21 YOS active duty, three tours to the desert, 1 remote tour in Korea, 11 of my 21 years in were spent either TDY or deployed in Air Control Squadrons or Combat Comm units. I loved the job and the people, but the sacrifices was being away from my wife and kids. They made the sacrifice too. We did it together willingly and proudly. I retired in 2007. I don't use the VA Hospital, but we do enjoy our Tricare Prime, at least until Obama acre raises it by 300 percent. This really makes me mad for all the retirees who fought for this country and protected these ungrateful politicians who cower behind the courage of the strong men and woman of our country and then have the audacity to mess with their health care so significantly after Obama Lied and said Tricare wouldn't be touched. I guess if you can lie to the Catholic Church it's not to hard to lie to Vets too.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:02 am | Reply
  17. Bart

    Is Erin following in the grand tradition of Anderson Cooper, John King, Roland Martin and Don Lemon? cnn needs more brain dead people like these. These few got their butts kicked when they tried to get a 'gotcha' moment during their interviews with conservative (Republican) commentators and candidates.

    March 15, 2012 at 6:10 am | Reply
  18. Sharion Clikscale

    My Husband is a veteran with a disability. He was found to be unfit for military life and was discharged without treatment,
    in this condition he was a danger to society. We met in church after he was released from prison he went through many hardships in his life and so have I because I chose not to give up on him because I have had a had life also.The VA has never compensated him and all the time he lived without knowing he has and had bipolar disorder and went 25 years without knowing it, when we met I started making him go the VA hospital and they new what was wrong with him but never treated him for any mental Illness untill I pressed Issue in 2001 he is just started treatment in 2008. There is so much more that I just wouldn't have enough room to type. This story started in Mo, and will end in Wa.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  19. Charles

    The only thing congress cares about is congress. They just passed a bill that gives congress a full retirement and health benefits after 20 years. But congress is thinking of taking away early retirement for the militairy at 20 with half paension and also Federal workers at 25 years service with a half pension as well. Soldiers and Govt workers have to sacrifice for congress it seems.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Reply
  20. TC

    Many people and organizations are doing great things for vets. But is America? No in the sense that America are the elected officials who keeps sending our warrrios back over and over again. Tough enough to do 1 combat tour but many of our guys are on 6 – 10. Think someone might be a little disturbed after that? If america really cared they would make the force big enough to spread the burden or just not gte involved at all.

    March 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  21. LG62

    I’m former US Air Force 80-84 and enjoyed the time that I put in. I also work for a major aerospace defense firm where veterans serve as the backbone of the industry. So in a sense I continue to serve my country.

    I’m perfectly aware that the VA themselves are far from perfect, but sometimes, they do it right. While no major contention occurred during my tour in the military, other than Grenada and the Cold War, I’ve only had two dealings with the VA and I was happy they were there for me when I needed them. The first came shortly after I got out of the Air Force, I was injured in a motorcycle accident and while I had insurance on my bike I didn’t have any on myself as I hadn’t found a job yet. Since I had no medical insurance, the hospital in Northridge CA did only what was required by law at the time and that was basic life saving. They took an x-ray of my knee to ensure it wasn’t broken, gave me a shot and put a simple restraint around my open knee and cut me lose. Fortunately, one of the nurses in the ER, a Navy veteran, overheard me say that I didn’t have medical insurance and was just out of the military told me (after the doctor had left the room) that I could go down to the VA Medical facility in West Los Angeles and they’d take care of me. Well they did and promptly too. If it weren’t for the fine folks at the West LA VA I would have had some serious trouble on my hands. The second dealing was when my dad, a WW2 vet, passed away and the VA took care of him and all of the burial expenses.

    March 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • Soljagirl

      LG62... if you know any Veterans, share that story. Let them know to go to the VA and apply. In certain places it is a great benefit to have. I use it and it is FABULOUS... Thank you for your service ❤

      March 15, 2012 at 10:43 am | Reply
  22. John Laurie

    While leaving the MHC there another vet waiting to go in.He had a woman with him and a blanket covering his shoulders.He would glance up for reconigtion a couple of times.I thought it looked pecuilar,being that outside the hospital was statue of the same description..sorta.A group of soldiers with a shawl covering ones shoulders.

    March 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Reply
    • John Laurie

      He was wearing a boonie cap which help match the description of the statue.I would think to say in his benefit" see how cold and lonely the VA can make you feel."

      March 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
      • John Laurie

        He was in the mental hygeine clinic,so my first words would of been about the first reaction it produced from knowing the statue outside the hospital looked the same.I would actually call the woman an accomplice to fraud.Or else make them prove they're innocence.Anyone here like taking a bad check?

        March 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  23. 66Biker

    Around here, the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) crowd blocks almost everything to do with Vets. Yet there's a "Support Our Troops" sticker on almost every car you see. So what exactly are they saying, that they support the Troops while they're on Active Duty, then forget about them when they're Vets? How lame is that?

    March 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  24. Dean

    an army veteran from 1966 to 1972 – I have received execllent care from the veteran's facility in Sheridan Wyoming and pretty good care from the va clinic in Gadsden Alabama. My only regret is that I did not start using them until 2008.

    March 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
    • Soljagirl

      Dean- thank you for your service. Not all VA facilities treat their patients bad so I am happy that you are happy with your treatments...

      March 15, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
  25. Bill

    Well, my two cents; I am Veteran; 32 years total, USMC / ANG / USAFR. I did my time over in Iraq 2003-2007 total. I worked for the VA for almost a year until I figured out the VA is not there to help Veterans (especially the so called weekend warriors) in anyway shape or form; or at least the Regional office I was at didn't want to help any. Better then 80-85% of the people that work for the VA are right out of college or some sort of school (HS...) and they just don't know or care to know what the military is about or what Veterans deal with at times. Had more than one young VA person tell me that "all Veterans are just lying to get something for nothing along with there families." This may not be the same at other VA offices but it was at the one I was working at.
    Now, DRTSAT, regarding your comment; "What's funny is, all the Federal Civlian employees are not being asked to pay more." We do pay our part, matter of fact congress has frozen our pay for the last two years and wants to continue that freeze and last year the used our retirement system to keep the government running until Aug. 2, 2011; that is until they wiped it out. And now they want us to continue with the pay freeze, cut our pay and what is called a pension. And if you are interested, my so called pension will only be $804/month (no I don't' make that six figure pay that you hear on the news) if I where to retire right now. And that is with 30 years of creditable time behind me.
    You want someone to pay their fair share, talk to your elected officials, they are the ones who make the laws and they are the ones who decide where the tax money that we all pay ends up going; not us.
    Now to wait for the shot gun blasts; but that's my two cents.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • Dean

      32 years service would get you a retirement of 75% of your pay grade rate. You state your retirement will be $804.00 a month means that your rate of pay is a little less than $1100.00 a month. An E-1 with less than 2 years service makes $1467.00 a month?????
      Something is not right here?????

      March 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Dean,

        You would be correct in that line of thinking, however, I retired from the reserve side of the house; so I have to wait until I reach age 60 before I see any retirement from the military ( I was an E-7 upon retirement) even though my first 8 years with the Marines Corps were all active duty. So I don't know what that will be since I still have 5+ years before I reach age 60.

        The figure I gave of $804/month was my civil service retirement. And that would be after all the taxes where taken out along with my medical, dental and vision insurance. That was in response to what DRTSAT said regarding his comment; "What's funny is, all the Federal Civilian employees are not being asked to pay more." The thing is, we pay for our medical, dental, vision and our pension along with all the normal taxes that are taken out.

        Bill

        March 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
      • James

        Most VA Directors and upper management are not veterans and don't have a clue and could care less about the veterans they have working for them. They have a fellowship/intern program that after four years of college and a year or two year rotation the become part of management. A veteran that has over twenty years leadership can't get past being just a clerk. They do not know or care to know that they have some of the best leaders within their grasp. It shows when these young new managers have to lead and they cannot. They make decisions that effect the care of our veterans and will not take ownership of their mistakes. It should be required that the Quad should have a veteran within there group that could educate these new leaders. Cutting cost by not hiring needed help only to receive their yearly bonus only will turn veterans away from the VA and give the VA a bad name like in the past and it will be true. Remember it says VA on the outside of the building.
        Lead, Follow or get the hack out the way. A veteran will do more with less! Healthcare cannot do less for our veterans.

        March 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Soljagirl

      Bill- I just told Dean that not every facility treats their patients bad. If you make enough fuss about it and threaten a congressional they will act right. I work at a Warrior Transition Battalion and believe me Congressionals work. The military and VA do not want to deal with Congressionals. IF ANY SOLDIER IS TREATED BAD WE NEED TO FIX IT!!! Thank you for your service...

      March 15, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
  26. Gretchen

    I am posting this anywhere that Marines who spent time at Camp Lejeune, NC anytime between 1957-1987 might see. Please help one of your fellow servicemen (Jerry Ensminger) spread the word about the water contamination there during that time and get medical coverage for those affected. More information is available at http://semperfialwaysfaithful.com/. The military says that it cannot possibly list everyone that lived in base housing or worked there over the 30 years, much less contact them individually about this. It's up to you and me and ever other citizen to take care of these veterans and their families. Thank you!

    March 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  27. Ray

    The U.S. is doing more than enough for our veterans. The DOD definitely has made some significant strides in taking care of returning troops. The VA has a lot of work to do to maintain the standard that the DOD sets for troops when they leave active duty. As I am a former Marine, I have the opinion that Marine leaders definitely address the difficulty that some troops face post-combat. Our society needs to be very aware that there are many veterans who are working the system with this PTSD that is experienced in 1 out of 6 veterans (per the article). If we could weed out the troops that are faking their symptoms, there would be more than enough time and money to helps the folks that are truly in need.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Gretchen

      (As I replied to Mike below) In case you ever lived at Camp Lejeune, NC or know anyone that did, please help spread the word about the water contamination there from 1957-1987. More information is available at http://semperfialwaysfaithful.com/ . The military claims that it cannot possibly list everyone that lived in base housing or worked there over the 30 years, much less contact them about this. Apparently it's up to you and me and ever other citizen to take care of our veterans. Thank you for your service!

      March 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • wisdom4u2

      "...the troops that are faking their symptoms."???? Right....by the time they do that most will have already died....and that's what the VA wants.
      Just like the poor Vietnam vets who were deemed 'mentally ill' after returning to the U.S.....they couldn't fill out the forms for the Agent Orange payouts, and that damn Disable Veterans Organization didn't help most of them (that's why I stopped donating) so… most are dead, and the others have cancer eating away every cell in their bodies…..but, you won’t see their ‘Medical Records’.
      So, ‘YOU’ find out who's faking, then tell the VA.

      March 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Reply
      • wisdom4u2

        My point is.... some never received their 'Agent Orange' payments....and there are still others who are 'unable' to fill out the forms to get what belongs to them....and the VA doesn't give a rat's butt.
        However, they did pay for my brother's ‘cheap a ss’ coffin, ….and the VA burial ceremony did make us proud that he had served our country....and his headstone list all of his medals and his rank.... so, I am very thankful for that.

        March 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Reply
      • John Laurie

        While I was in the admitting office,if it weren't for my brother being with me.I'd had been passed right over when it came to the agent orange claim.I still don't know what became of it.All I really remember was a black guy in there wanting a drink from my Dr Pepper.And yet a day later,another one wanted a drink from my hot cocoa.There was another one who would always ask for a smoke,even offering a couple bucks for it,to only stamp it our after a couple of drags.And the staff may not have known who it was crapping in the hallways,but after watching him a few times,it'd be hard not to know.Sorry I got off subject,anyway this was decades ago.

        March 14, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
        • John Laurie

          When I said another one,I just meant other patient,not black guys.

          March 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
        • John Laurie

          I guess I should mention the guy who begged for a smoke and would eventually offer two dollars.Had his arms twisted around behind his back because of a permanent side effect of the medications.Taking only a couple of deep drags may of only been the longest he could hold his arm up.He still took dumps any place.Any place.He was there long term,at the time they talked of the ones who been there 40 years or longer.Some they had to tied their wrist to the chairs in the day rooms.And locked down at night.They often talked about alcohol damage to some of them.I wished they had show me those patients.Pickled brains.

          March 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      Ray, the VA is not a victim, the numerous soldiers are. Come visit the Orlando VA Facility. It's horrific as a medical facility and the folks working there could care less if you had PTSD, lost a limb, anything. They seem to set their own rules and a Vet is treated like dirt. I had no intention of using the VA for medical but my Cobra is going to run out and I'm uninsurable due to various medical conditions. My opinion, the upper echelon may have good intentions for all Vets, but in the field, those running the show are clueless, careless and unqualified. After just one (1) visit, I wrote The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VAOIG). It will take them at least 30 days to respond, should they. We are failing miserably at supporting our Vets. I believe there are good intentions by some, but if I were the Hospital Facility In-charge, I'd be firing people left and right. There are many who would be more than happy to offer respectful, courteous, friendly, compassionate, etc., service. We owe all our Vets much better than what they are receiving. I am happy to learn some have had superior service/attention to their needs. Unfortunately, I fear the majority, not taking advantage of a thing, are left to fend for themselves. We can and must do better!

      March 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Reply
      • Ray

        Ken,
        I figured my comment about "some" folks faking their injuries would get under the skin of some (and it should). I did not say "all". My point is that if we can weed out those who claim symtoms for injuries that never occurred, there would be easier for those to get care who really need it. The sacrifice that the Vietnam Era troops made with the negligent care that they got from the VA laid the groundwork for the great job that DOD is doing today. Also, please notice that there is a huge difference between getting care from the DOD while on active duty and then transitioning to the VA when you end active service. The VA is clearly a broken system. To answer the question "Is America Doing Enough for Veterens", my answer is still yes as it is applied to OIF and OEF. Other wars, I cannot comment on because I did not participate.

        March 15, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
        • Soljagirl

          Ray and Ken- I posted earlier that if you are being mistreated, threaten the VA with a congressional... they will listen then. Not all places are bad... The VA does not want to deal with a congressional...

          March 15, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
      • Soljagirl

        Ken- go to the facility in Palm Beach County. I had a great experience there. Not all facilities are bad... Thank you for your service...

        March 15, 2012 at 10:58 am | Reply
  28. Mike

    I served 9 months at Khe Sanh in Vietnam in 1966-67 in a small Logistics support group. All The Marines in my comm. unit were all wounded and evacuated. I now realize I became depressed while serving. It took me 20 years to get help. I have been in counseling both private and with a counselor at the Vet center in Springfield Illinois. I wish I had been able to get help sooner. My counselor Christine is very insightful and has helped me through coping with my PTSD. I had a challenging job connecting steel as a Ironworker that helped me adjust and cope with my peers. In addition I met a great woman that I have been married to for 42 years.

    I suggest that the Vet centers create programs that bring young veterans together with older veterans to listen and discuss how different people cope with Life. You are just beginning your adjustment that will not end. It is a lifetime life changing experience trying to make sense of your personal experience.

    Your ego is the biggest obstical for you to overcome and to recognize that you chose this experience for a reason. I highly recommend the Book " Hazards of Being Male" by Phycologist Herb Goldburg. You have a lot to teach us all. Speak out! "Do all you can WHERE YOU ARE". WE NEED YOU. Semper Fi , above all PEACE.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply
    • Gretchen

      Mike, in case you ever lived at Camp Lejeune, NC or know anyone that did, please help spread the word about the water contamination there from 1957-1987. More information is available at http://semperfialwaysfaithful.com/ . The military claims that it cannot possibly list everyone that lived in base housing or worked there over the 30 years, much less contact them about this. Apparently it's up to you and me and ever other citizen to take care of our veterans. Thank you for your service!

      March 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  29. Tracy

    The VA is broke in every way. How long has this system been in place and they are where they are today? It took me 2 years to get an appointment. What could I have done in that amount of time. I spent over 20 years in uniform and several special operations missions.......no one has cared to this day about my issues. I have reached out and sat down with a shrink.......only to get the VA % and that was it. I have been waiting for a call back after 6 months after my last visit. It's all a sham..........

    March 14, 2012 at 11:19 am | Reply
    • Americal70

      i hope you signed up before discharge, you got about 6 months to wait i'd guess. if you cant get 100% file for SSI. once approved their is a unacceptable for employment form to give VA. it will take a year to get that money, but you will get a couple of big back checks. good luck

      March 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  30. eric

    PTSD currently affects two major figures in my life – my father and my father-in-law. They both served in Vietnam and have struggled immensely with survivor's guilt, nightmares, alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, etc. My dad filed with the VA for disability in 1996. It took them 15 years to finally approve/grant his disability, during which time they repeatedly denied him, challenging whether or not he was in combat, claiming no flight records (he flew helicopters/air cav with hundreds of hours logged, much of it in Cambodia which was not recognized). He was finally approved 6 months ago and is now 100% covered in his medical benefits and it's making an enormous, positive change to his quality of life. It's a shame that it took so long, but it's meant a LOT to us that the VA has come through. I hope there are similar stories that indicate that they are improving.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
  31. Patrick

    I'm a Vietnam vet that has been a patient with the VA since the 60’s when they were really terrible. I’ve watched its transition as it morphed into what it is today. Their long term treatment of pain is naïvé and dangerous, vile and cruel and flatly antagonistic towards vets with long term pain. I lost my job and health insurance and had to go back to them where they cut my meds by 40% and then kicked me out since I had to use alcohol to make up the difference. Now I have to go to Mexico to get drugs, which puts me right back into a war zone…

    March 14, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
  32. Jason

    Psychiatric care within the military system is a joke.
    I was referred by my primary care manager to receive care from our "mental health" clinic following a deployment for a specialized form of therapy, because I developed chronic, debilitating pain in one of my legs and back, and this therapy was proven successful for aiding pain management. The Active Duty Psychiatrist avoided seeing me outright, and it took a fellow NCO to admit that they really didn't know how to address what was being asked for. The situation was nothing short of extremely discouraging.
    If this is the situation for Active Duty care provided for an active duty veteran, how are we to prepared to say all is well for our veterans who are no longer active duty and subject to the care of a wildly varying in quality VA system?

    March 14, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
  33. 66Biker

    I think that more than enough has been and is being done for our Vets, if you consider a noticeable lack of health care and adequate housing as doing enough.

    March 14, 2012 at 1:42 am | Reply
  34. qwedie

    The VA has done no less than save my life. They are getting better as they go along. The only problem I can see is that no two VA hospitals treat or even organize the same way. Bay Pines in FL is the beat in all forms physical and mental treatment. The VA in Ashville NC is the best for physical but very poor for mental. In TN Mountain Home VA is good at both and getting better all the time.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • duh

      @ sailor101 and Mark, you both can say that again. Martinsburg WV was pretty good to my Vietnam vet father who was "supposedly" diagnosed with dimentia at 54. Great staff and plenty there. He was on the permanent care/watch wing when he managed to wonder off for a smoke. long story short, they transferred him to Perry Point Md which was pretty much a death sentence. One "nurse" in a caged office at the entrance. Other vets came to assist during meal hours. They put him on meds for conditions he did not have but did not find out until he was evicted after a few year or so because condition was not service related. after he was placed in a civilian facility we saw his medical record with medicines prescribed. Open and shut case of malpractice but nothing we could do. He died from heart attack at 60 while he was being weened off all the crazy meds he was on. Perry Point Md is a Shyt hole!!

      March 14, 2012 at 10:44 am | Reply
  35. DRTSAT

    I don't know. I think that question could go either way. From my perspective, if the VA would get itself straightened out and start taking care of troops better that would be a start. If the military and the VA would get on the same page and come up with common medical information systems, that would help too. RIght now, each branch of the military and the VA all use different computer systems and forms. What a waste of time. Also, the President and his crew need to figure some other place to gain money back than on the backs of veterans who have earned their benefits. The DoD makes up 20% of our budget and yest has to shoulder 50% of the budget cuts. Part of this is going to be accomplished by making veterans pay a lot more for healthcare costs. What's funny is, all the Federal Civlian employees are not being asked to pay more. All or nothing MR President. As for the rest of the country, I think there's overwhelming support for the military. Only a few, misguided individuals with no clue who blame the military for everything don't support the military.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • Gary

      "Right now, each branch of the military and the VA all use different computer systems and forms."

      True the VA and the DoD use different computer systems, but they do talk to each other. The DoD uses AHLTA, a centralized computer system for all branches of the military, active, guard and reserve. If a patient is seen at a Navy hospital in Virginia then travels to an Air Force base in Washington, the medical provider in Washington can still view that electronic record.

      The VA uses Vista, a regionalized electronic medical record system. It operates the same way except instead of a central server, it has regional servers that share information. The two systems do communicate, although they are not as tightly integrated as most medical providers would like.

      "Also, the President and his crew need to figure some other place to gain money back than on the backs of veterans who have earned their benefits. The DoD makes up 20% of our budget and yest has to shoulder 50% of the budget cuts. Part of this is going to be accomplished by making veterans pay a lot more for healthcare costs."

      I agree with this 100%.

      As to the issue of the mental health of returning service members, I do think counseling should be mandatory. The DoD does pre-deployment and post-deployment mental health assessments. That gives them a baseline of where the service member stands, but it doesn't treat the problems. Also, the assessments are paper based. If the service member is worried about promotion or retention there is nothing that can stop the member from not being 100% truthful on the assessment. These service members need real counseling, even if it is only one or two sessions for a full assessment.

      March 14, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
  36. John

    I am a combat vet that has served in Iraq in 2004-05 and I was diagnosed with PTSD. It is true that soldiers (especially in combat arms) that they are weak if they seek help for any mental illness, so many of our troops feel that it is pointless to get help. Soldiers returning from the war to rural areas have limited resources to receive help, while others in majior metro cities may be able to get help. From my experience the psychiatric care is poor. We can do more than drug up our fighting men and women.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
    • John C

      No, seeking assistance is NOT weakness. It takes a VERY strong person to admit they are not as strong as they thought. Think about this; in all military services EVERYONE runs around saying this statement, "what does not kill me makes me stronger." WELL? If you seek assistance, you get stronger. Kind of like going to the gym for a workout. Your brain was a little weak, you went to a different room and made yourself stronger. Make sense?

      The military forces individuals to have one emotion. This is not control. This is actually a "lack" of control. A person who can utilize their emotions and handle themselves accordingly while emotional is a true leader; a true fighter.

      What are the most sensitive areas to attack (if you were an adversary)? The mind. Why? Because we never train the mind. We only give you information to regurgitate at a later time.

      March 14, 2012 at 11:42 am | Reply
      • Dave

        Gentlemen,
        It has nothing to do if a service member is weak or not. It has to do with education. The human mind and body are geared to handle limited durations of stress or anxiety (fight or flight mode). When the mind undergoes much longer durations of this mode, the chemicals in the brain start to shift and the brain looks for places for the body to store the excess stress (usually the large muscle groups, ie. back, neck, thighs etc.) Most people experiencing PTSD are experiencing a buildup of stress and axiety in their large muscle groups and joints. This can be very painful when they return to the civilian status or active duty in the states, it can take some time for the brain chemical balances to return to normal. In the meantime, our primary care in the military and VA handle this with drug therapy, although drug therapy in these cases is not responsive. Druging a person with antidepressants or stimulents doesn't help the pain felt in the large muscle groups, nor does it help the chemical imbalances in the brain. Often times, it only makes things worse. Right now there is an experimental way to deal with this and that is something called medical hypnosis. Using these techniques, a person can be regressed in time to prior to entering the stressful environment (combat) and the chemical levels in the brain can be directed to return to those levels. The pain felt from the stress and anxiety can be released over a short period of time using other techniques. In short, this is a successful treatment possibility. Unfortunately, the VA and most psychiatric professionals are not trained to do this.

        March 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Reply
        • John C

          Dave,

          That was a wonderful oration but the cure or program is not the question. What is the question is the stigma attached to admitting to having a psychological issue. EVERYONE in the military, or has served in the military, cognizantly understands the horrific stigma involved with seeking assistance.

          The original message started by John was asking if there was weakness (dishonor) in asking for help/assistance.

          Anyway, Dave, great words, but they did not address the original question. It is the stronger individual who can seek assistance.

          S/F
          John

          March 16, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
          • Dave

            Exactly. I have served and I was in a unit that took a heavy psychological toll. In outprocessing, they kept several of my people to run experiments to see how they could best treat people with these problems. What I was trying to convey to the original question is that this is not a psychological disorder as everyone thinks. It is a person living in a high stress pschological environment which "Causes" physical diabilities. This is no different if you think about it than someone falling down and breaking their arm. Of course you go to the doctor and get a cast and most people don't have a problem doing this. The problem people have with PTSD is that they think of it as psychological disorder and as such it is as you say, they do not want to seek treatment but if they understood what the disorder is as I do, then it is no different than a broken arm. I work in medical research and I am a retired Marine, so I care for all vets. In the past modern medicine has been searching for the cause. Without the knowledge of what causes these symptoms, they can only do drug therapy, which as I stated in this case doesn't work. So it was with hopes that people will read what I stated and understand that this is a phyiscal disorder brought on by psychological events and as such, can be successfully treated. What the govt. and doctors are missing is that in WWI and WWII and even Koren and part of Vietnam, most soldiers only did one combat tour and that tour was at or less than two years. Of the time during the combat tours, they only saw "Periods" of actual combat. Since Vietnam, the military has started rotations of duty. Since the beginning of the second gulf war, there are many vets today that have seen from 4 to 6 tours of duty. The duty even for one tour often put people in hostile environments in excess of the full combat tours of previous wars. It is the added duration of stress of being in consistent dangerous environments over extended periods of time that is creating these physical problems. The human mind is not geared to endure stress levels for lengthy periods. If commanders and politicians understood this as a cause and effect, they would plan better for future engagements to lessen these effects. Instead, the answer is to cut the military personnel by 10% which will force longer engagements of time in hostile environments and create more cases of PTSD.

            March 16, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
            • John C

              Dude,
              You are a super smart individual. You are TOTALLY taking this waaaaaaaaaaay farther than you should. Occam's Razor, keep it simple.

              March 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  37. sjasher

    My husband is an Iraq war veteran suffering from severe PTSD, and every single day is struggle. It's a strain on him personally, as well as on our young children and our marriage. When he reaches out for help, he is pushed off to the next person and treated as an unhappy customer by the VA's healthcare professionals. In fact, all he is asking is to have a say in his treatment plan. Not only that, but they continue to pump him full of medication rather than treating the underlying cause. They are literally POISONING him. He had such an adverse reaction to his medication that when the doctor WHO PRESCRIBED IT went back and looked at it, he said "we gave too much of the same type of drug". I know that the VA has better treatment for PTSD than this, and it needs to be implemented. We have several friends who suffering through the same thing, and they are all sadly ending their relationships and marriages because of it. Someone needs to step up and help these service men and women because the families can't do everything alone.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  38. Garth Schultz

    PTSD, is a phrase that tends to help everyone but the service member. It's a way of categorizing combat veterans (who are INDIVIDUALS after all) into a group so that they can be more easily handled. Oftentimes, stereotypes like that of the "crazy vet who might snap" are the ones with the most staying power.

    There really need to me more transitional programs which allow veterans to ease back into normal life. This way it can be observed how a person's combat experiences impact their daily lives. Also, with all the training the government has invested in these folks, there should be better ways of creating a pipeline into jobs which could benefit from certain areas of expertise. We could and should be doing more.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  39. Todd E.

    I am a veteran. I served during the first Gulf War, although I was never in combat. I never fired a weapon outside of a designated firing range. I never killed anyone. I don't suffer from PTSD. I don't have any service-connected disability. I have an honorable discharge. I have great memories of my service. Some people find it hard to believe I was ever in the Army. I often wonder if it means anything at all because I'm not crippled, mentally or physically. It only really means anything to other veterans and their families. I guess I just had the bad luck of serving during a relatively peaceful era.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • mark

      I am a combat veteran and thank you for your service It means someone else did not have to

      March 14, 2012 at 7:39 am | Reply
      • Deb

        First, thank you to all the vets for your service. I too served during peacetime under President Reagan. I always felt my service during peacetime was nothing compared to the combat vets. One day at the VA I was awaiting a ride, sitting on a bench next to a very very OLD WWII vet. He had his VFW hat with all the pins and such. We talked for a bit. He told me he was in France shortly after the invasion of Normandy. I told him how I felt about my service. He told me sternly "Young lady, you served during the Cold War. You and your fellow servicemembers were the only thing that stood between Russia and the rest of Europe. You be proud of that – you be proud of your service!". Just then my ride showed up. I thanked him as I rushed off so he couldn't see the hot tears that sprang to my eyes. Today I walk a little taller when I think of him.

        March 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  40. Matthew

    I recently wrote about my job hunting experiance as a veteran and a recent college graduate that shows my take on our "support". I've pasted the link below.
    http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/5996/one-veteran%e2%80%99s-job-hunt-story/

    March 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Reply
    • Edward

      I read through post on the VA site and I bookmarked it. I am weeks away from retirement and I plan on going to school full time. I also want to stand on my own two feet. I will reread your post in about 2 years when I may be going through the same frustrations you did. I have no clue as to what civilian life will hold for me. I entered the Army 4 days after graduation from high school back in 1989. On to the great unknown!

      March 15, 2012 at 1:10 am | Reply
  41. Sailor101

    I think Veterans should get all the help they need. I'm not sure I like the idea of being identified as a Veteran on my driver's license.
    It was not to long ago that Nancy Polosi and a few others identified Veterans as Home Grown Terrorists, I opposse that way of thinking but there are many out there who dispise Veterans and if a Veteran is pulled over on a routine traffic stop chances are that the police may assume that every Veteran is a homicidal maniac just waiting to go off like a bomb (not true) and become over sensitive to their every move and wind up killing some poor chap just because he reaches for his registration. We have military ID cards we do not need it on our drivers license.

    March 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • mark

      Most of congress and the senate are not veterans says it all

      March 14, 2012 at 7:41 am | Reply
      • John C

        So?

        March 14, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply

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