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Soldiers who Suffered from PTSD Misdiagnosed as Personality Disorder

 
 
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 08:14 am
Quote:
At the height of the Iraq war, the Army routinely fired hundreds of soldiers for having a personality disorder when they were more likely suffering from the traumatic stresses of war, discharge data suggests.
Under pressure from Congress and the public, the Army later acknowledged the problem and drastically cut the number of soldiers given the designation. But advocates for veterans say an unknown number of troops still unfairly bear the stigma of a personality disorder, making them ineligible for military health care and other benefits.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100815/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_soldiers_wrongly_discharged

This really angers me. Why weren't prospective service people given psychological tests BEFORE enlistment, in order to weed out those people who had personality disorders? Is the military so hard up for recruits that they take anyone, without determining whether they are fit for service?

To me what has happened is very cruel. A person in the armed services puts his life on the line, sometimes cannot deal with the stress, and is then denied medical help from the military.

It seems to me that the government has loads of money for giving medical care to illegals, people from other countries, etc., but closes their wallets when it comes to the folks who deserve it most......................the guys and gals who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

I have had some experience dealing with the V.A., and from my perspective, the whole system needs an overhauling. The doctors are overworked, the equipment is substandard. The V.A. often does not carry many newer medications, so the veterans have to settle for second rate prescriptions.

What do you all think?
 
dyslexia
 
  4  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 08:31 am
IMHO the VA has consistently lowered meaningful services since the "forgotten war" (Korea) equally responsible are the Dems and Reps. I could tell you stories but it's a nice day and I don't want it to go downhill. Colour me one very angry vet.
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 09:02 am
@dyslexia,
dys- I think that this is a systemic problem, that cuts across political lines. I don't want to ruin your day, but it would be interesting and illuminating to hear some stories from someone who has dealt with the V.A.
dyslexia
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 09:07 am
@Phoenix32890,
well B, there are lots of vets with lots of different experiences; some very good, some not.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 12:29 pm
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix? Dealt with the VA in what sense? Politically? Administratively? Or as a patient?

I've been getting my care at the Manhattan VA hospital since moving to NYC (say 8 years+).

I only had two problems pop up in this span of time with two separate departments of the hospital. One was with their lame attempt at helping me with housing. That might be a systematic problem. The other incident was regarding the piss poor bedside manner of one particular ear doctor.

That jackass was pretty dismissive when I tried to get help with an ear infection and get some advice about the tinnitus in my left ear.

I'm not sure if the problem is wholely systematic or just like cancer cells ... each corrupt VA hospital (like Walter Reade Army Medical Center)is the cancer cell amongst a relatively healthy nation wide hospital system (the Manhattan Campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System being an excellent hospital referred to as my own hospital in which I've attended for these past 8 years).
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 12:37 pm
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix, Don't you remember the time when our government recruited criminals, because they couldn't find enough volunteers?
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 12:39 pm
@Phoenix32890,
My understanding is that this was done intentionally so that the military would not have to pay benefits or acknowledge the PTSD cost of the war. And yes, the military has always taken people without determining if they were fit for duty.
0 Replies
 
Diane
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 02:37 pm
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix, this has been a problem for decades.

This post isn't about PTSD, but it reflects the same attitude about the quality of life of our vets.

Dys wrote about this event years ago, so forgive me if I get a few details wrong. Understandably, Dys doesn’t want to write it again and bring back those memories.

Dys and his buddy (Charlie) were out in the jungle, watching for VC. Suddenly, his Charlie’s leg was shot off and Dys got the left over shrapnel in his left foot and ankle. They both went to the hospital, Charlie, of course, was sent back to the States.

Dys looked up his friend when he got home and they started to spend lots of time camping in the mountains. Soon, they decided to build a small cabin.

They had to sleep outdoors while the building was going up. Before going to bed, Charlie took off the prosthesis given to him at a VA hospital and propped it up against the wall of the cabin.

That night, there were some strange sounds. Charlie woke immediately and, without thinking, shot his prosthesis. That part of the story sounds a little funny—at first.

Charlie’s reaction was typical of vets just returned from Vietnam, They were primed to shoot first, a primal, life saving instinct. He returned to the VA and explained what had happened and asked for a replacement leg. He was denied with the explanation that he wasn’t due for a new prosthesis for another year. Only officers got thorough medical service whenever they needed it.

Charlie tried to return to his welding job, but was told that he could not use a stool, that he would have to stand all day. He lost his job.

Charlie looked for other jobs to no success. His wife left with their daughter. About all he could to was gardening.

Not long afterward, he shot his brains out.

This isn’t an unusual story. The news is full of stories of vets being left out in the cold with very few resources.

As for PTSD, the fact that it isn’t taken seriously is beyond belief. When I mentioned it to a friend, she said that there were those who thought it wasn’t a legitimate disorder. All it takes to change that attitude is to know a vet who’s nightmare’s are devastating, as real as the original event. The memories bring back the sounds, smells, tastes, pain, grief and guilt of what happened on the battleground. It can be cured, but it takes time and therapy.

Like everything else, the costs are substantial and the grunts, in the VA’s view, don’t seem to require as much treatment as the officers. I would love to ask them(“ why?”).
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 03:57 pm
A quiet nod to Diane, Dys and Charlie.
Phoenix32890
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 04:40 pm
@tsarstepan,
I have experience as the wife of a patient. Originally, Mr. P. went to the V.A. for the prescription benefits. We used to use private doctors for everything else. Sure, the prescriptions were cheap, but we had to buy many expensive ones privately, (and he's in the Medicare "doughnut hole") because they simply don't carry the more expensive prescriptions. Mr. P. is highly allergic, and was sensitive to a lot of the generic meds that he was given by the V.A.

On one occasion, we paid $27- for a three month supply (90) of a generic medication that is over the counter. I take the same stuff. When I went to Costco to get some for myself, I picked up a bottle of 350 of the exact same pills (same manufacturer) for about 12 bucks. I just wonder how often a situation like this occurs, where guys who can't really afford a drug will pay much more at the V.A. than in a discount house.

A couple of years ago, he got lucky, and found a great V.A. primary doctor. At the time, we were not happy with the private one that we were using, so my husband decided to stick with the V.A. doc. He originally had a private practice. I know of a few private doctors who have quit their practices, and gone over to the V.A., because they don't have to be concerned about malpractice insurance, but that is another issue.

This doctor, who is a very intelligent, compassionate human being, works 11-12 hours a day. It is very difficult to get a hold of him. When it came to certain specialists, he told us that we were much better off going privately.

Once Mr. P. had to go to one of the V.A. specialists, because the internist had ordered certain tests. I would not trust that broken down old man to treat my dog, if we had one. Thank goodness that we have the financial wherewithal to go privately if we have to. I feel so sorry for those guys to whom the V.A. is their only choice.

This may be a very minor example, but I think that it makes my point. When Mr. P. first enrolled in the V.A., he was unable to get a picture I.D. at the hospital, because the camera was broken. A year later, you guessed it, still broken.

It seems to me that our service people deserve the very best that medicine can offer. I think, just from my limited experience with the system, that the V.A. falls far short of that goal.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 04:43 pm
@realjohnboy,
rjb, You trying to tell us some of your nods are noisy? LOL
0 Replies
 
Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 05:01 pm
They do these things because they can. They are not called on these terrible deeds. But, with the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars things may change. More and more people are making a noise. People need to hold protests, because people in the street, yelling and hollering, simply works.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 05:02 pm
@Diane,
I well remember Dys' telling about Charlie. Thank you for posting about it here.

On another front, I don't understand how anybody can't comprehend PSTD.
I think my father was forever affected by flying over the center of the Baker atom bomb blast, a first time for that by anyone. It was a photography shoot, but he probably didn't man the camera, was just in charge.

I suppose not every last single case is attributable to PSTD, but, gee whiz.
And for the VA to dismiss to clear 'liability', that's plain vile, if true, and I suppose it is.


On a bit of news today, the fellow who played Kasper Hauser in Werner Herzog's movie has just died. Talk about PSTD. Interesting man.
I'd clip part of the article, but it isn't that long and better to read the whole thing -
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/arts/music/15bruno.html?hpw
May he rest in peace.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 05:11 pm
@Diane,
Quote:
As for PTSD, the fact that it isn’t taken seriously is beyond belief
WHY? The debate of what was wrong with a soldier, whether it was Battle Fatigue or being Yellow, has been going on for as long as history. Were we in your mind going to magically end the debate? Nothing much has changed, because nothing much changes with man, we just change the names to that we can promote the illusion that we are so much more advanced than our ancestors.
Pemerson
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Aug, 2010 06:25 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:

Quote:
As for PTSD, the fact that it isn’t taken seriously is beyond belief
WHY? The debate of what was wrong with a soldier, whether it was Battle Fatigue or being Yellow, has been going on for as long as history. Were we in your mind going to magically end the debate? Nothing much has changed, because nothing much changes with man, we just change the names to that we can promote the illusion that we are so much more advanced than our ancestors.


Nothing much changes with man? You really must read more history.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 03:03 am
@Diane,
Diane wrote:
.... The memories bring back the sounds, smells, tastes, pain, grief and guilt of what happened on the battleground. It can be cured, but it takes time and therapy. ...

30 centuries before us Homer described what has gone by many names - battle stress, shell shock, now PTSD:
Quote:
“Our fierce hero sits .... in his tent, glazed over, gazing into oblivion,” says Ajax’s wife, Tecmessa....“He started to make these low sounds, the kind I never thought I’d hear him make, for he always told his men that crying was for women and cowards.” Ajax won fame in the Trojan War as a feared warrior, but he spirals into a rage when his generals give the slain Achilles’ armor to his rival, Odysseus. Ajax plots to kill his superiors, but the gods intervene, and Ajax instead mistakenly slaughters a field of cows and sheep. The shame overwhelms him. “Do you see what I’ve done?”[he] wails. “I’ve killed these harmless barnyard animals with my hands. What a joke my life has become, my reputation, my sense of honor!” Beyond consolation, Ajax plunges the hilt of his sword into the ground and falls upon the blade.

Since Gen. Shinseki took over the VA he has accomplished a very great deal, but this is a very old problem and we haven't yet come up with any solutions not known to the ancients. Still, some resources are out there: http://www.ptsdsupport.net/PTSD_and_tragic_heroes_of_today.html
roger
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 03:43 am
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix32890 wrote:


Once Mr. P. had to go to one of the V.A. specialists, because the internist had ordered certain tests. I would not trust that broken down old man to treat my dog, if we had one.



Heh heh. I've had cholesterol monitored for the past 9 years, with the max reading in the mid 150s. So, 7 weeks after one such test I get a VA physical and what do you know - it's suddenly at 219. She prescribes some kind of statin. I check out the side effects on internet and decide not to go there. No problem. Three months later it's back where it was. She's happy. Glad they didn't notify her that I haven't reordered.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 03:54 am
@ossobuco,
Even watching a video of the Baker test is bound to affect anybody - can't even imagine what flying through it must have been like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmnYVcJ-dqM&NR=1
High Seas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 04:22 am
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:

... Colour me one very angry vet.

What are you complaining about - you have a dog, be happy. http://www.healing-companions.com/
http://www.healing-companions.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/cover_sm.jpg
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 04:49 am
I slipped past the Vietnam War. My most meaningful military experience was the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which all I did was wait with the rest of the world, to see if the USSR would back down. As draftees began to be shipped to the war zone, I was separated and went home. My sole experience with the VA, I had an upper colon problem and no insurance. Went to them seeking treatment. The person I saw wrote down, 'sore throat' and made me an appointment for over a week in the future. Figured if I was to die, it would be going through red tape and skipped the appointment. Later, I got a job that had free insurance.
 

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