A Positive Step Forward Helping our Veterans with PTSD

by Shad Meshad, National Veterans Foundation Founder & President

As someone who has been diagnosing and treating Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD) for more than 30 years, I applaud VA for their recent decision to make it easier for veterans to receive PTSD disability benefits.

For years, Vets have been in the difficult position of having to prove the traumatic incident that was the genesis of their PTSD.  You’d think this would be easy, but it was a rule that discouraged and prevented many Veterans from seeking or receiving the benefits that they needed and deserved.

One of the issues was record keeping.  Many battlefield incidents are not properly documented, especially when they involve troops whose military jobs are not technically combat related.  But in Iraq and Afghanistan, a road-side bomb, a sniper or an RPG can come at any time, from almost anywhere and there are service members who aren’t infantry who are finding them themselves in combat.    This includes troops who witness the horrors of war in military hospitals, at checkpoints, and those that go in and clean up the bodies after a bomb blast or firefight.

Compounding this problem has been the antiquated record keeping systems at Department of Defense and VA.  Most records are still not computerized, and those that are stored electronically are not shared between the two agencies.  So veterans, already suffering from debilitating PTSD, were forced to chase down their military documents, often one a time, to submit to VA.   And too often those paper documents were lost in the system.

This new guideline, which makes a PTSD disability rating available to a veteran who served in a combat zone, without making him or her document the incident that caused their PTSD, is a great step forward by VA in getting men and women who have served the benefits and the treatment they have earned.    The National Veterans Foundation has received hundreds of calls from veterans who were declined for PTSD disability benefits or gave up in frustration, and we are now calling these men and women with the good news, encouraging them to reapply for their benefits.

There is still more progress to be made.  VA continues to require that PTSD diagnoses be made by a VA mental health professional, which can be one more obstacle to a veteran receiving the proper diagnosis.  Many veteran advocates argue that VA doctors are pressured to limit the number of PTSD diagnoses.  Some veterans are also more hesitant to see a government doctor, especially former soldiers who have had negative experiences with the military system, and don’t trust these institutions.   There are many qualified civilian physicians who specialize in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder who are perfectly capable of diagnosing the condition, and those diagnoses should be honored by VA.

For information veterans can call the National Veterans Foundation Lifeline for Vets™ at 888-777-4443 or visit our website at www.nvf.org.

Floyd G. “Shad” Meshad is the Founder and President of the National Veterans Foundation and an Army veteran.  The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mr. Meshad and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.

5 thoughts on “A Positive Step Forward Helping our Veterans with PTSD

  1. on 09 may 2007 I was taken to the 85th medical detachment clinic in Camp Speicher / FOB Speicher where the Dr. said i had PTSD and then i was air eavc to germany under escort stay in the medical area for two weeks before being send by escort again to Eisenhower Army medical center
    where the dr. said i had PTSD chronic and put on permament profile the dr put in area 10

    soldier is undergoing a medical evaluation board.service member has a disqualifying medical condition and is unfit for continued military duty. soldier should be barred from reenlistment. no access to weapons or ammunition. no range duty,cq or overnight duty. no deloyment. no assignment where definitive care isn’t available .

    and still had to get a jag lawyer because they only want to gave me 10% .

    he was able to get me 50% and now ive taken off work a va dr. and the va said i still need dto prove my case to then.

    note iam not asking for help i am just telling you my story to let you know now hard its still is to get the va to help a person out

  2. I am interested in what is being done to address the issue of our America Heros I think this is the most important thing which needs to be addressed. Too many men and women are taking their own lives!

  3. I find it so frustrating being diagnosed with PTSD. My case is not even battlefield related… I was attacked by a fellow airman! I went through an entire court martial and everything and the VA is demanding that I go back to the local police department (even though they did NOT handle the case) and get the police report… I don’t get it. All of the records from the court martial are in archives at Bolling AFB. What makes it more frustrating is I was medically retired this year and I have been waiting for my VA award letter & money to start coming so I can get a place to live. Since my return form overseas I have been living with friends & family with my two sons and now we are playing the waiting game. It’s one thing to make me wait around sleeping on the floor, but my kids too come on

  4. You people should of been around in 1984 when PTSD reared its head at the VA’S. I spent 7 months in a PTSD clinic doing combat debriefing daily and given meds about 3 times daily. Talking about ones combat in the Nam can bring up some bad arse memories, so the VA drugged the hell out of us in order to try to control us. Imagine the side effects 50 mg of valium a day along with trazadone, nortriptolene and halcion for sleeping can do to ones health? I am not exaggerating. We referred to the VA back then as the pill of the month club. You had to be there. No wonder why I am 62 and look 100. BTW, the VA is still subscribing me valium. Wonder how many mg’s I got in my system with the half life of that drug? Another thing we called ourselves in the PTSD wards were VA junkies.

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