Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Used Warriors" : Too Many Troubled Soldiers and Marines Cut Off From Care By Veterans Administration

It seems during and after each war, the good folks at the Veterans Administration again and again make the  same mistakes that have been made in past wars---treating too many returning soldiers and marines as "used" and, if they are not physically wounded, trying to dismiss them as  malingering or having "bad conduct" when all  too often they are as wounded as those who have sustained physical wounds. 

 This is true especially with those soldiers and marines--an estimated one in five of those deploted--who suffer from post traumatic  stress disorders. The results are even more acute in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where soldiers have been deployed over and over again and less than one percent of the population of the United States who could be at war are involved in these distant and now unpopular conflicts.    

"A 1990 survey of more than 90,000 Marines found those who served in combat zones and received a PTSD diagnosis were more than 11 times more likely to receive a misconduct discharge than those who did not deploy and did not have PTSD.

"There's the Catch-22: Service members who suffer combat-related PTSD are entitled to medical treatment — unless they misbehave and get kicked out of the service because they suffer from PTSD."

Read more here:



  1. I agree , the amount of homeless vets in every city is terrible. Shame on our government

  2. There are some improvements in treatments, Tess, as the editorial in the Medford Mail Tribune points out, but they have only come after over a decade of war. Those of us who know people who have served, and see and read about those PTSD cases left untreated in our community have to wonder why anyone short of dire economic need would sign up to fight for an ungrateful nation.

  3. Hey Doug, where you going from here? are you at Facebook? or moving somewhere else? 8-)

    The Veterans Administration was for sure no friend to Veterans back in those days but the VA has made some changes. Still nothing they do would surprise me.

  4. I'll already on Facebook, Michael, and it looks like my main base will be at Blogster since that has the most Multiply Refugees.

    Yes, the local VA Center in my part of Oregon has distresss help lines and an Operation Stand Down Program but it all seems to be underfunded. I happened to be in a public building the other day that houses a Veterans outreach group. It looked woefully inadequate and, of course, was closed.

    Billions can be spent fighting a war, but when start pinching budgets to those who return from these conflicts, that burns me up. I'm glad Senator Murray and others are doing something about this and they should be recognized.

  5. "Used"... which, of course, they are.
    It's pretty shameless how we use our most vibrant age-group to fight our wars and then dismiss them once they're no longer useful.

    I would like to see a law prohibiting us from ever starting a war without also assessing a tax to pay for the war (revenue neutral... that would get the attention of the corporate class and teapartiers, alike) and a surcharge dedicated to the long-term rehab and care for the casualties of that war ... because there always ARE casualties and yet that is never factored into the "cost" projections of a violent engagement.

  6. I have had relatively successful first point of contact involvement with people (including ex-service personnel) with PTSD in my career of deliberate self harm aftercare and 24/7 mental health crisis work.

    This is nothing to do with care provided via military psychiatric services, it was brief therapy based crisis intervention available to all presenting to hospital, GP or police services who appear to meet the criteria under either the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 or the Mental Heath Act 1983 as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007.

    My point being that this is a strictly civilian response with no connection to military psychiatric services who refused to share information on the basis of the Official Secrets Act and whose outreach capacity is insufficient to the scale of the problem.

    I therefore think there are very similar problems here in the UK to the ones you report in the US and here overstretched health and social care agencies, decimated by cuts, are left to pick up the pieces of the expendable survivors washed up on our doorsteps pften in the early hours.

    My antiwar stance goes to first principles for me, there is a way out of the PTSD nightmare but with many people it takes time and of course it costs money, a fraction of what it cost to make these people like this in the first place of course, but nobody was counting then.

    People are resilient, we will continue to find ways to deliver helping services even in Austerity Britain we will still manage to organise something, but help comes at a price because we also organise resistance at the same time because there can't actually be one without the other.

    That's my take on it anyway Doug, for what its worth....interesting subject though.... betrayal.... it tends to fire the passions I think, nice one :-)

  7. So true! You would think humankind would have come up with a better way to resolve disputes other than depleating and traumatizing members of the "most-vibrant age-group", Chuck.

    I really like that idea! Put the true costs of any war all up front at the start and pay for it up front as well.

    That should dampen down some of the chauvanistic spirit out in the hustings. Well put Chuck.

  8. Yes, that's another thing, as you have no doubt observed first-hand, AA. A lot of military PTSD cases are sometimes in crisis years down the road from their last deployments.

    There does seem to be a lot of resilence among the military communities themselves, of organizations off all types pitching in, some help-groups mainly staffed by some of the same service people who have been to combat and can offer the kind of understanding and listening skills these men and women need.

    But the proble mthat irks me is the Vets Administration willowing out a number of the very people they need to help! And this is not new--indeed it's been a policy of all recent administrations to cut costs at the expense of the returning soldier. Just kicking a man or woman out of a system for infractions that are, in effect, most often a cry for help, is bureaucratic and counter-intuitive.

    It can create a unnesessary crisis situation where public civilian resources are often under-prepared, as you know; local police in Medford, for example, recently approached a disturbed war veteran who was needing medical treatment. They must have had little if any training in dealing with a veteran because their response was to try and subdue him with taser weapons and such. The man died from a seizure. Perhaps if someone like the police had called the local veterans center, this man would still be alive.

    The frustrating thing is that, after years and all the reports of brain injuries from explosive devices, these sorts of "winnowings" go on.

    And, yes, it is expensive to treat these personnel and no doubt takes years. And some people always seem to fall through the cracks and wind up killing themselves and help is not sought perhaps because the"warrior ethos" prevents some of them from seeking help early enough.

    I've not a psychologist by a long shot, but I think most wars stem at their roots from some form of mental illness visited on the less-powerful by their "betters". It is a testimony to human resilence that so many carry on after what they have gone through.


  9. The son of a friend returned from Iraq, and I threw a party for he and his family - he pulled me aside and told me, "Imagine being in the worst possible place in the world - and being asked to do some of the worst possible things. That's Iraq."

    The other stories he told me later - about atrocities; about the ultraRight having infested the military at nearly all levels; about the disdain of many of his fellows for the Iraqi civilians - all of this brought home the fact that we've destroyed a generation.

  10. and all that started about 1980 when we went back on active duty aand it was a slow but steady distruction

  11. Good for you to provide that welcome home for your friend's son.

    Thanks for sharing that.

    I had a couple co-workers who were deployed Iraq and other places, Will. The Marine in our group cam back, and told myself and others a couple things about it; he also tried to talk a younger guy OUT of joining up with the Corps.

    Iraq was a total disaster, a fecking neo-Con wet dream. Both countries were destroyed; too many people fled or lost everything. Afghanistan wasn't even a country technically, I suppose, and it sure isn't now, and the Afghan Army overall, with some expceptions, are useless and will fall apart once we finally leave.

  12. Yes, a lot of us forget how long both these nations have been at war, Heidi.

  13. A terrible shame for these men and women who put their lives on the line for all of us here in America and then to come home and no help to treat the ones that have no physical wounds. I think the inner head wounds are worst because they cant be seen from the outside, and cause much too much pain down the road. Too many wars and for what? because the neo cons want it? Does that make it ok to send our service people over to another country to die, and then come home and die a slow death because of no help? Shame on all of America who destroys bodies for their own shameful ideas of bloodlust and trying to be the biggest baddest country of all.

  14. I think you summed it up quite well, Marty. I suppose if there was a way to make huge profits off treating mentally-troubled soldiers and marines, then Haliburton and these other big entities tied to the Neo-Con agenda would be in it.

    The big money is in ginnig up reasons for war ,as in the run-up to war in Iraq, and providing explosive devices and blast walls and such in those "green zones" in Baghdad.

  15. I work with our vets in Europe and yes there are quit a few especially in Italy and Germany
    the older ones are easier they understand better what it is all about but so many younger ones feel just cause they signed up we the gov owes them a ton--so 2 things are happening one no one is explaining it to them when they sign up or they are not inteligent enough to understand--it is a sad thing cause I was military for over 30yrs. and never saw such noncomprehension
    most of these I can help and guide them through and get them help but believe me it is a daily battle
    sometimes I don't understand why so many sign up and then do nothing but complain my gawd when you are in the military you must follow orders period or you shouldn't be there in the first place

  16. Thanks for your sharing some direct insight into this issue, Heidi.

    Most of what I know about the case of veterans comes from the articles we got in the media and the older vets I've meet and worked with. Older vets are some of the best people for a young person to go to before getting into a the military system.

    I'm guessing it might be in the interest of the Armed Forces not to tell young recruits what they will be in for until they have signed on the dotted line. Recruiters need to make quotas, especially in the time of all-volunteer armies. Promises are made that are unrealistic, cashing in on youthful naivete.

    Ironically, it used to be young guys used to try and get into the National Guard in the USA to avoid being deployed. After the Vietnam War, this was changed. Talking to friends I've known who were in the Guard, I was shocked at how poorly integrated they were to the regular forces.

    Would these wars have gone on as long as they have I wonder if we drafted young men of all social classes, with few deferments or exemptions? I think the answer is no.

    Also, I think a lot of young people don't get a good education in history and don't realize how terrible war can be.

    It's good to know people like yourself are working to help soldiers and all types of veterans deal with problems.

  17. Thanks doug when I first started this it amazed me how litle they knew about thei rights --and it makes me feel good to help them