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Sunday, May 2, 2010

If there are three phonies and 30,000 with real claims...

Click on my title to see the stupid AP article.
In one of the stupider articles I have ever read, Alan G Breed makes it clear how little he understands about the VA Claims process. He tracked down three assholes who suckered the system. Did he track down three guys who had had legitimate claims denied, or thirty, or three thousand, or any of the 391,257 claims that are now waiting adjudication? Apparently not, although he does mention one guy whose legitimate VA claim has been repeatedly denied.
I guess denied legitimate claims are just not that interesting.
My experience of the VA claims process is that the compensation system is not on the veterans side. It is slow. It is ponderous. It is full of psychiatrists running veterans through compensation exams in a few minutes, when it should take hours. They get paid the same no matter how long or short the exam is. So the ten minute exam in which the MD asked Bob how he was, and Bob said "about the same" and then the doctor asked him about flying (as a preliminary to put him at ease, Bob thought ) and then said goodbye, got the psychiatrist the same money as a real exam would have. The doctor's write up of this was "the patient reports no problems." Not "I didn't ask him about his problems because I just chit-chatted with him for ten minutes."
I went with Bob to his last compensation exam, with a tape recorder. The woman psychiatrist pointed out to Bob his original diagnosis was for "nervousness." I said "Look at the date!" 1968. "What difference does that make?" she said. She was totally ignorant that in 1968, the American Psychiatric Association came out with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual II in which PTSD did not appear in any form.
DSMII dropped the category of Gross Stress Reaction (if you had been through a gross [big] enough stress–combat, concentration camp, POW–it could affect you for the rest of your life) and replaced it with "transient situational disturbance" meaning if a trauma like war affected you for more than six months, you were screwed up before you went. This change was not based on any scientific evidence and no one has ever admitted to being responsible for it. A study of WWII combat veterans, Archibald & Tuddenham, Archives of General Psychiatry, 1965, had just reported that twenty years after the war, combat vets were still experiencing startle responses, wake ups, anxiety, difficulties in memory, etc. This was completely ignored. The men who wrote the DSMII, those completely self-centered REMF psychiatrists, turned their narcissistic theories about how war wouldn't have affected them into a reality which would cause problems for a generation of combat vets and other trauma survivors.
May they rot in hell.
Oh, sorry. I guess I got carried away. But having lived through that era, I don't put too much stock in the current brain-imbalance theory of psychiatry in which pills rule.
Then there was the veteran of Hamburger Hill who called me. He was very upset because the VA compensation psychiatrist (this is not the treating psychiatrist but someone hired by the compensation system to do compensation exams) said to him, "Oh, I saw the movie. It couldn't have been as bad as that," thereby ending the exam. (It's worse when it's real," Bob said to me when I was upset about the wounded in Platoon.) This kind of total lack of information and understanding causes people who actually have PTSD to lose their ability to pursue the claim. It triggers them into painful scary reactions as well as makes them feel disrespected, devalued and hopeless, which is what the VA compensation system wants.
One of the guys in my book (Recovering from the War) was told by the St Petersburg VA Regional Office that although he had been shot at a lot and had found his CO in the jungle with his head cut off by the enemy, it wasn't "outside the range of usual human experience" for an infantryman, so he didn't have a traumatic stressor. (Totally false interpretation of the criteria). Of course the St Pete VARO was famous for fucking over veterans.
I'd love to see Mr. Breed do a story on some of our 300.000 plus veterans who are not getting what they fought for (and in many cases nearly died for) instead of one on three crooks.
Perhaps it would be too much effort.


  1. Right on!

    OK, VA - what about those 391,257 pending claims?

    Too many folks, veterans included, have not been made aware of what brother veterans like Bob Mason and his family have been through, dealing with the VA system. Back in the late 1980s, at the VAMC in East Orange, NJ; the "system" had an OB/GYN doc conducting C&P exams on vets who had filed a claim for PTSD through the Newark VARO. Once enough of us out "up a fuss", that individual was replaced by a real doc with psych training; but, the roadblocks were still there.

    The best we - as advocates - can do, is what we've always done; and, that's to keep on exposing the VA's abysmal treatment of those of us who are simply trying to get we've earned.
    Paul Sutton
    USMC veteran
    Ocean View, NJ

  2. Thanks, damn sure needed sayin'...

    Bill Hager
    1965-66 & 1968

  3. Thanks Patience,

    To many vets do not get what should be coming to them. My husband included, in Vietnam 1966/67. We tried to get benefits for him for over 40 years, all we got was road blocks.
    He died in January this year, right after we found someone who I think might have been able to help.

    Again thanks for all you have done it this respect.