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Legion to conduct TBI-PTSD symposium

Legion to conduct TBI-PTSD symposium
American Legion Past National Commander Bill Detweiler, chairman of the Legion's TBI/PTSD Committee, spoke during The American Legion’s Spring National Executive Committee Meeting in Indianapolis about the Legion's upcoming TBI/PTSD symposium. (Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion)

Continuing its efforts to raise awareness about servicemembers and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), The American Legion will conduct a symposium in June focusing on both injuries, as well as conventional and alternative treatments for each.

During The American Legion’s Spring National Executive Committee Meeting in Indianapolis on May 7, Legion Past National Commander Bill Detweiler – chairman of the Legion’s TBI/PTSD Committee – announced that the Legion’s symposium will take place June 24 at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in Washington, D.C.

The symposium, “Advancing Treatment and Care for Veterans with TBI and PTSD,” will:

• Discuss the findings and recommendations from the TBI and PTSD veterans survey conducted in February 2014 by the Legion;

• Bring together servicemembers, veterans and caregivers to talk about their TBI and PTSD treatment and care; and

• Determine how the White House, Congress and Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are integrating complementary and alternative medicine treatments and therapies into models of care for veterans with TBI and PTSD.

Attendees of the symposium would include The American Legion's TBI/PTSD Committee, American Legion national and department leadership from the area, members of Congress, and researchers, clinicians and policy makers from both VA and DoD.

Up for the committee is the formation of two working groups – one focused on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments and therapies for both conditions, and the other dealing with how caregivers are affected by their loved ones dealing with TBI/PTSD.

“That’s something that we really never talk about – the effect on the caregiver having to deal with these people suffering from these problems,” Detweiler said. “(The working group) will identify the needs and gaps of caregiver programs, and ways these programs can be improved and effectively supported on the national and local level.”

Detweiler also shared with the NEC some of the findings of the Legion’s February survey. Most of the 3,116 respondents served in the Army, most receive their treatments at VA facilities, most have sleep problems, and most experience similar symptoms of anger, pain, anxiety, depression and irritability.

Most also said that medication remains the front-line medical treatment; some respondents said they were taking up to 10 prescriptions for their symptoms. And perhaps most alarming, 30 percent terminated their treatments for TBI and/or PTSD prior to completing them.

“The committee will continue to build on the findings and recommendations that the survey has highlighted regarding the types of treatments and therapies that are provided to patients who are suffering from a TBI, PTSD and/or both,” Detweiler said.

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jim paris

May 15, 2014 - 6:32am

36k2p field wireman,vietnam aug68-70/feb70-nov70,4th.infantry division.did recon for s&t battalion,support&transportaion.I am 1 out of 37 in recon&c.a. team,to surive.started as radioman 2months,became m-60 machine gunner then walked point last 2 months frist tour.been in Cambodia a few times that I know.once we walked into a camp of 3,600 nva which had enough rockets to wipe out the 4th. 4to10 times.yes i'm not wright,still overeact,jumpy.I went 43 years tripping out.I findly went to v.a. had to find my full bird col.to verify my story.cause I was the only one to survive.god bless you all

willie l williams

May 13, 2014 - 2:08pm

i am a vietnam vet having the same conflects dealing mh in augusta ga charlie northwood no help.

America 4R Veterans/America 4R Marines

May 13, 2014 - 1:53pm

@ Bruce Wallace. What a total disgrace that you can not get the care you earned and deserved! I work with post 9/11 everyday and have come across a couple that cant discuss their true MOS or missions. I understand the oath you too when you got such high clearance. I'm assuming your DD214 may have the MOS of communications of another position as to not show your true job. I'm just learning about this today from your post so please understand that.. So Question: Why would the VA not accept you for therapy if you DD214 doesn't reflect your job? We have Veterans that after they EAS'd deployed as contractors and had very high security and they get VA treatment. In any case this is so disrespectful on so many all levels your not getting the care you need! Is this a case of the DOD having a list that the VA is given to block you and others from therapy? Hearing all I do daily from post 9/11 Veterans regarding the VA care and how frustrating it is for them- I gave a name to a syndrome (I'm a nobody with a NPO the past 8 yrs for our Military-I truly care about our Military) I was seeing firsthand- CTVASS: Current Traumatic VA Stress Syndrome. Some find it laughable but its very real! The symptoms of PTS is magnified 10 times for our Veterans with their VA issues! 3 months is the norm for getting into a PTS inpatient program! How many Veterans cant wait that long when suffering? Many I'm sure! I've already shared H.R.#3387 with all my FB followers and on our orgs FB page- that's over 6000 people I asked to call their Congressman and see if they have signed or have any knowledge about H.R.#3387! Lets hope that this symposium that the American Legion is planning has some great results AND ACTIONS. TALK IS CHEAP WE NEED ACTION! Thank you for your service to our country and I truly hope you get the care you need!

America 4R Veterans/America 4R Marines

May 13, 2014 - 1:56pm

Sorry about my few typos! I was texting from my phone which has a mind of its own ;)

Frustrated Spouse

May 13, 2014 - 10:45am

I am the spouse of a veteran with a TBI and I welcome the Legions effort to bring attention to this issue. It is exasperating for the veteran and the spouse to deal with the anger, depression and irritability, because you can't use logic to reason with these symptoms. I love my husband but his symptoms are exhausting and take incredible patience to deal with.

David Meyer

May 13, 2014 - 4:03am

I believe I had PTSD, after serving in Vietnam in 1968 for 13 mons. I carried it around for over 20 years, then one day I decide to do something about it. I took a flight to Washington, DC. to the Wall and cried my eyes out. From that point I felt a complete at peace state. I also believe that a lot has to do with guilt. That God says "thou shall not kill" and why did I survive while some did not make it back. I also believe that this is related to all the suicide's that we hear about !

Bruce Wallace

May 10, 2014 - 6:22pm

Why isn't the American Legion interested in PTSD/TBI vets who served in classified (top secret) missions, and why doesn't the Legion say anything to support the pending "House resolution/bill #3387, 'The Classified Veterans Access to Care Act?'" I have tried to get the Legion to at least talk to me about this and they show absolutely no interest. How about it, American Legion? Dellinger, do you care? How can you rag on Shinseki and the VA scandal and then you won't say a word about this????? This bill if passed will allow veterans who served in sensitive areas to get PTSD therapy. I am one such veteran. Many of the veteran suicides come from vets who are not allowed to get therapy due to national security reasons. This bill if passed will change that. It will not pass unless the Legion gets behind it! Dan Somers was a turret machine gunner on over 400 secret combat missions in Iraq, then he killed himself because he was blocked from PTSD therapy. The VA told me that I will be arrested if I try to get PTSD care, even from the VA, and they had police standing by to arrest me if I said anything about what caused my PTSD. They did this as a trick to get me arrested, because they had convinced me I would finally get PTSD therapy. When I reported in at the hospital they pulled this on me. Someone at the Legion should read this and get involved. The VA is hoping I will commit suicide like they pressure Somers into. It should be called "Suicide by VA incomptence." They could find a way to give me therapy, and they would, if the Legion would get involved on my behalf and the behalf of many other vets who are going to kill themselves if they don't get help. The way things are now it is to the VA's financial advantage so they don't have to waste resources on us highly classified service vets. How about it, Mr. Dellinger? Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

geno

May 9, 2014 - 2:02pm

Iam a PTSD when the VA Had the 6week ATU treatments--They made great progress--Do due cuts this program was discontinued--Ive clean since 198o no flashbacks for 9 years-

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