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Legion survey: PTSD/TBI care not working

Legion survey: PTSD/TBI care not working
Dr. Jeffrey Greenberg of Data Recognition Corp. shares the results of the Legion's study on TBI and PTSD. (Photo by Noel St. John)

 

Two disturbing numbers stand out in The American Legion’s recent survey of veterans dealing with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder: 59 percent and 30 percent.

Of the more than 3,100 respondents who completed the online survey in February, 59 percent reported either feeling no improvement or worse after undergoing TBI and PTSD treatment. And 30 percent said they had terminated their treatment plan before completion.

The results of the survey were shared during the June 24 American Legion symposium “Advancing Care and Treatments for Veterans with TBI and PTSD” at the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Public- and private-sector experts shared information during the day-long event – including information from the Legion’s survey that was conducted with Data Recognition Corporation.

Dr. Jeffrey Greenberg of Data Recognition presented the results of the survey. He said that of the respondents who terminated their treatment plans early, 20 percent did so because of a side effect associated with the treatment. Approximately 20 percent ended their treatments because of dissatisfaction with their provider.

Other key findings included:

• Common symptoms reported included elevated anger, sleep problems, depression and irritability.

• Nearly half of all respondents had discussed some type of complementary- and alternative-based treatment with their providers.

• A sizable proportion of respondents reported prescriptions of up to 10 medications for PTSD/TBI across their treatment experience.

Based on the survey, it is recommended that, in order to establish a knowledge base on the care of veterans with PTSD and TBI, a multi-step program of research is needed over a period of years. A second track of research and development is needed to ensure the availability of a trained workforce prepared to treat PTSD and TBI. The next steps, the survey concluded, are to establish a national advisory group to plan the multi-step research program, and refine the survey design in preparation for collection of baseline data and tracking surveys.

The complete survey can be found here.

Along with the survey results, the symposium – sponsored by Military.com – included speakers from the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the U.S. Army, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and TBI, the Institute of Medicine and the RAND Corporation. Panel discussions covered TBI, PTSD, complementary and alternative medicine, and caregivers and family support.

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. T.L. McCreary, president of Military.com, said that the stigma associated with TBI and PTSD needs removed because of its far-reaching consequences. “We have veterans, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, who are trying to hide their military service when they go in and apply for jobs,” he said. “They try to write it up a different way because some employers say, ‘I’m not going to take that risk.’”

Getting those suffering from PTSD to seek treatment can be difficult. Retired Col. Charles Hoge, a consultant in the Office of the Surgeon General, said that while servicemembers are more willing to seek care, “The most recent data we have shows that we have a long way to go. We’re facing numbers that are pretty daunting in both VA and DoD: estimates of only around half of individuals who are in need of care coming to get care, and upwards of half of those coming into care are dropping out of care (before completion).”

And Dawne Vogt, acting deputy director of VA’s Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD, said that, “Even when these veterans are getting mental health treatment, they’re not getting enough treatment to really reap the full benefit.”

On the traumatic brain injury side, Col. Dallas Hack of the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command said that even as combat draws down, the need to address TBIs won’t decrease. “Although this came to our attention because of blast injuries, the problem is much larger than that,” he said. “Eighty-three percent of the cases of traumatic brain injury occur outside of the combat zone. That means this problem is not going to go away. It’s going to continue, and we need to continue to work on it.”

The need for sleep – and the lack of sleep associated with PTSD and TBI – was discussed. Lt. Col. Dennis McGurk, a deputy director with the Army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command, said treating that issue can have a bigger benefit. If a patient suffering from PTSD can get help with sleeping, McGurk said, that patient is more likely to return for additional treatments.

Various complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment plans were discussed. Dr. Robert Koffman of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence said that one reason for taking a CAM approach is that 60 percent of veterans still meet the criteria for PTSD after they’ve undergone traditional treatments. Dr. Tracy Gaudet, the director of VA’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, added that PTSD and TBI are examples of why VA needs to expand beyond what it thinks of as traditional health care.

The Institute of Medicine’s Roberta Wedge discussed IOM’s recent study on PTSD treatments for the military and veteran population. Among the recommendations made by the study were DoD and VA developing an integrated, coordinated and comprehensive PTSD management strategy that plans for the growing burden of PTSD for servicemembers, veterans and their families; that leaders from both departments should communicate a clear mandate through their chain of command that PTSD management, using best practices, has high priority; and that both agencies should develop, coordinate and implement a measurement-based PTSD management system that documents patients’ progress over the course of treatment and long-term follow-up with standardized and validated instruments.

In addition to hearing from mental health and medical experts, more personal stories were shared during the symposium. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Julio Larrea, who suffered severe injuries serving in Afghanistan, now works at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a squad leader. Larrea, a Legionnaire, said that serving as a peer-to-peer counselor to fellow wounded warriors at Walter Reed “makes me feel like I’m part of the solution.”

Andrea Sawyer – whose husband, Sgt. Loyd Sawyer, was diagnosed with TBI and PTSD – spoke firsthand on the difficulties faced by caregivers. Sawyer said she eventually had to remove their children from their home because she feared they may come home and find their father dead. Later, Sawyer said, “(Loyd) proceeded to tell me how he planned to slit his throat,” she said. “Those are words, as a wife, that I cannot unhear.”

Sawyer said there still are difficulties with getting treatment, and that making sure the caregiver is an equal part of that treatment is critical. “Thirteen years into it, I need people to understand that not all injuries are visible and not all barriers to getting to treatment are physical barriers,” she said. “As a caregiver to a person that suffers memory loss, if (doctors) don't talk to me, you get half the picture you need for treatment.”

Linda Kreter, the founder and CEO of Wise Health Inc.’s Veteran Caregiver, said that caregivers need to be made a part of the care team - “an equal member.”

American Legion Past National Commander William Detweiler, chairman of the Legion’s TBI and PTSD Committee, was pleased with the inaugural symposium. “We look forward to taking a lot of the information we learned today and move forward in some various programs and planning that (our) committee will be doing over the next couple of years,” he said.

Click on any of the links below to get the presentations made during the symposium.

Dawne Vogt, Department of Veterans Affairs

Dr. Kevin Berry, Samueli Institute

Terri Tanielian, RAND Corp.

Katherine Helmick, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and TBI

Dr. Ann Germain, University of Pittsburgh

Col. Dallas Hack, U.S. Army

Roberta Wedge, Institute of Medicine

Michael Kilmer, Department of Veterans Affairs

Dr. Robert Koffman, Intrepid Center of Excellence

Lt. Col. Dennis McGurk, U.S. Army

Dr. Jennifer Strauss, Department of Veterans Affairs

 

More in Veterans Health Center

 

Harvey J. Putterbaugh

July 2, 2014 - 2:48pm

Vietnam Combat Vet Bottom line is finding and keeping medical psychiatrists, trauma psychologists, and others to create a shared, honest, trusted relationship between the caregiver and the vet. I don't believe I can "cured". We were not identified, sought for or treated until the 1st Gulf War permitted us to share the national respect for combat military personnel. Hell, we were not diagnosed until it struck us down, hitting the wall, and not being able to sublimate and continue to be a functional whatever the hell we are. It ground on me for 30+ years until I could no longer function mentally. Fortunately, a combat veteran from the Korean War recognized the system and got me to a local Veteran Support Center, and then into the system. The realization may be that there is not a cure, but the desired result is being able to provide the Vet with care and consulting so he may function, feel emotion, and have a life while dealing with it as long as it takes for the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with booster care if needed along the way. Provide a psychiatric prosthetic. Cure is up to the Medical people learned in the science. Get out and get them.

Warren "Skip" Allen

July 2, 2014 - 1:35pm

I spent 13 years in Spec. Ops with a year in VN and a track record of SO work from 1979 to 1990. I retired with 10% for a neck injury but not a wound. As time went on, I added hearing, heart issues, depression, night sweats, sleep issues but no dreams at all. I went thru two wives and a serious relationship and who knows how many jobs till I was put in SS disability. Tried VA reemployment twice but finally got too old. And guess what, I don't have PTSD even though the psychiatrist and psychologist are treating me and calling it PTSD. I don't meet the qualifiers since I didn't have a "single" incident to cause it. Guess 13 years in and out of direct combat doesn't count. And I was unlucky enough not to get shot so no purple heart, just a few crushed disks, headaches and an attitude. I'm not in it for the money, just want recognition for my condition. I even was told by the VA they could find no indication of combat in my records. I have 23 ribbons, all to many from combat and I would think after a year in VN on the ground at a SF base I might qualify for combat. I figure they just try to wear you down. After a while, I gave up on PTSD and figure the depression is enough to get me the meds. I need to stop the crying and allow me to think half the time before I do something stupid. Well, I'm taking life the best I can and am thankful I'm doing better than my dead buddies as well as some of those who made it 'physically' thru. Welcome Home to those who can enjoy some of what they fought so hard to protect. I will always be your brother in war....

Larry M ( combat medic)

July 2, 2014 - 3:54pm

Hello Warren: Welcome home. Something does not add up. Doctors treating you for PTSD, at VA facility? Do you have a CIB? What was your MOS? Have you spoken to a VFW/American Legion Service officer?

Combat Vet

June 27, 2014 - 11:35pm

As for PTSD: 1. People don't usually to get better when you pay them to be sick. 2. Most PTSD claims filed are from veterans that never served in combat, but the "fear" stressor was conceded and they know how to answer the questions, so we grant compensation to the tunes of BILLIONS of American taxpayer dollars. 3. Very few people should have debilitating symptoms for life. This is a condition that can in fact improve dramatically and you can live a normal life, if you want to. 4. As a combat veteran, this really bugs me, and I see it making that much harder for the deserving veterans that need help to get it. 5. We should focus on rehabilitation and treatment, not compensation.

Larry M ( combat medic)

June 28, 2014 - 2:49pm

I concur with your assessment. Maybe we should only compensate for those with a CIB/CMB and physical wounds? If you are not diagnosed for years, as some of us from VN were not, symptoms become ingrained and take much longer to relieve. Not bitter,just saying. Of course I could be wrong.

Leo Thomas

June 29, 2014 - 10:58pm

As a three tour VN vet,{special forces and 173Abn(sep), I concur. You are not wrong!

J. Tennant Combat Medic

July 14, 2014 - 1:29pm

I disagree! I've read extensively on PTSD and the VA's treatment plans. First we self medicate and deny, usually for many years. My father was in combat engineers ww2 and had severe PTSD but was never treated. He was wounded by a mortar round but never fired his rifle in 3 1/2 years in the pacific theater. He took me night fishing before I was old enough for school and that was when he talked about the war. I don't think he ever talked to anyone else about it. It was the death, human gore and smells he could not forget. A simple country boy , who hunted, could not fathom humans killing each other the way he had seen. I've forgotten most of what he told me because it was graphic and so awful but some is burnt into my soul. I saw things in the field and the aid station that were enough to leave lasting scars in any mind. IMHO the VA doesn't really try or want to know what we think. I don't feel free to tell my MHA everything because she'd have to take me into "custody". I'm at the end of a PTSD program and feel worse about it than before. My MHA is really nice and dedicated but has to follow the protocol which is worthless. So go ahead and judge others all you want but you don't walk in their boots or know what they went thru.

Ted Perry

June 27, 2014 - 1:07pm

No disrespect meant to any one at the American Legion because they do a lot for veterans...But if your service officer has not been in combat or a combat theater I don't believe they can understand or try hard enough for the vet...I have found a lot of vets at the American Legion that never left the states...They're all in tuned to the lingo but haven't walked in our shoes...This I've learned through years of being a member of the Legion and the VFW...I fined a lot of disabled veterans at the VFW...Purple Heart commanders, Silver Star folks...Check a service officer at the VFW or the MOPH if you qualify...

Saed Adler

June 27, 2014 - 12:30pm

I've done 47 dives in a multi person HBO chamber for tooth extractions from a dead jaw and was impressed with what I saw. Healing of weeping wounds, bones,joints,teeth extractin without a dead hole, etc but HBO does not help with TBI. The military and civilian companies tried multiple reseach studies to support it. HBO works for a lot of stuff but not TBI. Believe me, if these guys could have gotten a shred of evidence to support HBO for TBI they would have. HBO does not do anything for TBI. While diving, you feel like superman but after you stop you slowly return to base line. If you look at the treatment line of TBI you'll find great advances in treatment have occurred. With my first moderate TBI in 2003 I was released from the ER and jumped again the next day. That wouldn't happen today. And now there is a 6 phase progression for return to duty after a TBI. 84% of concussions happen in garrison. Most of us, including me, in 2005 falling off a steep clift with loss of consiousness don't seek medical care, have no documentation, we just push on. TBI is not PTSD and should not be grouped with it, TBI is a physical injury that needs to be treated and allowed to heal. Like any physical injury there may be lingering problems. Get treated, get tracked and move on. While about 40% of TBI patients have some level of PTSD related to the event, not the injury,PTSD is a totally different smoke. These two should not be in the same article or discussion.

Larry M ( combat medic)

June 27, 2014 - 2:10pm

Saed: Are you saying that all those non combat TBI's should be compensated?

Patrick A. Costley

June 27, 2014 - 4:49pm

Hey Saed: I am a veteran who received a non combat traumatic brain injury in the US ARMY. I do feel that the VA should compensate us for the injuries that we suffered.

Larry M ( combat medic)

July 1, 2014 - 7:35pm

Patrick, where are you? I really want to know what happened to you and how you think non combat TBI should be compensated. Of course you will be wrong no matter what you think. Only combat related injuries are compensable. The military is not summer camp and injuries occur just as anywhere else, without compensation in most cases. You probably do not know, combat is WAY different than anything else. Your injuries should receive treatment, nothing more. " Sin Loi, toi,rat tiet"

Larry M ( combat medic)

June 30, 2014 - 1:14am

Patrick: Make your case!

SA

June 27, 2014 - 5:56pm

Like I said, compensation is one of those congressional things, not my lane. I believe those injuried in the military should recieve health care for their disability or symptoms related to their military injury. The Legion, The VFW and even the VA has resources to help you file your claim.

Saed Adler

June 27, 2014 - 3:36pm

I see where you're coming from and it's a tough question that's not in my lane. I believe anyone who has a "true" disability related to military service should be treated for that disability. Compensation has been a controversy since the Revolutionary War and we ain't going to resolve it on this forum. My moderate TBI was a 0%, combat related injury, no compensation but care availabe if needed. I'm OK with that.

AF

June 26, 2014 - 10:35pm

not going fix it if veteran says he feels better then his money stops..........

Larry M ( combat medic)

June 26, 2014 - 11:21pm

nail on the head true,true!! How many trying to scam the system? This could be a reason for the backlog. I mean really, 83% TBI, not combat related; what are they doing,jumping off the barracks onto their heads, in mass?

Saed Adler

June 27, 2014 - 12:43pm

All soldiers train for war,combatives, combat PT, motor pool, parachuting, repelling, vehicles that are not head friendly and terrain that is not easy to walk through. Less we forget about snow boarding, skiing, skate boarding, motor cycles, 4 wheelers, diving, fights, etc. And yal, there are soldiers and civilians who actually do building jumping (and don't always make it). Now, the majority of these are mild TBIs and if screened, treated and tracked the majority will heal completely. But we're all individuals, some take longer to heal and some may never heal.

Ray Raymond

June 26, 2014 - 9:55pm

Dr. told me my problem would go away in time, do you want me to give you some meds> This was from a VA Dr in 1953, after I was discharged from the Army. I complained off and on since then. (I only had twenty some jobs the first year back from Korea); I eventually went through six marriages and divorces. I divorced them, so I guess that makes me the bad guy. I have never claimed to have been in "close", combat. But I will never forget seeing hundreds of Chinese troops being fried with napalm, eventually loaded in big truck and hauled of to grave registration where I assume they were buried. I recently read where the US returned Chinese veterans to their homeland. I have often wondered if those were the ones who got fried. To this day, I will never roast a marsh mellow, or if I see someone roasting them, I leave. I can't stand to see me cry for no reason. I don't know if this is what they refer to as PTSD, or just plain weak. Like I said above, the VA Dr. said it would go away in time. She must have told me the truth, because when I'm dead, I hope it is gone, and she is proven right. As for my records go, they did find some of them in a fire. However, they did not find all of them. Especially the records I carried with me to Ft, Custer, Michigan, where I was sent to after my thirty day leave, after arriving home from Korea. I was held at the Fort there for about a month, and my service records never arrived.. I was then told they were sending me to Ft. Belvoir, VA, and when my records arrived, they would send them onto Ft Belvoir. I enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from high school. I was assigned to the Oklahoma National Guard 45th Inf Div and sent to Hokaido, Japan for further training. While there they asked if anyone wanted to volunteer for combat in Korea. A friend by the name of Thad Howard, from Pink Hill, NC; and I both volunteered to go. When we arrived we both road a train North, colder than you can ever imagine, as I remember it, it was a cattle train in open stock cars.. Neither Thad nor I had been issued any winter clothes, and the warmest coat either of us had, was a field jacket with no winter lining; otherwise we had all summer issue clothing. I still cry once in awhile whenever I get depressed over something that bothers me, but I don't know what to blame this on, other than my experience in Korea. One of my twenty year first year jobs, was on the Fire Department. I was on the rescue unit, and I and another fireman had to go into the burning house and pull out a woman who had been burnt very bad over most of her body. On the way to the hospital, the other fireman was in the back, while I drove. We hit a dip in the pavement going about 70 MPH, and everything flew up to the ceiling of the rescue unit, along with all the skin on the woman's face from the oxygen mask that was providing oxygen to the person. As we wheeled the patient into the emergency room at the hospital, I got a good look at the woman. Needles to say, I went to pieces. I had to go outside and wait, as I had really broke down when I saw that woman, who had been burnt black from the house fire. I quit the fire department shortly after that. Even today I think about these things, but I don't lose the sleep over any of it anymore like I did sixty plus years ago, but in my minds eye, I see this very thing of the burnt guys that got killed with napalm. I don't know, maybe the smell of burnt flesh might have something to do my problem. Anyway, that's the truth, and how it was with a part of my experience in Korea. My heart goes out to those young guys who have fought in the recent and past wars since Viet Nam. Compared to those who came home with limbs missing, head injuries etc; I really don't have much to complain about when it comes to PTSD, do I? My prayers go out to you and yours, and I hope you are given the treatment, consideration, care and love that each and everyone of you so deserve. Blessings.

J. Tennant CBT Medic RVN 66-67

July 14, 2014 - 7:13pm

Ray, Those experiences you had and others that you may not think so much about can and does cause PTSD. We are not all put together the same but we do as a group seem to want to deny PTSD as it "makes us weak and unmanly" which is BS! I had vivid dreams and seizures for several years. Now I take a med and haven't had a dream I remember, a seizure and the headaches have quit by half. You can't trust the VA to tell you if you have PTSD, they are in the denial business. I read in one of the treatment protocols/articles that basic trainees have shown signs of PTSD. It is centered in the fight/flight part of the brain and that's about all they know. It's cheaper for them to bury us than treat us is the jest of what I've seen from SOME Drs. Do what's best for you and stick to your guns- get all the help you can.

Mike Alexander USAF 68-72

June 26, 2014 - 9:47pm

I was assigned to 3345th security police and started suffering from TBI and PTSD I was cross trained into Civil Engineering as interior electrician, I did manage to get an honorable discharge and have been in so many different treatment programs but they have never helped any! I finally quit going to those programs since they never did anything to help!I'm pretty much a loner now and stay away from many normal activities.Lost my marriage my sons don't want any type of contact with me I can't find any type of employment even at VA hospitial in any type of work so I just stay to myself now as a result. Mike Alexander USAF 68-72

Justawordinseason

June 28, 2014 - 7:51pm

Hi Mike: Thank you for serving our country in a positive way. My heart goes out to you and I will remember you in my prayers today. Not the heart that pumps out blood because if that was to fail than my hope for you would fail along with it. I'm sure you're tired of failure which is probably the reason you quit going to those programs. I'm sure they tried their best. It sounds like you need something that restores and renews. You need to be able to sleep in peace at night without your mind wandering in places it shouldn't be. What you need is inner strength. My prayer will be that you find the inner strength to cope with everyday life challenges. I know it may be hard to believe this, but there is a cure for your symptoms besides those treatments you've been taking that seem to work for a while and then wear off. So don't think it's strange when your mind is restored or when your son(s) decides to call you one day. All things are possible. My friends always tell me I have great faith and because of it my relationship with my daughter was restored after being separated from her half her life while performing my military duties. Prayer and faith always work together and mine is BIG ENOUGH for both of us. Remember my heart goes out to you. You served us so give us a chance to serve you. Just believe and receive. In other words, when your son(s) call, pick up the phone. Take action! This is another option: I pray and you receive. Thank you fellow soldier. Sincerely. YOUR FELLOW SOLDIER

Larry M ( combat medic)

June 26, 2014 - 11:25pm

Say you suffer from PTSD and TBI? How did you acquire the TBI?

John E Renstrom

June 26, 2014 - 8:42pm

you don't cure PTSD you learn to live with it, get around the triggers and understand were the feeling are comming from. this lets you be in controle of yourself not the PTSD. take out the 20% that left as then never compleated the program. now see if it workes for a large majority that do compleat it. small VAs in Rureal setting in a more calming invirement are the answer. give a man a chance to learn about what happend to him with out the stress of just being in the city brings. I finaly sought treatment in 2009 for what hapened to me in 69. some of us are a long time comming home but getting home is sweet no matter how long it takes

Rod Norris

June 26, 2014 - 7:31pm

Im a Nam Vet.. 100% VA Disability PTSD. I have been in treatment for PTSD twice. I may be wrong but MY PTSD has NEVER improved. I still have all the symptom... they just don't affect me as much. Through 40+ yrs of "craziness" I've learned what is "real" and what isn't. I've taken just about every drug that the VA approves of (and a hell of a lot they don't). I've just accepted that its gonna be a life long thing and I live with it. Been married 3 times and divorced just as many.. I have finally surrendered to the fact that I'm not very romantic and probably should stay single. I have a lot of personal issues but at least Im not trying to hurt anyone or myself these days.

Larry M ( combat medic)

June 26, 2014 - 11:55pm

Hello Rod, what did it take to get 100% PTSD? I am 50% VN combat PTSD ( like you can have only 50%, is that the right side or the left, upper body or lower limbs, symptoms only 505 of the time, day/night? The VA psych. dept. says I am two f--ked up to work, keep losing jobs; now have lost my skills; been waiting two years for individual unemployebility upgrade or rejection from VA. My American Legion Service Officer sits on his ass and says nothing more can be done, just have to wait. He says if he asks questions, the file gets buried. Can you believe that? Anyway I am frustrated, as I know so many other deserving vets. are. End of story.

Ted USMC NAM 68-69

June 27, 2014 - 12:44pm

Combat vet...Carried m-60 for 13 months...I have some shrap metal left in me...I'm 100% and have been since 2004...I was talking to a vet on a job we worked together...I was listening to him describe his life's behavior ,drinking, fighting, agitation, trouble with crowds...I said to him I thought I was the only one that acted this way...He told me to take my DD214 and get in the system...I went to an outreach clinic in 2000...I walked in and said I think I need help...The guy at the desk called on the phone to a gal named Pat...She had been working intake for 20 years with vets...The nicest most understanding woman I ever met...I didn't know the process...After seeing her weekly for six months she said I need to speak with a VA shrink she new and trusted...My records went first and I followed...He helped me so much to understand why I did the things I did...The triggers and what to avoid...I've been on meds for 13 years now and I can control the thoughts by the things I do and don't do...It took close to 3 years just to get the right meds...It's a process...You need to find that person that works for you...If your service officer is telling you to wait be proactive...Find someone else...If your a combat vet, join the VFW and look for a new service officer...One thing that got me help faster was an outreach person that cared and understood...But when she took my DD214 and looked at the PH and combat action and actions I was involved in she new where to look ...How to pick my brain as to why...If you find that person you will be ok... Good luck veterans

BTK US Navy Vet

June 26, 2014 - 7:23pm

I have sufferwd from PTSD since 1985 and a TBI for the last 5 years. If you have not recovered from a TBI fully in 2 1/2 years, you never will fully recover. It is hell, not being able to do the things that I used to be able to do. The nightmares and lack of sleep since 1986 have been terrible, when I lost a good friend of mine while in the Navy. PTSD is nothing to mess with. I pushed it down for a long time and finally began seeing the VA for it and now take a hand full of meds every day just to get by and at best just get by, anxiety, not being able to tolerate ANY stress, depression from the PTSD and short term memory problems, equilibrium issues, fear of heights, if the lights go out and it is dark (black in a room) i fall to the ground because I have nothing to see to quide myself to which way is up. I will have this for the rest of my life. Let alone the affect this has had on my marriage and relationship with my family and my son. This stuff is no laughing matter as y most of you know. I also suffered from a heart attack and died at 37 from being exposed to agent orange in 1986-88. I am on SS disability, but am still waiting for my claim to go through with the VA. Good luck and best wishes to all of my brothers and sisters that are dealing with this terrible nightmare!

Larry M ( combat medic)

June 26, 2014 - 5:46pm

I think we should be more exact when we discuss PTSD and TBI. These are two separate conditions. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), may include physical elements, however, not necessary for diagnosis. Traumatic Brain Injury ( TBI) is a physical injury due to concussive events. Makes me wonder how 83% of stated TBI not combat related in the military population. TBI will most likely include PTSD ( how could it be otherwise)? To treat TBI requires physical assessment, with comprehensive brain imaging, this helps locate areas where physical damage has occured. Usually rehabilitative measures are needed. I believe PTSD is related to the inability of the mind to assimilate the horrors of war or other horrific events. I was a combat medic Viet Nam at the age of eighteen. What did I know of blown up bodies spilling blood, writhing in pain, calling out for mother and GOD. Pretty f---ked up. I think every combat vet. returns with PTSD whether they admit or not. I believe there is NO cure for PTSD, symptoms may be lessened, we learn to be more sociable over time. The memories never go away. The problem as I see it, is MONEY, the US, the largest debtor nation on earth, does not want to spend what needs spending on vets. We were, and are expendable. Cheaper to talk than to spend. Also, no one knows how to cure what cannot be cured, then we must all be declared 100% disabled. Not bitter, just saying; and of course I could be wrong. A concerned citizen.

Saed Adler

June 27, 2014 - 1:05pm

Actually only about 40% of TBIs have PTSD. It seems, many of the moderates and severe TBIs are immediately unconscious and have very little memory of the event. With my moderate TBI I had amnesia from 200 feet in the air until the next day...don't know what happened, still don't. I was in the VietNam War too and in those days, if you didn.t have blood coming out of your ears you were expected to saddle up and move out. Things have been a chanagin and still are. TBI is pretty black and white whereas PTSD is very shades of grey.

Teila Tankersley

June 26, 2014 - 5:36pm

We've watched my son suffer from PTSD. He served 8 years as a Calvary Scout. First given 8 to 12 prescription meds, then released from the military, unable to get the VA to help him renew the medications when they quickly ran out, numerous calls from my son and from us for help to no avail. Disappointed in the system. It all seems to be a farce, we've asked for help and we have yet to get any assistance, instruction, advice or help. As a mother of a PTSD vet, I am very discouraged. We have yet to see anyone respond to my son's request for help.

JJ Jensen

June 26, 2014 - 5:31pm

The VA PTSD Program doesn't work because of several reasons....First of all, the VA fails to recognize the difference between a rear echolon troop and a combat troop...Their PTSD is different..The Veteran would be best served if the VA spent alittle time and money uniting The Veteran with those he served with and were there when the stressors occured. Being with "my own" has been the best therapy I've had since coming home...Nothing else is going to work......Secondly, the VA must abandon the concept that it is the Staff's hospital...The hospitals belong to the Veteran. Treatment comes from being with your own; the VA and staff are there to serve the need of the Veteran, not to dictate a failed policy of a program that doesn't work....

Dee Clover,US Navy Veteran

June 26, 2014 - 6:09pm

A Comment, I want to make is: repeating the particulars of the traumatic event that was so disturbing to your nature doesn't stop it from repeatedly coming into your mind. I had a catastrophic episode in my marriage,in 1999 and can't dismiss it entirely from my psyche. My solution ,these past fifteen years is to keep occupied with something, keep the headphones on my ears all night to be somewhere besides ALONE with my thoughts. I am overcoming the urge to bring the subject up with anyone,even my husband.

Paul S. Leinhaas L.I.C.S.W.

June 26, 2014 - 5:01pm

I truly do not understand this matter. I have treated veterans with PTSD since a Hospital Corpsman/Neuro-Psych Technician at Camp LeJeune Hospital (1973-75) We did not know much about truama then. We saw alot from Vietnam and Parris Island. I still shudder when a high ranking enlisted man went into a fetal position in front of me. We still called it "traumatic war neurosis". Exposure and desensitization techniques did not work then and will not work now. TBI just muddles the picture, due to incomplete memories and executive dyscontrol. John Wilson Ph.D. (Strangers at Home, 1979) did much to establish the reality of a post traumatic disorder. He understood psychosocial acceleration, other brain adaptations and modifications. By 1980 we had a brand new diagnosis, Post Truamatic Stress Disorder. It took us a while to acquaint ourselves to looking at the world of trauma in a brand new way. We still held on to the old ideas, especially the behaviorists. Most of us evolved and experimented with different practices and treatments. No one really had come together with the best way to approach the problem. Frank Putnam M.D. and John Bolby M.D. began to look at trauma from the perspective of Attachment Theory and Dissociative processes. About the same time in California, a woman named Francine Shapiro Ph.D. invented Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. John Wilson kept researching and writing. Now we understood the diagnosis a little better and began more research. Bessell van der Klok M.D., Allan Shore Ph.D, Peter Fonagy Ph.D. and Judith Hermann M.D. are studying and understanding using research techniques such as fMRI and PET scanners. Neuroscience enters the field. We are treating and curing PTSD. We have plenty of evidence. Ricky Greenwald Psy.D. invented the first procedure based upon neuroscientific research for the treatment of PTSD (Greenwald, 2009). The procedure has been found equivalent to EMDR. I do have a few questions about that correlation. I've been in psychiatry for going on forty-one years, mostly focused on traumatized human beings, twenty-two in private practice. I have treated many veterans. VET CENTER is on the file cabinet in my playroom right across from the Declaration of Independence. I have yet to have a person not get better. So as I said above, I truly do not understand the matter. I do have to say that when I cannot understand a matter and its not in the research, or even researchable; it is probably political. Would not surprise me at all.

sjpoelker

June 26, 2014 - 4:25pm

I was one of the patients in the 1998-2000 VA/DOD TBI study. I was seen every six months for two years for three days of review and testing. The problem was, they didn't have a baseline ofme before my TBI, so there was little they could do. I learned more off the internet than I did from any of my military or VA physicians. I missed one day of work after suffering two skull fractures, and it didn't even phase my neurosurgeon. Now I know that recovery from a TBI is a slow process, that you need to ease back into life and work. Too bad that no one told me any of that 17 years ago.

Jim Keefe

June 26, 2014 - 3:23pm

I am Executive Director of Veterans Assistance Dogs of Texas. One example: A PTSD Disabled Vet was given a Service Dog. He now practices self-controlled anger management. Why? Because he does not want his dog to think he is yelling at her! He reports sleeping better with hardly any "flashbacks". He also reports taking fewer meds. If you suffer from PTSD/TBI and reside in Texas, call us at 830-792-4377 to apply for a Service Dog "Battle Buddy" who will watch your back!

Larry Brown (Two-Step)

June 26, 2014 - 3:22pm

I have been turned down three times for TBI I had SHRAPPNEL IN THE HEAD AND THREE MAJOR CONCUSSIONS, WITHHEADACHES ON A DAILY BASES AND 100% PTSD, I'M TOLD I HAVE NO reciduals. What a joke and a insult to a combat veteran...... I guess I should have a football player, get more respect if your brain is rattling.

M.K. Jacobsen

June 26, 2014 - 3:05pm

There is no "magic bullet" for treating PTSD/TBI. Just as individuals respond differently to treatments for medical conditions, each individual responds differently to the various treatment options currently available for PTSD/TBI. This is a new area of medicine where we currently have limited information and need research and development of new treatments. The VA must be willing to partner with private research organizations in using innovative treatment methods under controlled protocols. Unfortunately, the VA is currently mired in the result of a historically malfunctioning bureaucracy -- forgetting its primary mission of caring for our nation's veterans. The VA needs an overhaul before effective care can be provided our deserving veterans...and veterans can't wait for political wheels to turn. We need change at the VA NOW!

Bob Mack

June 26, 2014 - 4:36pm

I agree. Partnering with private organizations where the treatments work is one of the keys. It's important to be innovative and to see where others have succeeded. You can't just keep re-inventing the wheel. Learn from others, especially the private sector, and institute the program.

Bill Bryan

June 26, 2014 - 2:48pm

In the above comment, I wrote that the VA want to cure TBI/PTSD--- Wrongo! The VA DOES NOT WANT TO CURE TBI/PTSD! It's a cash cow and it's going to get longer---to HELL WITH THE SUFFERING SOLDIERS.

celtdad

June 27, 2014 - 1:05pm

I'm a Vietnam vet and my wife is an Iraq "Operation Enduring Freedom" vet. She was also a therapist at our local VA hospital. Her job was working with vets diagnosed with PTSD. Many of her patients were Vietnam vets. After the hospital hired a Vietnamese woman as her supervisor, my wife was written up for trying to help a vet's wife, was openly chastised for providing coffee to her patients and forbidden to provide any type of creature comforts to her patients. The Vietnamese supervisor also decided that 6 sessions of individual treatment was all that was needed, after that the vets could only go to group therapy which is much less effective for a majority of the vets. Having a Vietnamese doctor dictate the treatment of Vietnam vets was too much for many of them. As a result, many patients quit or were pushed out of the program. It seems like the VA could care less for actually helping the vets, they just wanted to play the numbers and money game. By the way, in 1977 the VA pronounced I was "mentally fit". My wife, who I met in 2010, told me I've had PTSD the entire time. This has been verified by both a therapist and a physiatrist. And no, the VA isn't helping me.

Andrea Sawyer

June 26, 2014 - 2:45pm

Hi! My quote should read, "Not all injuries are visible, not all barriers to treatment are physical barriers." Thanks!

Bill Bryan

June 26, 2014 - 2:45pm

Hyper-Baric Oxygen treatment was not mentioned once for treating TBI/PTSD. TBI/PTSD cases are mainly caused by physical trauma manifesting as psychological. Psychological treatment is subjective while HBO treatment is objective. That is you can see on PET scans, MRIs or FMRIs actual brain improvement. BUT, the VA does want to cure TBI/PTSD; it wants to manage it---TBI/PTSD maltreatments by VA is REWARDED! IT'S A JOBS' PROGRAM LIKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS (K-12). Give the Vets a Choice! After WWI HBO treatment was available to Vets suffering 'Shell Shock'---AKA: 'Battle Fatigue'---AKA: TBI/PTSD; AND, our Government opposed those proven treatments then! What did our Government approve? Pre-Frontal Lobotomies or incarceration in a Gov Psych Hospital---where Gov scientists could experiment on suffering US Soldiers.

Saed Adler

June 27, 2014 - 3:41pm

Sorry, I put the rely in the wrong spot. The military and civilian companies tried multiple reseach studies to support it. HBO works for a lot of stuff but not TBI. Believe me, if these guys could have gotten a shred of evidence to support HBO for TBI they would have. HBO does not do anything for TBI. While diving, you feel like superman but after you stop you slowly return to base line.

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