The Stigmas Surrounding PTSD and TBI

Many active duty folks and Veterans have an impressive sense of history. They can recall specific battles in World War II, name obsolete military equipment from past eras and fondly recall their relative’s own military experience. But we also have a strong sense of the pervasive stereotypes that have haunted Vietnam Vets. Stigmas wrongfully attached to them still carry weight today.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli recently spoke on the importance of recognizing post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury as real injuries despite their invisible nature. The symptoms are evident, and the consequences life-long for Veterans and their families:

“The truth is, because we don’t see these injuries…they don’t receive the same level of attention as amputations, burns, shrapnel injuries,” Chiarelli said. “There is simply a bias – and I really mean that — there is a bias either conscious or subconscious toward invisible wounds and injuries…It exists everywhere including in the medical community.”

PTSD and TBI are marks of war, as real and permanent as those mentioned by Gen. Chiarelli. Read up on post-traumatic stress, as well as traumatic brain injury, to determine if you have symptoms associated with those ailments. I know some folks who have waited for years for a diagnosis when they could’ve been in a treatment program. Don’t wait to get help.

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64 Comments to “The Stigmas Surrounding PTSD and TBI”

  1. Adam says:

    As a Nurse and a retired veteran I can say this is a topic that has to be addressed. There are still stigmas in the military that PTSD and TBI are fake. We as veterans and those of us that are providers of care need to take the reigns and stand up to say if you have a TBI or PTSD you are not weak, you have an injury, and you have the right to care.

    • EagleOne says:

      I have both TBI and PTSD, However the VA still refuses to look at both. Most C&P Doctors have no clue the two are closly related, Regional offices are not trainded in any new found documentation that defines both PTSD and TBI in older Vets. The upper level of Administration in Wash.DC can appear befor any congressional committee and lie away, and get away with it, not even the AG of the VA will investigate this misconduct. I wa s finally givin a 20% rating, 10% for PTSD, 10% for TBI, and wasnt even correct based upon the VAs own guidelines, Im waiting for my hearing with the BVA, then on to the Court ofappeal, however, most of thes cases, if properly rated by the regional offices wouldnt need to go that far. It is said near 40% ofthe cases sent to the BVA are returned to the regional offices for proper review, what does that tell everyone. Its the Regional Offices that are not properly doin their jobs.

    • Branch says:

      Now they say anyone with mild TBI can get the Purple Heart. Interesting, as mild is stated to include no loss of consciousness but you still had to be examined by medical staff. How many of us suffered “mild” and didn’t go to sick call. Why would we have gone in the first place. We got up and kept on going. I had a number of these situations while in Nam.
      Personally, I think awarding of the Purple Heart for PTSD needs to be readressed and and issued to combat veterans with PTSD.
      I’ve got PTSD, Agent Orange related disability and hearing loss (tinnitus) and only 80%. Over the years my family has had to endure a lot. No I did not file when I came back because I didn’t know what the problem was.
      later

  2. Dan says:

    I am a Vietnam combat vet with PTSD and rated 100%. The only problem was that I was diagnosed only three years ago. I am not an unusual case.

    The hell with the supposed stigma, it is there was never any outreach to us. Unlike today’s vets, when we were discharged it was here is your DD214……see ya.

    The government could have done much more. For instance, the government knows what our social security numbers are (even though back then we had a service number). It would have been a simple process once the IRS was computerized to notify Vietnam vets who are taxpayers about PTSD and the Agent Orange presumptive diseases. Maybe TV, radio and newspaper public service announcements would have made a difference.

    Whatever the case, as stated previously, it is not about the stigma, it is that so many have never known. I could almost assure you there are thousands of Vietnam vets that have died without ever knowing why certain disease racked their body and the trauma of war racked their psyche.

    • Kenneth Bell says:

      AMEN to that!

    • rc says:

      You are absolutely correct Dan. My husband was honorably discharged from the vietnam war for psyche problems and back then they didnt call it PTSD. They called my husbands personality disorder with psyche problems. Never once did they give him help it was here is your DD214 papers , see ya. How they could do this to these young men, its just wrong. I have been married for 20years but my husband was married twice prior to ours. Once we got married and lived together i knew something was was wrong with his mental health.. He would never want to talk about his experience in the war , so i started researching thing on my own . When i came across PTSD from vietnam i knew right away thats what my husbands problem was. So i talked him into making an appointment with a VA doctor. They said he has PTSD but no stressor and was denied. After being married to my husband for 20yrs. i knew the VA doctor was wrong so he went to a private doctor and he did the same testing the VA did and he was diagnosed 100% PTSD from the war and should be compensated from his honorable discharge from vietnam. It has been over 1year since our evidence has been brought forward and appealed. I heared it can take over 5years with an appeal, even with evidence, is that true? We do have a VA rep. working the case but i dont know if that speeds up anything or not.

      • Ham says:

        Ref Vietnam (PTSD), I was denied by the VA in ’99

        I was represented by a SO (Svc Offr) from one of our veterans organizations in 03
        and awarded 30 %

        I next turned to a private attorney (previously with VA) and was upgraded to 50%
        in 07

        In 09, he finally got my case into the BVA (Board of Appeals) which granted
        IU (unemployability)

        In 2011, after being heard at the last step (the Court of Veterans Appeals) not part
        of the VA, we won some and lost some but now at 100% comp.

        Call me if you want the attorneys name/addr (623) 266-7827
        Without him and his expertise, , I’d still be back in ’05.

      • I am a Vietnam vet. I was a Navy Corpsman with the 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division from 1966-1969. It wasn’t until 2000 that I sought help from the VA. It has taken 11 years to get benefits for the following: Heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Lung Cancer, COPD,Nuropathy in both feet, and I am 100% rated for PTSD. I have been married 4 times and I have lost track of the jobs I have been fired from. It is an uphill grind. I was a closet Vietnam vet for 31 years. No one cared and no one ever contacted me about Agent Orange or anything else. Hang in there. To many vet’s give up because of the VA run around. Fight them. That was what you were trained to do and now is the time to do it!!!!!

      • ken painter says:

        i am a veitnam vet that was diagnosed over 5 years ago by a va doc with ptsd. the va has conceded to a stressor but still continues to deny the claim. ive known several vets that took 6-8 years. its like they try to wait you out so you get frusterated and go away. just keep plugging away at them

  3. Crystal says:

    I would like to comment on PTSD and MST. Each time I mentioned Military Sexual Trauma for a claim at the VA hospital, the male veterans representatives would tell me it will be useless to claim because it was not reported. Well… it was reported but not recorded. I was told to suck it up you are a Marine. After ending my military career due to MST and an unwanted prenancy I am still haunted by the event(s) and cannot get restitution for my pain and alcohol abuse. When will this end? I had numerous bad relationships, my children suffered and I had no idea that I was suffering from PTSD. Now I have tried to explain to family members why I am so hyperalert and vigilant, irritable all of the time, anger out bursts and on gaurd constantly, looking out of my windows, closing the blinds during the day and checking doors and locks. I want to make other men and women veterans know it is time to take a stand and be comphensated for our injuries of assuault and it needs to be retroactive to the time period to date in payments.

    • Derek Davey says:

      Any veterans’ representative who tells you that 1) a MST claim is useless, and 2) service connection for MST will not work because it was not reported should be fired and have their ass kicked out the door, not in that order. Contact a reputable VSO in your area for assistance. If that doesn’t work, contact me. I’m a VSO with 20+ years and even if not in your area, I will assist. Semper Fi

      • MST that occured when I was seventeen in 1948. Had been unsuccessfully treated for chroDerek, I was awarded total disability for PTSD in late 2005 on appeal for due to nic depression prior to this event with little relief so opted to have ECT of seven sessions. After that things didn’t seem the same for me & I spent four years in a VA sponsored homeless shelter. After my award was given things went sour at the shelter and I wound up being politically blacklisted in Las Vegas, NV because I thought I was protecting my country by reporting the local activities of illegal immigrants in North Las Vegas. Since my awared I started having trouble with the VA here in the city and started to receive negative care including poor dental work etc: I have just started seeing a private doctor for my health care. I cant’ get help from anyone in the VA now because of how I tried to fight back the political corruption in Las Vegas. I think Harry Reid didn’t like my appeal and award as he never gave me the help I asked for prior to my appeal. My final thought was to blog what was being done to me on WordPress.
        I started a blog and am on twitter under the name of (dustime8) if you care to read my obituary. You can’t help me personally as you would find yourself in trouble with the political crowed but thought you might like to hear what happend to one DAV.
        I have had VA doctors laugh at me for stating I have MST after they asked what my disabilty is. You can if you like check out (dustime8) on twitter where I decided to fight back the only way I know how. Blogging, and it has cost me dearly.
        Thank you, God bless and Semper Fi.
        Regares
        George Mc Grath

    • skipper says:

      loose lips sink ships!

    • Belinda says:

      Thank you Crystal for saying what so many of us female vets have gone through, not only when we were on active duty and complaining to the chain of command about what was happening to us, we were told many things, none of which were appropriate responses to what we had endured. Even the medical personnel, i.e., counselors or social workers did us any justice. They only wrote in our medical files that we were either having trouble at work or at home. Now when we try to file claims, we have to once again go through all the hoops to be listened to starting with filing a claim, and then the countless denials of our claims by the people who decide our claims at the VA Regional/State level, Board of Appeals and even the Board of Appeals in Washington DC. No one wants to believe us female vets or acknowledge that they knew that this was happening to female vets and continutes to happen to female vets.

    • Jon says:

      Crystal- recent rule changes have made it easier to file a claim without documentation from when it happened. You should try again.

  4. Victoria says:

    I am a female veteran from Desert Storm. Eventhough I had a 100% rating for PTSD I was continuously denied entrance into the PTSD group at the VA hospital I was being treated at. I was sent to the woman’s PTSD group where the primary issues were female orientated. I have no problem with that except when I tried to broach the subject of my war related PTSD nobody in the group could relate. Still I was denied entry into the main PTSD group because I was a female. When I was in the foxhole next to my fellow soldiers it didn’t matter that I was a female. It was years later and a state change that I was able to find a coed PTSD group. This group was wonderful and helped alot but by then much damage had been done to me by the unnesseccary medications and by my not having anyone to talk to about what was tearing me up inside.

  5. Veterans Assistance Project says:

    Hi Carlos,

    If you are having trouble getting service-connected disability benefits at the VA in New York, the Veterans Assistance Project may be able to help you. The number is (877) 564-3383.

  6. I can’t believe with all the information that is out there anyone would consider PTSD, TBI, or MST to be something that isn’t real. The bigger problem is that the military health systems have no effective way to treat the conditions. The book by Pulitzer-Prize winner, Eric Newhouse, “Faces of Combat, PTSD and TBI,” is a good resource. It describes how a warrior gets these conditions, the consequences of a lack of effective treatment, and proposes some alternative treatment modalities that actually seem to work.

    Anyone who has PTSD, TBI, or MST already knows what is going on, but the book is a good way to let others around you know what you are going through without having to talk about it yourself. We published the book because we want to make a difference.

    Tom Blaschko
    Issues Press / Idyll Arbor

  7. The stigma will live on as long as the DOD keeps repeating the same mistakes with telling them if they end up with PTSD, it is their fault for not training their brains to be tough enough. That is what programs built on the failure Battlemind ended up doing. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to correct this notion with veterans blaming themselves. How does the military expect Soldiers and Marines to be any tougher than they already are? Telling them they are weak is the worst message to give them. We will keep seeing the number of suicides go up until they get the message right.

  8. Thomas Stephens says:

    I have had PTSD since leaving Nam in 1969. I finally was awarded disability for it but was under rated at 30%. My SS earnings records show abvious problems with work and lack of income. Now I’ve been waiting 5 years for a decision for an increase in disbility. 5 years is totally unacceptable. What is the VAs problem? They are impossible to talk to, they can’t tell me when a decision will be forth coming and I can’t even get a name of someone who is ACCOUNTABLE for this mess. This is a real problem and has a very detrimental affect on ones life. If you suspect somethings wrong, get a lawyer or veterans service officer and apply for health care and disability. Please don’t wait until your life is in shambles. There is help and hope out there. Just ask for it.

  9. Keith says:

    I don’t know what it is to have killed or be shot at by the enemy because the enemy I had were the fellow soldiers that I was enlisted with. I was a stupid and naive boy that was gang raped by a group of marines and later found out that I was HIV positive and after years of being in and out of trouble I did finally stop drinking and get my life in a better place with the help of one doctor. I have now replaced the drinking and trouble with taking pills everyday to stop from dying and to help me sleep and night and for my depression along with everything else. I don’t know where I’m heading because I stop seeing my doctor after being sent to one PTSD doctor who said he had a 95% cure rate. My only question after that was said was so your going to cure my HIV and maybe I can have a family maybe I can have some of the things that so many other men have.

    • Cassandra says:

      Keith,
      I hope that you get the hope that you need for your PTSD. Was this incident ever reported?

  10. I’m completely outraged at the questions that my husband was asked, about his tour in Vietnam, by the VA C&P doctors. One even had the nerve to ask him how he knew so much about his condition and if he had rehearsed this, because it sounded like text book information. HOW DARE ANY DOCTOR ASK THIS TYPE QUESTION!! Were they in Vietnam when Agent whatever color was sprayed on our Veterans. My husband was in country four years, saw many things and paying with nightmares about the horrible things he saw. This has been going on for 42 years, that is how long we have been married. I can state horrible stories but so can thousands of Vietnam Veterans. Thousand have died of terrible dxs and yet they still have to put up with the interrogation, not by Vietnam warriors but, by our own “Red Blooded American Doctors.” Namely V.A. Hospital, which say we are there to help

    • MadDogVAQ33 says:

      Not as bad as one of the contract C&P Exam Clinical Psychologists employed by the Bilxoi VA – she is on written record as stating that she does not believe PTSD exists. I spoke with another veteran who had a C&P Exam scheduled with her. He said when he walked in she stood, walked over, shook his hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Dr. XXXX and you must be another one of those PTSD phonies I have to deal with.”

    • Jon says:

      Shirley- How to you suggest the VA separates real cases vs. people trying to scam the system? The doctors have to ask questions about service in Vietnam to determine eligibility to benefits. So again, what is your solution?

      • wife of a vet says:

        The VA Psychologists dont really understand there is a difference between Vietnam vets with PTSD , then the men and women who serve our country today. Today the VA does recognized the horrible side effects from this disorder but with vietnam vets they had NO CLUE what PTSD was or any other pysche problem, so you have to handle it very differently and the VA doctor that my husband seen obviousily didnt know better. These men and women who served in vietnam had to hold all this in for over 40years. You think its so easy to just up and start talking to a perfect stranger(DOCTOR), when they dont even talk to there spouses or family about what they had to endure. To make the story short the VA said yes he has PTSD but no stressor , whats amazing is we went to a private doctor who specializes in PTSD and the same evaluation was done and the private doctor said absolutely he is 100% disabled from the vietnam war, when u had to endure what my husband did in war, thats all they needed to know to make a firm diagnosis. Its bad enough when these men and women came home they were call dope heads and baby killers , give them some respect NOW and do the right thing.

  11. Charles T. Cauthen says:

    I’m a Vietnam combat vet, after 42 years of paying taxes, I went to the VA for help with Agent Orange diseases and service connected disabilities. They diagnosed me with PTSD. I saw 5 VA physciatrist, none of whom did anything to help me, they just put what ever they wanted into my medical records to deny me a claim. They did their job. The only thing the VA has done for me is a severe infection from a butchered colonostemy, cleared up with antibiotics by doctors in private pratice.If you value your health and life and sanity, stay away from the VA. It’s all lies and propaganda.Biggest scam and abuse ever pulled on us vets and the U.S. taxpayer.

    • Sylvester Paynes says:

      My experience with the VA hospital in Salisbury, NC, Thur. 22 Sept., was one of the many experiences I feel I need to complain and make note of. I am 60 years old and a Service Connected Decorated Disabled Vietnam Veteran. ( PTSD and PURPLE HEART)
      I was scheduled for a “heart Stress Test’ at 7:30 am. I was informed to check in at 7:am on this day. I did not know what I would feel like after a ‘Stress Test’ so I asked a dear friend, Ms Dorothy Parker to escort me in support. I did not drive to this appointment. The best transportation to get me there for this early appointment. to me was the Amtrak Train.
      By train we arrived in this small town a little after 2:00 am. We walked about a mile seeking a taxi without seeing other than one car moving in the town. We found ourselves in front of City Hall. We then called 411 and after a few calls we got a taxi company to respond. The driver could not find City Hall! After several calls the dispatcher ‘talked’ the driver to us over the radio and phone.
      Once we reached the VA Center, 4;00 am, ($6.00 )we entered into the building and was told by the Sargent of the VA POLICE that we could not remain in the hospital’s waiting room where we were. (EMERGENCY ROOM waiting area) I told him that we’d walk the VA complex for the time remaining. I was informed, that anywhere on the grounds, I could be detained for ‘loitering’. The officer was professional and I could see compassion in his conversation as he performed his job.
      My friend and I walked off the grounds with no idea of what to do. I eventually found a nearby convenience store and bought a snack for her. We sat outside of the store in the drizzling rail until we were offered money and thought to be ‘ Homeless and ‘Panhandling’ by a customer. At this time I called for another taxi again and inquired about nearby lodging. We ended up at a sleazy and dusty nearby motel. ($8:00 taxi and $49.95 for motel) 4;30 am.
      We sit for two hours, too afraid we’d oversleep !
      6:30 am : We call the taxi driver and another $8:00 we arrive at the VA on-time for the appointment.I was told not to eat after mid night, I did not sleep at all this night and I think I was pre stressed for the my ‘STRESS TEST’.
      Public transportation and early appointment combined with the rule of not being on the property can be an unnecessary problem for the American Veteran. Is there some way to consider a special waiting place if the Veteran can prove his appointment and travel times conflict ? I have no big problem with this, but the person that escorted me was…

      • Charles T. Cauthen says:

        Sylvester, How’d you do on your stress test? VA did one on me. I feel off bthe treadmill 3 times, my knees,legs,armsmfelt like they would explode. They had to help me onto a gurney when finished, I feel asleep in the cat scam. 2 vets who witnessed all this were very concerned about me, couldn’t believe what they saw. I scored a 10. Next week, I see a team of civilian cardiologists, my new civilian doctor says, I got major problems. Please, for your own safety and health, see a real civilian doctor.

  12. Charles T. Cauthen says:

    To all vets, send your messages to U.S. Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs to:
    Senator PATTY MURRAY.

  13. David says:

    I’m a OIF vet that was at the border of Iraq and Kuwait from Aog. 05 thru March 06 . I have PTSD and can’t work the V.A. told me that my headaches could sit me off on people I work with . I’m 100% perm and total disabled . I do house work and sit at home .

  14. Pauley says:

    I am a Vietnam vet and am 100 percent PTSD and UI. We are the “red headed step child” of all the veterans groups. The government and the media labeled us with the stigma of being the drug induced baby killer. No one gave a rats ass about the ‘Nam vet back then, and they sure don’t care now. Thank God, the men and women coming home now are not being treated the way we were.

  15. john thill says:

    I am about to explode reading all these vet issues. I have been waiting since 1987 to get some compensation for the 7 pieces of glass in my left eye. I also have an achilles injury that is impossible to repair but the hospitals in germany decided to make staples out of my hip bone and shoot them through my tendon to my ankle, fun. 10% for an injury that is supposed to kill a man. Both knees have no cartilage, the doctor says i am the first person he has ever told, you’re lucky you have arthritis, cause thats all thats left in your knees, 10% each knee. pills, pills, pills. deny, deny, deny, but bailout the banks. forget the soldiers. we need a disabled veteran march in DC, who is with me?

    • Linda says:

      John, I woke up thinking about this this morning. We do need a march. Everyone on this page should have their hand raised. I’m game. How do we get it organized?

      • Bob Howe says:

        I’d be more than willing to march on DC if I could only walk without pain. I have a lot of things wrong with me such as COPD, PTSD, Lower Back Lumbar Degeneration, etc. Went to therapy but it only made things worse as far as PTSD goes.

      • rc says:

        I agree with you Linda , but alot of vets like my husband are disabled and could never march that long. But i sure could do the marching for him. Im not sure how you get this started and its really ashame that we would even be typing this here but unfortunetly something needs to change for these vets. Im almost on my last nerve trying to help my husband, but i know i have to stay strong for him and support him through all this term oil. Not only are these men and women suffering with PTSD all these years, there family has also. I bet if they lived with a vietnam vet for just one year, they would stop dragging there feet. I have learned so much over the last couple of years about this war, that i find at times almost guilty when i would not be patient with my husband, but back then i didnt even know what PTSD was but i sure do now.

  16. victor moshier says:

    went to VA hospital for ptsd c&P ABOUT A YEAR AGO WAS TOLD IF I ADMITTED TO WANTING TO HURT MYSELF OR SOMEONE ELSE I WOULD BE LOCKED UP. WHAT KIND OF HELP IS THIS.

  17. Linda says:

    The other day I was at a yard sale and saw two boxes with some personal papers in it. Turns out they belonged to a former AP photographer. The woman running the sale interested me in some pictures of Vietnam War protesters including one of now Senator John Kerry. I told her because I am a Vietnam Era Veteran, I could pass the pictures on to a local vets agency that might be interested in them. She gave me both boxes. There is a lot of personal information in those boxes – I don’t see how family could clean out this man’s residence and leave them behind, but there is some telltale correspondence that might answer this. As I went through the boxes what stopped me cold was correspondence between this man, his Congressman and various military agencies where the man was trying to be awarded the Purple Heart. I also gathered that he received 0% disability for injuries he was claiming. There seems to be some question as to whether he “met the criteria” for receiving the medal. What saddens me deeply is that I am almost certain that this man died without ever receiving a satisfactory response to his appeal. These letters are nearly twenty years old. In one he is almost pleading for justice. I’m saddened because I am a woman who experienced what is now politely called Military Sexual Trauma (MST) when I served. I’m 60. I am a decision on a PTSD claim that is years old. Fortunately, I am now able to move forward with the help of a private therapist – I too felt alienated by military providers. I’ve been sober for several years, held my last job until I was laid off and remain in this fight for the long haul. However, I don’t feel confident that those making the decisions about me care, including, unfortunately the VSO rep I saw a couple of months ago. He displayed such a total lack of indifference that I left his office feeling depressed. Was he dismissive of me because I am a woman, does he believe in PTSD claims? Why do Vietnam Veterans and Era- related veterans in particular, and veterans in general still have to endure being treated with indifference and contempt by those placed in positions of service? It is the worst kind of abuse and yes a sham. I wish everyone well. By the way MadDog, just because you have had a bad experience with a “new therapy” doesn’t mean you get to cast negativity on what has been positive for others. Your attitude is what this thread is about; non-believers who want to impose their opinion of others; plenty of people believe that PTSD is sold by sellers of “snake oil”. PTSD is still loaded with stigma.

  18. Roy says:

    First and foremost thank you to the Vietnam Vet’s and welcome home.
    It may have gotten better for the current rank and file of Vet’s to be diagnosed with PTSD, but not all. I am a Desert Storm Vet that was told my PTSD sounded like it was related to my military service. That is as far as it went and life is still in the relationship with others department.

    • Nick says:

      Don’t give in to them. Keep at it…Go to doctors and get scripts to sleep…show them to ther VA…It took me 45 years to get my benefits for PTSD..and now I have Lymphoma of the spleen from agent orange…If you served you deserve…They owe it too you!!!!!

  19. Sole Survivor says:

    Thank you all for stating the facts of the real life people live every day years after the fact of being exposed to the Life Changing Affects of War and what people who were not there do not know. Why people do not believe it because they were not part of it. Family members where not their but they are after the fact and nobody believes them either. What happened to to ones they love and care for with all their Hearts and can’t save them from dying by the way of taking their own lives.

  20. Mr A says:

    Hello , been fighting with the va for years since I had a head injury. The accident was recorded while in a combat zone and the problem was they only recorded part of the accident. I had an explosion that knocked me to the ground. I was out cold, not sure how long but when I came to , the pain was so bad. I had jet fuel was in my eyes, the took me to the er tent and flushed out my eyes for about 30 minutes and wacthed me. I was out of comission for about 3 days, with extreme bad head achces and have migraines to this day. The have given me 30% for migraines, but they wont treat me or even do anything about the TBI because It wasnt noted on the accident. I been fighting rining of ears, PTSD, Sleep disturbances and TBI it has all been on appeal for over 3 years. Its a shame that we vets have to fight to get what is ours.

  21. B Gilbert says:

    Welcome back all Vets!!!!! I as a combat veteran in Iraq know what a lot of you feel and would encourage each of you to start a email campaign to Senators and Congressman. It seams that V.A. is under staffed and overwhelmed and needs help one or another to get the jobs done for each Vet.

    • B Gilbert says:

      Maybe I should say it like this. If VA is so short on help then allocate the money to get the job done, but if the problem is with the people there then send them home. I know for fact there is some good people with VA and I hope more good people keep working there. All veterans ever want is what they deserve in a timely manner. I Certainly beleive we deserve that!!

  22. Karen Powell says:

    The Veterans need (HELP)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Toby Douglas says:

    Hello to all Veterans, I am a VietNam Vet and served in the Marines in 69-72 and I must say that I feel for each and every one of you that has been decieved by our government, its a damn shame that we are pushed aside and not givin what we fought for way back then, I have been suffering service related PTSD and a bad neck for many years too! I had been diagnosed with PTSD and am unemployable since 2008 and have been on a non-service connected pension and its like a glorified welfare system and kept me poor, and is having a devastating effect on my life, 4 divorces later and so many jobs that I can’t remember. my life has been in ruins for 42 years and after getting 2 different VA Physchologists to help me and our gracious VSO and my congressman’s help I might finally get my service connected PTSD pension, as I am totally unemployable and chronicially in pain with my neck. it will be lifelong and if I don’t get my pension this time as I waited for a year to get denied because of false information from the VA, I don’t have alot of faith in the system that is so full of corruption among its employees that I want to leave this country and take a break from the madness. That is another sad experience for us Vets. I have been turned down 3 times for SSD, and its very frustrating to be jerked around for working my whole life. so I pray to God that we are all taken care of before its all over. Many Blessings to all you Vets and your families.

  24. Vetswife says:

    My husband served in Vietnam between 68′ & 70′… He was in Graves Registration & as you probably know he was the one who went out & collected the dead…ours & theirs. After discharge he went to our local VA Hospital for tx. for what he called jungle rot. It was a fungal infection which went from his ft to his hairline on his neck. He ended up walking out because he said they treated them like animals. I meant him in 1974 & he had already been married twice before we meant. we’ve been married 37 yrs. now & it’s been a rocky road to say the least mostly due to what I know now has been PTSD & he has had well over 30 different jobs since we married. He has steadily lost his hearing & had to have a hearing aid already by the late 80′s. In 2008 we tried t get VA to help us buy hearing aids so he could get yet another job. When we filled out the paperwork for C/P I added PTSD because I was sure he had it even though I didn’t know alot about it at that time. We seen a local S.O. who wasn’t very good at his job because he did not assist us much in this step of the procedure. We documented that he collected & handled the dead bodies along with participating in fire fights when necessary. We were deinied and with the letter of denial my husband felt as if they were saying “prove it.” And we gave up because how could he prove something that happened 40+ years earlier.

    • rc says:

      You dont have to have the exact dates of the stressors, just what he endured while in combat. I know how hard it is for these vietnam vets to open up and start talking about everything from the war. My husband had a really hard time with expressing all he endured back then and at times now it seems to have gotten worse, reliving every moment again but unfortunely thats how they will determine the stressors.. Please dont give up, chances are if he was in vietnam he truely has PTSD from the war. If you dont like the Va doctor, go to a private doctor if you can. There are good and bad doctors , get a second opinion and please help him with opening up about what he saw and did while in vietnam, he needs your help doing this. Stay strong and god bless

  25. Vetswife says:

    They asked for dates & witnesses to the stressful incidents. There was no way we could provide that. No appt.made for a hearing eval. or any PTSD eval. prior to their decision. We were devasted & my husband was livid. But last year an old friend stopped in & gave us the name of a S.O. he used at the VA & told us things had changed down there but my husband wasn’t convinced then another vet told us the same thing & then one of his childhood friends, that was also in Nam, told him the same thing & finally in Aug. I convinced him we needed to give it another try. So we went & we have reapplied now & I can’t say enough about our S.O.. He is wonderful & has walked us thru this step by step. My husband has already got a primary care provider, he has gone to mental health & they are doing counceling & have placed him on medication & best of all they let him know this is not his fault & that he can get thru it with help. He is scheduled for a hearing test @ the end of Nov. & we were told that hearing aids are free to any vet whether service connected or not now. That’s wonderful when they cost about $2500.00 per pair.
    We just filled out out stressor form for C/P & are awaiting the C/P exams for PTSD & hearing loss along with tinnitus. But things are moving along & with God’s grace the results will be better this time. We had a very diffucult time filling out that stressor statement because they don’t realize these Vietnam Vets have kept this in for 40 years & have a very hard time talking about it. I’ve cried many times already just listening to him in the councelor’s office at mental health. We’ve been married all these years & I had no idea what memories have been locked inside this man I love. Thanks for listening. And I pray that all of you have good results with the VA… These benefits are yours … You earned them!

  26. Pattie Matheson says:

    Another one – concise, to the point. Do I detect KISS?

    I’ve followed you since your blog days and feared you disliked my references to my father’s service. Especially the one about what he brought back from Korea. I was even afraid to go back and see if you replied. True. I’ve talked elsewhere here about what’s happening to Dad now and mentioned that I think Korea and Vietnam are very much in his dreams, and when I talk with him about Vietnam, the memories are all there, tho he prefers the story about briefing a NG under a table in Phan Rang, other stories are slipping out.

    Had we known about PTSD when my husband returned from Vietnam perhaps the marriage would have survived. I knew what was going on when he smacked me with his arm and yelled “incoming” but no, I didn’t really know. I knew he was dreaming about Vietnam but I didn’t grok it. You guys do, and who knows how many soldiers and families you’ve helped as a result. Keep it up!!

    ~P~

  27. Nick says:

    To those who served…I suffered for 45 years with ptsd, and took valium, buspar, zanex, had horrible night sweats, nightmares,was a alcoholic for five years. I knew what was wrong but nobody understood. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Lymphooma of the spleen and had to have it removed in an emergency operation or it would ahve burst it was so large. My oncologist asked me if I ever was in Vietnam. He knew what was the cause immediately. I put a claim in for ptsd and lymphoma in April of 2011…45 years after I suffered…in September i was given 70% disability for PTSD, my claim for Lymphoma is still pending, as I just had another physical on October !7, 2011…I will automatically get 30%, as serving as a ground troop with the Marines in 66-68, a machine gunner with the 26th Marines. I had to recall things I didn’t want to remember, but it finally all came out during my interview. My point is that if you feel you are deserving, regardless of how long its been, make a claim.. For me it was only 5 months before they approved for PTSD, and I suspect It won’t be much longer before they approve me 100% disability. I have to say that I was treated with respect and honor. Then again, I suppose it depends on who does the evaluation. I managed to have a very understanding psycologist and actually cried with me during the evaluation as I recanted my experiences to her. Don’t give up and for goodness sakes, if you served, you deserve whatever you can recieve from the government. It’s your right!!!!!

  28. Sherry says:

    I have to say as a veteran and spouse of a retired disabled veteran. Sent my husband to VA in SC and had to “pay” for the service…that was in 1994. We decided to use our local civilian doctor since it was cheaper. I finally convinced him he had to apply for c/p for PTSD and back problems in 2008..now I am reading all of these horror stories about the issues people are having getting their c/p and am so very thankful that we did not have these problems. He was first rated at 70%…but because he was terminated from his job we were able to get him declared unemployable and he is 100%. We did have a problem trying to get records when he was in Iraq for the Gulf War but since a WO was there also she wrote a letter describing the situation, and as she is still active duty and now a CWO….within weeks he was awarded his c&p. For this we are very thankful. He goes to our local VA outpatient clinic and so far we are pleased with the care we have received. We have been married for 30 years and although he has PTSD…..I still suffer with him…the spouse and family should also be awarded compensation. It does not get any easier when they go to counseling and get meds….not that I have seen yet..But I have hope for the future for my husband

    • rc says:

      I agree with you Sherry. I also have been living with a vietnam vet suffering with PTSD. He unknowingly knew nothing about PTSD from the vietnam war or any other medical issues such as agent orange until a couple years ago when i researched it myself. They awarded him 90% disability but from other medical problems but they denied his PTSD. I guess they didnt want to give him the other 10% who really knows. They said he has PTSD but no stressor, which i knew was absolutely incorrect living with him for 20years i knew better. My state of mind is fine but my husbands is not, so i do the thinking for him and made an appointment with a private doctor who specializes in PTSD. He examined my husband and gave him the same test the VA doctor did and diagnoised him 100% PTSD from the vietnam war and had me get all his medical records and it clearly showed him enlisting with no medical problems but was discharged hornorably with mental problems but back then i guess they didnt have PTSD , they just checked the PHYCHE problem box X. Our private doctor had us send in his letter of diagnosis and also stated the he should be awarded from his original honorable discharge from vietnam. It is going on almost one year since our appeal, does anyone know how much longer it could take. I cant believe the VA is so corrupt like this. These men and women should be treated with honor and dignity. God Bless all veterens.

      • Karen says:

        rc,
        You stated that the VA denied your husband’s claim because they said there was no stressor, not that he didn’t have PTSD. So the private doctors diagnosis doesn’t make much of a difference. What is needed though, is a description of what your husband’s stressor/s were so that the VA can either concede or verify that it/they occurred.
        Even if a veteran has a combat award, a description is needed since the reason for the award may not actually be the stressor that caused the PTSD.

        • rc says:

          Thank you for your response Karen. I think you must have misunderstood what im asking. We have already appealed my husbands PTSD and yes the VA said he has PTSD but no stressor, which i knew that VA doctor had no clue what he was saying or doing. All he asked my husband was what was your worst stressor you remember,so my husband responded with just one,since he asked for the worst one, but he has several stressors. I knew that VA doctor had no clue what some of these men and women endured while in vietnam. We decided that my husband should seek help with a private doctor, to get a correct diagnois and proper stressors. We sent in all the doctors findings, including ALL my husbands STRESSORS. not just ONE stressor, which the private doctor clearly stated each and every stressor my husband has. My question was, its been almost one year since all the evidence has been submitted to the VA and its still just sitting in the first stage, as if nothing has even been looked at yet. I cant believe it takes over one year before the VA even has the time to look at this appeal , when all the stressors and doctors letter have been submitted. When someone submitts evidence that a private doctor took the time to write, why does it take over a year before anyone from the VA even looks at it. Thank you again Karen and god bless

          • rc says:

            I guess nobody from the VA can answer my question. Makes me truely wonder what in the world is going on with the VA. If i would have handled my job in this same manner , i would have been fired along time ago. The stressors from our private doctor have been submitted along , long, long time ago. The paperwork is just sitting there doing absolutely nothing but collecting dust. How do you expect these men and women to have faith in that system. Once again thank you Karen for your orginal response.

  29. As the VA seeks to improve its responsiveness and better its care, I’m hoping it will begin looking towards new trauma and PTSD treatments that are out there that really work. Health organizations that are based on Insurance-driven models tend to like therapies that promise fast results packaged in a treatment plan with timetabled results. CBT, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, EMDR are some of these: they promise relief but deliver limited results with high risks of retraumatization. Their meager successes usually come in combination with medication. I suggest the VA look into Somatic Experiencing, Peter Levine’s trauma work that has been around for years with proven results. It is notable for its effectiveness, gentleness, and safety. It is good for many cases of TBI also. Check it out.

  30. Jinxed says:

    My Heart is breaking, reading all of your stories, not only of the horrific events you survived, but the subsequent treatments you recieved. I served in the Navy, and have always felt very ashamed of my service, and have not talked about it much until now. I came to the Military from a home of severe mental, physical and sexual abuse. When the Recruiter came to my High School to solicit future sailors, I saw it as my ticket out of the horror that was my life at home. Being a female, the Recruiter was not “enthusiastic” to sign me up, but eventually he did, and I was on delayed enlistment. He actually waited until after Jan of 1977 to sign me, and of course I did not realize that unlike my Male counter parts, that by doing so I would not be eligible for the Education Benefits, as that was the year they ended those. During my delay, things fell apart at home, when I talked with my High School Guidance counselor, after a particularly bad episode of abuse at home, and he asked me if I was sucidal or had ever had thoughts of killing my Father. I told him the truth, of course I had thoughts of both of those things, no plans but certainly thoughts of such. Before I knew what was happening I was placed in handcuffs, and in the back seat of a Sheriffs car and driven 5 hours to the States Psych Hospital. The shock of being placed in such a place with other adults who were severely disabled soon gave way to the horror of being raped by 2 staff persons the 1st night of my stay. I was in a dorm style room with other female patients and one of the ladies was confused, and came and got into my bed with me, saying I was her daughter. I was scared to death, and went to the Nurses station where they responded by taking away all of my clothing, placing me in solitary confinement and injecting me with thorazine. I was awake, but could not move or speak. The “guards” who were posted outside my door, took turns that night, and brought in a bucket of water and towel to clean me in the morning before shift change. I was held there for 3 months. I learned right away that when you are a “mental patient” you no longer have the right to be beleived. While in the Hospital, my only visitor was my Recruiter, who also had “needs” to which I could help him with if I still wanted his “help” in joining the Navy. It would be our mutual secret, he wouldnt tell the Navy that I was in a psyche hospital, if I didnt tell anyone that he was requiring me to take care of his needs. He explained that he was a married man, and had never done anything like this before, but that he wanted…

    • Jinxed says:

      help me get away from my abusive home, if only I could help him with the gaps in his marital benefits. By that time I was so pre-disposed to being treated in this way at home and the hospital, that I was able to just “freeze” my emotions and follow orders. I eventually went to Afee’s and on to boot camp. I loved it and was a very happy to start a new life for myself in the hopes that I would finally be free. I did very well, I was promoted early, and was really took to Military Life and training. This was not a combat period so I dont know about what is like except for the stories I have listened to in groups for PTSD. But everything changed when I was traveling back from leave in uniform, and was approached by a man who said he was a Navy Vet. There was a long wait for my Bus to leave for my Duty Station, and he was friendly and we spent an hour or so chatting about the Military and such, and he was waiting for a bus that his Son was coming in on, and had been told that due to the weather it was running hours late. He then suggested we go and get some lunch, and after some hesitation I agreed as I still had 3-4 hours to kill before I left. Once in his car, and buckled up and restaraunt destination agreed upon we left the station, and he immediatley withdrew a knife and explained that “we” were NOT going to lunch. 15 hours later I escaped, in another State completley naked, and was picked up by a passing car. The Navy sent a car and two Military Police to retrieve me from the local hospital. Upon arriving at base, I was sent to the infirmary, examined, and given a bottle of valium. I went to my housing, and with my roomate gone was too scared to sleep in my room, so went into the day room, took one of the valiums as prescribed, and fell asleep. I woke up to being in the infirmary and having a tube down my throat so that my stomach could be pumped. Apparanetly some one had tried to wake me and could not, I had never taken a drug of any kind and the one dose of valium knocked me out completely. And the bottle that I was given was empty. Eventually the tests showed that in fact I had not over dosed, but not before I was placed in the Base psych ward. I was a very young naive small town girl who had been sheltered because people who abuse their children, usually keep them very isolated, I had no idea, that a bottle of valium would be stolen if left unnatended. I spoke with a psychiatrist one time, he asked me many questions and I told him the truth about my past abuse, and the hospital, and the Recruiter’s “deal” with me, and that in fact I had been…

      • Jinxed says:

        had been raped during my 15 hour ordeal but denied it vehemently because of the race of the Man who held me hostage. You see my Father was a racist, and I feared him most of all, and if he knew I had been raped by that Man, it would have been very bad for me for the rest of my life. I had told the 1st repsonders, that no he had not raped me, but that he had forced me to “do things”. So no rape exam was done. I told the Doctor all of this. I never spoke to him or anyone else again about my ordeal and I was ordered discharged Honorably for “unsuitability” . This took about 4 months and I was placed in a non-psych room at the hopsital to live until dishcarge. I returned home and never spoke of this until very recently. The lable “unsuitable” is something I have lived with all these years. 3 marriages, 3 children from the 1st and 3 divorces and dozens and dozens of jobs and moves I eventually married my current husband who I will celebrate 14 years with this year. It was only because of him, that I have found any quality of life and stability. He is my rock, and has been with me through this all. Things fell apart for me in 2006, when I was in an abusive work situation, my boss was actually physically hitting me. I did not repsond normally, I didnt understand why he was treating me this way, and my old victim personality stepped up and responded by just “trying harder” to not make mistakes or anger him. Of course I ddnt tell my Husband or my 5 grown children including my 4 very protective son’s. It only took 3 months before I fell part completely the shame took over, and I saw no way out except ending my life. I could not understand my reaction or answer my own question of why I was allowing this to happen to me. Physically I could have clobbered him at any time, I also had the option of just quitting. The whole fight or flight repsonse. I chose neither, and just recently thru following the information from the VA about PTSD learned that there is in fact a 3rd response. FREEZE and I had mastered this response very early, I know I was about 6 when I refused to cry while being beaten, and My Mother would beg me to just cry so he would stop, telling me it was my fault because I was so stubborn. Since 2006, I have struggled very hard to get back up and out. But “life” doesnt stop dealing the cards, just because you are struggling. I buried 2 grandbabies one in 2007, one in 2008, and breast cancer came in the middle of that and left with both of my breast’s as I underwent a double mastectomy. In May of this year I started using the VA for psych…

        • Jinxed says:

          services, as I had become so frustrated with the Private Doc’s essentially dealing drugs, and even subjecting me to ECT, which “for me” has proven to be a huge mistake. I now live with “huge gaps” in memory and am saddened when my Husband or family speak of happy times, vacations etc, in recent years and I cannot draw a single note of it. I have not worked since 2006, and its had an everlasting impact on our lives, we are currently in arrears on our mortgage and realistically could be facing forclosure if something doesnt change. My VA Doc’s issued me a letter of 100% disabilty and non-employability, and advised me to seek both SSI and VA benefits. I have tried forcing myself to fill out forms, but always get stuck when I am required to go into detail. While the new awareness of my FREEZE response explains it for me, I still have not reached the point where I know how to get past that. I am sharing my story, sorry its so long, in the hopes that some one else has over come this issue, and to ask fellow PTSD survivors if they think I should apply? I wasnt in combat, and served just short of 2 years. I feel like I am not as worthy as those who served in war time. The Psych Doc at the Navy Hospital barely wrote 3 sentences on my medical record when he discharged me, he left out all of the details in regards to my Recruiter, and the rape. I am told that I should not be surprised as back then the Docs did what they needed to CYA. I have been called many things in my life, but “unsuitability” was the worst and has had the most lasting impact on my self identity. I think it has alot to do with how I veiw applying for any services. I am in therapy at the VA and am signed up to be in the next group based on cognitive therapy, and for the 1st time in a very long time am hopeful. Thanks for listening. HUG’s to you all brave Men and Women alike!

  31. Tony Crane says:

    After reading all the medical issue’s stories of the Vet’s are having with the (V.A. Gov’t) of how the V.A. is handling the seriousness of all the former ” War ” time vet’s medical percentage’s rating’s! Some vet’s states they been waiting several years for the V.A. to correct the % ratings of the “Mistakes” the “People” who are working on the rating have incorrectly issue to the older vet’s “Lower” if not “Any” in service rating’s issue’s! Our Gov’t wants all the older vet’s to ” Die” before they would pay out to them! If the V.A. wait’s on pending, or correcting the ratings issue’s it gives the V.A. time to “Wait and See” if the veteran even lives long enough to get his or her 100%! Like my cousin who was in the “Marines” and served 2 tours back to back in Vietnam applied in 1977 the time he got out for his rating finally got his 100% rating in Nov. 2010 died in Jan. 2011! Waiting all those years for the V.A. to approved his medical claims was wrong! “Why” ?
    I’ve been waiting since 1987 for the V.A. to grant me 100%! I’ve been waiting since 1997 for the V.A. to approve my medical testing evaluation on all my injuries to get my 100%! So Now I’ve been waiting since 2001 for the the incorrect rating of 10% due to V.A. error of sending the improper V.A. medical files for the proper rating medical exams on all my issue’s and they only wanted to see my left hand scares I received in Vietnam while I was
    on “TDY” assignment from 69 to 70! With all the medical issue’s I have I should be 100% not 10%! I’m denied unemployability cause I need to have more then 50% to qualify! I only get $89.00 V.A. disability for 10% for 12 years and I get S.S.I of $682 monthly I can’t live on $781 a month. Since I’m not receiving enough the credit union “REPO” my only truck of
    transportation 1 week before “Christmas” 2011! Why? cause the V.A. stopped my son’s
    college pension payment of $597 monthly! So now in 2012 I finally got my letter from the Regional Office in Houston, Texas to go to San Antonio for the “Appeal Hearing” I’ve been waiting 15 years within two weeks from this date! So see whats happening to all of us old
    war-time vet’s! Something has to change for us or we’ll all die without getting the right per-
    centages! We must not let the V.A. push us backwards and down in the ground! There has to be “Justice” and “Honor” for us all men & women! Thank God, that my youngest son got home safe from Afganistan back in Dec. 2011. after serving 15 months! We’ll see waht will
    happen in two weeks right? Please…

  32. MadDogVAQ33 says:

    My background includes a BS in Psych and graduate work in intellectual and personality assessment…and I am 70% for PTSD awaiting 100% IU from my Vietnam and Cold War experiences. I thoroughly explored this so-called Brain Wave Optimization “cure” you are hawking and it is just so much garbage. Stop trying to play snake oil salesman.