Did You Know This About America’s Veterans?
Inadequate Mental Health Services For Our Veterans:
How NOT To Prevent Suicide:
- Turn away a veteran of some 400 combat missions in Iraq because he’s no longer active in the National Guard.
- Then turn him away because he was previously in the Guard and refer him to a military facility where he’s promptly referred back to VA.
- Now tell him to wait for a postcard with his appointment time.
- Refuse to refer him outside the Veterans Affairs health-care system.
- When he finally does get his first VA date with a psychiatrist, have that doctor inform him that he’s retiring and won’t be able to see him a second time.
- Emphasize that he will, however, be seen by another doctor — just as soon as one becomes available.
- Never get back in touch, and let him run up considerable debt getting what help he can in the private sector.
- And, finally, watch that veteran sprawled on the floor, crying in the corner of a VA hospital where he’s gone while having flashbacks and begging to be admitted.
- Refuse to see him again, but assure him he’s free to stick around until he feels well enough to drive himself home.
What Is PTSD?
Harold & Jean Somers:
Harold and Jean Somers took turns reading their statement, peering through nearly matching wire-rimmed glasses. A few times, he finished her sentence when she started to cry. Once, she did the same for him.
Clay Hunt, United States Marine:
- Tell someone who has at last found an antidepressant that works well that he has to change drugs because there’s no generic version available.
- Once that hurdle is cleared, tell him the VA pharmacy doesn’t stock that drug, but it will be mailed to him in seven to 10 days. Ignore all medical advice against stopping anti-depressants cold.
- Now tell him the prescription can’t be refilled because it was written in Colorado rather than Houston, where he’s just moved — and thus he must start all over in the system, and wait to be reevaluated.
- Classify him as only entitled to 30 percent disability pay even though he is so compromised by the symptoms of his post-traumatic stress that he isn’t able to work.
- Lose his paperwork for 18 months, and then five weeks after his death, finally review his appeal and conclude that he should be on full disability. Notify his survivors of the good news.
Soldier Brian Portwine:
Brian Portwine’s mom, Peggy, said he should have gotten an automatic mental health evaluation. A fellow soldier he’d just switched seats with in their Humvee in Iraq was blown to bits.
Portwine’s Mother Speaks:
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), introduced a bill on Thursday called the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. It would require the National Guard and VA to work together.
Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.), a retired Army colonel and Iraq veteran, has proposed similar legislation. He wants to financially reward psychiatrists who stay in the VA system.
It’s unclear what the VA could offer to doctors to stay on in this environment. A place that would leave a man who fought for us, and then couldn’t forgive himself, crying on the floor.