Apr 24, 2012

Army Eases Guidelines Screening for Alleged PTSD Fakers in Win Against Neocons

As the political fallout in this election year continues over
Allen Breed’s AP hit job published in 2010 asserting
that U.S. veterans and reformist DVA elements
effectively collude to commit widespread fraud,
we note that blaming veterans for illness and injury
has a long tradition.

- Something's wrong, something's not quite right -

"So the brave men and women who have served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq are honest enough to put themselves in danger in the defense of the United States, yet their sworn personal hearing testimony concerning the stressors they experienced in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq is not. Something is seriously wrong here," writes the Paralyzed Veterans of America in their Service Officers Appeals Report (SOAR, 2004, Volume 8, Number 4).

Yes, there is something seriously wrong, but a group of reformers led by President Obama, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Bob Walsh, Jim Davis, Anthony Hardie, and Gordon Duff and near-constant lobbying by an even smaller group of veterans' advocates (Paul Sullivan) are pushing back against the likes of AP journalist Allen Breed, Fox News, the American Enterprise Institute, and embedded, neocon bureaucrats in the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and just about every Republican in congress who screams about the national debt after pursuing policies ensuring the debt skyrocked the last 10 years.
---

By Katie Drummond in Wired


Media attacks veterans' claims
In a big reversal, the Army has issued a stern new set of guidelines to doctors tasked with diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among returning soldiers. Stop spending so much time trying to spot patients who are faking symptoms, the new guidelines instruct.Chances are, they’re actually ailing. The 17-page document has yet to be made public but was described in some detail by the Seattle Times. In it, the Army Surgeon General’s Office specifically points out — and discredits — a handful of screening tests for PTSD that are widely used to by military clinicians to diagnose a condition estimated to afflict at least 200,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
It's no coincidence that the man at the top, President Obama, on August 10, 2005 as a young senator blasted the Bush-Cheney-Rove administration in a letter to then VA Secretary Nicholson, writing "in order to truly create fairness in the claims system, the VA should concentrate its efforts on reviewing denials of PTSD claims. Without accessing why some PTSD claims are denied, it will be impossible to fully understand how the VA’s PTSD rating system can be improved." Our veterans aren’t lying about PTSD and as Chief Justice John Roberts asked, "In litigating with veterans, the government more often than not takes a position that is substantially unjustified?" ((Astrue v. Ratliff )(08-1322)) Yes, the government does take substantially unjustified positions against veterans with the media's help, and Obama's turning this around should happen faster and more comprehensively. In light of this reality, I can't wait for Mitt Romney to tell President Obama that we cannot afford more money for the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) and VA, and we are going to have to give these veterans voucher-care. (Michael Leon) To understand the change that is taking place in treating PTSD, see U.S. Army Clears War of Wrongdoing on the Army's 2010 ludicrous Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention (HP/RR/SP) Report. "I had this conversation with a guy in the [Bush] White House, the liaison to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This was during the Bush Administration. He said, if we were to keep every promise that we made to the veterans, it would bankrupt us as a nation," said veterans' advocate, Steve Robinson, who has challenged the President and the Defense establishment face-to-face on their shameful neglect of the health problems, especially mental-health issues, faced by returning Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans.

But the results of what’s known as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Test are flawed, according to the report. PTSD sufferers often exhibit anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks and depression — all of which, some doctors believe, can be discounted under the test.

Under the Bush-Cheney-Rove administration, covert war
was declared on veterans' seeking disability benefits
The test devotes a large swath of questions to catching apparent exaggerations of symptom severity, seemingly inconsistent answers, or reported symptoms that don’t mesh with the typical signs associated with an illness. “The report rejects the view that a patient’s response to hundreds of written test questions can determine if a soldier is faking symptoms,” the Seattle Times summarized. Where PTSD is concerned, that’s especially true. The condition is accompanied by symptoms that can differ markedly between patients: Some are hyperactive, others are lethargic; some exhibit frenetic rage while others are simply sullen and depressed. “And,” the Times continued, “[the report] declares that poor test results ‘does not equate to malingering’.” Those tests were the standard of care at Madigan Army Medical Center — which is a big deal. Located in Takoma, Washington, Madigan isn’t just one of the military’s largest medical installations. It’s home to a forensic psychiatry team tasked with deciding whether soldiers diagnosed with PTSD were sick enough to qualify for medical retirement. In March, the Army launched an investigation of the Madigan team after Madigan’s screening procedures allegedly reversed 300 of the PTSD diagnoses among soldiers being evaluated. The reversals resulted in some soldiers being diagnosed with “personality disorders” and others left with no diagnosis at all. Madigan allegedly used the tests to save money by limiting the number of patients who’d qualify for retirement. “We have to ensure we are not just ‘rubber stamping’ a soldier with the diagnosis of PTSD,” reads a memo from an unnamed Madigan psychiatrist that leaked last month. “We have to be good stewards of the tax-payer dollars.” The Surgeon General’s attempts at strengthening its PTSD diagnostic tactics might come as a relief to veterans. But they might also be more than a little too late. Shortly after the scandal at Madigan emerged, subsequent reports of similar shoddy diagnostics at Walter Reed, Fort Carson and Fort Bragg trickled out as well. Including more allegations of soldiers being pinned as malingerers by military docs. “Leading off, trying to say it’s isolated, doesn’t really pass the common-sense test,” Patrick Bellon, executive director of Veteran’s for Common Sense, told Stars and Stripes earlier this month. “Clearly, something is not right.”

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