Budget cuts for the military are a fact of life. We can argue all we want about the relative benefits of building more ships, or planes or the number of troops we need. But the one thing there should be no argument about is taking care of those who have been wounded, this includes both invisible and visible injuries, by their time at war. Taking care of an injured troop means immediate care and continued care when they leave the military. There seems to be plenty of focus on the visible injuries and it is easy to understand that you replace a missing leg with a prosthetic and add copious doses of physical therapy to teach the troop how to walk on it. Injuries like PTSD are tougher to deal with because invisible wounds are just that, invisible. Those suffering from this type of trauma may look just fine, but all to often they are far from it.
Some of our community have publicly discussed their own battles with this debilitating injury including CJ Grisham and Jeremiah Workman. It has been a major challenge to get combat vets to overcome the stigma attached to admitting they have PTSD. Now we find out that the concerns over the cost of treating these wounded troops may have been used to deny them care. One of CJ's co-writers discusses this:
This article seems to say they are passing out PTSD diagnosis to anyone who walks by and sneezes. It is not easy to get a PTSD diagnosis, that is the truth. When this same issue was brought up in the Veterans Administration, the government investigation showed that there was less then 1% actual fraud on PTSD diagnosis and service-connection compensation. When we do get that term put on our records as a service-connection, it is not a favor done for us. It means that we owe these men and women who have been destroyed in mind, body and spirit by the incredible sacrifices the average person would not think possible.
Here is the scary part
In a lecture to colleagues, a Madigan Army Medical Center psychiatrist said a soldier who retires with a post-traumatic-stress-disorder diagnosis could eventually receive $1.5 million in government payments, according to a memo by a Western Regional Medical Command ombudsman who attended the September presentation
This psychiatrist went beyond just noting the cost of treating those who were hurt and rightly had a knot jerked in his tail.
A Madigan Army Medical Center psychiatrist who screens soldiers for PTSD has been removed from clinical duties while investigators look into controversial remarks he made about patients and the financial costs of disability benefits, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.
Keppler allegedly made inappropriate comments about the forensic team's role as financial gatekeeper in the Army retirement process during a September presentation, according to Murray.
In a meeting last fall attended by an Army ombudsman, Keppler and other team members reportedly made disrespectful comments about patients whose files were under review.
More than a dozen soldiers who believed their PTSD diagnoses were wrongly dropped by the Madigan team gained new reviews this year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in an unusual intervention arranged by Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho.
That is a good first step, but does anyone really think this was an isolated incident? I know it wasn't. The same problem exists right back here in the Army's flagship PTSD program at Walter Reed. I know of multiple instances where diagnoses of PTSD have been downgraded or determined to be not "Line of Duty". One method of limiting the number of diagnoses is to find that the condition "Existed Prior to Service". For some patients this means taking isolated incidents that occurred long before joining the military and naming them as the proximate cause, even if the service member never had any symptoms or received any treament for them. This is analogous to telling an amputee his injury existed prior to service because the now-missing ankle was sprained on a Boy Scout hike when he was a kid.
We let our Vietnam vets languish with no help as they dealt with these same problems. Thankfully we understand this damage better now and can offer help. But we cannot allow the bean counters to deny care. The cost of treating our combat wounded is a price we must pay. We owe it to them.
If you are aware of any cases where this has happened please let me know. I will be taking this information as high up the flag pole as needed to make sure ALL wounded warriors get the respect and care they deserve.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
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Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
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A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.