Archive for the 'medical' Tag

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As a US Military Veteran, medical benefits are important. Medical Benefits Package for Veterans

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Veterans Info Site

The Veterans Info Site aims to provide our Veterans and their Family-members meaningful resources and information, including specific and current information related to Veterans Benefits, Veterans Housing, Veterans Employment and Veterans Medical Assistance. Veterans Info Site will provide this information in an accurate and timely manner.

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'We Pretend The Vets Don't Exist'

Author and former marine Anthony Swofford gets to the bottom of an epidemic.

I was sitting next to Melissa, a call responder at the VA Crisis Hotline in Canandaigua, N.Y., when she looked at me and whispered, 'He just said he thinks he should walk out into traffic on Interstate 5 and end it all, that life is not worth living.'

Posted in Veterans News

2 Wars, 11 Years, 725 Fallen Californians

By Diana Marcum
Los Angeles Times
Pg. 1

They came from Walker Basin, a speck of a community at the edge of the Sequoia National Forest. From the farm town of Reedley, where a barber gives boys joining the military free haircuts before they ship out.

They came from San Francisco. Los Angeles. San Diego.

When they died, photos went up on post office walls in their hometowns. On Veterans Day, there are parades and charity golf tournaments. Buddies gather at graves to drink to the ones who are gone.

In the 11 years since the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan, 725 service members from California have been killed.

Many died young -- 41% were not yet 22. Sixty-three were still teenagers.

They were fun-loving singles. Forty-seven were engaged. They were married, leaving behind 307 wives and husbands. They had children -- 432 sons and daughters.

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Posted in Veterans News

A Marine's Death Brings Together His Dad And His Battlefield Buddy

By Michael M. Phillips
Wall Street Journal
Pg. 1

HOOVER, Ala.—Two years ago, Matthew Proctor dropped to his knees in the Afghan dirt and watched his best friend bleed to death.

These days, when dreams get disturbing or guilt eats at his gut, there is one person the former Marine corporal is likely to call: Thomas Rivers Sr., his dead friend's father.

When Mr. Rivers, 60 years old and a pharmaceutical executive, feels himself sinking into black depression or misses the pleasures of raising a son, it is the 24-year-old Cpl. Proctor he confides in or invites over for a boat ride. "He lost a best friend, and in a sense I lost a best friend as well as my son," says Mr. Rivers. "That is a bond we share."

War sunders some relationships and forges others. More than 6,500 Americans have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving gaping holes in families across the nation. Out of duty or kindness, guilt or need, the troops who survived often step forward to fill the voids their buddies left.

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Posted in Veterans News

A Tale of Two Diagnoses: Records Show How Army Doctors Downgrade PTSD

How does one doctor diagnose an Iraq war veteran with PTSD while another says the same soldier has a less severe condition called adjustment disorder? Medical records shared by one of the characters in our feature story this week offer some insight into the workings the controversial forensic psychiatry team at Madigan Army Medical Center.

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Posted in Veterans News

A War Veteran's Identity Crisis

July saw a record number of suicides in the Army and among recent veterans. I was nearly one of them.

I suffer from both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the two most common conditions of suicidal veterans. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming.

This summer, as has happened often before, I experienced severe depression, which leads to isolation. Then, when I was feeling most hopeless, I also started feeling tremendously reckless. I found myself feeling aggressive and impulsive, feelings that fuel erratic behavior. With each passing week of the summer, as I pushed yet another friend or family member away, it became easier to envision suicide as an option to break this insufferable tension.

Posted in Veterans News

Annual relief effort in San Diego focuses on providing veterans with dental care

SAN DIEGO -- Two dentists and two Navy dental corpsmen are working on the mouth of John Gardinier, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and now lives in Tijuana near the clinic where he can get methadone for his drug addiction.

"It's no good to have teeth that are rotten," Gardinier, 64, had said as he waited to be treated at the dental services area at the 25th annual Stand Down in San Diego for homeless and hard-luck military veterans. The relief effort brings together dozens of government agencies, nonprofits and volunteers to provide veterans with a variety of health and social services.

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Posted in Veterans News

Army Changes PTSD Evaluations

Forensic Methods Led To Loss Of Pensions; Soldiers retested after problems at Madigan

The Army Surgeon General's Office has issued new guidelines for diagnosing PTSD that criticize an approach once routinely used at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The policy, obtained by The Seattle Times, specifically discounts tests used to determine whether soldiers are faking symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It says that poor test results do not constitute malingering.

The written tests often were part of the Madigan screening process that overturned the PTSD diagnoses of more than 300 patients during the past five years.

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Posted in Veterans News

Army Establishes Hotline

The Army Medical Command has a hotline available for soldiers and veterans who have been screened by forensic psychiatric teams since 2007 as part of the evaluation process for medical retirement. Soldiers and veterans with concerns about their diagnosis may call 800-984-8523.

Posted in Veterans News

Army Joins Veterans Affairs and Other Military Services in Standardizing PTSD Diagnosis and Treatment

USNavySeals.com

The Army, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other military services, is standardizing the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, otherwise known as post-traumatic stress disorder, in an attempt to increase the soldiers’ level of trust and fairness in the system.

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Posted in Veterans News

As Attitudes Shift On PTSD Media Slow To Remove Stigma

In 1999, President Bill Clinton convened the first White House Summit on Mental Health. The aim of the conference and the public campaign that followed was, in part, to educate the media on the moral and ethical imperative related to dispelling the stigma associated with mental illness. In a radio address to announce the conference, Mr. Clinton said, "Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all."

In recent years, the Department of Defense has made unprecedented progress toward eliminating the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues affecting service members. This cultural shift within the military is a sea change, as more and more of our service members are seeking and receiving the support they need and deserve from a grateful nation. In the face of that progress, it’s unfortunate that some in the media continue to perpetuate a stigma linking military service to mental illness and violence.

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Posted in Veterans News

Backlog Of VA Disability Claims Growing

WASHINGTON – Although the Obama administration has stepped up efforts to process medical disability claims by U.S. veterans, a top Department of Veterans Affairs official is set to tell lawmakers Wednesday that the agency's backlog continues to grow.

Allison Hickey, undersecretary for benefits at the VA, said in written testimony submitted in advance of a hearing before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that the flow of VA claims has increased 48% over the past three years.

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Posted in Veterans News

Biden Vows To Honor Medical Care Commitment To Veterans

Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday blamed Republicans for blocking a budget deal and risking automatic Pentagon cuts. But he promised a veterans group that America's fighting men and women won't suffer and will be guaranteed the best medical care for life.

"We're going to keep our commitment to American veterans no matter what happens," Biden said, winning applause from an audience of 3,000 people attending the Disabled American Veterans convention at Bally's hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

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Posted in Veterans News

Bill Would Expand Fertility Coverage For Veterans

WASHINGTON -- The roadside bomb that exploded outside Andrew Robinson's Humvee in Iraq six years ago broke the Marine staff sergeant's neck and left him without use of his legs. It also cast doubt on his ability to father a child, a gnawing emotional wound for a then-23-year-old who had planned to start a family with his wife of less than two years.

The catastrophic spinal cord injury meant the couple's best hope for children was in vitro fertilization, an expensive and time-consuming medical procedure whose cost isn't covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Robinson and his wife were forced to pay out of pocket, with help from a doctor's discount and drugs donated by other patients.

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Posted in Veterans News

Defense And VA Can’t Track PTSD Treatments, Report Finds

Neither the Defense nor the Veterans Affairs department -- which operate the world’s largest electronic health records systems -- tracks treatments used for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report the Institute of Medicine issued last week. What’s more, Defense does not even know how many PTSD treatment programs it or the services provide.

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Posted in Veterans News

Dempsey: I Would Pay More For Health Care

By Patricia Kime, Staff writer

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs told Congress on Tuesday he would willingly pay more for health care in retirement than the rate structure currently enjoyed by military retirees.

Posted in Veterans News

Disabled Vets Get Hot Wheels

Beefy trucks and trikes get these guys back on the road in style, feeling good

By Chris Woodyard, USA Today

Left a paraplegic by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan two years ago, retired Marine Jack Pierce vows not to let his disability leave him in life's slow lane.

Pierce applies that attitude to pretty much everything, including right now, his summer vacation.

Posted in Veterans News

DoD Panel Urges New, Single Health Agency

By Patricia Kime, Army Times

An internal Pentagon task force is recommending the creation of a single defense health agency that would have broader reach and responsibilities than the current Tricare Management Activity, but would leave command of military treatment facilities within the individual services.

Posted in Veterans News

Federal internship program helps wounded veterans find work, transition

In an effort to provide more opportunities for wounded veterans, multiple federal agencies discussed what they could do to employ veterans as they continue their medical recovery.

Wednesday's meeting was the first time many of the local agency representatives had heard about the program and what opportunities are available to them to provide extra training to wounded veterans and to get extra hands at their office. Those in attendance included a wide range of agencies, from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the National Weather Service.

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Posted in Veterans News

For Veterans With Post-Traumatic Stress, Pain Killers Carry Risks

By James Dao

Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to be prescribed opioid pain killers than other veterans with pain problems and more likely to use the opioids in risky ways, according to a study published Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Posted in Veterans News

For Vets, Fireworks Can Stir Memories Of Gunfire

Many who served on battlefields seek refuge from and ways to cope with Fourth of July displays

He knows it's just fireworks, but Andrew Sabin's heart races anyway and he starts to sweat profusely.

The concussive booms sound like Iraq.

The 26-year-old Army veteran from Racine, Wis., didn't have trouble when he returned from the war. But gradually fireworks displays began to affect him.

This Fourth of July, many combat veterans like Sabin will try to stay far away from fireworks displays. Fireworks take them back to combat, when the sound of explosions meant death and injury, not colorful rockets lighting the sky on a peaceful, happy holiday.

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Posted in Veterans News

Former War Commander Fighting For Funds To Combat Brain Injuries

More than 244,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with some form of brain injury over the past 12 years, according to Pentagon statistics.

They are the most common injuries among combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet little is known about how to treat these wounds or cure the illnesses that result from them, says Peter Chiarelli, retired four-star general and former vice chief of the Army.

For a nation that takes pride in taking care of its wounded soldiers, he laments, it is a shame that the so-called invisible wounds of war get so little attention.

Posted in Veterans News

Gen. Odierno Discusses Army Efforts To Limit Traumatic Brain Injuries

MATT LAUER: It is a startling number. More than 244,000 U.S. troops have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries, an issue that is front and center for the NFL, a league dealing with the problem of concussions among many of its current and former players. The league is now teaming up with the U.S. Army and National Institutes of Health to research ways to limit these types of injuries. Roger Goodell is commissioner of the NFL. Dr. Story Landis is the director of the NIH's Neurology Institute, and General Odierno is the chief of staff of the Army. Good morning to all of you. It's nice to see you.

General, that's a huge number, 244,000 returning military personnel with these brain injuries. I know the seriousness of those injuries varies from person to person, but it's a problem that has to be addressed.

GEN. ODIERNO: Absolutely, and one of the problems we have are soldiers coming forward first to say I have a problem. And so one of the things we're really focusing on is making sure that the same qualities -- mental toughness,physical toughness,dedication to mission accomplishment -- does not impede people from saying "I have a problem and I need to get help." That's why this initiative is important to us. We're now putting sensors in helmets, our kevlar helmets for the first time. About 7,000 soldiers have those in their helmets. As we're collecting more and more data, we're learning more and more information, but we have a lot of work to do yet.

Posted in Veterans News

Good News For Veteran Discharged Without Benefits

More than 20,000 men and women have left the Army and Marines in the last four years with other-than-honorable discharges, jeopardizing their benefits and leaving some of them struggling to find treatment for health problems.

Jarrid Starks, a troubled Army veteran who received the Bronze Star for Valor but was dismissed from service with an other-than-honorable discharge, has been granted health-care benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Starks was featured in an Aug. 12 Seattle Times story that examined the plight of veterans whose other-than-honorable discharges have put their veteran's benefits at risk.

Starks had been told that it might take a year or more for the VA to undertake a review to see if he is eligible for benefits.

Posted in Veterans News

Hampton VA Tapped As National Test Bed

By Hugh Lessig

The Obama administration has selected the Hampton VA Medical Center and a site in San Antonio as launch points for a massive medical record-sharing program between the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense.

Posted in Veterans News

Homeless Rural Vets Find A Place To Call Home

All Things Considered (NPR), 4:10 PM

MELISSA BLOCK: You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR News.

This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans in Connecticut will finally have a place to call their own, thanks to the American Legion. They'll stay at the legion's post in the small town of Jewett City. Lucy Nalpathanchil from member station WNPR reports.

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Posted in Veterans News

Improve Care for Veterans With PTSD: Report

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Access to care for U.S. military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) must improve, says an Institute of Medicine report released Friday that also calls for better tracking of treatments and results.

The congressionally mandated report also said that the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs should launch research programs to evaluate the effectiveness of their PTSD programs and make the findings widely available.

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Posted in Veterans News

Iraq War Veteran Challenges Military On Injury Benefits

By Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Tanya L. Towne was wearing her full “battle rattle” when she got injured preparing for war. Now the Pentagon must explain why that should be treated differently from a combat-related injury.

What happens next will put the Defense Department on the spot. It also could mean a lot to veterans other than Towne, who served 17 years in the New York Army National Guard before her 2009 medical discharge.

Posted in Veterans News

Is The Army Doing Enough To Help Soldiers Suffering From Mental Health Problems?

By Greg Barnes, Staff writer
Fayetteville (NC) Observer

Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick stood in front of 14,000 soldiers on Fort Bragg in February with a message:

"We have got to stop the violence."

Just weeks before, Helmick had closed out the combat mission in Iraq and brought the troops home. Now, as he congratulated them for a job well done, he could not ignore some disturbing numbers. In just the past six weeks, he knew of six suicides and 25 accusations of spousal abuse.

Since Helmick retired in May, the violence at home has only gotten worse.

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Posted in Veterans News

Legal Ambiguity With Sequestration Raises Questions for Veterans Panel

By Frank Oliveri, CQ Staff

The chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee is raising concerns that the 2011 deficit reduction law inadvertently could lead to a 2 percent cut to Department of Veterans Affairs health care.

Jeff Miller, R-Fla., has asked the White House to clarify what he called a "legal ambiguity" surrounding how VA health care spending could be affected if automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, take effect.

Posted in Veterans News

Making A House Home For Veteran

Caleb Getscher's new home means a lot to him.

The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal lost both of his legs and part of an arm while on duty in Afghanistan last year. His parents' home in Chaptico, where he spends weekends when he is not at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, was not easy to get around in a wheelchair or with prosthetic limbs.

Now he is able to live more comfortably in an addition built to that house, thanks to a program administered by Patuxent Habitat for Humanity. Volunteers and elected officials gathered at the house Aug. 25 to dedicate the new living space.

Posted in Veterans News

Military PTSD: All-Star Scientists Start Mental Health Mega-Project

There's no question that plenty of soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But exactly how many soldiers? That's a question that even top medical experts, not to mention military officials, still can't quite answer.

Now a new consortium, manned by some of the nation’s top scientists where PTSD is concerned, is hoping to develop an objective means of diagnosing the condition. In other words, the group hopes that the illness can — one day soon — be diagnosed using medical techniques like blood tests or brain scans, rather than self-reported symptoms.

Posted in Veterans News

Murray: 285 Madigan PTSD Diagnoses Reversed

Senator Calls For New Evaluations; Army investigating screening process

By Hal Bernton, Seattle Times staff reporter

The Army Medical Command has identified some 285 Madigan Army Medical Center patients whose diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder were reversed as they went through a screening process for possible medical retirements, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

Posted in Veterans News

Nearly 30% Of Vets Treated By V.A. Have PTSD

Jamie Reno
TheDailyBeast.com

A new study by the Veterans Administration reveals nearly 30% of its patients who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. Jamie Reno reports.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly released a new report on post-traumatic stress disorder, showing that since 9/11, nearly 30 percent of the 834,463 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with PTSD.

Veterans advocates say the new V.A. report is the most damning evidence yet of the profound impact multiple deployments have had on American service men and women since 9/11. Troops who've been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan are more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for PTSD and major depression, according to a 2010 study published by the American Journal for Public Health.

The report, which revealed that 247,243 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have been diagnosed with PTSD, was buried on the V.A.'s website without fanfare.

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Posted in Veterans News

New Disability System Fails To Speed Claims

Average case now drags on for more than a year

By Patricia Kime

Five years after launching a combined effort to cut the time it takes to complete disability evaluations and begin paying benefits to wounded, injured and ill troops, it now takes the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments an average of 100 days longer to close a case.

The Integrated Disability Evaluation System was launched in 2008 to combine the separate DoD and VA systems into one and cut the time it takes to complete to 295 days for active-duty troops and 305 days for reserve-component members.

Posted in Veterans News

New Steps Announced To Reduce VA Claims Backlog

The Department of Veterans Affairs is processing more than a million disability compensation claims a year, for veterans of every age and era, whether they served in wartime or during periods of relative calm.

But that has not been enough to keep the claims backlog from rising through current wars and the expansion of compensation eligibility to more medical conditions, particularly for veterans who served in Vietnam.

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Posted in Veterans News

New systems help veterans find jobs in transportation industry

Written by R. Norman Moody, FLORIDA TODAY

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki today unveiled a new portal on their departments’ websites designed to help military veterans find jobs in the transportation industry.

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Posted in Veterans News

Nursing Schools Examine Efforts To Care For Veterans

Colleges sign on for Joining Forces national initiative

With nurses often at the front lines of medical care, there's a movement in the Chicago area and across the country to ensure that nursing students are better trained to tend to a new generation of patients who are military veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National League of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and other industry groups are calling on nursing schools to take a pledge to do more to educate students on handling veterans and their families. The pledge is part of Joining Forces -- a campaign championed by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to support veterans. Hundreds of nursing schools have already signed on, according to nursing groups.

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Posted in Veterans News

OMB: Veterans Affairs Budget Is Exempt From Sequestration

By Bob Brewin

The Veterans Affairs Department's budget is exempt from sequestration, the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a letter to the Government Accountability Office today, a decision hailed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Posted in Veterans News

Panetta: Care At Lovell Center 'Sacred Responsiblity'

By Dan Moran

NORTH CHICAGO — Standing in the nation's first facility that combines the medical services of the Navy and the Veterans Administration, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his VA counterpart, Eric Shinseki, outlined their commitments Monday to both the ongoing military presence in Afghanistan and the care that will be required for those returning from the mission.

Posted in Veterans News

Pentagon Wants To Raise Some Retirees Health Fees

By Elisabeth Bumiller

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that runaway personnel costs at the Pentagon are "unsustainable," and on Monday he tried to put a big brake on the spending: Over the next five years the Defense Department plans to nearly quadruple the health insurance fees paid by many working-age military retirees.

Posted in Veterans News

Planned Invictus San Diego facility would treat veterans, and later civilians, who have had amputations or traumatic brain injuries

By Gretel C. Kovach, U-T

A group of military, veteran and community health care heavyweights began meeting last year in San Diego to think big about improving treatment for amputation and traumatic brain injury.

The plan that took shape is unlike any nationwide, organizers say: a community center offering medical treatment, family and mental health counseling, job placement and education services under one roof.

Posted in Veterans News

Prosthetic Eyes, How A Veteran’s, Custom Prosthetics Company, Makes A Difference

The Center for Custom Prosthetics in Naples, Florida, is making an impact on U.S. military veterans by providing them with unique prosthetic solutions. The Center also provides the same quality service that veterans receive to the general public, which includes creating custom prosthetic eyes, noses, ears, hands and more. Based out of the west coast of Florida, the practice will be expanding its reach this Fall by opening new offices on Florida's east coast.

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Posted in Veterans News

PTSD can harm families of veterans

For 22 years, Shirley Booze attributed her husband’s violent nightmares and depression to “mental fatigue.”

It was clearly more than just everyday stress that was affecting the Army veteran, but Booze had no other way to classify his emotional isolation.

“It was like he was in a foxhole and trying to protect himself,” she said.

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Posted in Veterans News

PTSD Study Halfway Finished

Largest research project in U.S. military history, started in 2001, follows 187K service members for 21 years

The largest research project in U.S. military history aimed at studying the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder has now passed the halfway point.

The Millennium Cohort Study, run out of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, is a 21-year study that is comprehensively following the lives and habits of 187,000 service members. Researchers began accumulating data 11 years ago, in 2001. The project is scheduled to run another decade, until 2022.

Researchers hope the massive amount of data they collect will help them pinpoint who gets PTSD and why.

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Posted in Veterans News

Raise TRICARE Fees Or Deepen Force Cuts, Top Doc Warns

By Tom Philpott

If Congress blocks Defense Department plans to raise TRICARE fees for military retirees and beneficiary co-pays on drug prescriptions filled off base, the services will have to make even deeper cuts in force strength than now planned, the military's top health official told lawmakers Tuesday.

Posted in Veterans News

Retirees In New TRICARE Fight

By Tom Philpott

Older retirees, like Air Force Master Sgt. Floyd Sears, 81, stand shoulder to shoulder with younger retirees in opposing the higher fees being proposed for TRICARE benefits.

But Sears also agrees with many retirees that there's something especially wrong with the Obama administration's plan to impose a first-ever enrollment fee on 900,000 retirees age 65 and older and their surviving spouses.

Posted in Veterans News

Soldiers' Mental Health: An Emergency

By Arnold Fisher And Bill White
New York Daily News
October 10, 2012
Pg. 32

Be Our Guest

Anyone who believes that our country’s methods are adequate for helping veterans re-adapt to society as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down need look no further than at the following data: In the year 2012, 211 members of the United States Armed Forces took their own lives.

At least 53 of them committed suicide in July and August. That is more than the total number of battlefield deaths in those months. This is a crisis that has gone largely unaddressed in this political cycle, and it’s unacceptable.

Posted in Veterans News

Study Calls For Better Assessment Of Government PTSD Programs

In the first comprehensive review of the government's programs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder in service members and veterans, a panel of experts recommended on Friday that the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs expand access to services, particularly for people in rural areas, in the National Guard or Reserves, or in combat zones.

The report, by the Institute of Medicine, also concluded that the two departments need to improve their assessment of how well their many treatment programs work, as well as find better ways of coordinating care that can begin overseas and then continue on bases or in small towns across the country.

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Posted in Veterans News

Study To Examine If Fatty Acids Lower Veterans' Suicide Risk

By Harriet McLeod, Reuters
Reuters.com
October 8, 2012

CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- A new $10 million, three-year study will investigate whether daily doses of a common dietary supplement could help curb the number of suicides among military personnel and veterans, researchers said on Monday.

The study, set to begin in South Carolina in January, is part of the Defense Department's heightened focus on suicide prevention as the number of service members attempting to take their own lives has risen.

Posted in Veterans News

The Death Of Peter Wielunski

For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide. It's time to broaden efforts against PTSD.

By Robert Morgenthau
Wall Street Journal
Pg. 23

During the Civil War, they called it "soldier's heart." In World War I, doctors called it "shell shock." In World War II, the war I served in, we called it "battle fatigue." Now we know it as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The name may have changed, but one thing is clear: It is reaching epidemic proportions among our soldiers and veterans.

According to a Veterans Administration report released this March, current or former military personnel represent an estimated 20% of all known suicides in the United States—that's more than 7,000 veterans and service members each year. For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide.

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Posted in Veterans News

The Pentagon's Quiet Take On 9/11

The Pentagon's 9/11 experience, it seems, will always live in the shadows of the Twin Towers. So it's perhaps appropriate that the Pentagon's 9/11 ceremonies, too, have slowly become less of a public spectacle than their New York and Pennsylvania counterparts.

The events are an especially stark contrast to New York City, which draws thousands of spectators and live television coverage as the names of the 2,983 victims there are read off one-by-one.

Posted in Veterans News

Treating Veterans Sexual Trauma

Baltimore VA center offers help to victims of attacks and harassment in military

By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun

Machele Fredericks had to face her attacker every day.

She was in the Air Force. He was a fellow service member on the base. And he said that if she told anyone what he'd done, he'd kill her.

"You didn't hear much of people getting raped in the military back then," Fredericks said. "At least I didn't. So, you know, it was like fear every day: 'I hope he's not at the gate today.'

Posted in Veterans News

Treatment Is Available For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

But vets must take first step: seek help

The most common misconception about post-traumatic stress disorder is that there is no effective treatment.

Dr. Matthew Friedman, executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, is working to get the word out that it's "very treatable."

PTSD is more prevalent among service members today, with 17 percent to 20 percent of the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from it, he said. But studies have shown that 80 percent of those, given proper treatment, are without symptoms after five years.

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Posted in Veterans News

Troops' Surge In Suicides Shocks Military Officials

After leveling off in 2010 and 2011, suicides among U.S. service members have jumped to nearly one a day, catching many by surprise.

By Robert Burns, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year — the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.

The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan — about 50 percent more — according to Pentagon statistics.

The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago.

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Posted in Veterans News

Updated PTSD Program Means Better Care For Vets

For Johnnie Larmore, a veteran of three combat tours in Vietnam, living with post-traumatic stress disorder means bursts of anger followed by wells of depression.

Last week, the Port Angeles man left a recently expanded treatment program at VA Puget Sound American Lake Division in Lakewood. He calls it “the best staff and the best facility” he’s seen in his 41 years seeking help coping with Army combat-related PTSD.

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Posted in Veterans News

US Army Suicides Rose 80% After Start Of Iraq War: Study

By Agence France-Presse

The number of suicides in the US Army rose by 80 percent after the United States launched the war on Iraq, American military doctors reported on Thursday.

Posted in Veterans News

VA Goals Skew Vets' Mental-Health Care, Senate Panel Told

By Steve Vogel

The Department of Veterans Affairs' mental-health care system suffers from a culture in which managers attach more importance to meeting meaningless performance goals than helping veterans, according to testimony before a Senate committee Wednesday.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Dept. Will Increase Mental Health Staffing

By James Dao

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Thursday that it plans to hire about 1,600 additional psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health clinicians in an effort to reduce long wait times for services at many veterans medical centers.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans Wait Longer For Disability Evaluations

By Steve Vogel

Injured servicemembers wait on average over a year to receive an official government disability evaluation, and the wait time increased significantly in 2011 for the third consecutive year, according to testimony released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office.

Posted in Veterans News

Veterans' Homelessness High Priority For Agency

VA pursuing strategic, and some say lofty, goal of ending problem by 2015

WASHINGTON -- On a cold night in Monmouth County, N.J., a lone dishwasher stayed late, taking on extra work to buy time. The restaurant's owners, trying to close up, guessed the man had no place to go. And when they tried to find him one, they struck out.

The restaurant is owned by rock legend Jon Bon Jovi's foundation, and Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea Hurley, discovered that night that finding services for the homeless is no easy task. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is trying to tackle the problem of veterans' homelessness, figuring out how to make the task easier is a pivotal goal.

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Posted in Veterans News

Veterans' Mental-Health Care Is Delayed

Report says department overstated how quickly it provided service

By Steve Vogel

The Department of Veterans Affairs has greatly overstated how quickly it provides mental-health care for veterans, according to an inspector general's report released Monday.

Posted in Veterans News

Wal-Mart Therapy Tried By Pentagon For Traumatized Troops

By Gopal Ratnam and Michelle Fay Cortez, Bloomberg News

No one knows better than Connie Chapman that almost 150 years since troops came home with "soldier's heart" after the Civil War, the U.S. military is still struggling to identify and treat what's now called PTSD.

Posted in Veterans News

War Might Be Making Young Bodies Old

BOSTON -- A litany of physical or emotional problems spill out as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans make their way, one by one, to the 11th floor of a VA hospital in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

The tragic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or battlefield concussion are all too evident. Even more alarming for researchers is emerging evidence that these newest American combat veterans -- former GIs and Marines in their 20s and 30s -- appear to be growing old before their time. Scientists see early signs of heart disease and diabetes, slowed metabolisms and obesity -- maladies more common to middle age or later.

Posted in Veterans News

Wounded Soldiers Get Lesson In Resiliency

By Greg Barnes, Staff writer

Kyle Maynard implored Fort Bragg's wounded soldiers to set impossible goals for themselves and then strive to reach them.

When he had finished speaking, about 300 strong from Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion responded with a standing ovation.

Posted in Veterans News

Wounded Warriors Are Fighting A New Kind Of War

A wide-ranging inspection of Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion found that the program for physically and mentally wounded soldiers has shortcomings - notably a need for better leadership.

Posted in Veterans News

Wounded Warriors Face New Enemy: Overmedication

All Things Considered (NPR), 4:10 PM

ROBERT SIEGEL: When sick or seriously wounded troops return home from combat duty, most are assigned to special units called Wounded Warrior battalions. These units aim to give thousands of soldiers and Marines the month they need to recover.

Posted in Veterans News

National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

Homeless Veteran in need of help? Call 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838)

The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at-risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors.

My HealtheVet for online personal health records

image for My HealtheVet for online personal health records

My HealtheVet is VA's online personal health record. It was designed for Veterans, active duty Servicemembers, their dependents and caregivers. My HealtheVet helps you partner with your health care team. It provides you opportunities and tools to make informed decisions and manage your health care.

VeteranAid website Has Information On Veteran Aid and Attendance Improved Pension

image for VeteranAid website Has Information On Veteran Aid and Attendance Improved Pension

The Veterans Administration offers Aid and Attendance as part of an "Improved Pension" Benefit that is largely unknown. This Improved Pension allows for Veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing, undressing, medication dosing, or taking care of the needs of nature to receive additional monetary benefits. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an Assisted Living facility also qualifies.

National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury (NRCTBI)

The mission of the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury (NRCTBI) is to provide relevant, practical information for professionals, persons with brain injury, and family members. We have more than two decades of experience investigating the special needs and problems of people with brain injury and their families.  With input from consumers and nationally recognized experts, we have developed a wide variety of assessment tools, intervention programs, and training programs. 

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Posted in PTSD / TBI

Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) for Air Force Veteran Information

image for Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) for Air Force Veteran Information

The Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) is a field operating agency of Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel.

AIR FORCE VETERAN INFORMATION

The following information is provided for individuals who have served in the United States Air Force and have retired or separated from service. 

Posted in US Air Force

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA)

image for Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA)

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) is the official relief society of the U.S. Coast Guard. CGMA is a non-profit charitable organization established to provide financial aid to the entire Coast Guard family. While CGMA works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, it is an independent corporation. Its mission is to promote the financial stability and general well being of Coast Guard people through interest-free loans, grants, and financial counseling.

Posted in US Coast Guard

VA reaching out to help Kansas veterans finalize claims, hear feedback at town

image for VA reaching out to help Kansas veterans finalize claims, hear feedback at town

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WICHITA, Kansas — The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center wants to hear directly from veterans and their families about their experiences with their services.

The facility has scheduled a town hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday in the facility's auditorium. The agency VA's regional office in Wichita also will be holding a benefits claim clinic from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Representatives from the Dole VA Medical Center will be available to provide one-on-one assistance to veterans during the town hall. Senior staff and medical experts will be in a move to improve communications with veterans, their families, and other beneficiaries.

Veterans can get help for their benefits claims at the clinic, and the VA says staff will be on hand to finalize their claims as appropriate.

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Whistleblowers call VA inspector general a joke

image for Whistleblowers call VA inspector general a joke

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to retaliate against whistleblowers despite repeated pledges to stop punishing those who speak up, a group of employees said Tuesday. One called the department's office of inspector general a "joke."

VA whistleblowers from across the country told a Senate committee that the department has failed to hold supervisors accountable more than a year after a scandal that broke over chronic delays for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records covering up the waits.

Shea Wilkes, a mental health social worker at the Shreveport, Louisiana, VA hospital, said agency leaders are "more interested in perpetuating their own careers than caring for our veterans."

Wilkes, who helped organize a group known as "VA Truth Tellers," said "years of cronyism and lack of accountability have allowed at least two generations of poor, incompetent leaders to plant themselves within the system," harming medical treatment for veterans. The informal watchdog group includes more than 40 whistleblowers from VA facilities in a dozen states.

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Important VA Numbers and Websites

We grabbed the useful telephone numbers and links to other websites so you can access them here whenever the VA Website is down for maintenance. (Please note: These phone numbers and links are present on the VA website even when the website is down for maintenance. However, it may be difficult to find what you need because the information on the website does not appear in the normal format.)

Veterans Crisis Line - 800-273-8255 and Press 1

More important numbers and website links below...

Horse Riding Helps Wounded War Veterans

See this video from Discovery News that shows how wounded war veterans are benefiting from horse therapy.

News: Horse Riding Helps Wounded War Veterans

Discovery News reports on Walter Reed Medical Center Horse Therapy Program that helps recent amputees recover from their injuries.

Paralyzed Veterans of America

For more than 65 years, Paralyzed Veterans of America has been on a mission to change lives and build brighter futures for our seriously injured heroes—to empower these brave men and women with what they need to achieve the things they fought for: freedom and independence.

The Retired Enlisted Association

THE RETIRED ENLISTED ASSOCIATION (TREA) was founded in 1963 by two men retired from the Air Force -- Master Sergeant George Skonce and Master Sergeant Dean Sorell. These two dedicated retirees realized that they, and their fellow enlisted retirees, had no voice in the corridors of power to stand up for their hard-earned rights and promised benefits.

New electronic medical records save veterans time and VA money

A pilot program for secure record sharing that insures consistency of medical care while saving veterans time and money.

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Posted in Veterans Videos

Video - The American Veteran Video - Social Media at VA

The American Veteran - Social Media at VA

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Posted in Veterans Videos