In a letter to the editor, Les Greene, president-elect of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, wrote a recent article about fraud charges against first responders was “hardly” shocking. The Jan. 7 article “Charges for 106 in Huge Fraud Over Disability,” detailed retired New York City police officers and firefighters accused of faking symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and other psychological injuries. According to Greene, “The tragedy is that compensation doled out by government agencies can be readily taken advantage of…by those who need to identify themselves as victims, and thus entitled to reparations by others.” Read more.
Veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are, on the whole, younger than other vets who served prior and they may be at greater risk for homelessness, according to a report from the News21 program.
In particular, post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other mental and behavioral health issues are some of the leading causes of homelessness among post-9/11 veterans. Groups such as Vet Hunters and various shelters are working to find vets and address their issues in an effort to curb homelessness. Read more.
Despite a growing backlog of disability claims and appeals, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave workers millions in bonuses through a system that values quantity over quality, according to an investigative report from the Carnegie-Knight News21 program.
VA claims processors said they were encouraged to avoid complex claims that needed extra work to verify veterans’ injuries and disabilities in order to meet performance standards. As of September 2012, veterans injured on duty waited more than 429 days on average for their claims to be handled while those appealing decisions often waited for years to receive help.
The Associated Press recently announced that it is adding an entry to its stylebook to help journalists cover the topic of mental illness in a fair and appropriate manner. Some of their recommendations include being specific when including information about a diagnosis by using the name of the disorder and proper sourcing.
Another aspect of the new entry has ties to the Newtown school shooting in December, 2012. AP cautions not to “assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime,” and advises reporters to use more neutral language when describing a condition, such as “has obsessive-compulsive disorder” rather than “suffers from” or similar terms.
The complete AP entry, which will be included in the upcoming Spring edition, can be found at the link above. The National Association of Broadcasters also released a statement on the new addition, which is linked to here.
In September, it was announced that an estimated three out of every ten veterans who have served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars since 9/11 have Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This comes after criticism was leveled at the agency for its delays in making decisions on disability claims filed by veterans.
The issue of what life is like for veterans after their tours of duty has been well-covered by news outlets over the past decade, and recently, NBC Rock Center with Brian Williams profiled one soldier’s post-war experience back home.
The article from The Daily Beast, written by Jaime Reno, quotes a source as saying the V.A. did not want to make the fact that nearly 250,000 veterans are living with PTSD public. Over 830,000 service members have fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, according to the article.
Mike Rioux waited 18 months to have his disability benefits claim processed after returning from the war in Afghanistan. As Randy Kaye of CNN reports, when the decision was finally reached, Rioux was told he qualified for a monthly payment of under $700 and was only 40 percent disabled. The Department of Veterans Affairs did not provide compensation for his traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, both acquired during his military service. His PTSD diagnosis was even given by a VA doctor.
According to CNN, Rioux and his family are not alone in fighting with the VA to obtain monetary benefits, and the economic struggles are taking their toll.
Most of the difficulty with making decisions and evaluating claims appears to be the result of “severe and complex mental injuries” like traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.
The report compared these injuries to Agent Orange and Gulf War syndrome, meaning that the VA is trying to determine the right benefit amount for those affected by things like PTSD. Because terms used to describe these conditions are relatively new, it can be hard to compare these more “hidden disabilities” to those with obvious physical manifestations.
Officials with the VA are expecting to process approximately one million applications from veterans by the end of 2012, and they say the goal is to process incoming applications within 125 days, according to CNN.
The U.S. military has agreed to pay millions of dollars to veterans who were discharged from the service for post-traumatic stress disorder with lower disability ratings than they are entitled to. But time is running out for those who are eligible.
SAN ANTONIO — Richard Martin keeps a rearview mirror on his desk to prevent co-workers from startling him in his cubicle. The walls are papered with sticky notes to help him remember things, and he wears noise-canceling headphones to keep his easily distracted mind focused.