Veteran Smokes Pot For PTSD, May See Cut To Caregiver Stipend

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Benjamin KrauseArmy veteran Jerry Hamilton moved to Colorado from Tennessee to smoke pot for PTSD treatment of his numerous daily seizures. While his seizures are down to 4 per day from 20, his condition no doubt requires ongoing support from the Caregiver Support Program.

This program provides additional compensation to pay for an in-home caregiver to provide constant care to severely injured veterans of the current wars. Many times, severely injured veterans need around the clock care, and this program compensates people to leave their jobs to provide care – usually for a loved one like a spouse or offspring.

Unfortunately, seizures may not be the only thing that is down following the health care induced move. Now that Hamilton moved to Colorado, thus changing VA health care facilities, his new VA  in Colorado wants a crack at lowering his disability payments by up to $3,500.

The Department of Veterans Affairs claims Hamilton’s seizures may be caused by another condition for which he does not have a disability rating from the agency. As a result of this “guilty before proven innocent scheme”, Veterans Health Administration in Denver wants to reevaluate him under the premise that the twitching is not caused by PTSD.

They have no proof yet, but they did deny his existing claim hoping to find proof later. They believe it is connected to something else, and for that reason, the agency may be off the hook for paying Hamilton’s wife to take care of her husband. The big problem for Hamilton here is that he now has to rely on Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to service connect whatever it may be, other than PTSD, that could be causing the seizures. Or, VBA will confirm PTSD is the primary cause of the seizures.

Basically, VA in Colorado denied his claim for the Caregiver Program on the basis that they do not believe the other VA in Tennessee had it right. But isn’t this agency federal? How is it that one location can override another to the detriment of the veteran without proof?

According to Fox 31 Denver:

Documents from the V.A. show the Hamilton’s had been receiving the benefit for nearly two years in Tennessee based on “a mental health condition.”

But in September, the Hamilton’s received a veteran denial letter stating they no longer “meet the clinical eligibility criteria.”

“They`re stating that the PTSD is not seizures.  It`s not ticks. It`s not movement. They`re stating that that`s a separate diagnosis than the PTSD,” said Cissie Hamilton.

The Caregiver Support Program is for Veterans who suffered a serious injury in the line of duty, according to Daniel Warvi, Public Affairs Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The V.A. admits Hamilton has been diagnosed with PTSD but in a statement it claims a “comprehensive review determined that while Mr. Hamilton’s care needs that were communicated to VA were for ‘brain injury,’ this veteran does not have a service connected disability rating for a brain injury awarded by the Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA). The Hamilton’s have since stated that they believe his need for a Caregiver is related to a Seizure Disorder and a Movement Disorder, but those are also not conditions that VBA has determined to be service-connected.”

Talk about penalizing a guy for trying to get better.

Read More: http://kdvr.com/2014/11/16/veteran-runs-into-problems-with-va-after-moving-to-colorado/

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17 COMMENTS

  1. If the intend of this article was to gain support for this person, it didn’t happen. No information was given as to what his mos or job was in the war. What happen to cause his ptsd. Have never heard of ptsd causing the conditions he stated he has. It shows his wife giving him ptsd oil. This is the correct treatment for his condition, not smoking pot but using the oil as is shown. To get caregiver money you have to pretty much be housebound and bedridden not out walking in public giving interviews or going to town. For that money he does not qualify. If he was that bad at the discharge time, he should have been given a medical retirement discharge. So when did he get the condition. Also he can draw full social security payments. Also he had the chance to take out disability insurance thru the military that would have given him 100’s of thousands or a million dollars in lump sum or annuity payment. With so much fraud in the ptsd and tbi claims to the VA, it is hard not to have doubts about soldiers making claims. His story is really lacking in information to back up his claim.

    • Hello, I was shot in the head while stationed in Germany and it took me 40 years to find the proof and found out that the v.a. had this information all along. I have been told now after a brain scan that I have a T.B.I., by the V.A., During those 30 years I have had mini strokes and migrains per V.A. doctors. The claims department turned me down for T.B.I. and Migrains, even though they have it documented in my medical records. I am 100% total and perment disabled. I did not fight their findings, If they do not want to follow the law and hurt veterans shame on them. If you are not a Doctor or have all the information people should not judge until they have all the facts. Now what.

      • James, about getting shot in the head in Germany. okay, congressman LaMalfa in northern California recently was on TV in the House of Reps, stating how a vet he serves had a case going back like 32 years that the VA has sabotaged. it was recently approved but may still be lingering because of the huge sum the vet is owed, according to what I have been told by LaMalfa’s office assistant Erin Ryan. you case is very similar. my case is too. the VA received a letter from the Marines in 1976 stating I am “100% service-connected disabled for VA purposes” starting in 1976. the VA hid that letter from me for decades though my ptsd claim was finally approved in 1994 but for only about 4 years retro. go to your congressman, talk to ben Krause about it too, go after the VA retro back to the date you got shot. the VA is getting hell from the new secretary about the kind of crap they pulled on you, and on me, and on the other vet. I am getting new progress because I contacted McDonald by email using the email address that ben Krause posted here recently. they owe you a truck full of money that you earned because you got hurt real bad in the service in the military for America’s interests. go after the bastards, and McDonald will actually back you up and fight for you and you will see real results very quickly. I think mcdonald’s email address is [email protected] as was posted by ben Krause, this site’s founder, here a couple of weeks ago or so. semper fi

    • In all due respect, as I do not know you, but in exact same light, YOU do not know THIS particular Veteran’s PTSD and I doubt you understand the full spectrum of PTSD rather than the snapshot of PTSD that you almost make it sound like your generalization and judge and jury understanding or projection of PTSD is entirely textbook clean and “neat and tidy”, when PTSD is polar opposite of any of the above and your rather weak assumptions.
      I do indeed live with PTSD and other legitimate service connected disabilities and have been in therapy and on meds for quite a long time. Meds and what works is literally like throwing crap at a wall and waiting to see what sticks…but the VA goes out of it’s way to delegitimize, let alone acknowledge PTSD and TBI. Nor is the VA current and utilizing new research and techniques, let alone placing better medicines on their formulary and getting rid of dangerous, antiquated ones.
      Anyway, just really thought your comment sounded more like someone trolling here on Ben’s Blog that happens to work for the VA in some capacity but you sure do not sound like a brother Veteran…because we do all stand together and perhaps it may be enlightening to see that just the a person that lives with HIV and on daily rough medicines rest of life, HIV is different as far as bodily and even mental symptoms in just same way PTSD is a terribly individualized personal hell.
      Knowledge erases ignorance.

      • I don’t smoke pot and will not even though the VA has tried to trick me into doing so, and I say trick, which is what it is, as proven by what the VA is doing these days that has been now been widely exposed by Ben Krause. The VA is a sick organization designed to provide for itself and its workers, not the veteran, but McDonald seems to be actually trying to make some changes. We will see how those changes actually go. Allison Hickey Undersecretary of Benefits seems to be doing something different, in favor of veterans too. VA staff or sympathizers, no matter their reasons, do not belong on this sight when they are posing as legitimate persons who have a dog in this fight. For now, never trust the VA, because there will always be someone there ready to sabotage you. The VA is like the Gestapo and the Nazi SS who would do anything to win their objective, including pretending and posing in order to destroy anyone willing to trust them. Again, maybe McDonald and Hickey will actually do something soon to take out the Nazi game aspect. I have written to both of them a few times and some progress has been made on my claim but we will see how it actually goes. My claim has dragged on for years and been shot down so many times so we will have to wait and see if the VA is just going to pull one more trick at the end or not. The VA itself has repeatedly said, by their doctors and all sorts of staff that I qualify for Reg. Aid and Attendance, then they just sabotage things with some excuse or technicality. I don’t think they can get by with that any more. There is a very good chance that after many years of the Hell they have put me and my family through on this that it will soon be approved, then you will hear about it here. McDonald and Hickey seem to be doing things to move my claim forward finally in an honest and fair way with the only possible result of approval. We will see. Meanwhile, if you are not a veteran or pro veteran you have no business here unless you clearly identify yourself as someone who is simply against veterans positions. Vets fought hard for their benefits, as McDonald has said, so maybe you need to think about who you are working for now. Shinseki and the old anti-vet executive guard are gone, so maybe you need to get that straight before you get canned along with him.

  2. Tom you obviously do not understand the EFFECTS OF PTSD. As with the VA they try to PIDGEON HOLE the conditions, but we are talking about INDIVIDUALS, WHAT EFFECTS ONE MIGHT NOT EFFECT ANOTHER IN THE SAME MANNER.
    I am service connected at 50%, and for the life of me , I could not tell you when PTSD actually effected me. I do know that my life has been less than DESIRABLE since my service to our country.
    I might have been DAMAGED before my service, at which rate I should have been REJECTED, might been during BASIC, again DISCHARGED, AIT, same option. Just as we have the chance to insure our FUTURE, it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the Govt to make sure we are FIT for DUTY.

  3. Severe traumatic stress is often followed by post-traumatic stress that leaves the veteran in a temporary, intermittent, or even permanent catatonic trance. This can also include uncontrollable shaking. The veteran Ben is talking about without question has a condition that was either caused directly by military service injuries, or they were worsened. If they were worsened by military service it does not matter if the injuries existed before service or came after service. This is true if you are dealing with a fair examiner as opposed to the pre-McDonald VA, meaning: The VA is being held accountable for fair evaluations and tricks they use to cleverly manipulate facts against disabled vets that were injured in the service. Countless thousands of people who simply saw the World Trade Centers collapse at 9/11 came down with extreme ptsd, for one short event that did not even directly physically harm them. The person who talks about this being a “hack” site sounds suspiciously like, to use their own word, a VA hack. The veteran also must be given the benefit of the doubt, at every step of the process. That is a SAW the vet is holding, not a box of Girl Scout cookies. Connect the dots. Nay sayers might want to critique someone else instead of a vet who the VA apparently still thinks they can play the same old spin game with. Also, it is pure BS that the VA tells vets to smoke pot then threatens or tampers with their ratings and care. SFVA Medical Center, nurse Merriam, told me on tape because I use assistive technology prescribed by the VA, that “A lot of our ptsd vets smoke pot, so you should too.” That was last year, and I still do not smoke pot and will not, and have not, but look at the scam. How many other VA health providers told vets that same thing only to set them up deliberately as has been done with the vet with the SAW in his hands!? Please just shut up and harass an ISIS member or go volunteer at a homeless shelter instead of ragging on a ptsd vet who needs a caregiver due to what the military put him through. Ben knows a hell of a lot more about this stuff than the nay sayer commenter, obviously.

  4. @keyamontep

    I am sure Ben and the rest of us will greatly miss your insight and wisdom on this site….NOT. I know Ben personally and know he cares deeply about veterans and keeping the VA accountable. He could do many other things with his law degree but he CHOOSES to help vets and fight the VA. Someone has to do it, will you?? I doubt it.

    PTSD is challenging for any who face it. I cannot say one way or another that those issues are related to the PTSD. He does clearly have issues and from the one side of the story we see presented he and his family are trying to do the right thing. The VA is a nightmare to navigate and we seem to see both sides in this case. One side which, possibly in error, did what they could to get him resources. The other side, who wants to not only right what they feel is a wrong which has been done but to do it in almost a punitive measure. When mistakes are made it is almost always the vet who is blamed, not the VA. How much more evidence do we need that the VA deserves the line share of the blame? I am waiting for the next story on this to come out and they go after him to pay back the money, not for anything he did wrong but for their own mistake!!

    Keep up the good work Ben, it is an honor to call you friend.

    DTD

  5. As long as the use of Marijuana (T.H.C.) is “BANNED BY FEDREAL LAW AND IS A SCHEDULE 1 NARCOTIC” it will NEVER be approved by our Federal Government as an effective ‘tool’ to relieve ANYTHING! The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS ITS HANDS TIED, THE V.A. HAS ITS HANDS TIED, (as the V.A. is still a ‘FEDERALLY RUN/FUNDED FACILITY’) WE VETERANS HAVE “OUR HANDS TIED”!! If it isn’t made AVAILABLE FOR THE VETERANS BY THE VETERANS DOCTORS, ON V.A. PROPERTY IT WILL BE A LIMBO SITUATION! SO, NO MATTER HOW MANY “PRESIDENTS” ADMIT TO HAVING SMOKED IT, HOW MANY “STATES” HAVE APPROVED IT, UNTIL THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PASSES IT AS AN ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVE, AND REPEALS THE “FEDERAL LAW” THAT MAKES IT A “CLASS 1 FELONY”, MARIJAUNA WILL STILL BE UNAVAILABLE TO VETERANS AND CITIZENS!!!!! PERIOD!!!!

    • Tom, as to your critique on the vet who smokes pot due to PTSD and the VA messing with his ratings and EARNED benefits: are you a vet? do you have any idea what you are talking about? if you are a vet, do you yourself have ptsd or some other condition caused by something that happened to you in the service; as in something really nasty that can only happen there and leave people permanently messed up really bad?! if you are a vet maybe you should not be so judgmental and impulsively take the VA’s side. if your take on his case is anywhere near factually accurate, and everyone doubts that it is but you quite obviously, it is at best only a stretch. with that in mind, give the guy the benefit of the doubt. go fight ISIS and get ready to repel an invading army that may come against America, go out and help someone somewhere, or just keep to yourself quietly. you will be a better man for it. years ago in the service i used a .50 caliber browning automatic, that is set up on a tripod because it is so heavy; it is more like a small cannon that a rifle. i also used an m-60 and smaller things like an m-14 and m-16 and .45’s. go somewhere and just do some range firing on just an m-60 then get back to us. you probably never even heard one, and rambo movies and video games don’t count because they don’t even come close to how fricking loud and obnoxious an m-60 is. from studying your mindset, as brief of material as there is to do so, i would bet you would get seriously messed up just being near an m-60 laying on a table; you would freak out if you heard it firing, and you probably could not handle firing one itself even at a firing range. please don’t be so judgmental when you have so little to go on, and likewise we won’t be so judgmental of you… p.s. using even an m-16 only a few times at long range in a real world battle situation messes people up whether they realize it or not. anyway, cut him some slack, especially because you are just speculating in favor of the VA when the rules say it works the other way. there is obviously something seriously wrong with him and it didn’t happen at Walmart.

    • Legal pill form of THC ( active ingredient in Marijuana ) is Dronabinal . VA dispensed it to a friend of mine after I made him aware of it .He was terminal with cancer and loosing weight due to nausea and vomiting . He experienced pain relief and increased appetite .This was a legal alternative , as Marijuana is illegal in Ohio . After he passed his mother called to thank me . I was a medic Army , an LPN for 23 years and an orderly in between .This drug will not result in lung cancer or arrest , if prescribed .

    • Sorry, but it is available and no, as of right now, if I am legally smoking cannabis, the VA doesn’t, period

  6. I know this is very small compared to what some of you are going through but I have moved from Washington State to Indiana and I am on chronic pain meds and anxiety meds. When I moved to IN the VA Dr’s would not look at my VA Seattle records to see what my condition is, what medicines I take, anything. It is if the last ten years of VA Healthcare never existed. I am now having to go through the whole process of trying to get my meds back and the whole time I am in so much pain I can’t stand it. I am getting 2 -3 hrs. of sleep a night and I wake up constantly because of the pain. My anxiety is now keeping me from getting out and I do not know what to do. I have contacted the Patient Advocate with not much luck. I am being told by them that this is another state and the Dr’s here can do what they want to with regards to prescribing meds. I always thought that the VA was the VA and the state did not matter. I know about the DEA and the new rules as I was informed about this at the Seattle VA and they were fine with me continuing to take the meds as they were helping me and my dose is not to a point that it is considered a risk. I have contacted Allison Hickey about this and I am awaiting an answer form the person to whom she has referred this to that is in control to the medical side. If anyone has any info on if this is correct for them to be able to do this please let me know. Also I was recently awarded an increase from 20% to 40% due to my condition becoming worse and that was while I was in Washington State. How can one VA not look into the other VA for their care and seeing how I have been out there for ten years it would seem as if they would want to look at this to give them a better picture of my concerns and be able to address what need to be done.

  7. An online, confidential user-friendly computer program at PTSDSTRESS.COM reduces anxiety and stress. Users are less anxious, calmer, more relaxed. Relief is lasting. There’s no registration. No personal information is required.
    A confidential, anonymous session is $10 and lasts 15 minutes. A cardholder name is not required to use a credit card. The computer program was proven effective at the University of Cincinnati Medical School with veterans with PTSD showing stress reduction of 61% after program use.

  8. I served from 1966 -1974, over three years in vietnam. I have been seeing the VA for my only primary care. I am rated 100% disabled, I receive a monthly disability check at the 100% rate, but when I moved from northern California to Arkansas in 2012, Arkansas would not accept my wife. Since then, we moved back to California so that she would have health care through the VA, however . . since then both of us have quit seeing the VA except for my twice a year visit to my primary caregiver. He keeps me in meds, and quite understanding when talking about My use of cannabis (legal in California) . I started to smoke pot in 1974 after getting out of the Army. Why? Let me see . . After being turned away from a Colorado Springs, Colorado VFW bar, I seeked my own form of psych. service. It worked!!! Finally I was able to sleep after getting high. You see, I just can’t stand it when anybody tries to tell me what I can do, and what I can’ do if what I am doing causes nobody harm. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I still get high, (legally still) it is not nor should it be a class 1 narcotic. It does help, at least it helps me and quite a few others as well.

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