At Least 60,000 Veteran Suicides Over Past Decade Report Says
The Department of Veterans Affairs released a report on Friday revealing at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide over the past decade.
Despite reassurances and millions in funding each year, the agency has repeatedly failed to make a substantive dent in veteran suicide. Until 2017, the agency spent tens of millions in taxpayer dollars annually with advertising agencies to create ad campaigns and glitzy events to raise awareness, supposedly, without slowing the tide.
Last year, President Donald Trump caught a lot of flack for cutting back on veteran suicide “awareness” campaign spending citing a lack of oversight.
Maybe they knew the writing was on the wall for such programs.
Remember Veterans For Common Sense?
One part of the story that few people may remember is the class-action lawsuit brought by Veterans For Common Sense and Veterans United For Truth. The Court eventually concluded it could not get involved in oversight of agency benefits that impact the treatment of PTSD and suicide prevention.
Rumor has it agency officials were not straight with the 9th Circuit on agency data, which influenced the outcome of the litigation.
So, we now know VA instead spent lots of money on glitzy advertising and little on genuinely impactful programs or mental health hiring – – at least not in a substantive way.
RELATED: VA Shuts Down Long-term PTSD Therapy Program
The National Veteran Suicide Report
VA’s 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report showed that while the total population of veterans declined, the data suggest the suicide rate is increasing.
To address the impact of the numbers, VA is using a few new tactics – – create a new algorithm to calculate the veteran suicide rate.
A few years back, the veteran suicide rate was around 22 veterans per day.
VA then changed how the data was tabulated, so we ended up with 20 veteran suicides per day.
Now, VA says the new algorithm shows 17 veterans commit suicide per day by removing some of the populations they previously included.
RELATED: Advocates Sue VA Over Delay To Grant Vietnam Veterans’ Benefits
An example of the now excluded groups is National Guard and Reserve members who were not federally activated when they served meaning they do not qualify for VA services.
Meanwhile, the report shows the number of veteran suicides increased by 2 percent from 2016 to 2017, an overall increase of 8 percent since 2008.
VA is also blending trends of suicide within the general population with veteran suicide, and also suggesting the issue to too complex for the agency specializing in veteran mental health to address.
Basically, the report reads like, “Fixing suicide is really hard,” after blowing through hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars over the past decade without much to show for it.
RELATED: VA Police Brutality Settlement
In a statement, Secretary Robert Wilkie said VA is unable to address veteran suicides without support from local governments.
“VA is working to prevent suicide among all veterans, whether they are enrolled in VA health care or not,” Wilkie said. “That’s why the department has adopted a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention, using bundled strategies that cut across various sectors — faith communities, employers, schools and health care organizations, for example — to reach veterans where they live and thrive.”
Other Veteran Suicide Prevent Solutions?
Now, one obvious solution, at least in my mind, would be for the agency to stop screwing veterans when we try to get our benefits. Adjudicate the claim in an honest and transparent manner. And, do this as fast as possible.
Take the recent Blue Water Vietnam Veteran stall tactic. After decades of fighting, Navy veterans won a massive legal battle to receive benefits for herbicide exposure. Rather than pay up, VA lobbied its veterans organizations to push legislation to help it stall adjudicating those claims for six months.
So, while the Vietnam veterans impacted are dying while waiting for benefits, VA is working to stall out a few more. Why didn’t VA have a system in place since they knew the agency’s position was completely absurd?
Or, VA could stop knowingly using unqualified medical professionals to conduct highly complicated disability exams for conditions like Traumatic Brain Injury.
Back to my one obvious solution. Stop screwing veterans using absurd legal arguments to hold back the money they are entitled to.
Sound like a plan?
Maybe step two should be to stop wasting money on crony deals with government contractors that provide little tangible benefit to veterans as a whole. Then use that money to hire more mental health experts.
Maybe step three could be to develop a Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) hybrid with the VA Home Loan to help certain veterans buy a Tiny House attached to a small organic farm. I like that kind of idea…
Maybe expand self-employment offerings at the agency and stop fighting veterans seeking economic freedom as hard as the program has done in the past.
As a Veterans Rights Attorney representing veterans denied Voc Rehab benefits, I sometimes suspect some of its counselors would do well to remember they were hired to serve veterans and not the other way around.
What ideas do you have that could help?
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
UPDATE: September 26, 2019 – The original version of this story listed the incorrect nonprofit in the Veterans For Common Sense litigation. The correct co-litigant with VCS was Veterans United For Truth and not Swords to Plowshares.
There long has been a tacit policy that instead of asking military criminal justice officials to investigate Military Sexual Assault (MSA) claims to hold perps accountable under the UCMJ, their prey are thrown in a locked military psychiatric ward where they are further traumatized and tortured with forced drugs, a career killing label, incarceration, additional MSA and brain electrocution. This is blame the victim. ALWAYS the assumption is “mental health” programs are the proper remedy for MSA, not holding perps accountable. Neither the numbers or proportions of MSAs or suicides will be abated under this assumption. The real and obvious remedy is JUSTICE NOT THE “TREATMENT”!
Ben, your reply box remained open for me to continue to comment??? Is this why after my one liner, the reply box surfaced again? Yes, I will explain why I agree with Paula but not at this moment.
A major part of the problem is the focus on POST 9/11 Veterans with PTSD.
They have the lowest risk of susicde and always have
They do suffer suicidal ideation but will seldom act on it
Vietnam vets, who most often no longer use the VA (do need to wonder about that) remain at highest risk
59% are vets over age 55 and 21% are over age 75
14 of the 17 no longer use the VA
Focusing on vets in need has always been the solution. But how many realize who’s really in need?
Paula – – – Spot on.
Paula, I agree with your analysis.
Thank you. Few have any idea who’s at risk. The confusing is with the terms COUNT vs RATE
Public don’t care about veteran issues few people at town hall no media
So, the VA is taking a page out of the Westmoreland playbook. Don’t like how the war is going? Conflate the enemy KIA numbers. VA isn’t happy with the suicide optic, re-massage the numbers. Lie to Congress. Lie to the public. And don’t worry about lying to veterans because their collective lobby, the VSOs, don’t really serve the veterans. Welcome to Kardashia. And above all else, thank you for being gullible enough to serve what this country has become.
Ben, I need to get off here and get things done however. Perfect timing buddy. You post this article and local news reports “No more veterans day parades in November.” Reasons being? “No public interest in veteran’s issues or the parade.” Oh but the reports keep on coming about stopping vet homelessness which is increasing, and “food insecurity.” But then it all gets clumped together with others like illegals or immigrants with the same issues, so who to serve, who to serve, who is more important. Long time coming and why I stopped attending those lame meetings too. Per lame news, out of fear, having to please the local lying rulers, the misguided, uncaring, issue ignoring veteran’s councils that refuse to discuss more serious issues like VA corruption, the retaliation of them all, the suicides, or why many vets simply don’t want the kind of help and from whom is offered, trust issues. Nice huh? Then the claims of a drop in suicides? No way, not drinking the Kool-Aid. While one report says suicides are rampant, the others says media refuses to report on the issue of suicides, or the who, what, why, when, where, and hows. Never question. So censoring and blacking out more news and reality wins, we lose. Media and stat keepers are some of our worse enemies.
We are dealing with major life and death issues minus much public or media support. Now locally with over a hundred thousand and more citizens, plus the college crowd, and can’t count parade attendees on both hands then stopped due to “no public support or drawing?” But micro beer parties, home coming drunk walks, etc., are big time and fill the streets? With male twerkers, litter bug masses and nut jobs?
Robert Wilkie’s statements are pure BS and so is depending on local governments and health care people. They have forgotten the bottom line and oaths. “First do no harm.” Ah ha! Who is going to win that over such things like nepotism, their networks of retaliation and pay backs. Or over the activist, union hate groups, the SJWs, etc. Hiring staff and workers to fill quotas or affirmative action or just to get classes filled and students out in the field that can’t pass the tests to do their jobs or any psychiatric testing to prove they can be around others and ‘do no harm’ and keep politics or activism out of health care or the VA. Or hire them due to mommy, daddy or someone being in high office so their own can get whatever employment they desire medical or not, but for sure in power positions. It’s beyond payments for a college education or grad papers just because so they can practice medicine, get a un-earned degree, or pretend.
Transparency… there will be no such thing. Censoring, passing laws that forbid recording events or in places needed? There are reasons for that and it isn’t to help protect us from scum and evil doers.
Contractors… more of those we can’t seek audience with. That health care is just a side-line while they are in the insurance business, protecting their own too and etc? And the kissing of big Pharma and AMA or medical board’s butts.
May be tiny homes built but not on any property they can own or have a garden or farm. Or separate the needs out to others rather than vets. Seems today things branch out and donation do NOT stay in place for veterans only.
Voc Rehab types do no good forcing, demanding, or telling people they need and should go into social work or the likes, or “interior design.” What the hell? While doing their best to push employment opportunities like college town’s demand of not “getting dirty” or disallowing “dirty type jobs instead of white collar business opportunities or college’s wants over other things. Farming and ag work falls under ‘getting dirty.’
Yes, benefits and rapidly would be great. So is housing etc. Why are so many communities tearing down perfectly fine houses or because they may be old ‘shot-gun’ styled homes because some politician doesn’t like them or the style. Being “condemned” does not mean they are not livable or repairable. They pay thousands per home to be torn down by their buddies and cliques and many are, countless handy man fixer uppers are torn down on a whim. When they could set a vet and maybe his family up in one with deals with utilities and such to be fixed up and sold very cheaply or for a simple buck to own. But utilities and insurance companies want and demand their big bucks like others do. No simply more property to be owned by some city, college, politician’s land grabbing or investment/developing, a hospital, bare useless land for urban sprawl instead of homes for vets. Oh no, they don’t’ want that suggestion to be heard. Other communities that have done that are shut out from discussions or input too. And how well that idea has worked for many.
I don’t suggest people call any hot-line for help. Why when so many fear it, being on a list, the red-tape or possible raid on their homes or whatever. We are already on so many watch lists and our med files open for many to see including our so-called allies and foreigners we are supposed to hug, kiss and trust completely while being total strangers or cultural opposites.
Change starts in DC and out to the local levels. Bring pink slips and start firing people, removing corrupt politicians to the health care regimes of evil and abuse. Cease the censoring instead of blowing smoke up our asses on TV spouting crap in global U.N. village meetings. Start charging all the freaks out here with treason, as monopolies, violators of our Constitutional and human rights, and much more. Including media and stopping all laws permitting all the evils to function including to freely propagandize and lie to the public. To prosecuting those who are harassing some of us to preventing us from health care or doing business as usual in our corrupt states and towns. Then change may occur not until. While the “public has no interest.”
Benjamin, Mr. Wilkie made comments that he needs to have local government to help in order to curtail the suicides. Ben, tell me how local government can help curtail suicides when the source contributor and cause is the Department of Veterans Affairs? Mr. Wilkie, is projecting onto and deflecting the blame. This is what the Democratic party does. Project onto the Republicans and Trump what they are guilty of. Kind of weird Wilkie is a Republican because he portrays himself similar to Democrats. Actually, he maybe a RINO honestly. Because he most certainly does not run with the Freedom Caucus Republicans who stand for the Constitution along with LIFE. Benjamin, VHA sent me notice of privacy practices effective 30 September 2019. The notice includes information on privacy and how they can disclose my health information without my permission. Also, it includes how to retrieve copy of my health record information and my military service records. Plus, how to make amendment to records. Now, Ben, why are they sending me this notice? I am not making any changes of my record with them. I do not have any need to. One cannot change the reality of the past. Ben, around year 2000 is when they started transitioning to keeping records in electronic health record format. EHR. Ben, I have all my Navy active duty personnel records in paper format. Yes I do. I have my Navy medical records in paper format. Before 2000, I believe the VA sent their records to Nevada to be stored. I have highlighted paper records of those too. As for this current VA, I have those records on CDs. They were issued to me by them. Records include 2014 -2015 and on back. Ben, I have them because of me yes and too the State Voc Rehab wanted the records around 2014-2015. Not sure why they even wanted them because the SS /State Voc Rehab was piggy backing off the VA to deny anyway. The VA psychiatrist would not fill out any paperwork for Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation. Neither would the Social Worker. This Social Worker left the VA in 2015. This VA Social Worker recognized the truth with what was happening in regards to me and then social worker was also witnessing what the VA was doing too with the false narratives the VA was trying to attach to me. Social worker could see the VA hand and then social worker could see who I was. VA social worker was not caught up in VA politics and this VA social worker left the VA mostly because social worker did not agree with the happenings of the VA leadership and in the VA. Plus, social worker left VA to further education. Anyway, back to the records, one cannot change the reality of the past. When I was under them, I did have to correct them on two occasions. Errors were made by them. Ben, if there were two errors, more than likely there are probably more. But, yes, my reality has changed but not while being under them. So the change is not documented and cannot be because I left over 4 years ago. So I am not sure what records they plan to share with other agencies because I have not existed under them in VHA in over 4 years. It is their actions and non actions as to why I left. Ben, now a veterans service officer has documentation of some happenings via emails that I have sent to this particular person. VA will not have this information. And of course I do not believe that for one minute. Reason being emails are public records. However though, some service officers are corrupt too. I am referring to a DAV local service officer who used a marker to mark thru the dates on my award letters. Ultimately, Ben, a JOKE. I often believe the VHA section of the VA should be shutdown with leaving VBA. It would then become an agency like Tricare and the SS.
What I do not understand is how this poisonous agency is still in operation mode. It should be scuttled and started over from scratch to get rid of “it” it should be shut down completely. The government has given Vets the opportunity to be seen by other civilian doctors, and providers, then what the heck it “it” still doing open for business? It is completely defunct and counter productive. It just doesn’t make sense. Anyway…….
From TBI scandal to va telling dr to misdiagnose PTSD. Misdiagnose sexual trauma so va dosnt have to give bennifets.They commit crimes and point the figure at everyone else
How many of these suicides were due to Veterans’ benefits being wrongfully reduced based on a sham CP exam for TBI/PTSD, etc? This really needs to be explored.
The VA is wholly unable to deal with this suicide problem. Young men and women, after experienceing the horrors of war and combat, are suddenly faced with death, eternity , and their own mortality alone, without a Comforter. Something most never thought of before; the spiritual aspect of human existence the Bible deals with, which is banned at many VAMC,s and which can’t be discussed in counseling sessions. VA can’t promote a religion, altough no religion is a belief system. Although, there is no middle ground.
Benjamin, I thought Mr. Wilkie corrected the issue about freedom of Bibles and freedom of religion in the VA. Even VP Pence spoke about this? So what is the deal here VA Secretary Robert Wilkie?
yes the VA approved mental health then denied all the bills so veterans in crissis refuse to get help this is proven fact. This happened to me. A congressional complaint was filed I told VA next time I will never ask for help the run around and bills just cause more stress. It was there great Idea for a ambulance to take me 2 there mental health facility 2 hours away. Just the ambulance ride was around $ 2,000. Get help than they will financially destroy you!
OMG – Ben you are spot on with your insight and suggestions! I could not have said it any better. I know that my frustration with the VA would be resolved if the VA was to follow your advise. The suicide rate would definitely decline as these issue that you had address are mostly the cause of the suicides. All the run around with obtaining benefits, lack of proper follow through in dealing with criminal activities and unqualified medical professionals, this is called “Crazy People Making” and would even agitate the most serene mind of any human being. However for all of the concerned, ethical VA employees, Thank you, it must be a very toxic work environment to thrive in when you are personally aware of what is going on but feel helpless to resolve this mammoth of a problem. Just saying.
I posted a comment on one of Ben’s Blogs, don’t remember which one. About how a disabled vet, who testified in Congress over his emergency room/hospital stays/doctors bills were not being paid, had thought about suicide!
If I remember correctly, in my comment, I said something like – “it confirmed my suspicion…” over vets suicide and the VA not paying their bills!
It’s just sad how the VA has become our worst nightmare and enemy!
Sent in For publication
Veterans Affairs Is The Leading Cause of Suicide
Were not having a real discussion on whats causing veteran suicide. VA likes to sugar coat everything and say a majority of these veterans are outside of the VA. The Veterans inside the VA are being pushed away. Veterans asking for help are having there bills denied. The long denials and delays are not helping the situation. The side effects of there medications leaves veterans impaired and suicidal. Its so hard to believe the VA wants to help when there numerous homicides, No accountability and list of criminals that work their. The Daily caller just released a whistle blower hit list targeting employees and veterans. One out of Indiana. I’m done with the VA and plan to go outside by January 2020. If I stay I will probably be retaliated against or end up dead.
I posted a comment on one of Ben’s Blogs, don’t remember which one. About how a disabled vet, who testified in Congress over his emergency room/hospital stays/doctors bills were not being paid, had thought about suicide!
If I remember correctly, in my comment, I said something like – “it confirmed my suspicion…” over vets suicide and the VA not paying their bills!
It’s just sad how the VA has become our worst nightmare and enemy!
Veteran suicide is actually not as hard a fix as the VA would make it seem. Veteran suicide is about pain. Long Term Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional pain that eventually overwhelms even the strongest of us who endure it over the years and decades.
Were the VA serious about preventing veteran suicide, they would not be using every legal tactic possible to screw us out of our already earned benefits. Instead, they would pay us our disability benefits we so justly deserve without exacerbating our PTSD and Anxiety disorders with fuck-fuck legal mind games.
Wilkie ain’t nothing but another VA blowhard collecting the Big Bucks. Since when has “VA leadership” been straight with Congress about anything?
VA Leadership doesn’t know whether they have been shot, fucked, powder-burnt, or snake-bit. Do not hold your breath waiting for things to change, you will die of asphyxia.
Hey, Jim, the VA does not want it fixed as per their actions. They appear to have great joy in death as long it is not them.
There numbers don’t make sense. It would be closer to 90,000. Than again nothing make sense at the VA.
Remember VA employees caught trashing records! VA tries to say a majority of veteran suicide are from veterans not enrolled. If More veterans enroll the suicides will sky rocket. Our at least the homicides will!
What The VA has done to me I would own any regular institution but because VA so protected there is no recourse and its impossible to find a lawyer.
They say they care when they are denying all the bills so veterans say fuck it and don’t ask for help.
Till VA takes responsibility and we can have a real discussion nothing will change!
there was just 4 suicides I believe on a navy carrier.
Every one missing daily caller whistle blower news its a bomb shell and shows why veterans and anyone tired of bring up there misdeeds. VA targets everyone
jy, yes, Navy sailors just took their lives. On the radio.
More veterans have died from suicide than were killed in the entire Vietnam war! Who is our real enemy?
I have a curious point to ponder.
While chatting with a buddy a few weeks ago, it was mentioned that nationally broadcast farm programming was discussing the high rate of self-induced passing among farmers. Shortly thereafter MSM was focusing on first responders and other “groupings”, maybe to take the focus off of veterans (?). My “poking the bear” query is this, how many of those farmers, first responders, etc., are actually military veterans, thereby giving a leg-up for the increased numbers in those groups to report nationally?
Many sc patients within the VHA system can not get an appropriate diagnosis for the even the simplest of ailments. Many are not getting early stage cancer diagnosis despite the FACT that a high volume of VHA healthcare is constant cancer screening labs, tests and surgeries, all geared to training because they are all performed in teaching facilities. The VHA only performs and allows genuine MEDICAL care if it is in their own best interest, surely not for the well being of EVERY single veteran. Nothing positive will change until that is changed.
Great comment. I’m a perfect example of not receiving proper medical care from the VA, ie: the assholes can’t even decipher a simple lab record!
My wife and I had to learn how!!!!!
While I’m in that “poke the bear” mood today, let’s ponder why VHA insists that all eligible veterans use solely their “stellar” VHA healthcare and facilities for all of their medical needs.
VHA uses a boatload of fresh-faced and just out of school social workers to discuss seriously ingrained emotional issues that combat veterans deal with daily and for vast amounts of time within those days. What knowledge does that newbie sw posses, beyond campus-life to be of any real-life help to any veteran in even mild distress? Don’t forget, the new-hire sw you’ll likely be assigned to may not have any clinical practice experience regarding any mh issue anyone might deal with, but their first clinical experience …is to guide your thought processing; with what, flowers and rainbows (?). In other words, there is no “vaca”-time for those veterans that can be triggered from some of life’s most mundane happenings. And it takes years of professional clinical interactions with a plethora of patient “types” to trust how medically best, to help any issue our combat veterans face all day, every day.
The VHA does not want you to realize that many well-established civilian mh practices, will have established providers and doctors that will actually get to know you, and your life picture and then DIAGNOSE a medical condition and actually TREAT that medical condition, rather than having to rehash talk talk talk in every visit with rotating newbies at every appointment. Most civilian mh facilities will work with what you can afford to pay out of your own wallet. Sometimes for less than a Jackson per half hour session; and that is with real established professionals that aren’t “in it for the likes”, so to speak. If you get VHA to pay, you’ll likely get the VHA float system of care. By the way, this stands true in my opinion, for any MEDICAL care any veteran is seeking.
I genuinely hope this post helps someone.
I agree going outside the VA. My Civilian Psych is a former 11B Combat Vet. As a Psych, he gets it and get me after taking the time to get to know me and not shoving some cookie cutter treatment down my throat. Some days we just talk about things other than PTSD. I am not forced to always confront my PTSD. When it came to co-payments I just couldn’t pay it 4 times a month so he cut it out so I could seek treatment 4 times a month rather than one. I have over 25 trigger incidents and I want to discuss each one over a one year time frame. Until I address each one, I will not get better with the VA’s one incident fix all therapy Bullcrap. For the time being this therapy is keeping my alive. As for some of the 60,000 who took their lives, no amount of help would have worked. They just reached their limit. Most of the others, no one at the VA gave a shyte and left them with no hope so they checked out. Truly sad when you reach that place in your life. God Bless all of out Vets. May you find hope and peace in your lives.
Rosie, I agree with you. Young millennials are just a bunch of books. No lived life experience yet that would include wisdom. Government will hire a college degree without any experience over someone with substantial certifications and lots of experience. This is why the govt is so dysfunctional. Status and politics only. No accountability and no competency. I personally do not care if I ever go back to the VA.
These links are a few of the ones for CBS medical/insurance stories I mentioned above. This is really eye opening and does contain solid and useful information.
CBSNews Medical Price Roulette “https://www.cbsnews.com/healthcosts”
Rosie. Yep, I try to catch rural news when I can with more recent life ending reports. Seen about the years long massive loss of family farms and the suicides under those ‘statistics.’ It’s been bad in my neck of the woods. Then the local news went on to report the loss of K-9 dogs and their memorials going on. Then first responders concerns… as usual and daily it seems, also throwing in reports of veterinarians and doctors doing so due to high stress, difficulties in beginning businesses, high costs, high student loans and why high charges were necessary, etc.
Seems we can’t believe much that’s reported or stats. Economy great vs economy bad and sinking. Education is excellent vs. No academics is failing the youth, poor grade results. Housing is up, no Housing down. Youth and veteran suicides are up vs no they are dwindling and all is well. Then reports out about how huge/rampant the issues with children committing suicides are up and beyond belief to … all reports scrubbed, nothing to see here. Then they have to train liaison cops in schools, teachers/staff about mental health care, getting helpful grants, to how to spot troubled kids, how to question them about home-life and their parents (hobbies, vets or not, addiction issues etc.) or living conditions, spot self harming kids, to see if they need head meds or sent to a mental health center or call in CPS to make things worse or to create issues if so desired. Plus the special training to prevent or deal with domestic terrorist in academia and public schools, the tactics which is secret.
The sliding scale of care locally is not or has been that good. Kinda like we get what we pay for or get those who sound good on TV, not so good with people in real life. I’ve discussed local issues with many when working with vets have said…” Using the DSM catalog we try to fit square pegs in round holes.” “To find something that works in combination of various therapies along with medications.”
If we are on any kind of lists, the retaliation hit list, being black-balled, black-listed, can’t find local businesses to hire for things, then some of us are up the creek minus a paddle. In swift waters with corruption, the many activist, X-VA staff working in many here now, etc. Solutions? None I can think of. Short of a end of the world scenario.
Rosie, you are correct. The VA provider delivers quality care when the veteran pays in full at the profession’s top market price.
I experienced this. One healthcare VA provider was paid the top hourly amount by me for the service rendered. So Ben here it is. Money talks and bullshit walks. This is what the VA is about. Power, greed, and the dollar bill. Not the vet.
My car insurance paid the VA full provider rate. Not me personally. If it was not for good car insurance, I might have died.
My comment is to you Rosie with you saying VA employees will do what best serves them. I agree. In other words vets paying them at the medical professional hourly full market rate. This is when decent and accountable treatments and procedures might happen for vets. But only at this time.
Some of the Contract CBC have caring care. Not necessarily qualified care for that reason. The problem is, if they mistreat you and cause damage you have to sue the contractor. You can’t get the DVA compensation for injury because of mistreatment.
Thank you for sharing your experience with civilian mh care.
You’re right. Speaking in mixed messages has done “wonders” to “educate” the Ovis aries!
I can’t disagree with your point.
There was a news story the other day that I caught part of in passing; a civilian insurance running a patient through the financial/emotional wringer over a needed surgery to prevent paralysis claiming it was an elective surgery. So there are plenty of horror stories involving civilian care as well. Regardless of cost.
It is my understanding that CBS is doing in depth reporting on medical care and/or insurance issues during this week if anyone cares to look into those prior or upcoming stories.
The point I was making about mh practices, is that in doing some homework and research, veterans might first consider civilian care before even stepping foot into a VHA for emotional issues. I have been told by three different people, using different civilian sources for mh care, that their experience was far and away more personalized than most anyone I’ve encountered that started with VHA mh. PTSD, TBI, and other military related emotional issues are ALWAYS going to be set on the simmer burner without a diagnosis, but at first visit aggregate head meds are amply dispensed and ongoing for years. That is not the experience I have heard from those that went first to civilian mh care.
As Paula stated, they, in essence (and I’m paraphrasing here), wanna herd ’em in and train the post 9/11 veteran to their well-seasoned approach of non-diagnosed yet heavily medicated style of mh “care”. If documented civilian care is used first for at least a few honest months, then the patient will have a solid sense of what ailments they would work to manage.
VHA has a terrible track record when it comes to implementing a well thought out one size fits all strategy for any patient’s best interest. The suicide infomercials before connecting to any VHA extension is an example of a perfectly executed belly-flop. Anything to drive the patient to distraction seems the perfect plan to roll out as new and improved.
I have been told that is also the case for the contracted doctors on VHA campus, as well.
The failure to recognize TLE with anosognosia is a leading precipitate. And the DSM-5 doesn’t have anosognosia as a coded diagnosis therefore there is not a therapeutic approach to treating anosognosia. Result is unemployability, poverty and suicide. No hope in sight for developing a treatment program. I recently met a mental health MD in the VA Black Hills Medical Center who didn’t even know the term and was unwilling to pass up line the suggestion that it was a problem.
HBOT probably offers an early intervention because it offers healing to the two areas of the brain responsible for the subtle onset of anosognosia through brain damage whether from traumatic or febrile events. Good post Daniel.
When is someone going to ask the VA how many of these veterans were not enrolled and were forced into the appeals process.
How many of those veterans ( never ), reapplied. Those who were enrolled had appointments canceled and rescheduled.
How many went to the va in crisis and an employee report them as being disruptive and that sent them over the edge.
Why are the VFW and others demanding that veterans be able to hire an attorney from the onset of Filing their deserved disability benefits claims.
How many were told all of your official military records were distroyed or have been shredded or thrown in the dumpster.
How many files are thrown in some basement somewhere.
Why can’t veterans with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries be seen and evaluated before or while waiting for their deserved disability benefits to be approved.
300 thousand have been reported as dying before they received any treatment.
750 thousand in the backlog at the regional office. How many of those veterans committed suicide or will commit suicide.
As the controversy continues, DOD/VA/Military Services are experiencing self-admitted epidemics of suicide; drug abuse, over-prescription and overdose deaths; traumatic brain injuries; violence against families and care givers; and incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder:
• Reports released this year by the military paint a dismal picture. In 2018, active duty Army suicides reached a five-year high; suicide among active-duty Marines reached an almost 10-year high; active-duty Navy suicides hit a record high. Sexual assault in the military also reached a four-year high in 2018.
• U.S. Special Operations suicides tripled in 2018.
• The Air Force’s top brass is concerned that 2019 could be the deadliest yet when it comes to suicides. “We lose more airmen to suicide than any other single enemy, even more than combat,” according to Kaleth Wright, chief master sergeant of the Air Force. . . .If we don’t do something, we could lose up to 150, 160 airmen in 2019.”
• Marine suicides reached the highest level in a decade despite the end of Large-Scale Combat Operations.
• Female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women; for female veterans between 17 and 25, the rate is twelve times the national rate.
• More than 50,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Army veterans who developed mental health conditions during their military service received other-than-honorable discharges, making them ineligible for health benefits.
• The Veterans Administration is reported to have spent less than 10% of the monies allocated for Suicide Prevention marketing campaigns.
• VA doctors with responsibility for brain injuries have quietly started prescribing HBOT for TBI and PTSD. There are over a dozen instances of VA facilities paying for those treatments. DOD physicians are similarly prescribing HBOT for TBI and several DOD facilities are already successfully treating TBI and PTSD using HBOT.
• The VA has started a Pilot Demonstration to observe the use of HBOT for treating and helping heal brain wounds. The program is expanding, based on near total success with those patients already treated.
Congress appears willing to step up 13 years after recognizing the trend. For the first time, some Senators may join the House in providing the last push to help heal brain wounds: September 18, 2019
Congressman Andy Biggs and Senator Kevin Cramer Introduce the TBI and PTSD Treatment Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Andy Biggs (AZ-05) and Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced the TBI and PTSD Treatment Act [House Bill 4370 and S. 2504] to direct the Veterans Administration (VA) to furnish Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) to veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). TreatNOW and Healing Arizona Veterans, two organizations dedicated to the advancement of HBOT to treat TBI and PTSD, wrote in support of the TBI and PTSD Treatment Act. Congressman Biggs and Senator Cramer released the following statements:
“The TBI and PTSD Treatment Act gives veterans the freedom to use their hard-earned health care benefits for HBOT to treat TBI and PTSD. This bill gives veterans an additional choice to treat these serious mental health issues. More importantly, it removes the VA’s bureaucracy from medical decisions made between the veteran and his or her doctor. Unfortunately, we are still falling short in finding a solution to the suicide epidemic in our veteran’s community. HBOT has the potential to help the VA make progress in their mental health and suicide prevention efforts. This is an avenue where we have a lot of ground to gain. Therefore, it is imperative for our colleagues and the VA to join us in making this treatment available to our veterans as soon as possible. Time is of the essence.” – Congressman Andy Biggs (AZ-05)
“HBOT is an alternative, non-invasive, and effective therapeutic for those who served our nation in the most trying of times. This bill continues the momentum we started when the VA recently partnered with Healing with Hyperbarics of North Dakota in a Clinical Demonstration Program for veterans with PTSD. Our legislation builds upon that demonstration program by codifying HBOT as a covered treatment within the VA and expands access to veterans with TBI as well. I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and my Congressional colleagues on getting more access to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for our veterans.” – Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
“The TreatNOW Coalition has spent over a decade treating and helping heal brain wounds in veterans, service members, athletes, first responders, National Guard and Reserve, and citizens. We have over 6,100 successes in our 93 Coalition clinics network. We have successfully helped treat and heal over 2,400 veterans and dozens of active duty Special Operations warriors.
The VA’s current Pilot Demonstration project using HBOT for PTSD patients has recently expanded to five sites. All patients treated thus far have shown significant medical improvement, further validating the safety and efficacy of HBOT for brain impairment.” – Robert L. Beckman, PhD, TreatNOW
“Arizona was the fifth State to join this grassroots effort to enact legislation in support of this treatment in a unique Private-Public partnership. Through private donations, the two private facilities in our network have treated over 60 veterans suffering from TBI and PTSD in the past 18 years. We are currently treating two veterans and have requests for a further seven. All Board members and senior staff members at HAV are volunteers. If this legislation is approved and the VA funds the treatment, we will be able to treat up to 300 veterans a year. Based on our analysis, there are over 13,000 veterans in Arizona suffering from TBI.
“As Chairman of the Board of Healing Arizona Veterans, a Vietnam veteran, a military field surgeon in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a recipient of HBOT, this cause is close to my heart.” – Dr. Robert Sexton, M.D., Healing Arizona Veterans
Fargo National Guardsman Rusty Ouart joined TreatNOW and Healing Arizona Veterans- organizations dedicated to the advancement of HBOT to treat TBI and PTSD- to offer support for this legislation.
“As a traumatic brain injured veteran, I received Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy that has given me the quality of life back to enjoy time with family. I suffered for 1 and 1/2 years before I received HBOT,” said Ouart, a Purple Heart Recipient and member of Senator Cramer Veterans Advisory Board. “My symptoms of migraines, that kept me in a dark room, vertigo causing nausea three times daily, speech deficit that I could not talk to my own children, using a cane for balance and issues lifting my right leg all were helped tremendously. I have the blood flow back in my brain. The SPECT scan imaging of my brain showed that half my brain was not getting blood supply and the MRIs were all read as normal. After HBOT, I have color in my world and I feel like I have my life back!”
Communications Director | Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05)
C: (202) 870-4973 | O: (202) 225-2635
Glad you posted some reports that came out seemingly of suicides increasing not decreasing any or much at all.
HBOT? As usual I always got the back and forth, conflicts/warnings of side effects or issues with so many kinds of treatments ie, Botox, various spinal shots, HBOT etc. No need to go into it all but I was told to use HBOT for migraines, arthritis, to a shattered jaw for faster healing along with other issues. The VA declined the use of it for me as they did for Oxygen and other treatments that did work.
First Botox was forbidden, too questionable, not on the VA pharma list, with severe side-effects, to now accepted but had to find our own buddy patient to do them with and to use up the same bottle so it won’t go to waste. Which HIPPA laws forbid us from getting other patient info or about others dealing with issues willing to try Botox or whatever.
For the jaw which would have been too costly and not covered by insurance also came with risks not on the pamphlets just barely mentioned then nothing but positivity. Cataracts, loss of vision, etc. Can’t remember it all. Point I am making is reports and all issues concerning any forms of treatment or drug should be revealed and totally transparent.
Nat Geo and others on documentaries showed vets going to the Amazon and elsewhere getting help, cured or totally changed lives with ‘plant medicine” we will call it. Seems to have been great for many out there but all we hear is the negatives, propaganda and of the war on drugs to it’s best to suffer with pains of all kinds. Stick with Big Pharma, the AMA, the VA you peasants they and the government knows best.
I agree with you Ben, give veterans the benefit of the doubt. For fuck sake, at one time we invested our lives, family and fortune to serve our nation, only to be kicked aside when we needed help. Trying to navigate the VA system is like trying to follow a flow chart from some fucked up Dr. Seuss nightmare.
Here’s the *”military.com”* article over this issue of veterans suicide;
I could add lots of things VA upper echelon does which impacts veterans in a negative way!
Seems like VA employees are caught on almost a daily basis screwing over the population they were hired to protect!
My suggestion is to shut the va down. Give vets a medical card and let us decide on when and where and who we want to see!
Lastly, we veterans deserve to be treated with dignity. Most of the reprobates who work at VA don’t know how those negative actions are taken by vets!
Benjamin, I love your comments today. You are right on target. Yes, quit continuing to look for ways to dick me to take me out. Other vets feel the same way. Mr. Wilkie, do you have a response?
Benjamin, I want to share with you in detail how I regained my functioning. As for making changes to my record, it would be to add the details that the VA has failed to acknowledge to include the severity of my non- functioning that was caused by actions taken by the Navy. Ben, see the VA hates recovery. Honestly.
I meant to add to my comments on how I regained functioning. Ultimately, the VA is corrupt. Only concerned to serve themselves. Disgrace to this country and the American vet.
Benjamin, I am going to tell it like it is. The VA mental health Care is poor today. When the VA is interchanging providers and vets up all the time, yes, this modality can be used for short-term; but, this path does not provide the continuity for real recovery. Ultimately, the person’s insides have to be reconnected from the inside out. Ben, the brain will heal itself if one uses it. The hippocampus part of the brain which houses the memory will regenerate on it’s own with the correct application used. Ben, even in the elderly 70 and above. All these people who believe you have to have all this technology to heal the brain. I disagree. Ben, the brain heals itself in the moment by the moment. Change is constant. Ben, even with a blocked artery the body might find reroute itself around the blocked artery. I will continue…
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