More than 290 disabled veterans in the state of Washington who suffer from PTSD have been dealt a serious blow from an unlikely source –the Army. And their state senator wants to know why.
Senator Patty Murray, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is leading a federal investigation into whether PTSD misdiagnoses at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington could be happening at other military hospitals. The concern for the committee, which oversees veterans’ issues and services, is that veterans may be missing out on the VA disability benefits they deserve because of the cost associated with treating the disorder.
Cost is a Motivator in Misdiagnosing PTSD
Murray decided to take action after months of talking to Army families in Washington State who lost treatment and benefits because a military medical team at Madigan said they did not have PTSD. Apparently, the motivation behind the reversals was cost. In a CNN interview with Murray in early March, it was revealed that Madigan doctors were urged to be cautious before diagnosing PTSD because treating this condition costs taxpayers money.
Murray said, “this was a serious blow to [soldiers] because it’s really hard with an invisible wound of war to get the treatment they need. And then to find out that they don’t have PTSD because it costs too much is amazingly shocking to me and to all of them.”
The reversals have affected more than 40 percent of PTSD cases in the state dating back to 2007.
Army Searches for PTSD Veterans
The Army is trying to locate these soldiers who may, or may not, be getting the treatment they need.
Col. Becky Porter, the chief of Behavior Medicine, Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General, issued this statement:
“It is important that we make contact with each Soldier who we have identified as possibly requiring a second look. This is part of our promise to our patients – to provide them with optimal care.”
Murray says the families are glad to see the Army step up, “but we have to make sure, system-wide, that when our [military] men and women get an invisible wound of war, they are treated, they’re treated affectively, and they’re not told it’s just in [their] head. And they are especially not told that ‘we’re not going to treat you because it costs too much.’
More Misdiagnosed Cases
Murray’s staff has also found similar cases at other facilities. The Army counters that they are following the same PTSD diagnostic standards as civilian doctors, the Air Force and the Navy. Murray intends to make sure this is true.
Invisible Wounds of War
PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is serious. Veterans may not even realize that their anger, hostility or depression, are PTSD symptoms that can be treated.
An estimated 20 percent of veterans who fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD. Ironically, the VA changed the rules for getting disability benefits to make it easier for veterans with PTSD to get compensation.
Note: All representation coordinated by Alpha is provided by our employees, the Advocates, who are accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). No private organization that trains and employs accredited agents has been legally recognized by the VA for the purposes of preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims. This work must be done by the Advocates themselves and not organizations.
News Source: The News Tribune