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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It has only been a few years since the DVA, military departments, and the criminal justice system have begun to understand the significance of delayed stress in the lives of many veterans. It is undisputed that creative treatment could rehabilitate tens of thousands of veterans, particularly those with bad discharges and criminal convictions. Many veterans languish in jails convicted and sentenced by courts that were never informed of the true psychiatric picture of the offender. The resources of the government should be used to inventory these cases.

An inquiry into the role PTSD and substance abuse may have played in a persons criminal acts are not an attempt to escape from responsibility; this inquiry is a reasonable examination into treatment and prevention of future antisocial acts.

The DVA handling of PTSD and substance-abuse compensation claims, while improving, still reflects part of the traditional attitude that such conditions only occur to those who were "predisposed." Partially, as a result, the process merely becomes a search for an objective stressor.

The DVA still sometimes very narrowly interprets whether a veteran was prevented from using educational benefits for purposes of extending a delimiting date. A very traditional view of medically disabling conditions is used. PTSD and often attendant substance abuse problems are usually not considered as medically disabling.

Resolved, That:

Vietnam Veterans of America urges that:

1. The DVA establish a diagnostic and forensic unit or have available referral resources, which, upon request from a veteran or his/her counsel, will provide an evaluation of the role, if any, PTSD may have played in a criminal act. This requirement should apply at all stages of a criminal proceeding - even at the parole or other post conviction relief stage. The federal government should take the lead in establishing a program to assist the states in screening its incarcerated veteran population for legitimate PTSD cases for purposes of treatment and sentence and/or parole reevaluation and assist in the education of law enforcement personnel who make the initial decisions concerning a veteran arrestee.

2. The DVA act and seek legislation, if necessary, to extend the Vet Center outreach activities to incarcerated veterans. Adequate funding should be provided to meet this mandate.

3. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) act decisively to revise all directives and regulations which guide the rating board's adjudication of PTSD claims. Too much emphasis is placed on combat and the objective proof of a stressor. As a result, the wrong claims may be granted purely after finding evidence of combat service, and proper claims are often denied for failure to conduct an in depth inquiry into the true nature of the stressor. The DVA should be obligated to conduct the often necessary unit records search to augment frequently incomplete military personnel records. Additionally, DVA Central Office policy should be changed and enforced requiring the use of current mental health standards regarding diagnosis of PTSD as set forth in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as published by the American Psychiatric Association.

4. The DVA amend its regulations specifically to recognize that a delimiting date for educational benefits can be extended if it can reasonably be shown that the veteran could not take meaningful advantage of these benefits because of PTSD, even if drugs, alcohol, and/or incarceration were part of the symptoms.
Financial Impact Statement: In accordance with motion 8 passed at VVA January 2002 National Board of Directors meeting which charges this committee with the reviewing its relevant Resolutions and determining an expenditure estimate required to implement the Resolution, presented for consideration at the 2005 National Convention; this committee submits that implementation of the foregoing Resolution shall be at no cost to National except where staff time may be required for legislative action.
Source: Free Articles
About the Author:
Tom Berger is a writer for The VVA Veteran, the official voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ? An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. Learn more at


  1. Great post! Thanks.

  2. Embarking a substance abuse predicament is a very difficult task, but no one wants to spend their lives in thrall to drugs or alcohol. A problem cannot be cured by another problem so getting treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can give you strength to conquer substance addiction problems.