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Military using personality disorder diagnoses to deny veterans benefits

Support the troops has become a cynical rallying cry when the Bush Administration has chosen to run the "war on terror" expensively abroad fattening the pockets of the military contractors like Brown and Kellogg, and the weapons manufacturers who put him in office, and on the cheap at home cheating veterans out of their benefits by using psychiatric diagnoses of "personality disorder" to refuse them benefits.

Joshua Kors has written a great article entitled "How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits" in the April , 2007 issue of The Nation. Every American who really supports the troops should read this article. You can access it by clicking on the link below.

In the Army's separations manual it's called Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13: "Separation Because of Personality Disorder." It's an alluring choice for a cash-strapped military because enacting it is quick and cheap. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't have to provide medical care to soldiers dismissed with personality disorder. That's because under Chapter 5-13, personality disorder is a pre-existing condition. The VA is only required to treat wounds sustained during service. Soldiers discharged under 5-13 can't collect disability pay either. To receive those benefits, a soldier must be evaluated by a medical board, which must confirm that he is wounded and that his wounds stem from combat. The process takes several months, in contrast with a 5-13 discharge, which can be wrapped up in a few days. If a soldier dismissed under 5-13 hasn't served out his contract, he has to give back a slice of his re-enlistment bonus as well. That amount is often larger than the soldier's final paycheck. As a result, on the day of their discharge, many injured vets learn that they owe the Army several thousand dollars.

Kors points out that over the last six years 22,5000 soldiers have been dismissed from the military due to personality disorders. This has saved the military over 8 billion dollars in disability pay and another 4.5 billion in medical care for those disabled vets.

Link: How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits.



I have been sending out this information to columnists around the country for the last 2 years, trying to get someone’s attention. After the Walter Reed scandal i sent it out again to the columnists at Washington Post and other papers, plus internet web site, no response. I have just read the article in the Nation online about how the military is using personality disorders instead of treating PTSD. Again i am sending this out, hoping to be heard. I must remain anonymous due to my job, and fears of retaliation. I have witnessed first hand the things i describe below. THis is much bigger than the Walter Reed scandal. THe dark side of this war for these young soldiers--used up and discarded, while publicly using support for them to get elected.

I have information about the mental health treatment at a large Marine base in California. When the current Iraq war started I was curious to see how the returning veterans of this conflict would be assessed and/or treated for any combat stress issues. I had heard from my father, a Vietnam veteran, how the Vietnam veterans suffered the symptoms-skyrocketing drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic violence, great difficulties accessing intimacy, difficulties succeeding in work, great numbers of suicide, before their condition-PTSD-was even diagnosed.
I was shocked to see there was no preparation for returning veterans—no support groups set up, no diagnostic preparations, no attention to staffing levels of mental health professionals—psychologists, psychiatrists. After all that experience, so painfully earned by the Vietnam veterans, and it was being ignored. I began to hear that the veterans from the first tour in Iraq, were showing up in greater numbers for alcohol screenings at substance abuse counseling center. I also began to hear of much greater numbers showing up in domestic violence and anger management cases at the family advocacy centers. The incidents of positive tests on random drug tests increased. The Marine Corp’s usual zero tolerance concerning illegal drug use began to change as these positive drug tests increased.
The demands for more troops increased, and they began to stop discharging all the ones who tested positive. They began taking them back to Iraq for another tour, then giving them other than honorable discharges IF they made it back. And if they were recommended treatment for alcohol abuse, they would instead take them to Iraq. As you can see the SYMPTOMS-illegal drug use, domestic violence, alcohol abuse were addressed but not the ptsd itself. Yes, there is a post deployment form each soldier is required to fill out, usually before their leave the war area, concerning their mental, physical, emotional health. What the soldiers say is they are concerned with getting home, PERIOD, having fun, seeing family. So they do not want to put any answers on that form that will delay this. Plus the effects of the tour of duty do not show up usually for a couple of months. So they come home, go on 30 days leave, come back to base and then the consequences begin to happen.
Now as the second and now third tours have come and gone, the above situations have continued to increase dramatically—all the consequences that increased with the first tour, increased more with the second and now the third tour. And still no comprehensive treatment for the ptsd conditions-when asked about a new small group starting, the psychiatrist replied--"it is just for show".. No one monitoring these above conditions, no preparation made for staffing, assessment, treatment to address these conditions. It shows dramatically what the priorities are-and it is not mental health. And the consequences keep getting worse for these returning vets-domestic violence charges, alcohol related charges. They served honorably, were given medals and are now being discarded, having their careers ruined. It is getting harder to cover this up with the numbers increasing. And this does not count the soldiers who do not have an incident that brings them into family advocacy, mental health, or substance abuse.
After a more soldier-friendly psychologist, who was being proactive, putting together the components of a treatment program for returning vets, was transferred by her superiors, and a psychiatrist rotated to another base, one psychiatrist was on duty for a base of 12,000 soldiers, woefully understaffed to meet the conditions of a base of constantly returning soldiers from war. He was alone for months before another psychologist was brought in.
This Naval psychiatrist in charge of mental health has stated publicly around the hospital, that he does not believe in ptsd. He states that his father survived IWO JIMA as a Marine without any problems and so can these soldiers. This doctor is very quick to give a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, personality disorders—borderline, sociopath, etc, which will preclude the soldier getting any disability, and/or any treatment when he gets out, plus it gives the military the right to discharge him with a less than honorable discharge. If the client drinks at all, which most do to self medicate the trauma symptoms, the doctor will send them to substance abuse center for care, but will not address the ptsd symptoms. I have heard that the Naval psychologist is just as adamant about this approach. It is said that he gets angry if a family counselor mentions their client’s ptsd symptoms, tries to coerce them to stop doing this, or change their recommendations. Some family counselors are referring clients to civilian professionals for care to get around this. The soldier will have to pay for it out of pocket though, and many times cannot afford it. Apparently the Navy ordered a ptsd group to get started there finally in 2006. But the soldiers had to go through the psychiatrist for an evaluation in order to get referred there. When the psychiatrist was asked about this new group, he stated it was just for show.

The budget situation on this base is in crisis. Six billion dollars a month being spent in Iraq and there is a mantra at staff meetings—‘there is no money in budget, stop spending, the base is $2 million in the red’. One area of mental health( substance abuse counseling/treatment) had a staffing of 6-(3) active duty military professionals and (3) civilians when the war first started. The active duty professionals were told they were being transferred to their original MOS (job descriptions) due to staffing shortages. The civilian management had 18 months to replace these professionals. It was 2 years before the other 3 professionals were hired, which meant the staffing level of 3 was expected to do the duties of 6. Of course the soldiers suffered, as the quality of care suffered. I have watched this all go on in shock that a government that speaks loudly of the solders’ sacrifice and the debt owed to them, but when it comes to the soldier collecting this debt upon return, it comes up empty. It is sad and infuriating and I finally felt like I had to say something.
What the Vietnam vets did not get then, the Iraq vets are not getting now at this base.

Here is recent email from staff at National Guard-In contrast to many of the positive efforts that other branches of service are making, the Air National Guard, in its new Manning Document which is to take effect 1 October 2007, is cutting all mental health positions---Psychologists, Social Workers, and Mental Health
Techs---leaving absolutely no mental health support for its members.
Granted, at present, there aren't many of us---I am only one of two
Psychologists in the Air National Guard ----and, rumor is the LtCol
Paul Byrd from SLC retired----so I may be the only one left. In
addition, within the State of TN, our Army Guard assets don't have a
mental health component either, so I spend a great deal of time
providing support in a Joint Forces role.

The TN Guard, in general, has deployed over 10,000 troops in support
of OEF/OIF----so there is a great need for mental health support for
our troops, as well as for our family members. With the cuts in our
Manning Document, its difficult to determine how the Air Guard plans
to provide these services----especially with the unique circumstances
that our Guard members face vs. Active Duty in terms of geographic
location, access to FRGs, etc.

The Navy is cutting or not filling open billets for mental health and substance abuse (huge spike in demand for this service). The latest budget for the Department of the Navy has huge cuts in mental health, showing what the priorities are not--soldiers mental health. And the priority for those getting services is not their health, but returning them to the fight ASAP.

Diabetics/Disabled Anonymous, Support Group and Alliance

Medical Abuse is a far greater problem in and out of the military than many believe.

It seems many vets need to seek out help of private psychioatrists and psychologists who are not open to political presure or inclined to abuse their patients.

Military Computer Loans

I have information about the mental health treatment at a large Marine base in California. When the current Iraq war started I was curious to see how the returning veterans of this conflict would be assessed and/or treated for any combat stress issues. I had heard from my father, a Vietnam veteran, how the Vietnam veterans suffered the symptoms-skyrocketing drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic violence, great difficulties accessing intimacy, difficulties succeeding in work, great numbers of suicide, before their condition-PTSD-was even diagnosed.

Uncle sam

sick sick sick, thats all I can say to our leaders is this is sick and evil to let our troops down like this. rotten n evil it is.

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