Battleland

The PTSD Merry-Go-Round Continues to Spin

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Colonel Dallas Homas

Colonel Dallas Homas has been reinstated as commander at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. That is great news.

What troubles me is that there remains a widespread belief that there was malfeasance at Madigan — an attempt by Army doctors to screw Soldiers out of benefits to “save the Army money.”

I do not know what actually happened. To the best of my knowledge there are four different Army investigations that are seeking to understand what went on there. I am not privy to those investigations.

But there has been a rush to judgment among the media and general public, who do not seem to have read the investigations either.

The diagnosis of PTSD, as it is currently made, requires certain criteria be met. Many of these are subjective, relying on the patient’s self-reporting. One of them is that people must experience a traumatic event, with extreme hopelessness, fear and horror (the so-called criteria A-2).

Our Soldiers are well-trained, and may not experience fear, hopelessness and horror.

They still may experience the other symptoms of PTSD, to include flashbacks, numbness, and a startle response. More troubling — and not included in the criteria — is anger, irritability, and the inability to re-integrate with family and friends.

But symptoms wax and wane, respond to treatment, and what may look like depression one day, looks like PTSD the next.

I have always believed in erring on the side of the Soldier. If Soldiers says they have had a traumatic event while in the theater of war, and have the related symptoms, they should get the diagnosis and appropriate treatment, and if needed, compensation.

The policy letter published by the Army Surgeon General’s office in April of this year, reiterated that theme.

The American Psychiatric Association is also re-looking at the criteria for PTSD.

Academic researchers and advocates alike are also saying that it should not be named as a disorder, but as an injury. I am sympathetic to that argument.

Bottom line is that our Soldiers and service members need to be cared for, whatever the psychological reactions to war are labeled as. We should be striving to do that as a nation.

11 comments
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USAW2012
USAW2012

Ms. Ritchie... With all due respect I am very curious as to why, if you admittedly have NO idea what actually went on HERE at Madigan (I happen too know way more than I would ever like to have known), then why are you commenting?? Why do you think it's a good thing that COL Dallas Homas was reinstated?? He says we have to fight the stigmatizing of Soldiers with PTSD, but has been known to call those with PTSD "pussys" (sorry, his distasteful quoted words, not mine), and call them "weak" and say further that "they need to get the hell over it". Please be careful what you report.... people actually read it.

esmith1278
esmith1278

Dr Ritchie has never let facts get in the way of exercising poor judgement in many aspects of her duties. Not surprised that she continues to do so after leaving active duty.

Rod Deaton
Rod Deaton

I join Ms. Ritchie as one who can say nothing substantial about the Madigan situation.  I too have learned the hard way not to believe everything that I'm told. 

Yet as a VA psychiatrist who works day in, day out with combat veterans, I continue to be more than irked at the number of individuals (including some of my colleagues) who seem to be obsessed with the notion that some veteran somewhere might be ripping off the U.S. Treasury in the name of God amp; Country.  I sit with these men and women daily.  Most of them--and I mean, most--demonstrate the scars of The War without an iota of problem, thank you. 

Ms. Richtie is correct:  symptom patterns come and go.  But if one simply speaks to a combat veteran not as a potential adversary, dedicated to the fast track to Federal golddigging, but rather as a man, a woman who volunteered his/her life in a time of armed conflict, hoping somehow to make his/her life mean something; a man or woman who shouldn't have to prove the relative trauma index of an IED versus a missile landing in an operating base; a man or woman who is doing everything s/he can not to cry in front of you, almost begging you not to ask that one question about that one fellow soldier or Marine whom he loved, whom she never had a chance to say goodbye to, let alond to bury--if I and my colleagues would simply interview with those truths in mind, a lot of this "malingering problem"would  just vanish.

I too support the idea that combat trauma is an injury, no a disorder.  Sadly, my colleagues-who-know-more-than-I-do are not planning to see it that way, at least for the next edition of the DSM.   All the more reason, therefore, to keep up the struggle to recognize and acknowledge, for years to come, the reality of the trauma War can cause--and of our obligation as citizens who sent these men and women on our behalf to combat (whether we like to think so or not) not to nickle and dime their lives away as they try to make something meaningful out of those very lives.

Rod Deaton

www.ptsdandcombat.com

Daniel Haszard
Daniel Haszard

 Good to go Bravo! I salute non-drug therapy as first choice of treatment.

PTSD treatment for Veterans found ineffective.

 

Eli Lilly made $67 billion on the Zyprexa franchise.Lilly was fined $1.4 billion for Zyprexa fraud!

The atypical antipsychotics (Zyprexa,Risperdal,Seroquel) are like a 'synthetic' Thorazine,only they cost ten times more than the old fashioned typical antipsychotics.

These newer generation drugs still pack their list of side effects like diabetes for the user.All these drugs work as so called 'major tranquilizers'.This can be a contradiction with PTSD suffers as we are hyper vigilant and feel uncomfortable with a drug that puts you to sleep and makes you sluggish.

That's why drugs like Zyprexa don't work for PTSD survivors like myself.

 

-Daniel Haszard FMI http://www.zyprexa-victims.com

*Tell the truth don't be afraid*

borisIII
borisIII

The actual bottom line is do we want to pay for it, since so many soldiers need it.

Sean DeCoursey
Sean DeCoursey

Madigan/Ft. Lewis handled my medical retirement.  The determination letter they sent me literally contradicted multiple facts in my medical history and test results.  I was planning on taking it all to the press when the PDA stepped in and overrode the Ft. Lewis recommendations with the correct rating.  There is absolutely malfeasance going on there.

anonguest7619
anonguest7619

Dr. R-As a Soldier diagnosed w/ PTSD, I can say that I've experienced nothing but outstanding care from Army docs (both uniformed and civilians). However, b/c my PTSD is related to sexual assault rather than combat, I've always felt ambivalent about my treatment, and therefore have never allowed it to run its course. Until Question 21 on the security clearance form is changed, I will never be able to truly allow myself to get as much treatment as I really need, b/c I am always scared of 1) losing my clearane and 2) having to relive my assault in order to gratify an OPM investigator so he can know I am truly not a threat to nat'l security. If you still have anyone's ear, please have them have ODNI change the form