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Old 05-11-2006, 09:05 PM
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Default GAO: Few Troops Are Treated for PTSD Disorder

GAO: Few Troops Are Treated for PTSD Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Risk Gauged

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 11, 2006; A08


Nearly four in five service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were found to be at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were never referred by government clinicians for further help, according to a Government Accountability Office report due for release today.

The report says Defense Department officials were unable to explain why only some troops were referred for help. Many veterans groups have accused the government of playing down the risk of PTSD because of concerns over skyrocketing costs.

Service members were determined to be at risk for PTSD, a serious psychiatric disorder characterized by disruptive memories and anxieties following traumatic episodes, if they gave three or more positive answers on a screening questionnaire asking whether they had nightmares about frightening experiences, had avoided situations that reminded them of such events, were constantly on guard, or felt numb or detached from everyday life.

In all, 9,145 of 178,664 service members who took the screening test were found to be at risk. Of those at risk, 22 percent were referred for help. The Army and Air Force each referred 23 percent of those at risk, the Navy 18 percent and the Marines about 15 percent, according to a draft of the report obtained by The Washington Post.

The final report will have the formal responses from the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. In the draft report, Pentagon officials are quoted as saying that not all service members who gave positive responses on the screening test needed help, but the report said the officials could not specify what factors are involved in referring some people but not others.

Asked to comment late yesterday, the Defense Department said only that it has "several comprehensive and proactive programs to deal with PTSD." Spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the most knowledgeable officials were not available so late in the day.

"You would think that [referrals for treatment] would be the point of the whole screening tool," said Veterans Affairs spokesman Jim Benson. He said that the Defense Department was solely responsible for administering the screening test and making referral decisions.

The questionnaire is given to returning service members as part of a post-deployment health assessment. Veterans Affairs and Defense Department experts jointly determined that three or more positive answers indicate a risk of PTSD, according to the report.

After the questionnaire is completed, the responses are reviewed by a Defense Department health-care provider, who interviews the service member and decides whether to make a referral for a thorough mental health evaluation, the report said. Providers range from physicians to medical technicians.

Deciding whether to refer service members for help involves judgment, the report said, but the Defense Department "cannot provide reasonable assurance that all [Iraq and Afghanistan] service members who need referrals for further mental health or combat stress evaluations receive such help."

Rep. Michael Michaud (Maine), the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans' Affairs subcommittee on health, said screening service members for PTSD was the right thing to do, but questioned the utility of the screening if people at risk did not receive help.

"When 78 percent of the service members who are at risk of developing PTSD do not get a referral for further evaluation, then it's clear the assessment system is not working," he said in a statement. "Early assessment can prevent tragedy. Untreated PTSD can lead to substance abuse, severe depression and even suicide."

##########END##########



Looks as though another generation of this nations warriors are being abandoned by our government just like we were!
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Old 05-12-2006, 01:55 AM
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Gimpy....I think this report is a bit misleading. The Provider, usually like a flight surgeon, but a doctor none the less, OFFERS the servicemember treatment. Most decline. Even when they are told it won't hold up their leave, etc. I look at the medical records of all who come to see me and the sheet is always in there. Many come later but most say "Oh, I'll be ok. If it gets worse..etc." I always ask why they didn't seek treatment right away and most...heck all right now have said that they thought they would be ok. It is only when it starts getting worse or if it is affecting job performance do they end up getting sent to me or similar people. The service member is always offerred the treatment...but just like most of us would have said when we returned, "naw, I can handle this ok." I have NEVER in my life seen the military so geared up for PTSD. We almost over hound these guys to get treatment.

I am really suspicious of this article. But glad you posted it because I am really proud of what we, Ft Stewart, and a bunch of other places are to at least make these guys aware of the problem. Something we never got.

Pack
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Old 05-12-2006, 03:28 AM
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Gimpy, et al,

It was not even 0500 when I read the above article from the WP's correspondent but after returning from my work out I had time to think about it.

The article smacks of politics when the last thing our returning G.I's need is politics. I think I'll contact the Maine Congressman and let him know what really is going on here and the writer of the article. I am damn proud of the way the DOD is responding to what could save countless lives down the road. I hate being the pawn of ANY POLITICIAN....REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT and again, the article smells like week old fish. The young hero I'm gong to see get the Navy Cross today was screened and declined help. He now knows he can't go it on his own and the Marine Corps, the Navy, and I are right here for him. He would show up as another "unreferred veteran" and an "outrage that this hero was not referred for treatment". You can't force men into treatment, all you can do is offer and be there for them when they are ready. Let's be honest here guys....even when you found out treatment was available to us...how many of us rushed right down to our local Vet Center and got it??? I resisted when offerred treatment before the Vet Centers even exhisted. I pass out a really good booklet from the MOPH for the vet and his family all about PTSD. So many have told me..."Oh, thanks Mr. Lane but I already have one. Got it when we got back." This isn't a local phenomenom. Not long ago I despelled the myth that 30% of returning Vets have been referred for PTSD. It turned out that that article was wrong. 30% have been referred for counseling services which is anything from financial, marital, (a huge number), PTSD, and any other counseling service. Now they are saying, "oh, we're not referring enough for PTSD.

I wish the media and politicians would leave the politics out of this shit. Veterans, ALL VETERANS, are under the gun right now from everything from taking away SS benefits, (double dipping...God!), to VSO's not being allowed to testify before the Veterans Affairs Committee, to this. I get information from almost every base in the military about trainings and seminars going on to treat PTSD. I don't have the time to go to 1/4 of these things or it's all I'd be doing. Rest assured no matter what the Congressman from Maine or the Washington Post says....we are reaching out to these men and women, and as more come in....we are there for them.

Gimpy, my brother....you are a tireless advocate for veterans and active duty. I again thank you for posting this article. I am proud to be able to shed some light on it and let you and everyone else know that we are there and will be there for these men no matter what the GAO says.

Also, this is why it's called POST Traumatic Stress Disorder, not ACUTE Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Now....gotta get a shower and get to the Island to be there for an American hero!

Pack
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Old 05-12-2006, 09:46 AM
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Well put, Tom. I do know of some of the people over there trying to do something about this scourge and this is their life's work (Don Lunquist). It is the culture of the military that makes people unconducive to seeking treatment, not just fear of disapproval but the idea that if they can take the battle, surely they can take the memories.
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Old 05-12-2006, 12:10 PM
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echo what Doc Fred said Paco my dear friend.

We, all of us, old and young veterans alike, owe a huge debt of gratitude and respect to you and your counterparts who deal with this disorder and all the other issues that our returning warriors now face.

Thank you once again for all that you do for them..........AND us!
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"MUD GRUNT/RIVERINE"


"I ain't no fortunate son"--CCR


"We have shared the incommunicable experience of war..........We have felt - we still feel - the passion of life to its top.........In our youth our hearts were touched with fire"

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
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