Thursday, May 15, 2008

V.A. Disavows Combat Stress Memo

V.A. Disavows Combat Stress Memo

Published: May 16, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — An internal e-mail message written by a Veterans Affairs Department employee suggested that the agency avoid giving a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans and instead consider a diagnosis that might result in a lower disability payment.

The message, dated March 20 and titled “Suggestion,” said: “Given that we are having more and more compensation seeking veterans, I’d like to suggest that we refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder, R/O PTSD.” R/O stands for “rule out.”

“Additionally,” it said, “we really don’t or have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD.”

A copy of the message was distributed on Thursday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, and by, a lobbying group opposed to the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In a statement, Dr. James B. Peake, the secretary of veterans affairs, called the suggestions “inappropriate.” The employee’s name was not released.

“We are committed to absolute accuracy in a diagnosis and unwavering in providing any and all earned benefits,” said Dr. Peake, a retired Army lieutenant general and surgeon. “P.T.S.D. and the mental health arena is no exception.”

A recent study by the Rand Corporation reported that about one in five troops with service in Iraq or Afghanistan has symptoms of major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.


If I was Congressman Waxman of the Oversight Committee or either Chariman of the House or Senate VA Committee I would be asking for the numbers of veterans diagnosed with adjustment disorder rather than PTSD because the VA clinic did not do the necessary testing to determine PTSD, and heads should role, the cost should not be the deciding factor

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