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Friday, August 19, 2005

Post Traumatic Stress Denial

The horror of war continues at home...

Colorado:
On Wednesday, nine days after [Stephen] returned from a tour in Iraq, he apparently shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself in their Fort Collins home, Army spokeswoman Dee McNutt said. [Stephen's] wife's name was not released.
Las Vegas:
A young veteran, formerly from Winslow, who returned from Iraq in May, opened fire with his assault rifle in a Las Vegas alley early Sunday morning, leaving a woman dead and a man wounded, according to police reports. [Matthew], 20, who says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, is charged with murder and attempted murder, but attorneys say the charges may be reduced because of self-defense claims that the wounded man shot at [Matthew] first.
Massachusetts:
Now, [Dan] is charged with two counts of attempted murder after police say he fired a 12-gauge shotgun into a noisy crowd outside his Lawrence apartment early Saturday. While [Dan's] psychological condition is unclear, professionals counseling those returning from the war in Iraq say soldiers are facing extraordinary psychological pressures.
New Hampshire:
The Air Force National Guardsman returned home in August 2004 from a six-month tour of duty in Iraq - to a hero's welcome. The next day, he shot himself in the head. "No-one saw it coming. He came home on Tuesday and was dead on Wednesday. It's still a mystery," says Tim Beebe, the regional director of the New England Vet for veteran Centers.
And the GOP wants to cut funding for treatment...
The U.S. government is reviewing 72,000 cases in which veterans have been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, claiming that misdiagnosis and fraud have inflated the numbers. Outraged vets say the plan is a callous attempt to cut the costs of an increasingly expensive war. [...] The report expresses concern that the number of veterans receiving payments for PTSD is growing rapidly, from approximately 120,000 cases in 1999 to 216,000 in 2004. PTSD benefit payments, it notes, have soared from $1.7 billion in 1999 to $4.3 billion in 2004.

PTSD is a particularly acute problem in Iraq because combat is marked by constant threats that can come from any direction at any time, and the line between civilians and insurgent enemies is blurry at best. A study by the Department of Psychiatric and Behavioral Sciences at Walter Reed Hospital, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2004, showed 17 percent of troops returning from duty in Iraq met the strict screening criteria for mental problems such as PTSD. Nearly 25,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with mental-health disorders from war, including PTSD, the V.A. told Congress last month.

Veterans groups say the Bush administration's sticker shock from the Iraq war is behind the review. To them, the review of 72,000 PTSD cases is part of the administration's larger strategy to manage a budget that is already making it harder for veterans to get benefits or healthcare. Last month, the V.A. admitted that veterans healthcare will be $1 billion more this year and $2.6 billion more next year than the agency previously claimed. The department says it underestimated the number of troops coming back from war, but critics say the agency was trying to lowball the V.A. budget. After beating back Democrats' efforts to give the agency more money, embarrassed Republicans quickly began moving $1.5 billion in emergency funds to the department. Former House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman and New Jersey Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith long sought more funds for the department. Veterans groups and Democrats think that the GOP removed him from that post in favor of Indiana Republican Rep. Steve Buyer because he might be more amenable to cost cuts.
Truly sad. Time and time again, the Support-the-Troops Party, turns their back on the veterans... Shameless war-mongering hypocrites. Same as it ever was...

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