New PTSD Initiatives


Recently, President Obama laid out plans for new initiatives in research to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Part of the plan is to fully fund veterans programs, improve healthcare services, “tackle” the backlog of claims, improve education, and work on veteran homelessness.

Some of this is actually exciting news. The Department of Veterans Affairs is going to work with several universities in researching the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The University of Texas Health Science Center, the San Antonio Military Medical Center, and the Boston VA medical center will look at developing the most efficient treatment strategies to contend with acute PTSD and prevent chronic PTSD.

Meanwhile, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the Richmond VA Medical Center will focus on TBI in an effort to improve diagnostic and treatment options. I like the fact that so many eyes are going to be on the subject. Especially eyes that do not belong to the government, holding governmental biases in the lens. This could actually prove to be productive!

President Obama also addressed further the backlog of claims within the Veterans Administration. The backlogs are a source of extreme angst with veterans. Due to the current backlog, many veterans are forced to wait over a year for action on a claim. That is completely unacceptable.

In his speech, Obama conceded that “we’re not where we need to be, but we’re making progress” in regard to the claims backlog.

“In the last five months alone, it’s down nearly 20 percent. We’re turning the tide,” he said. Obama said the backlog has dropped below 500,000 from a high of 611,000 in March.

No, we are nowhere near where we need to be. If there is one veteran claim backlogged, then “we are not where we need to be.” Using the math (and math is definitely not my forte), in 5 months just over 100,000 backlogged claims have been cleared. With about 500,000 still to go, does that mean we are looking at just over 2 years to catch up? Once again, that is completely unacceptable.

Luckily there are some really excellent organizations working to advocate on behalf of veterans like the Wounded Warrior Project. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs actually puts out a comprehensive list of veterans and military service organizations.

Progress is in the eye of the beholder in this case. One of the 100,000 veterans who had their backlogged claim finally adjudicated can say they’ve seen progress. For the remaining 500,000, nada.


Categories: Veteran's Issues

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