Saturday, March 17, 2012
When PTSD leads to Suicides and Homicides It's Time to Talk about It
A few weeks back I read this article about how the Madigan Base near Tacoma Washington was having to review their PTSD standards and patients. This article did not make National News, but it should have. For weeks now the News has been full of stories of soldiers taking their own lives and lives of others.
Vet's Suicide rates have not gone down, actually they have gone up quite a bit in the last 3 years.
Troubling new data show there are an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department.Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don’t succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months.
The numbers, which come at a time when VA is strengthening its suicide prevention programs, show about 18 veteran suicides a day, about five by veterans who are receiving VA care. ( Army Times)
EIGHTEEN Vets a day means that we are losing MORE here at home than in War Zones, we are losing atleast 6570 LIVES per year, that means that easily we have lost more than 50,000 Vets due to Suicide in the Past 8 years ? How is No One Covering this Crisis ?
It has been estimated that at least one vet tries to take his life very 11 minutes. It also has been estimated that 75,000 to 90,000 Vets are currently suffering from PTSD, it is unclear if these Vets have all qualified for Medical Care or Disability. It seems that many are being denied. We have 600,000 to 900,000 Vets on the Street any and every night, how many are in Pain or have PTSD, how many are suicidal ? How is our VA program coping with these numbers ? Is the VA able to provide psychological care that is needed to so many ? ( Then why aren't their more postings for Nurses and Nurse practitioners to work with PTSD ?)
Let's talk about Robert Bales and the Killings of 16 Afghan villagers. ( This included 9 Women and children. This was a major event and the amount of secrecy and "Quiet" on this Killing Spree has been shocking. ( We all remember the Fort Hood Killings, the same kind of silence ensued). According to this Boston Globe article he joined up shortly after 911, he is originally from Ohio but has spent most of his Military Career at Fort Lewis ( which is near Tacoma Washington). He has two small children and a wife. He has spent most of the past 10 years in four War Zones. At one point he had his foot wounded and lost part of his foot ( It is unclear how this incident happened or why he was returned to a War Zone with only part of his foot). He also suffered head trauma and concussion due to an IED Incident to his vehicle ( and only some of these are truly classified as "Combat Injuries", even though they lead to brain trauma and PTSD.)
After his brain injury in 2010 Bales did not think ( per the article)he was being sent back into a war zone, he actually had already started training to be a Recruiter. And then in December they sent him to Afghanistan. It is unclear in this article why or who made this decision. My Question is did he receive his Medical Treatment and care at Madigan ? Is he one of the ones who suffered PTSD and did not receive proper diagnosis and care ? In the news reports it is said that he saw a friends leg blown off the day prior to the Killing Incident, which begs the question what happened the day before ? Was he witness to a bloody battle or was he wounded as well ? There is too much silence and too many Questions at this point.
More About Madigan and the PTSD Blunders ( from the News Tribune) "Army will contact all who had PTSD status changed at Madigan: ( Snippet below)
The Army plans to contact every former soldier whose post-traumatic stress diagnosis was changed by a Madigan Army Medical Center psychiatry team over the past four years and likely will reevaluate many of those cases.The Army Western Region Medical Command disclosed that new line of inquiry Wednesday as it summarized its first review of a Madigan team responsible for checking the mental health diagnoses of soldiers seeking medical retirements.
Of 14 soldiers who challenged the psychiatry team’s adjustments, the Army reinstated the original PTSD diagnoses for six. The reinstatement entitles them to a disability pension of at least 50 percent of their Army salaries – more than what they would have received under the team’s changes.In six other cases, clinicians at Walter Reed Army Medical Center concluded the Madigan team was correct in changing PTSD to other conditions, such as anxiety disorder. Those diagnoses do not come with immediate disability pensions.
The remaining two soldiers were never diagnosed with PTSD, and the Walter Reed reviewers determined those decisions were correct.
“These results clearly show that the PTSD evaluation process by this unit at Madigan has been deeply flawed,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday. “How many other service members have been wrongly diagnosed, how much cost played a role in these decisions, and how widespread this problem is, are still big, unanswered questions.”
Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe, commander of the Western Region Medical Command based south of Tacoma, said the results show that further investigation is warranted.
“We have a responsibility to identify the cause of variance, eliminate diagnostic variance, and standardize our processes across all of Army medicine,” Volpe said in written remarks.Madigan, located on the grounds of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is the only Army hospital with an in-house forensic psychiatry team that regularly re-evaluates behavioral health diagnoses.
Col. Theresa Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the Army Surgeon General, said the medical command does not yet know how many soldiers had such diagnoses adjusted. That number should be available this week as the Army contacts those former soldiers.