Friday, February 29, 2008

Traumatic Brain Injuries

The Congressional Budget Office's Director Downplays the Rate of
Combat Traumatic Brain Injuries... As if they aren't a major result

Congressional Budget Office
Director Peter Orszag said recent
reports may have overstated the
long-term expense of caring for
U.S. veterans who sustain head
injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This man, the CBO, and this
Administration are not in touch with reality. Nor are
they serious about the care of our Wounded Warriors.

According to CBO's analysis, other studies seem to exaggerate the
rate of traumatic brain injury, while using shaky methods for
forecasting the long-term health care bill.

"The cost per incident is typically based on --in outside estimates,
not in CBO's -- on things like what happens when people get into a
car accident and they have a serious brain trauma as a result, and
those are often very different than what happens to a soldier who's
wearing a helmet," he told the National Economists Club in
Washington in a Jan. 31 speech.

That means the budgetary impact, at least, might be better than

That smells and sounds like BULL---- to me. As a U.S. Marine
Combat Medical Corpsman, I Think that this administration is
attempting to minimise the EVER GROWING DEBILITATING
and the Momentum of the Anti-War movements within our
country. (Doc E. Everett McFall)

Orszag continued, "I want to be very clear I'm not trying to minimize
in anyway the costs involved for the soldiers," Orszag said. He didn't
cite a particular casualty study in his remarks.

Traumatic brain injuries have been in the news recently, as question
rise about whether they are being properly diagnosed and treated. The
Army recently announced new procedures to screen soldiers returning
from overseas deployments.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported this week that even
mild brain injuries are associated with a range of health problems,
although post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are also
contributing factors. In an accompanying editorial, Richard Bryant
wrote that soldiers grappling with these injuries shouldn't be given
a hopeless diagnosis.

"There are two very important outcomes of the study," Bryant
wrote. "First, soldiers who have mild traumatic brain injury are at
greater risk for health-related problems. Second, soldiers should not
be led to believe that they have a brain injury that will result in
permanent change."

Iraq, Afghanistan Vets so far are not straining
U.S. Care System so far, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have not
had a big financial impact on the Veterans Administration health
care system, CBO's Orszag said.

(Then WHY is the Veterans Administration health care system
expanding and building so many NEW Hospitals and facilities
for newly injured combat veterans? Why is The VA requesting
more funds to treat the escalating influx of Combat Patients?)

That's because older veterans
get the bulk of today's care.
Also, today's wounded have
access to better immediate
health care in years past, which
may keep them healthier in the
long run.

Overall, the U.S. has to find some
way to rein in its medical care costs
or its financial health will disappear,
Orszag warned. Even a healthy economy won't be able to keep up with hospital
bills if they keep rising at their current pace.

(Where is he getting his facts from? The reports are coming in
every week from the National Veterans Service organizations,
are just the opposite.)

"Let me be blunt. If health care costs continue to grow at the rate at which
they have been, it is entirely implausible that we will grow our way out of
the problem," Orszag said.

How do you feel about TBI funding?
Let your public officials know how you feel.
Sound Off...What do you think?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Experts, Advocacy Groups, Officials: VA Disability System Fixable

Moving a Nation to Care -Ilona Meagher

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Experts, Advocacy Groups, Officials: VA
Disability System Fixable

From Navy Times:

Medical experts, advocacy groups and Veterans Affairs Department
officials say VA’s disability rating schedule needs to be updated —
continually — but they denied the system is so bad that it needs
to be dumped completely.

A Tuesday hearing of the House Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee
on disability assistance and memorial affairs also focused on studies
conducted over the past year that point toward needed
improvements not only in the ratings schedule, but in VA’s disability
retirement system itself.

Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., chairman of the subcommittee, said the VA
needs to remove “archaic” criteria from the rating schedule; update
psychiatric criteria to better reflect symptoms of troops diagnosed
with post-traumatic stress disorder; find out why so many veterans
with PTSD have been rated fully disabled; and update neurological
criteria to include new research on traumatic brain injuries.

“The VA needs the right tools to do the right thing,” Hall said. The VA
argued that it is already doing the right thing and has been updating
the rating schedule, though officials acknowledged they could do better.

From 1990 through 2007, VA had updated 47 percent of the ratings
schedule, but 35 percent of the codes had not been touched
since 1945. However, VA said it updated the codes for TBI--
(traumatic brain injuries) in January and is working on an
update for PTSD.
The VA has set up a 24-hour suicide hotline round-the-clock
access to mental health professionals.
The number is 1-800-273-TALK.
To learn more about PTSD--visit the
National Center for PTSD website.
Flashback, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide,
and the Lessions of WAR by: Penny Coleman

I Can Still Hear Thier Cries, Even In My Sleep
...A Journey Into PTSD By: E. Everett McFall
Both Books are Available on
TBI, Part 1 Posted by E. Everett McFall at 12:35 AM

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Minnesota Marine's case is part of lawsuit against VA

The suicide of Jonathan Schulze is cited in the
class-action suit filed by two national veterans groups.

By KEVIN GILES, Star Tribune
Last update: February 22, 2008 - 9:23 PM
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Jonathan Schulze

A class-action lawsuit filed by two national veterans organizations
accusing the U.S. Veterans Administration of neglecting psychological
fallout from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars cites the suicide of
Minnesota Marine veteran Jonathan Schulze.

Schulze is one of several deceased veterans named in the suit, which
a judge last month allowed to proceed and is headed for a hearing in
U.S. District Court in San Francisco in March. Schulze, 25,
committed suicide in January 2007 in New Prague, Minn., five
days after he allegedly was turned away from the VA hospital
in St. Cloud when seeking psychiatric help.

He had fought in Iraq. Medical records showed that he
suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

His father, Jim Schulze of the Stewart, Minn., area, said Friday that
attorneys for Veterans for Common Sense and a second group,
Veterans United for Truth, asked his wife, Marianne, to file a
declaration in support of the case. Marianne Schulze, Jonathan's
stepmother, reviewed her first-person observations of Jonathan's
encounters with the VA, his psychological struggles and his death.

"For some reason, he was denied the emergency care that might
have saved his life," she wrote in the four-page declaration.

VA officials last year denied that Schulze was turned away from
the St. Cloud hospital. An independent investigation by the VA's
Office of the Inspector General said that family allegations were
inconclusive because the hospital had no record of the exchange.

Attempts to contact U.S. Department of Justice attorneys defending
the VA against the class-action suit were unsuccessful. However,
court records show that the VA has argued that it already has
started several new programs to address suicide prevention and that
the suit should be dismissed because the court and veterans groups
shouldn't be intervening in VA policies.

The class-action suit, filed in July, is the first of its kind and
represents from 600,000 to 1.6 million Iraq and Afghanistan war
veterans who have been or will be subject to delays, confusion and
corruption at VA hospitals, said Gordon Erspamer, lead attorney for
Morrison and Foerster, the California firm representing the veterans.
"We're dealing with an agency that's unfortunately in the Dark Ages,"
said Erspamer, a Minnesota native and a graduate of Hamline
University Law School.

Erspamer and attorney Heather Moser said a court order precluded
them from identifying individual family members to protect them
from retribution from the VA.

But Jim Schulze, an Army veteran, said he's not intimidated by
going public. "What are they going to do, send me to Vietnam? Hell,
I've been there three times already," he said. " They didn't take
care of my needs, and they didn't take care of Jon's needs."

Paul Sullivan, a spokesman for Veterans for Common Sense, said
studies show more than 5,000 veteran suicides a year and a tidal
wave of returning war veterans needing mental health treatment.
"What we're trying to do is stop the VA from turning away
suicidal veterans," he said. "We think the situation has reached
a crisis stage."

The class-action suit asks the court to force the VA to conform to
federal laws and the U.S. Constitution by dealing with veterans needs
in a timely and comprehensive manner.

"To my mind we're dealing with a really serious harm," Moser said.
"The Schulzes are certainly not alone in having lost their son and
trying to get the VA to do something."

Kevin Giles • 651-298-1554

The VA has set up a 24-hour suicide hotline round-the-clock
access to mental health professionals.
The number is 1-800-273-TALK.
To learn more about PTSD--
visit the National Center for PTSD website.

Flashback, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide,
and the Lessions of WAR by Penny Coleman

I Can Still Hear Thier Cries, Even In My Sleep
...A Journey Into PTSD By E. Everett McFall
Both Books are Available on

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


This is becoming an all-too frequent account of our
retuning combat Vetreans.


The Private Battle, Part 3 of Dennis and Mikell Delisle
By Darren Perron - WCAX News

Franklin, Vermont - February 7, 2008

"An IED went off and come up through the floorboard of the truck,"
recounts Dennis Delisle.

Delisle doesn't talk about his experience in Iraq much. But when
he does, it's clear the war veteran suffers from invisible wounds
in addition to the shrapnel in his groin and hearing loss following
a roadside bomb attack.

"We had one soldier... his truck was blown up off the bridge. It
engulfed in flames and he burned to death," says Delisle.

Delisle suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's been
suicidal, homicidal, and is struggling to transition back into his
life at home. "As it goes on, you hide and it gets worse," he

PTSD has been tough on his family, too. His wife, Mikell, lost her
hair after stress triggered a condition called Alopecia. Dennis can't
hold down a job. And the couple is losing their home in Franklin
because they're so behind on their bills.

Mikell Delisle

The Flashbacks, sleepless nights due to those sub-concious
nightmares, the frustration of Survivers Guilt> "It's too
much for them. They shouldn't have to deal with that when
they comehome," says Mikell Delisle.

The rates of PTSD are at record levels, with more Iraq War vets
diagnosed than vets from any other war in American history.
Though experts say the illness is nothing new.

Once called Vietnam syndrome, shell shock, or battle fatigue,
PTSD was officially recognized in 1980. With increased
awareness and treatment options more soldiers now come
forward, acknowledging their symptoms and adding to the
number of reports.
(Despite the service-wide stigma attached to having PTSD.)

Most are National Guard soldiers. It's estimated that
half of all of them returning from the Middle East suffer
from PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

And that number is expected to grow with repeated deployments.
"The cost of war is a lot more than most people think it is," says
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. "It's not just the tanks, the
weapons and the bombs. It's not just those who come home in
caskets or the funerals.

It's not just those who lose their legs and arms. We can see that.
There is an invisible cost of war." Sanders helped secure
federal funds for the Veterans and Families Outreach Program--
a first-of-its-kind project that other states are closely watching.

"Our job mainly is to contact soldiers," explains Vt. National
Guard Outreach Team Leader James MacIntyre. Nine trained
outreach workers plan to interview all 2,662 Vermonters who
served in the Middle East and their families to see how they're
doing and get them into the right programs quickly. When dealing
with PTSD early intervention is crucial.

"We're convinced if people are contacted we unearth things that
could grow bigger, but you get them. Get them to an appointment.
Get them into financial resources, family counseling resources and
that's all going to make a big difference," says MacIntyre.

There are several treatments for PTSD, including individual and
group counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapy, which experts
say is proving most powerful. Soldiers confront their traumatic
memories and learn how to cope with them. Sufferers usually take
anti-depressants which also help with anxiety disorders, like PTSD.
Some soldiers can be cured; for others, PTSD will be a life-long battle.

Symptoms of PTSD may not show up for years. Now the VA has
extended its eligibility for free health care to five years after service
and it includes treatment for PTSD.

Dr. Matthew Friedman

"If left untreated, PTSD can have terrible consequences and people
are gonna be alone and homeless," explains Dr. Matthew Friedman
of the National Center for PTSD. "We want to really prevent the
newer veterans from going through the same cycle of alienation that
older veterans have gone through."

Medication and counseling continue to help Delisle-- who hopes to
win his private battle. "My treatment is working. Hopefully, I can
keep a job," he says. "Now we find another home and start all over."

At least three Vermonters who served in Iraq have committed
suicide since they returned from the war zone.
The VA has set up a 24-hour suicide hotline
round-the-clock access to mental health professionals.
The number is 1-800-273-TALK.

To learn more about PTSD-- visit the
National Center for PTSD website.
Private Battle, Part 1
Private Battle, Part 2

Flashback, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessions of WAR
by Penny Coleman

I Can Still Hear Thier Cries, Even In My Sleep...A Journey Into PTSD
By E. Everett McFall
Both Books are Available on

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Support for Your PTSD

By Matthew Tull, PhD, Guide to PTSD
My Bio My Forum Add to: iGoogle My Yahoo! RSS

Seeking Out Support for Your PTSD
Thursday February 7, 2008

It has constantly been found that having social support can play
a major role in helping people overcome the negative effects of a
traumatic event (including PTSD). However, just simply having
someone available to talk to may not be enough when it comes to

There are several important pieces to a supportive relationship
that may be particularly beneficial in helping someone overcome the
effects of a traumatic experience. Read on to learn more about some
of these qualities.

Sponsored Links:
Post Traumatic Stress List of Ptsd Symtpoms Diagnosis
and Treatments for Ptsd

Ross Center For AnxietyComprehensive Outpatient Treatment
For Anxiety Related Disorders

VFA's FREE Survival Guide Helping veterans and servicemembers
get the support and help they need
Healing Veterans PTSD Blogsite

What not to say to returning vets...
"Time heals all wounds". If you've got returning troops coming into
your family, community or church, this is one cliché you will want to
stay away from. In fact you may want to stay away from alot of clichés.
Instead let your veteran know that you care, you don't know what
they are going through, but you do want to help.

They may have PTSD which means they might feel angry, confused,
embarrassed, depressed, anxious, drinking or worse, avoiding old
friends, family and hangouts. But you can't know that unless you stop,
take the time to ask AND listen!
Posted by Nancy Dunkin and Lisa Lindsey at 4:40 AM
Labels: , , , , , , ,
, ,

1-800-273- TALK (8255)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Toll - 2/3/08 - Conditions Not So Super in Iraq

Violence is rising in Iraq along with the power of the
Taliban in Afghanistan. Conditions are not as
favorable as the commander-in-chief reported last week.

Also, our returning heroes with brain injuries may be
more treatable than previously thought.
But they need to be treated.

By Dave McGill
February 03, 2008 03:25 PM EST

Yes, as "Super Tuesday" approaches, following "Super Sunday,"
conditions may not be so super in Iraq. Violence is on the increase
for both our military and civilians.

Last week, the Department of Defense released the obituaries of
12 military personnel killed in that country, ranging in age from
19 to 41. Ten of the deaths were caused by (IED's) improvised
explosive devices, including five soldiers killed on Monday when
a roadside bomb blew up their combat vehicle in an ambush that
took place in Mosul, north of Baghdad.

According to the web site, U.S. deaths
in Iraq now stand at 3,944, including one whose family is being
notified today.

The Department of Defense also released the obituary of one
29-year-old Army soldier killed in Afghanistan who may have
been shot by an Afghan guard, mistaking him for an enemy

Total U.S. deaths in Afghanistan were 415 as of January 26,
according to the Pentagon. The New England Journal of medicine
has just released its study of soldiers that have experienced brain
injuries. According to the report, such common symptoms as sleep
disturbances, memory loss and irritability are generally the result
of post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD's), which are treatable,
as opposed to traumatic brain injuries (TBI's), for which
there are no treatments.

These conclusions are favorable for our returning war veterans
provided only that they are afforded a level of follow-up
treatment commensurate with the sacrifices that they made to
the war effort.

And, at this point, it cannot be said that our returning heroes are
receiving an adequate level of care. In too many instances,
veterans with head trauma are being medically discharged and
largely lost track of until their internal time bombs explode with
dire consequences for themselves and those around them.

As for Iraq, today's edition of the Washington Post carries a story
in which Major General Jeffrey W. Hammond, a commander in
Baghdad, describes the Iraq campaign by U.S. forces as being
three separate but related wars.

The first is against the group known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the
second is against the domestic Sunni insurgency, and the third,
described as being the most vexing, is against Shiite extremist militias.

A fourth group, the Baathists, being those who previously belonged
to Hussein's party, are simply living in a constant state of fear of the
other groups, according to today's LA Times, as they watch their
fellow members being routinely killed and beheaded.

Meanwhile, a degree of apparent confusion seems to exist
among some of our military leaders. Certain commanders in Iraq
had been quoted as saying that the reductions in troops would pause
come summer, but, according to yesterday's LA Times, the chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that no such decision had
been made.

The Times reported that senior Bush administration officials had
privately acknowledged the existence of tensions between the
Pentagon and our field commanders in Iraq leading up to next
month's planned recommendations to the White House and Congress.

For the civilians in Iraq and particularly those in Baghdad,
violence has risen to its highest level in months. Coordinated
suicide bombing in two popular pet markets on Friday, killed
at least 99 people and wounded 208, according to Iraqi police.
Pet markets are generally magnets for families with children.

Senior American military officials revealed on Saturday that
the suicide bombers, both of whom were women, showed signs
of Down syndrome, suggesting that the insurgents may be
having trouble recruiting men, if not any sane people, to do the job.

A witness to the carnage told the L.A. Times that security for the
area was the responsibility of a U.S.-organized brigade that
managed the checkpoints. He charged that the group allowed
the attacks to take place.

"It's an excuse for the U.S. to stay and declare that the
Iraqis are still not capable of taking care of our country,"
he said. "Each time we think the situation has gotten better,
it deteriorates further."
1-800-273- TALK (8255)