VA Sued Over PTSD Policy Changes

veteran with ptsd

by Robert Stretch on January 19, 2011

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been served.

Three veteran advocacy organizations are taking the VA to court for the VA’s recent change that mandates only doctors who work for the VA can diagnose veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and therefore dismiss private doctor’s diagnoses. The National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA), Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Modern Warfare filed suit in November.

When the VA made the change last year, it came with another change. Veterans can make PTSD claims by proving they served in a war zone and describing what they did there. Before, filing a PTSD claim was difficult because it required witnesses of events that caused PTSD and corroboration with documents.

But Richard Cohen, director of NOVA, finds fault with making veterans get PTSD diagnoses from VA doctors. As a result of this change, the VA can ignore diagnoses from private examiners and consider only the VA doctors’ examinations, he said.

Before implementing the change in July of last year, VA officials said in congressional testimony that VA doctors are better and more experienced than private examiners at recognizing PTSD. As part of their suit, the co-plaintiffs suggest that the VA has no grounds for that claim. Furthermore, the VA undersecretary for health struck down arguments that VA doctors would write off valid PTSD claims.

In the meantime, PTSD claims continue to soar, about 125 percent more in 2010 than 2009 according to CNN. The number of claims in 1999 was about 120,000 but climbed to 345,000 in 2008 due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. With the VA already backlogged by PTSD claims and more ailments attributed to Agent Orange, the VA allocated $2.15 billion to streamline processing benefits.

Almost $65 billion is set for mandatory benefits, which is an increase of about $7 billion from 2010’s budget. As the government looks to make budget cuts, veteran groups dislike the idea of cutting the VA’s budget to reduce the deficit. Cohen said that denying benefits to veterans is an “outrageous” way to trim the budget.

Photo thanks to Truthout.org under creative common license on Flickr.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

greg gividen January 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm

seems that regional office tells doctors not to diagnose anyone with ptsd.seems like that should be illegal.diffently is unethical.
i`ve been seen for 10 years…..still misdiagnosed! [louisville,ky]
claim denied

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Angela Hatch March 4, 2011 at 12:03 am

Censorship is suppression of speech or other communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

Wouldn’t this put A STOP to protesters at Military Funerals?

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Damone August 19, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Gary Craig’s work with veterans is now in book form for all of us to read and learn from. PTSD afctfes war veterans and many others who have survived terrible experiences in their lives that are still causing them to live lives of quiet desperation filled with fears, addictions and broken relationships. As a licensed MFT I have helped numerous people to reclaim their lives using EFT to heal traumatic memories. This book offers information and hope. Buy it for yourself and give it as gifts to those you know who are still suffering.Gloria Arenson, MFT, DCEP, author of EFT for Procrastination, Five Simple Steps to Emotional Healing, Desserts Is Stressed Spelled Backwards

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Mark Plunkett April 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm

This is very odd and the first I heard of this. Reason being, I was diagnosed mid 2010 with PTSD by an outside doctor that the VA sent me to during my CMP appointments….

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Mike April 19, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Most of the MHC doctors just finished school. So how can they claim that their “Doctors” are better suited for that.

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Daniel Koen January 23, 2012 at 9:05 am

Sorry to say,but I’m begining to regret being a veteran. this congress does nothing but take care of its own and sells out the veterans of america.

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