Life has a strange way of being ironically coincidental.
Yesterday, the LA Times published an article on the perceived fear that Veterans are faking PTSD for a couple bucks. (The author is pictured to the right).
The same day, the VA issued a new regulation that more sharply precludes many Veterans from claiming PTSD.
Let’s talk about the PTSD article, first.
We used to Call those who filed VA PTSD Claims “Combat Malingerers”.
Did you know that the VA used to describe PTSD – in the early days after and during WW2 and the Korean War as “Combat Malingering”?
People these days throw around the word thinking it means “faking”. But inside the VA, the word “Malingering” is “Bureaucrat-Speak” for “those of weak mind”. It’s an insulting and derogatory term that undercuts and cheapens the sacrifice and the horror that soldiers – peace-time and combat alike – were forced to experience for the sake of their country.
I’ve seen dozens of C&P reports from the 1940s – 1960s in which the VA labels Veterans who suffer from the mental and moral wounds of war as “of weak mind” or “of combat malingering”.
Yesterday, the LA Times printed an article by an Alan Zarembo that harkens back to those days.
I hesitate to link to it, because I have a commitment to not linking to junk on the Veterans Law Blog.
But here is Alan Zarembo’s piece “As disability awards grow, so do concerns with veracity of PTSD claims.”
Mr. Zarembo’s work is very critical of Veterans. In July 2014, he painted Veterans as “greedy” for going out an getting VA Benefits – a process he labelled as “easy”.
It is worth noting that while kids his age were dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was sleeping, soundly, under the blanket of protection they provided.
Yesterday’s latest from Mr. Zarembo ponders whether the Veterans that fought in combat in Vietnam, OIF, and OEF are making stories up about PTSD to get a couple bucks.
We’ve talked about this nonsense of malingering before on the Veterans Law Blog.
Mr. Zarembo, the author, wanders through some random unsubstantiated numbers without any real analysis, journalism, or logical cohesion.
1) Concern that 150,000 +/- PTSD claims have been filed (without considering that this is less than 5% of the soldiers that fought in combat in Vietnam, Desert Storm, OIF/OEF, etc.
2) Unnamed, undated and uncited “studies”: a 2013 JAMA Study
3) A “paper” by Arthur Russo, with no citation or reference
4) The spurious allegation that Veterans help each other with VA claims in online forums.
5) Unsupported allegation about the firing of Gail Poyner – a doctor with a contract C&P examiner.
All in all, Mr. Zarembo’s piece resembled a 6th Graders’ Social Study essay more than it did real journalism. Sorry to all the Gifted and Talented 6th Graders out there that produce far better investigative research and writing – don’t mean to insult you.
Mentioned nowhere in the article is that PTSD is a very real problem, for a great number of Veterans. And many don’t tell their story out of fear that people will think they are “faking”.
Thanks for making their lives a lot harder, Mr. Zarembo.
The New VA PTSD Regs & other Mental Health Conditions.
Quietly, and without any mention from the VA, the powers-that-be snuck out a new “Interim Final Rule” regarding PTSD Claims.
You can read the new rule, here.
Bottom line up front – the VA is adopting DSM-V for diagnosing and determining the degree of impairment – not only for PTSD, but for ALL mental health conditions.
The DSM-V makes some significant – and very contested – changes to the way that PTSD is diagnosed.
The rule is open for comment until October 3, 2014. (Notice how the VA forces everyone else to consider and respond to the rule change in 60 days – when it took them 2+ years to write it.)
While it is not entirely clear WHICH claims this new “Interim Final Rule” will apply to, the rule itself states this:
“This interim final rule is effective August 4, 2014. The provisions of this interim final rule shall apply to all applications for benefits that are received by VA or that are pending before the agency of original jurisdiction on or after the effective date of this interim final rule. The Secretary does not intend for the provisions of this interim final rule to apply to claims that have been certified for appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals or are pending before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.”
I’m going to read a bit more about this and get you more information, but at first glance, it appears that if you are claiming a mental health condition and your appeal has not yet been certified to the BVA, you may have to go all the back to the Regional Office to get a new diagnostic exam.