PTSD: Ignorance And Rushed Claims Open The Door To Fraud And Veteran Suicide

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common problem in the veterans’ community. The reason, of course, is obvious: veterans are the only ones that go to war. The real problem with PTSD in the veterans’ community though is that so many veterans think that the only way to get PTSD is to go to war. It isn’t. In fact, far from it.

According to Veterans Affairs, 10 out of every 100 women will experience PTSD in their lifetimes compared to four in 100 men. Women get PTSD for different reasons, though. Normally for women, it’s more likely to be because of sexual assault, domestic abuse, childhood trauma or some other form of violence.

In men, the root causes are slightly different than women because it’s the result of combat, physical assaults, accidents, disaster, injury or witnessing death. Women are more likely than men to blame themselves for their trauma experiences causing them to be at a higher risk for PTSD.

Early violent childhood trauma and sexual assault were the reasons I had symptoms of PTSD. I’ve also experienced death repeatedly in my family from those I was close to, and when two of my grandchildren died within six weeks of one another in 2005, I wanted to curl up in a ball and die. I still remember it as if it was yesterday, my tears as they dropped onto the face of my granddaughter Ava when I held her for the last time and kissed her goodbye.

Every veteran’s experience is different. Every person’s experience is different. What seems to be a common thread in the veterans’ community is the ignorance of those who don’t know mine or another veteran’s situation and want to condemn or make fun. Social media can be brutal for those of us who want to get well. Those who don’t have the courage to even attempt the things I have tried are quick to condemn, harass, bully, threaten and destroy.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Stolen Valor is a problem in the veterans’ community as well. The reason is that it is often used to bully and discredit veterans like me for reasons that are still unknown to me. I don’t listen to gossip about others, and calling an honorably discharged veteran out for Stolen Valor without proof is a crime. Sadly, there is no easy penalty to punish those who do it.

I tried everything to deal with my problems because anger and resentment were often a common response for me, which is a nice way of saying I was wishing so many around would just drop dead because I felt so much hate. I didn’t even realize I had a problem until I came back into the veterans’ community and was trying to help other veterans solve their problems.

Often I was triggered so easily I wanted to punch the person I was dealing with in the face. Those with entitlement mentality in the veterans’ community are often vindictive and spiteful as well as quick to spew their hate. Only certain people are allowed to have problems, and for those like me, anything less than perfect is never good enough and a just cause to attack.

The VA defines PTSD as follows.

“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or disaster. Most people have some stress reactions after a trauma. If the reactions don’t go away over time or disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.”

PTSD must be a problem in the veterans’ community because there are a lot of claims that have been filed for it since the VA relaxed the standards. The Herald Net reported that as the VA tries to help more veterans, it has actually encouraged fraud.

The situation began in 2013 when the VA was looking for ways to speed up the benefits process. Veterans were waiting two years for care, and for those applying for disability claims, getting the claims processed took even more time. Through computer automation, the system now demands less proof for eligibility. Instead of unclogging the system of claims, it’s led to a lot of fraudulent ones.

I’ve never applied for disability or pension. I had already been that route with Social Security, and I wasn’t going there again. It was a never-ending monotony, stress over bills because I had to cover my medications and constantly trying to make ends meet on so little. It nearly ruined my life, and suicide seemed the better option.

I threw away the poison doctors were giving me instead. I worked on genuinely getting better instead of being a drain on an already overtaxed system. Although that was almost 15 years ago, and there’s been more trauma since then I was unable to cope with, I’m glad I did give up the medication and the check. Losing my sense of purpose, losing a sense of purpose is the worst part of this.

Veterans’ disability payments have soared because of the changes. In the last 15 years, it’s risen from $15 billion to $60 billion, and from 2011 to 2015, claims have doubled. For combat veterans who genuinely need help, they’re being overlooked because the system treats everyone who served during a period the same even if the vast majority only faced nothing more serious than a paper cut.

War veterans are not combat veterans. Those who are war veterans served during a specific time. They didn’t serve in combat. So if they really do have PTSD, it’s a trigger from an earlier event and not the responsibility of the tax payer to pay for.

I am grateful for the help I received. I don’t feel entitled. I’m glad so many in our country respect veterans enough that I was able to get the help I needed. My psychologist at the VA is the best psychologist I have ever had. He diagnosed me as unspecified depression, which I knew, and we discussed the issue of PTSD. Although he’s a civilian, he understood me in a way the vast majority of the veterans’ community never has, particularly male veterans.

We talked about PTSD. Apparently, I’m one of the most self-aware people he’s ever met, and he agreed with all my self-diagnosis. All I know is that as soon as I started working on what I thought was the problem, PTSD, unresolved trauma, I started getting better.

The Washington Post reported that some want to give veterans who have PTSD the Purple Heart. My question would be why? There’s no way of really knowing if the trauma actually occurred in combat. My experience is that what I went through since coming back into the veterans’ community triggered past events, pain I had buried and hurt that had never been allowed to heal.

For me, the answer to my pain was energy medicine, meditation, and journaling. Processing all those unhealed emotions has helped me to heal my physical problems too. Although I occasionally experience physical itchiness and irritation, the constant feeling of my skin crawling is gone. I had many other physical problems too from allergies to constant joint and muscle pain. Only about seven to 10 percent of those who have PTSD in the veterans’ community have PTSD as the result of a physical cause.

There are other healing modalities that have worked for others too. My Healthy Veteran offers plenty of tools to help veterans self-diagnose and personalize their plans for healing. Newsweek reported that meditation is a viable option. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a healing modality offered at some VAs, and WXOW reported on how veterans can use EFT to help them with their PTSD.

I don’t believe the answer to PTSD is more checks, more drugs, and creating new obstacles for veterans to overcome. That just makes our community weak. My answer is that veterans need to actually support one another and stop judging, harassing and bullying because some get a sick rush from it.

Treatments or healing modalities need to actually address the root causes of the trauma and PTSD rather than putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. Whether the pain is the result of combat or some other trauma, no veteran deserves to live with it when it’s possible to heal. No one need live with that level of pain where there are so many other options. I believe that lack of treatment, too many medications, alcoholism and unresolved issues are what is driving veteran suicide. There is really no way of knowing until veterans are ready to seek the truth.

What’s your solution to PTSD?

[Photo via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]