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Secretive Va Launches New Ptsd Review


Guest allanopie

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Guest allanopie

fwd from: unifiedveteranscoalition

SECRETIVE VA LAUNCHES NEW PTSD REVIEW

Just six days after canceling one PTSD review, the VA "sneaks in" another – Culture of secrecy makes agency designed to help veterans their biggest foe

by Larry Scott

http://www.opednews.com

Over the past year, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), led by Secretary Jim Nicholson, has turned a deaf ear to veterans and quietly made numerous decisions designed to strip veterans of benefits and compensation.

Secretary Nicholson came to the VA with no understanding of veterans’ advocacy and no experience in the healthcare sector. He had been Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Ambassador to the Vatican. As one pundit put it, "Jim Nicholson can write a good political bumper sticker and knows how to kiss the Pope’s ring. That’s about it."

But, with Secretary Nicholson at the VA helm, veterans have come to feel isolated from the agency’s decision-making processes. And, recent developments have done nothing quell that uneasy feeling.

Earlier this year, veterans were surprised by the VA’s "second signature required" (SSR) policy. SSR applied to approved claims for many "high-dollar" disabilities and stipulated that the claim be re-approved by another VA staffer. However, if the claim was denied by the first staffer, there was no second review.

Veterans’ groups claimed that a SSR policy should apply to all claims for any condition whether they were approved or denied. The fact that the VA chose to apply SSR to disabilities with "high-dollar" compensation was proof to many veterans that the agency was just trying to save money by denying benefits.

The SSR policy was NOT announced by the VA. Only some very good investigative work by Cheryl Reed of the Chicago Sun-Times brought the story to light. This is just one of many instances where the VA has instituted policies detrimental to veterans without making the actions public.

The latest "unannounced" move by the VA is a new review of PTSD diagnosis, treatment and compensation. The VA’s plans came to light on November 16, just six days after they had canceled a review of 72,000 PTSD claims awarded at 100 per cent disability. Pressure from veterans’ groups and Democrat members of Congress forced the cancellation.

The VA’s new PTSD review was not announced by the VA. There was no VA press release. There was no VA press conference. The information was not posted on the VA web site.

Information about the new PTSD review was made public in a press release by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The release, in part, said, "The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that it has contracted with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on a two-pronged approach to the examination of PTSD."

Except, the VA hadn’t announced anything. They were using Senator Craig as their conduit to hand out the bad news. Since Craig’s press releases don’t have a high readership, this information has gone virtually unnoticed.

Upon reading Senator Craig’s press release I called the Public Affairs Office at the VA. They had no knowledge of the review. I then called the Institute of Medicine. They had no knowledge of the review.

Senator Craig’s office was more helpful. They forwarded the two documents the VA had sent to them. One document is a Fact Sheet detailing the contract between the VA and the IOM. The other is a Question and Answer sheet. (NOTE: The VA documents are available at the following URL – http://www.vawatchdog.org/newsflash/newsfl...1-23-2005-3.htm )

I encourage all veterans to read the VA documents. They detail a plan to redefine PTSD by altering diagnostic and treatment techniques that will then lead to a complete restructuring of VA compensation. Following are a few excerpts from the VA Fact Sheet.

The IOM "…will review the utility and objectiveness of the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM- IV), and will comment on the validity of current screening instruments and their predictive capacity for accurate diagnoses."

This will allow the VA to write an alternate definition of PTSD exclusive of the DSM-IV and institute new methods of treatment outside of normally accepted guidelines. I wonder what the American Psychiatric Association will say about this?

Also, the IOM "…will review the literature on compensation practices for PTSD…and how changes in the frequency and intensity of symptoms affect compensation practices for PTSD; assessing how compensation practices and reevaluation requirements for PTSD compare with other chronic conditions which have periods of remission and return of symptoms; and reviewing strategies used to support recovery and return to function in patients with PTSD."

And, this will allow the VA to lower PTSD compensation based on "frequency and intensity of symptoms" and "remission and return of symptoms." The VA will also be looking to deny PTSD benefits based on the concept of "recovery and return to function." VA Secretary Nicholson has often used the word "recover" (terribly close to the word "cure") when speaking of veterans with PTSD. The IOM reviews will be completed in a year.

Also, there were two big surprises found in the Question and Answer document. "QUESTION: Why is this study being conducted now? ANSWER: Over the next two years, the [VA] Secretary and the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) is (sic) closely examining compensation for all health conditions, including PTSD."

Surprise number one is that the VA has not announced that Secretary Nicholson is examining compensation "for ALL health conditions." Veterans can only look forward to fewer benefits and lower compensation with Nicholson directing this endeavor.

The second surprise is Secretary Nicholson’s mention of the VDBC. The VDBC, by law, is "independent of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs." However, to discover that they are coordinating their efforts should not be a surprise. The VDBC is made up of 13 members who are currently studying all areas of VA compensation. Nine VDBC members were appointed by Republicans. Secretary Nicholson was appointed by President Bush.

Then there is the matter of timing. The VDBC’s charter stipulates that their reports must be done by October of 2006. But, the VDBC has also contracted with the IOM for studies that will not be complete for at least a year. They will be asking for an extension. This means that the VDBC reports from IOM and the VA reports from IOM will be released at the same time, well AFTER the 2006 elections. I don’t believe in coincidence.

Sometime in early 2007, after the elections, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson will be armed with reports from the VDBC and the VA’s IOM studies. Expect a two-fisted attack on veterans’ benefits and compensation from an administration that is the first to shout "Support Our Troops"…until they become veterans.

http://www.vawatchdog.org

Larry Scott (larry@vawatchdog.org)served four years in the U.S. Army with overseas tours as a Broadcast Journalist in Korea and the Azores and a stateside tour as a Broadcast Journalism Instructor at the Defense Information School (DINFOS). He was awarded DOD's First Place Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Journalism. After the Army, Larry was a news anchor on WNBC Radio in New York City. He receives VA compensation for a service-connected disability. Larry is a regular on the Thom Hartmann show on KPOJ radio in Portland, Oregon. Today, Larry resides in Southwest Washington and operates the website VA Watchdog dot Org.

View it at http://xsorbit27.com/users5/unifiedveteran...ic=2711.new#new

Regards,

The unifiedveteranscoalition Team.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Lying, thieving little bas%$#%!

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I agree with Wings but I am not going to worry about it.

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Guest allanopie

I also agree with the lady from CA.

I wonder why, sick veterans are allowed to be targeted by budgetary head hunters like, Nicholson & Buyers? They feed on the well being of veterans like hungry magots.

With no evidence or basis to their reasoning as to why these vets should be targeted, they persue them eagerly and persistantly.

One of us has already taken his life over this relentless attack to target funding of mentally ill Veterans with PTSD.

This tag team, has an obvious vendetta towards veterans.

I'm not going to worry about it either, but I find it discusting behaviour by those in a position to determine care for veterans.

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They're not going to stop until the VSOs and/or our representatives take a moral stand on PTSD. I'm sure they can easily look up the statistics of, exactly, how many vets have died as a result of PTSD and their dealings with the VA and use it against them, but it will require some hard work and dedication and I just don't see that out of the VSOs or our elected officials at this time.

It all comes down to american influence. They know that if this stuff get presented to the american public that they will ALL lose their jobs and the VA budget will double, because the american people will not stand for policies that hurt disabled veterans. This is why I am not a fan of VSOs...I believe they intentionally keep the battles out of the public eye in order to make it look like they're helping vets in the small circle of vet related issues, but they keep it in said small circle as to not rock the boat and effect major change. Honestly, I can't see how the american public wouldn't have heads rolling if they knew what goes on in the VA.

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I sent a copy of that report to my 2 senators from MN, for what good it will do. as one is a republican, and the other a democrat, not seeking re-election, in 2006.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Jay,

I think that you are mistaken in the belief that the average American gives a da**, about Veteran's benefits.

Given that the present Administration has glorified the concept of untrammelled greed, and self-interest, the average AMerican has too many fiscal concerns of their own, to care very much about anybody else.

The only people I know who have concerns about Veterans, are other Veterans.

The Government can do about anything they want to, since they have already dumped on the general population as a whole, and created a society where there is little time to be concerned about anything but personal survival.

The major VSOs are nothing but a minor political influence, who are more concerned with their own personal agenda, than in addressing Veteran's needs. Now that Buyer has taken away their access to the House, maybe they'll stop playing Washington politics, and start doing what they are collecting dues for. But I won't bet on it.

The VSOs are like any political organization, they focus on the majority of their members. Since many of these are NOT disabled, they can safely ignore their most pressing concerns. You would think, given their name, that DAV would be different - but they're not, in my experience.

In stead of trying to be everything to everybody, the VSOs should focus ALL their attention on ONE matter at a time, and pursue that ONE item with furious determination. That MIGHT achieve something. But, each one has an axe to grind, and so the effort is spread over too big an area of concern, to be effective.

However, as long as mini politicians run the VSOs, they'll not ever achieve a consensus on what to pursue.

Pessimistic? Sure! But I've never seen anything from AL, VFW, DAV, that would change my mind.

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Jay,

I think that you are mistaken in the belief that the average American gives a da**, about Veteran's benefits.

Given that the present Administration has glorified the concept of untrammelled greed, and self-interest, the average AMerican has too many fiscal concerns of their own, to care very much about anybody else.

The only people I know who have concerns about Veterans, are other Veterans.

The Government can do about anything they want to, since they have already dumped on the general population as a whole, and created a society where there is little time to be concerned about anything but personal survival.

The major VSOs are nothing but a minor political influence, who are more concerned with their own personal agenda, than in addressing Veteran's needs. Now that Buyer has taken away their access to the House, maybe they'll stop playing Washington politics, and start doing what they are collecting dues for. But I won't bet on it.

The VSOs are like any political organization, they focus on the majority of their members. Since many of these are NOT disabled, they can safely ignore their most pressing concerns. You would think, given their name, that DAV would be different - but they're not, in my experience.

In stead of trying to be everything to everybody, the VSOs should focus ALL their attention on ONE matter at a time, and pursue that ONE item with furious determination. That MIGHT achieve something. But, each one has an axe to grind, and so the effort is spread over too big an area of concern, to be effective.

However, as long as mini politicians run the VSOs, they'll not ever achieve a consensus on what to pursue.

Pessimistic? Sure! But I've never seen anything from AL, VFW, DAV, that would change my mind.

Americans care deeply about veterans and would jump at any legislation to improve healthcare/benefits for vets, but the media glorifies the VA as one of the best healthcare systems on the planet and they portray the VA leaders as gods, because they don't have the foritude to challenge the VA and they just don't have the information that we do about the VA. This is where the SO's fail miserably IMO....they do NOT utilize the media at all because they KNOW it would affect change in the system if they did; instead, they string vets along one by one, which works in the VA's favor. If the media would have gotten ahold of that bill in congress that wanted to cut COLA to veterans and military personel, every repressentative that voted for it would be losing their seat in the house. Also, if the public knew exactly how many vets have committed suicide due to the C&P process that PTSD vets must face time and time again, you would see a rubber stamp on every PTSD claim for years.

Politicians are motivated by two things: money and public perception (which is just another form of money, as they need to stay in power to be corrupt)....the public will ALWAYS side with veterans if given a chance and the politicians/media will not take an anti-veteran stance EVER. It's a win/win situation if we can get vet issues into the media....if only vets had some sort of organization that represented them on a national level, Hmmmmmm......

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  • HadIt.com Elder
Americans care deeply about veterans and would jump at any legislation to improve healthcare/benefits for vets, but the media glorifies the VA as one of the best healthcare systems on the planet and they portray the VA leaders as gods, because they don't have the foritude to challenge the VA ......

I would like to see some verifiable proof of this old mantra. The media, and all Vets Groups peddle it, but nobody can show any evidence that this is really so.

After WWII, it probably was; even after Korea, there were enough WWII veterans around that it was probably still true. But, Vietnam put a stop to that. Then all the petty little wars since then, as the older veterans started having geriatric problems, eroded public support even further.

I don't know of anybody, who isn't close to a Veteran, who has the time or interest to pay any attention to what the VA is doing. The only non-veteran associated people who seem to care, are those who bitch about us living off the Government teat. Ask any USPS employee.

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I would like to see some verifiable proof of this old mantra. The media, and all Vets Groups peddle it, but nobody can show any evidence that this is really so.

After WWII, it probably was; even after Korea, there were enough WWII veterans around that it was probably still true. But, Vietnam put a stop to that. Then all the petty little wars since then, as the older veterans started having geriatric problems, eroded public support even further.

I don't know of anybody, who isn't close to a Veteran, who has the time or interest to pay any attention to what the VA is doing. The only non-veteran associated people who seem to care, are those who bitch about us living off the Government teat. Ask any USPS employee.

No doubt vietnam hurt a lot of veterans in the public persona, but that perception has all but dwindled. I believe americans don't show a lot of interest in vets bcause they are blinded to the facts. If the SO's and the media allowed the general public to see all of the problems that disabled vets are having there would be a public outcry to fix the situation. I have no tangible proof of this other then the fact that the VA and our government (plus the SO's) do everything in their power to keep veteran's issues OUT of the public eye....I believe they KNOW that it is a losing battle once the public is involved, so they do everything internally to keep it hush, hush.

Honestly, if CNN ran a piece about the guy in new mexico (or arizona?) that killed himself with his "review" letter in hand, what do you think the public's reaction would be? Do you actually think ANY government official would stand against the dead veteran? Regardless of what these politicans may want, they will NOT go against any veteran in the public arena for fear of losing their job. I guess it's not so much about whether or not the public will support vets, it's more about backing the government, and the VA, into a political corner, effectively giving them the choice of supporting the vets or political suicide.

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People say they care about veterans. People say it is wrong the way the VA treats veterans. People tell me "Thank You for your service and sacrifice"

I tell people not to SAY thanks to me. It does not help me. It does not help other Vets. It does not change the VA.

I tell people that Vets need their help, not thanks. That if they appreciate us, they will help us.

I tell people to either do something to change the VA or take their little support stickers down. If they will not use their voice for the Veterans then they do not support them.

The VA is not changing except for the worse. I KNOW HOW MUCH THE TROOPS ARE SUPPORTED. BEND OVER IRAQI FREEDOM VETS. THAT KISS WHEN YOU GET OFF THE PLANE IS THE ONLY KISS YOU'LL GET.

Time

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Guest allanopie

>I don't know of anybody, who isn't close to a Veteran, who has the time or interest to pay any attention to what the VA is doing. The only non-veteran associated people who seem to care, are those who bitch about us living off the Government.

Hello Wally,

how very true. But, they will take more interest in this war, with an increase in media discussion of a draft.

For one thing, we can't continue to rely on, "non career" enlisties to fight a war to protect this nation, while treating them like katrina victims when they return.

"stay the course"? more like, "stay in the circle".

Leadership? Yes, we have the same quality leadership as we saw in good ol' Browny". Bush's interpretation of leadership is, "just stand there & say any BS you want & "fake it". No wonder he thought Brown had the best qualities for his position.

Bush needs to fake it long enough to pass it off to the Dems in the next elections, then they can all sit back & blame it on them for not staying the course.

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Dan, I didn't have any problem understanding what the articles on VAWatchdog.org said. Each article on there pretty much lists that it is an Opinion piece, but they also give the links to their information.

I don't think you were trying to conjur up anything with your pots. I saw that article on the day after Thanksgiving, and was quit pissed at the way the bastages are trying to button up the system now.

I'm concerned for the people that already have PTSD, and claims, (I myself have been "awarded" B) but I'm more worried about what they are trying to do about future Vets.

I worry about the issue of them trying to buy our anyone who is rated at 20% or less. I know many people who will take that money and run, because they can buy a new car or something that they'd like, but don't realize how bad they are gonna need that healthcare later in their life. I got out in '95. I started off with 10%, then to 40% now to 70% and probably going to 90% quickly. My conditions have greatly detiorated in 10 years. Think about all those people who would take a 20% buyout for a lump sum only to find out 10-20 years later, they have foolishly shot themselves in the foot.

The Army screwed me once, shame on them, They won't royally screw me twice, cause i want no shame on me.

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fwd from: unifiedveteranscoalition

SECRETIVE VA LAUNCHES NEW PTSD REVIEW

Just six days after canceling one PTSD review, the VA "sneaks in" another – Culture of secrecy makes agency designed to help veterans their biggest foe

by Larry Scott

http://www.opednews.com

Over the past year, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), led by Secretary Jim Nicholson, has turned a deaf ear to veterans and quietly made numerous decisions designed to strip veterans of benefits and compensation.

Secretary Nicholson came to the VA with no understanding of veterans’ advocacy and no experience in the healthcare sector. He had been Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Ambassador to the Vatican. As one pundit put it, "Jim Nicholson can write a good political bumper sticker and knows how to kiss the Pope’s ring. That’s about it."

But, with Secretary Nicholson at the VA helm, veterans have come to feel isolated from the agency’s decision-making processes. And, recent developments have done nothing quell that uneasy feeling.

Earlier this year, veterans were surprised by the VA’s "second signature required" (SSR) policy. SSR applied to approved claims for many "high-dollar" disabilities and stipulated that the claim be re-approved by another VA staffer. However, if the claim was denied by the first staffer, there was no second review.

Veterans’ groups claimed that a SSR policy should apply to all claims for any condition whether they were approved or denied. The fact that the VA chose to apply SSR to disabilities with "high-dollar" compensation was proof to many veterans that the agency was just trying to save money by denying benefits.

The SSR policy was NOT announced by the VA. Only some very good investigative work by Cheryl Reed of the Chicago Sun-Times brought the story to light. This is just one of many instances where the VA has instituted policies detrimental to veterans without making the actions public.

The latest "unannounced" move by the VA is a new review of PTSD diagnosis, treatment and compensation. The VA’s plans came to light on November 16, just six days after they had canceled a review of 72,000 PTSD claims awarded at 100 per cent disability. Pressure from veterans’ groups and Democrat members of Congress forced the cancellation.

The VA’s new PTSD review was not announced by the VA. There was no VA press release. There was no VA press conference. The information was not posted on the VA web site.

Information about the new PTSD review was made public in a press release by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The release, in part, said, "The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that it has contracted with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on a two-pronged approach to the examination of PTSD."

Except, the VA hadn’t announced anything. They were using Senator Craig as their conduit to hand out the bad news. Since Craig’s press releases don’t have a high readership, this information has gone virtually unnoticed.

Upon reading Senator Craig’s press release I called the Public Affairs Office at the VA. They had no knowledge of the review. I then called the Institute of Medicine. They had no knowledge of the review.

Senator Craig’s office was more helpful. They forwarded the two documents the VA had sent to them. One document is a Fact Sheet detailing the contract between the VA and the IOM. The other is a Question and Answer sheet. (NOTE: The VA documents are available at the following URL – http://www.vawatchdog.org/newsflash/newsfl...1-23-2005-3.htm )

I encourage all veterans to read the VA documents. They detail a plan to redefine PTSD by altering diagnostic and treatment techniques that will then lead to a complete restructuring of VA compensation. Following are a few excerpts from the VA Fact Sheet.

The IOM "…will review the utility and objectiveness of the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM- IV), and will comment on the validity of current screening instruments and their predictive capacity for accurate diagnoses."

This will allow the VA to write an alternate definition of PTSD exclusive of the DSM-IV and institute new methods of treatment outside of normally accepted guidelines. I wonder what the American Psychiatric Association will say about this?

Also, the IOM "…will review the literature on compensation practices for PTSD…and how changes in the frequency and intensity of symptoms affect compensation practices for PTSD; assessing how compensation practices and reevaluation requirements for PTSD compare with other chronic conditions which have periods of remission and return of symptoms; and reviewing strategies used to support recovery and return to function in patients with PTSD."

And, this will allow the VA to lower PTSD compensation based on "frequency and intensity of symptoms" and "remission and return of symptoms." The VA will also be looking to deny PTSD benefits based on the concept of "recovery and return to function." VA Secretary Nicholson has often used the word "recover" (terribly close to the word "cure") when speaking of veterans with PTSD. The IOM reviews will be completed in a year.

Also, there were two big surprises found in the Question and Answer document. "QUESTION: Why is this study being conducted now? ANSWER: Over the next two years, the [VA] Secretary and the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) is (sic) closely examining compensation for all health conditions, including PTSD."

Surprise number one is that the VA has not announced that Secretary Nicholson is examining compensation "for ALL health conditions." Veterans can only look forward to fewer benefits and lower compensation with Nicholson directing this endeavor.

The second surprise is Secretary Nicholson’s mention of the VDBC. The VDBC, by law, is "independent of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs." However, to discover that they are coordinating their efforts should not be a surprise. The VDBC is made up of 13 members who are currently studying all areas of VA compensation. Nine VDBC members were appointed by Republicans. Secretary Nicholson was appointed by President Bush.

Then there is the matter of timing. The VDBC’s charter stipulates that their reports must be done by October of 2006. But, the VDBC has also contracted with the IOM for studies that will not be complete for at least a year. They will be asking for an extension. This means that the VDBC reports from IOM and the VA reports from IOM will be released at the same time, well AFTER the 2006 elections. I don’t believe in coincidence.

Sometime in early 2007, after the elections, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson will be armed with reports from the VDBC and the VA’s IOM studies. Expect a two-fisted attack on veterans’ benefits and compensation from an administration that is the first to shout "Support Our Troops"…until they become veterans.

http://www.vawatchdog.org

Larry Scott (larry@vawatchdog.org)served four years in the U.S. Army with overseas tours as a Broadcast Journalist in Korea and the Azores and a stateside tour as a Broadcast Journalism Instructor at the Defense Information School (DINFOS). He was awarded DOD's First Place Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence in Journalism. After the Army, Larry was a news anchor on WNBC Radio in New York City. He receives VA compensation for a service-connected disability. Larry is a regular on the Thom Hartmann show on KPOJ radio in Portland, Oregon. Today, Larry resides in Southwest Washington and operates the website VA Watchdog dot Org.

View it at http://xsorbit27.com/users5/unifiedveteran...ic=2711.new#new

Regards,

The unifiedveteranscoalition Team.

Greetings,

I am 100% T&P but not for PTSD. I do have depression, however but could not compare to you fellow brothers whom have seen and done things I have only read about. I recieved a copy of my last American L. Magizine. There was a story in there about a fellow veteran brother who killed him self because of this issue. I read that story to the Church I minister , and at the end there was no dry eye including mine. It is a tragic that our goverment that ecah of us was willing to die for could create such an evil issue to impose on the men with PTSD. I heard that the congress repealed it like they were doing the Veterans a big favor. The issue is here is how did it ever get that far to start with?

As a Christian I voted for Bush the first time around. I believed him when he said he would take care of the Veterans, but it seems to me that all I have seen him do is take, take and take. He would have had the power to put this issue to bed before it even started, however he did not, and he knew it was going to happen. The blood of all the men that killed themselves is on his and the VA seceatary heads.

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I was admonished over posting the links that started this topic because Larry Scott @ the VA Watchdog site is offering opinion not fact. Crying Wolf over PTSD Reviews does nothing but cause grief to those with PTSD. Can we please try and post facts so that those concerned don't panic thinking this is another attempt to review individual claims. This new agreement between VA and IOM is to take a look at the "process" not claims. Here is a link to the VA's Press Release concerning this matter:

http://www.senate.gov/~veterans/index.cfm?...Releases&id=339

There were many who said we were needlessly worrying about the "72,000 PTSD reiviews", but, as another poster here just pointed out, how many vets died because of that review? The very nature of PTSD is to be paranoid and over-react...the VA knows this yet they push these vets time and time again KNOWING they could hurt themselves or others. Regardless of the VA's intentions or what you want to read into it, ANY review of PTSD cases is going to cause good veterans to die....what I really want to know, is how is this different then murder? If the VA KNOWS (from historical data) that veterans seem to take their lives when pressured by the VA (be it justified or not), then how is that not premeditated murder?

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