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VA Hospital gave 2000 mentally ill WW2 Veterans lobotomies against their will and then denied having records on it. Why should we volunteer for their expiraments now?By kent101
I see now the VA is using ecstasy on Veterans saying it helps cure mental illness. Ecstasy causes some major brain damage. The VA Hospital forcefully did lobotomies on 2000 WW2 Veterans and ruined their lives.
Roman Tritz’s memories of the past six decades are blurred by age and delusion. But one thing he remembers clearly is the fight he put up the day the orderlies came for him.
“They got the notion they were going to come to give me a lobotomy,” says Mr. Tritz, a World War II bomber pilot. “To hell with them.”
The orderlies at the veterans hospital pinned Mr. Tritz to the floor, he recalls. He fought so hard that eventually they gave up. But the orderlies came for him again on Wednesday, July 1, 1953, a few weeks before his 30th birthday.
This time, the doctors got their way.
The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans—and likely hundreds more—during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal. Besieged by psychologically damaged troops returning from the battlefields of North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, the Veterans Administration performed the brain-altering operation on former servicemen it diagnosed as depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals.
The VA doctors considered themselves conservative in using lobotomy. Nevertheless, desperate for effective psychiatric treatments, they carried out the surgery at VA hospitals spanning the country, from Oregon to Massachusetts, Alabama to South Dakota.
Roman Tritz talks about the scars from his lobotomy.
The VA’s practice, described in depth here for the first time, sometimes brought veterans relief from their inner demons. Often, however, the surgery left them little more than overgrown children, unable to care for themselves. Many suffered seizures, amnesia and loss of motor skills. Some died from the operation itself.
Mr. Tritz, 90 years old, is one of the few still alive to describe the experience. “It isn’t so good up here,” he says, rubbing the two shallow divots on the sides of his forehead, bracketing wisps of white hair.
The VA’s use of lobotomy, in which doctors severed connections between parts of the brain then thought to control emotions, was known in medical circles in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and is occasionally cited in medical texts. But the VA’s practice, never widely publicized, long ago slipped from public view. Even the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it possesses no records of the lobotomies performed by its predecessor agency.
Musty files warehoused in the National Archives, however, show VA doctors resorting to brain surgery as they struggled with a vexing question that absorbs America to this day: How best to treat the psychological crises that afflict soldiers returning from combat.
Between April 1, 1947, and Sept. 30, 1950, VA doctors lobotomized 1,464 veterans at 50 hospitals authorized to perform the surgery, according to agency documents rediscovered by the Journal. Scores of records from 22 of those hospitals list another 466 lobotomies performed outside that time period, bringing the total documented operations to 1,930. Gaps in the records suggest that hundreds of additional operations likely took place at other VA facilities. The vast majority of the patients were men, although some female veterans underwent VA lobotomies, as well.
Lobotomies faded from use after the first antipsychotic drug, Thorazine, hit the market in the mid-1950s, revolutionizing mental-health care.
The forgotten lobotomy files, military records and interviews with veterans’ relatives reveal the details of lives gone terribly wrong. There was Joe Brzoza, who was lobotomized four years after surviving artillery barrages on the beaches at Anzio, Italy, and spent his remaining days chain-smoking in VA psychiatric wards. Eugene Kainulainen, whose breakdown during the North African campaign the military attributed partly to a childhood tendency toward “temper tantrums and [being] fussy about food.” Melbert Peters, a bomber crewman given two lobotomies—one most likely performed with an ice pick inserted through his eye sockets.
And Mr. Tritz, the son of a Wisconsin dairy farmer who flew a B-17 Flying Fortress on 34 combat missions over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe.
“They just wanted to ruin my head, it seemed to me,” says Mr. Tritz. “Somebody wanted to.”
Counting the Patients
A memo gives a partial tally of lobotomized veterans and warns of medical complications. A note about documents:
Yellow highlighting has been added to some documents. The names of patients not mentioned in these articles have been redacted, along with other identifying details. All other marks are original. The VA documents subvert an article of faith of postwar American mythology: That returning soldiers put down their guns, shed their uniforms and stoically forged ahead into the optimistic 1950s. Mr. Tritz and the mentally ill veterans who shared his fate lived a struggle all but unknown except to the families who still bear lobotomy’s scars.
Mr. Tritz is sometimes an unreliable narrator of his life story. For decades he has meandered into delusions and paranoid views about government conspiracies.
He speaks lucidly, however, about his wartime service and his lobotomy. And his words broadly match official records and interviews with family members, historians and a fellow airman.
It isn’t possible to draw a straight line between Mr. Tritz’s military service and his mental illness. The record, nonetheless, reveals a man who went to war in good health, experienced the unrelenting stress of aerial combat—Messerschmitts and antiaircraft fire—and returned home to the unrelenting din of imaginary voices in his head.
During eight years as a patient in the VA hospital in Tomah, Wis., Mr. Tritz underwent 28 rounds of electroshock therapy, a common treatment that sometimes caused convulsions so jarring they broke patients’ bones. Medical records show that Mr. Tritz received another routine VA treatment: insulin-induced temporary comas, which were thought to relieve symptoms.
‘Anxious to Start’
The VA hospital in Tuskegee, Ala., asks permission to perform lobotomies. To stimulate patients’ nerves, hospital staff also commonly sprayed veterans with powerful jets of alternating hot and cold water, the archives show. Mr. Tritz received 66 treatments of high-pressure water sprays called the Scotch Douche and Needle Shower, his medical records say.
When all else failed, there was lobotomy.
“You couldn’t help but have the feeling that the medical community was impotent at that point,” says Elliot Valenstein, 89, a World War II veteran and psychiatrist who worked at the Topeka, Kan., VA hospital in the early 1950s. He recalls wards full of soldiers haunted by nightmares and flashbacks. The doctors, he says, “were prone to try anything.”
By Torie S
Hello! New to forum. I have some questions about 100% disability. My husband has been awarded 100% and we should receive his letter in the next month or two. We will be moving to a different state and will have access to a Veterans Hospital about 40 miles from home. However, my husband has severe heart failure and is only 46 and needs regular health care and occasional emergency care (when he gets defibrillated during non office hours). How will we go about receiving emergency care? Ambulance service? Specialized cardiac care? Transplant?
Is he required to go to the VA or can we receive medical care through a private physician?
Will the VA pay for his medical bills?
Do we need private insurance?
Also, if neither of us are working and we have young children would we qualify for Medicaid?
Please respond with information or a place we could look for answers. Thank you so much.
I need to seriously seek help due to daily checking ebenefits for a status change. I know I know, its like watching paint dry. I did take a peek this morning and noticed that I have a message. Now, I know iknow, I may be looking too deeply into this but has anyone else received the follwing message from ebenefits?
This is a reminder notice that you may have become eligible for benefits. Please see the following information for additional details.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates the largest health care system in the country, with over 1,400 sites of care nationwide. When you become enrolled in the VA health care system, it's for a lifetime. You are instantly and automatically entitled to receive care at any VA location without ever having to register for VA health care benefits again. Learn more at: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/division_flsh.asp?dnum=1
After you enroll, you can immediately start receiving your health care at a VA facility, or at a later date - the choice is yours. Enrolling in the VA health care system is quick and easy - just complete an online Application for Health Benefits online at: https://www.1010ez.med.va.gov/sec/vha/1010ez/ Need help enrolling? Contact the VA toll free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
broncovet posted an answer to a question,While the BVA has some discretion here, often they "chop up claims". For example, BVA will order SERVICE CONNECTION, and leave it up to the VARO the disability percent and effective date.
I hate that its that way. The board should "render a decision", to include service connection, disability percentage AND effective date, so we dont have to appeal "each" of those issues over then next 15 years on a hamster wheel.
Ztmiller8 posted a question in Appealing Your Veterans Compensation Disability Claims NOD, DRO, BVA, USCAVC,Finally heard back that I received my 100% Overall rating and a 100% PTSD rating Following my long appeal process!
My question is this, given the fact that my appeal was on the advanced docket and is an “Expedited” appeal, what happens now and how long(ish) is the process from here on out with retro and so forth? I’ve read a million things but nothing with an expedited appeal status.
Anyone deal with this situation before? My jump is from 50 to 100 over the course of 2 years if that helps some. I only am asking because as happy as I am, I would be much happier to pay some of these bills off!
Joey Ross posted an answer to a question,I told reviewer that I had a bad C&P, and that all I wanted was a fair shake, and she even said, that was what she was all ready viewed for herself. The first C&P don't even reflect my Treatment in the VA PTSD clinic. In my new C&P I was only asked about symptoms, seeing shit, rituals, nightmares, paying bills and about childhood, but didn't ask about details of it. Just about twenty question, and nothing about stressor,
Picked ByJoey Ross,
This is the latest Compensation & Pension (C&P) Clinicians Guide dated 20180719. The only other one I've seen is dated 2002, including the one on this website and the VA website. I got this from my claims agent, who got it from the VA.
VA Compensation & Pension (C&P) Clinicians Guide 2 Final Corrected 20180719.pdf
Tbird posted a question in VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims Research Forum,You, yes you, are the reason HadIt.com has remained a resource-rich resource. Thousands come each month to read, ask questions, or to feel a sense of community.
Last month June 2020, we over 50k visitors they viewed over 160k pages. Veterans and their advocates, spouses, children, and friends of veterans come looking for answers. Because we have posts dating back 15 years and articles on the home page, they usually can find an answer or at least get pointed in the right direction.
You all made that possible. Thank you.