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Bva Case Psychiatric Records Destroyed After 5 Years


Josephine

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Hi,

I read this on one of the BVA cases. This is something that I didn't know. What do you all know about it?

http://www.va.gov/vetapp06/files3/0619822.txt

Citation Nr: 0619822

Decision Date: 07/07/06 Archive Date: 07/13/06

DOCKET NO. 05-35 363 ) DATE

)

)

On appeal from the

Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office in St.

Petersburg, Florida

However, the SMRs do not include mental health records, such as psychological

evaluations and other mental health consultations.

Such records are normally retained by the facility that created the record for 5 years before the records are destroyed.

While the mental health records concerning the veteran may have been destroyed, a request to obtain these records must be made.

Is this why the VA was so shocked that my " Psychiatric Consultations" were at the NARA, and I acquired them some 42 years later.

Josephine

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Josephine:

I am glad that you found your records. I really don't see how the VA has any business destroying Veterans records for any reason.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I just can't figure this one. I can see why so many claims for PTSD can not be proven. What a shame.

I had no ideal of what my military treating doctor was talking about, on the telephone , when I spoke to him about protecting my records, when I read this case, the light began to shine. He sent them in for me.

He was my guadian angel in more ways than one. Dr. C saved my life in service, protected my records and came to my aid with a letter of explantion of his treatment of me to the BVA. Of course, I did baby-sit for him and his wife and I mailed him all of his service medical records and the psychiatric consultations by the review board to whom he sent me to.

I was happy at the time of his letter to the BVA, he was still practicing as CEO, but he is retired now. He and his wife are cruising around the world. He told the BVA, if they needed anything now to let him know, for he would be hard to find. As it turns out, he has decided to teach at Harvard Medical School.

He has told me not to drop this claim and that he will see me through it. Not many of his kind around.

Always,

Josephine

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That is an unusual BVA case.

the veteran served only 80 days.

"He contends that he currently suffers from

depression based on events that occurred during his period of

service and as a result of his discharge"

There must be more to this than what appears-I would think his character of discharge was questioned but dont see that or even why he was discharged- in the BVA case-

This is on a remand and the BVA is giving this vet every opportunity to support his claim-

It bothers me though that the vet did have some strong medical statements:

"The veteran has submitted several letters from F. G. Stanley,

Ph.D., in support of his claim. Dr. Stanley has said he

first treated the veteran in October 2001. Dr. Stanley's

treatment records are not associated with the claims file and

should be requested on remand.

The several statements from Dr. Stanley related the veteran's

depression to his military service. He referred to service

personnel records in the claims file as support for his

opinion that the veteran's depression was related to service."

Yet the VA wanted another opinion- a VA opinion of course-

"In light of Dr. Stanley's several letters relating the

veteran's depression to service, a medical examination is

required." See 38 U.S.C.A. § 5103A(d) (West 2002); 38 C.F.R.

§ 3.159©(4) (2005).

If the vets SMRs from Basic training cannot be found-I sure hope the vet took all the time this sat at the BVA to strength and prove his stressor or whatever event caused the depression.

Even if he gets a lousy VA opinion against the claim- those treatment records of Dr. Stanley can put the claim into realm of Benefit of Doubt-thus an award- BUT

not without confirmation of the nexus- the actual stressor-

it must have been very serious to curtail his military service -after only 80 days.and it was not a medical discharge. ???

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

Why is the duty station destroying psychiatric records after keeping them for 5 years at the duty station. The BVA speaks as this is common practice to do this. Why aren't the psychiatric records placed in the veterans claims file at the archives? This guy will never locate those records. If it took me 40 years to acquire mine after the VA denying them being there. Something doesn't add up!

For claims of anxiety or depression, the veteran does not have to prove a stressor, only PTSD. I imagine, this is why he changed his claim from PTSD to Depression.

I was told over and over by the VA that I didn't have any psychiatric records, but when I hand wrote a letter to the archives of what I specifically wanted, the technician located them for me.

This is not right.

Josephine

Edited by Josephine (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

The BVA case really is pretty vague in it's wording.

So, I thought about this for a minute..........let's see what you think about my reasoning?

This veteran's period of service was before "Don't Ask...etc.." wasn't it?

Had a guy in my basic training platoon........it was pretty rough on him...the way they treated him after figuring out his "alternate sexuality preferences". Last time I saw him, he was running down the company area shouting "I'm gonna kill that *&&^%^".

Last I ever saw of him was when they loaded him up in that grey Navy ambulance.

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I think psychiatric records are treated different in many ways -- Maybe because they think they are more personal.

But some insurance forms for release of medical records don't cover psychiatric notes.

And when my husband went to the VA hospital to get his records and we asked if that was ALL of them -- they admitted they didn't include the pysch exam -- becuase they don't usually give those out because they can upset people.

He asked for a copy of his -- but they had to read it first to see if it had anything in it that might upset him.

So where psych records are concerned - they seem to have a tendency to want to "protect" us from ourselves.

I was reading where sometimes the VA doesn't have to put certain things in your statement of claim if they think it might "harm" you -- again the psychiatric stuff. I think they have to list it - but not in the copy they give you.

Kind of like when they didn't used to tell people they were sick or dying -- to "protect" them.

And I guess they can still get by with it with psychiatric stuff because if you resist they just take it is more proof that you can't handle it.

Kind of a catch 22.

Free

Why is the duty station destroying psychiatric records after keeping them for 5 years at the duty station. The BVA speaks as this is common practice to do this. Why aren't the psychiatric records placed in the veterans claims file at the archives? This guy will never locate those records. If it took me 40 years to acquire mine after the VA denying them being there. Something doesn't add up!

For claims of anxiety or depression, the veteran does not have to prove a stressor, only PTSD. I imagine, this is why he changed his claim from PTSD to Depression.

I was told over and over by the VA that I didn't have any psychiatric records, but when I hand wrote a letter to the archives of what I specifically wanted, the technician located them for me.

This is not right.

Josephine

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It would seem like they would have to have your consent to destroy your records --and give you the option of having them released to you.

I ran across something interesting looking for my husband's service number. He was stationed up in some Radar facility -- on the Canadian Border for awhile. I don't think the base is still there. Well --it wasn't even a base - it was a station.

Anyway - he has travel vouchers --to go to the doctor / hospital - because there was no medical facilities avalible there (i think they were about 60 miles away from anything).

But anyway -- all those times they said Your SMRs didn't show -- and dang! He was stationed at a place that couldn't even do anything medical -- he had to get a travel voucher to go to the doctor.

Free

Josephine:

I am glad that you found your records. I really don't see how the VA has any business destroying Veterans records for any reason.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

I think that it is a disgrace to destroy the psychiatric records as most veterans with PTSD do not know immediately that they are suffering from it and then when they tell the VA that they saw a certain doctor, there is no records to back up what they are saying.

I have read so many cases as this during my research of BVA cases.

As you said it is a catch 22. Without the proof, there is no claim.

Take Care,

Josephine

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Records-

I was stunned at the amount of VA records that the SSA had on Rod-

Newark VAMC where he was initially diagnosed and treated with PTSD wrote to me ,after his death,that they had no records on him at all.

But SSA had the whole stack from Newark.

They even had all of his Navy records as well as those from USMC.

SMRs and military personnel can often be found at SSA offices.The office where the initial SSA claim is filed often retains the records right there-

It is one more way to get copies of records that VA says they dont have or cannot get.If the veteran was getting SSA for disability.

I couldn't believe the stuff they had-

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"For claims of anxiety or depression, the veteran does not have to prove a stressor, only PTSD. I imagine, this is why he changed his claim from PTSD to Depression."

This is not accurate-

a veteran claiming any mental illness due to service has to prove the Nexus, etiology, reason, cause ---whatever- for why they have the mental disorder.

A friend of mine waited 12 years to get award for manic bi polar-

it took that long for him to prove the nexus to his service.

A vet I know with depression is still trying to prove the event that he claims claused his inservice depression- the claim has continually been deied.

"stressor" is only one way of saying "cause", etiology,event, reason whatever-

An inservice rape victim could file a claim for inservice rape with resulting anxiety and never mention the word "stressor"

They need to prove the rape more than likely occurred.

If what you stated was true- NO vet would claim PTSD -they would just claim anxiety or depression-

The Nexus factor- without the receipt of Purple Heart or combat awards-

for everyone else attempting claim of mential disorder to service-

is the most critical factor -along with current diagnosis and treatment records - to succeed in service connected award.

This is why -if a vet needs a buddy statement as the only way to verify a stressor or an event , reason, cause of their disability-

they need a buddy statement that is a detailed eye witness account.

From a vet who was at same time and place of stressor(event , rape, accident, deaths of others, reason, etiology, nexus) when it occurred.

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Berta,

If your friend was under the care by a physician for his depression in service and with medication in their record this should prove his nexus. As you have stated several times, he may need an IMO to bring this forward.

To my knowledge PTSD was not recognized until 1980. Please correct me if I am incorrect.

Is it possible for you to send me the link to the code of regulations for this.

My large computer is with the movers and I am using my granddaughters lap top and shall continue to for about the next 3 months.

If anyone else reads this, I am having a difficult time locating the BVA Cases.

I am a bit lost.

Thanks,

Josephine

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Right-in service medical care certainly shows the veteran was treated in service.

The problem is what were they treated for?

The BVA has stated in claims- I posted one some time ago here - that the normal rigors of service are not ratable disabilities.A service person could seek psychiatric attention while in service with complaints that do not rise to the level of a ratable disability after they leave service-

that is why the Nexus factor is so important.

The BVA in some cases has identified situations the veteran reported which could be bonafide stressors, or any type of nexus or cause for an inservice mental condition.The BVA upon remand will highlight that as part of the remand and the VA and the vet should do all they can to find proof of this- particularily of the BVA finds potential cause of depression or anxiety etc-

SMRs that help a vet by showing the vet had inservice treatment for mental health issues also should reveal what problems brought the service person to the doctor-in service-in the first place.

That is a nexus.

For example the bi polar friend I have-

He spent brig time for a few days with no mental health counselling at all.He had nothing in his SMRs that showed he had any type of mental health issues.

Docs in those days did not even understand Manic Bi polar illness.

He was written up as having disciplinary action for what happened that caused him to be thrown into the brig.There were some bizarre incidents that day which he did that made them put him there.

I helped him prove to VA that this was first manifestation of Manic Bi polar. He was formally diagnosed with this a litle after the first year after service but the VA refused to SC him.

I met him just before the VA kicked him out of the Bath Dom.They only wanted SC vets there.

He won 100% Manic Bipolar SC -about two years ago-

he offered to take me to lunch in Europe!

Of course I didnt go-

His retro was enormous and correctly the VA deemed him incompentent and the wife handles his money- good thing- he would have spent it all in a weekend.

The VA erred in the award and I prepared either a Cue or a NOD -forget what and he got more more in retro-

This long story shows that the VA uses the Hickson element-

no way to get around it in claims that are not presumptive (or filed within one year after discharge)

1. current diagnosed and treated disability

2. inservice event, accident, stressor, rape, situation, reason, cause, etiology etc etc that caused the current disability or was manifestation of it.

3. medical evidence that shows # 2 is related to # 1

In my friends case it was the personnel file that held the discipline report on the brig time.This was the first manifestation of his manic bi polar illness.It happened while he was aboard ship.

A VA shrink completely agreed.

Twelve years after filling this claim he succeeded.

His Hickson elements:

1.Present current Bi polar diagnosis well documented and treated consistently for 40 years by VA and other docs.

2.Brig time as first manifestation of illness in service

3.Medical statement that provided support and established the proven nexus- the disciplinary action report-

He could have succeeded sooner but kept losing the rebuttal stuff I sent him and the SF 180 to get the brig report.Then when they did send it he lost that too.

The DAV didnt not see any potential award here at all.

They just bought a new home and are planning another major trip to Europe.And the VA paid for his daughters bachelors degree under Chap 35.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

Berta,

I know exactly what you are saying. I am just not sure what you and the VA consider the normal rigor of service life.

My medical records states dis-satisfied with working conditions and the living conditions in the barrracks.

I would guess this was a kind way for the psychiatrist in service to repeat what I was saying.

I did not consider being cursed by navy physicans and being jerked by the neck until you wet yourself the normal.

I didn't think that coat hanger abortions and girls cutting their wrist for an early discharge the normal either.

I went to Dr. C for the Cafergot for the headaches and the Librium for my nerves. That is what anxiety was called in the 1960's.

I looked in the DSM III and nervousness was the name for what we call anxiety now.

I would not be rated under the DSM- IV of today.

If your service records state that you were in consultation for nervousness, headaches and irratibility and wish an early discharge, there must be a reason for it, especially if you had a request for transfer in your personnel records months before asking for the early discharge.

If you enlistment papers ask the questions - nervous or some sort or insane and you checked the paper no and you have continued on the same medication for the next 40 years, this sounds like a plausible statement to me.

I have a buddy letter who was with me and was the eye witnesss that you speak of.

" Doris" was a stressor to me, but in my mind even today, my stressor was trying to stay alive myself in the pool.

I just don't think that my service experience was normal.

So far, I have never seen anyone post any experiences as I had at a duty station.

Thanks,

Josephine

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This is why the BVA brought up the letter they had that you wrote to the President which stated you had witnessed a drowning of a servicewoman.

That could be for many people a stressor, or event that caused them anxiety or depression.

That is why the remand contained the request that this event be supported with more evidence.

Any death of a serviceperson has a record.I mentioned ways in the past that this could be supported by evidence.

My daughter was in Tech school for 2 years.

Not only did a teacher from Vietnam have a nervous breakdown due to PTSD there but the scuttlebutt was that service persons had committed suicide due to the stress of this tech school.Dont know if that is true.

Someoe else told me that-not my daughter.

The VA does not care about the rigors of service at all.

They have probably all been through it too.

In the 1960s some Marines drowned during an exercise at Parris Island.

There was quite a fuss in the news about this.

They had been ordered to march into a swamp.

Their DI got in trouble until the military or whoever had decided he had NOT ordered them to die.He did not receive any negative marks on his record as I understand.

I think the USMC might have considered this event as a normal rigor of service- a bizarre example-

this one is better- normal rigors of service-

At my daughters high school Grad-the ones who had joined the service were named. One of the women had received a full scholarship to the US Army Military Academy.Everyone made a big deal of it.

Three weeks after being at the academy- she was back in the hills of NY-

she said she couldnt stand all the screaming and hollering and it all gave her too much stress.

Can she be compensated for this? NO she experienced the rigors of service.

Marines in the olden days (1950s - 60s) were brutalized by their DIs.Punching and slapping , screaming etc etc-i Boot Camp-it was normal SOP.Als it was

the normal rigors of service.

The BVA focused in on a nexus factor in your remand.

I saw this as the most important part of your claim.

If a vet experienced something that would be a stressor for most people-

and suffers from anxiety or depression due to this stressor and it is proven- then it would add weight to challenge a medical diagnosis that could possibly be incorrect.

It would be like- remeber when those families were told that the missing miners had been found alive when a coal mine had collapsed last year? Then 3 hours later they were told the truth-the miners were all found dead-

Say they all went to shrinks with insomnia,nervousness, and anxiety-and yet never mentioned this Mine incident-a shrink could diagnose them with all sorts of mental illnesses.

But say they all told the shrinks however of the horrible events of that day.

A good shrink would see that they clearly had symptoms of PTSD.

The proven nexus -cause, stressor, event, rape, accident, whatever

is often the key to a proper diagnosis.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

I only posted this BVA Case, at the request of one on this site.

I do not think that the VA should be destroying psychiatric records of any veteran after 5 years at their duty station. When they file a claim, where is the proof?

Josephine

Edited by Josephine (see edit history)
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I am going to inform you Berta of things that went on while I was in the CORPS. I know that in my platoon of 80 recruits, there were only 6 left after 4 years of service still active. All I'd rather indicate is that 3 were released for trauma, 2 had multiple personality disorder (one was diagnosed in speaking to himself indicating the other person was the Sgt Major of the USMC) the other (a guy who got put in the closet for 1 week at a time (3 times) during the 3 months in the USMC). A whistleblower (doesn't someone all have a Pvt Pile) was lost in the sauce because he disappeared while in boot. Two guys got broken noses with the two sheets in a blanket. I know 1 guy from Kentucky (recruit) was released for being tramatized while in boot for a grown man wetting his bed for a long time.....I cant say his name but last name is Abbott was discharged and his friend for both going up to General Krulak and stating that they couldnt do it anymore, and saying they were going to shoot themselves or committ suicide (they were discharged by the USMC almost immediately and escorted...without any Pysch evals by order the Commandant on base. I ranted on what I knew for one reason, stuff still happens from the rigors of the service and i know there was an investigation done on 2nd Bn Hotel Company Sr Drill SSGT Garza in '98, but somethings get swept under the carpet and records lost....things like this start the traumatic events. But I am sure the documents were destroyed or ignored before the 5 years.

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yeah and just think- in the 1960s most of those Marines ended up in Vietnam---on top of all the Boot camp stuff-

3 that you mentioned had potential for SC- the other 3 ----maybe--- with a strong IMO

The two ,however, who threatened suicide, did not belong in the United States Marine Corps anyhow.They were a potential handicap to combat manuevers and could have caused the deaths of other Marines under fire-if they had suicidial ideations.

I am sure rigors of service still get out of hand -but the nexus is still----- everything.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

This is why I posted this BVA CASE. I see so many veterans stating that they were treated by such and such doctor in service, but they cannot locate their records.

They are silent as their reords have been destroyed.

I never knew that it was the practice of the military to destroy psychiatric records after 5 years. PTSD was not recognized until 1980 and the destruction of their records leaves them without the proof they need for the claim.

I am aware that I am in the fight of my life, as I did locate my psychiatric records after 40 years.

No, Berta, I do not thnk that the vigor of service involves being jerked by the neck until you wet all over yourself and I do not think drowning in a swimming pool is either.

I have read so many veterans post how they went for their C&P and received a More Lkely than Not decision by the VA doctor and received benefits.

I have yet to read of anyone that received a letter that stated this is a reminder of your clinic appointment 5 months later to get there, when no one knows that you are coming to have a C&P by a Board of Two Psychiatrist, have them refuse to allow my husbnd to be present, take me down this dark corridor, have the lady doc never speak a word, have the male psychiatrist speak in 3 or 4 word sentences. Tell you to show him how you kick a wall and a bunch of non-sense stuff. Change your private medical records and give you an AXIS I OF ANXIETY NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED AND A AXIS 2 OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY AND A GAF - 40.

I may win at the BVA, I don't know, but I do know , that I refuse to change my story of the abuse in service. I certainly will not be homeless, if I don't, for I still have my husband of 43 years and he does have a college education and does and shall continue to provide for me as he always has.

I simply refuse to give up on something that I feel is right.

The abuse continues in service today as the previos post states.

For all the veterans out there looking for their psychiatric records, send a hand written request to the archives and tell them specifically what you are looking for and then follow up with a telephone call after a couple of weeks and your records may be hidden within your file also.

I was told over and over by the VA, there were no psychiatric records for me, but they were there. You may just locate your nexus in your file.

Josephine

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