PTSD CLAIMS–WHOA UP THERE, PARDNER


th (2)Cupcake would probably tell me not to post anything as contentious as this as it rivals politics and religion as the third rail in conversation these days. However, she pointed out one thing I concede grudgingly. When you sign up, as we did in the mid-sixties and the early seventies (or were drafted), we signed on fully well knowing there were going to be things that went boom in the middle of the night, people shooting at you on purpose and the general mayhem of war. 

11248879_10153436963205516_5422666805166152993_nI’m sure there were a few of you much like Lt. Dan. [My father , my grandfather, my great grandfather , my great great…. etc. all served.] We called them gung ho. That was one part of my problem. The other was the Hampton Roads Civil Court magnanimously agreeing to let me off since I agreed to sign up in the Air Force at the end of the summer to avoid prosecution for reckless driving, speeding (95 mph in a 35 mph zone), evading and escaping a duly sworn officer of the law, eight red light failures to heed, fifteen stop signs (failure to stop completely- or at all), traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, and open container(s). Almost forgot. The potential felony that would have queered the whole deal was for throwing eggs at the uuuuunmarked po-lice car. Officer Rohrbach was not amused. Neither was the judge. Funny how consigning me to being conscripted into the military was considered punishment. When you’re 18, you’re bulletproof. It’s also one hell of an inducement to enlist and be quick about it. My draft number was 39.

Going to war is not always combat but eventually the bad guys cheat and attack the non-combatants like clerks, cooks et cetera in the rear areas. When this happens, your MOS suddenly changes to Eleven Bravo. VA cannot comprehend this because the Army never handed out Combat Infantryman Badges after the dust settled. This complicates your stressor testimony if you are filing for PTSD. You are virtually at the mercy of the USCRUR to dig through the National Archives to unearth the DA Form 1595 Officer’s Daily Log that will substantiate your contentions.

Add to that and say that not all of us have the same rubberband upstairs in our noggins. Some break it or irrevocably stretch that elastic fan belt that holds the brain box together and makes it work so well. It’s like Tinnitus. If you have it, you sure as hell know. It’s pretty much the same for a bent brain. It works but some parts have a knocking sound or are just plain ornery and don’t always want to operate according to the user’s manual. You don’t know why. The problem is for others to fathom because it sure as hell doesn’t bug you upstairs. Right?

People, mostly doctors of the mind, want to chemically “fix” it with a witch’s brew of mind altering chemicals. VA doctors of this persuasion want to really test the bounds of how much and how far they can go with dosage and prescription. I don’t propose to analyze that. I merely report it. You, my readers, who are mostly Veterans, who have this affliction know what I speak of. For what it’s worth, I self-medicated the shit out of myself for years before I opened Pandora’s box and looked in. Many today go from the Iraqistan front to the VA shrink front. I remember Valium being a happy pill- not one that made me suicidal.

Recently, I began answering a lot more Vet’s questions about 38 CFR and what constitutes a bent brain. Some have gone so far as to ask what symptoms are prevalent that would point to it. I simply reply that only a doctor trained in the arts of pretzel brain can answer truthfully. I can’t. I might recite a list of obvious behaviours that are indicative but that makes me feel like an enabler. If a Veteran feels he broke his rubberband or got it entangled in the gearbox such that the engine’s seized up, it seems mighty queer to be asking me what the symptoms are. Everyone I know who has been diagnosed with it are combat Veterans. I’m not aware of any in my age group who filed for it while serving as the General’s aide de camp in Saigon in 1973.

The newer Veterans approaching me now are those who were in “stressful” jobs. If a woman, they were sexually abused if not raped outright. Truck drivers who never heard an IED explode in anger were constantly in fear for their lives and thus “impacted” too. Some, who served in the rear, were always terrified that the enemy could issue forth suddenly as a suicide bomber in their midst. The impact list is quite lengthy and growing. The actual stressor that provoked this seems to be the harbinger of danger rather than the physical assault or the little green footballs (enemy tracers) all hitting in your geographic locale. The boom, in these cases, is ten miles away but has ”impact.”.

One constant in all of this is a Veteran’s uncertainty. Rather than recite a litany of “These are my symptoms, what do you think?”, more often than not I am asked what the symptoms should be. As a disinterested observer, I’m at a strategic disadvantage. This is the point where listening to a claimant transcends from helping him legally into unintentionally coaching him medically. I am very uncomfortable with that. In a word, it smacks to me of enabling.

Very recently, a Veteran with a 100% PTSD rating and a handful of 20s and 10s asked about applying for A&A 1 but was more concerned about being declared incompetent. He was worried that VA might “take his guns away”. His queries were all aimed towards what he needed to know to win but still appear competent in VA’s eyes in case they began fitting him for a brand new fiduciary straight jacket. Again, my hair on my neck arose like a balloon with too much static electricity was near. What concerned me most was his unbridled anger with no attempt to constrain it. It began to come across as braggadocio. This immediately calls into question his diagnosis.  Visiting misfortune on another should be considered long and hard. As to road rage, I think that is over the top. To enter a Veterans forum and discuss weighty matters about the rhyme or rhythm of how VA does things is understandable. Most Vets are rather naive re this process. It’s another thing altogether to brag about your A) height/weight, B) your experience in martial arts and C) how you cold-cocked him  before his head hit and bounced off the pavement putting him into a coma for two days with a brain aneurysm.

The last straw is when these folks proceed to drag me into the argument and point to all my problems obeying traffic laws in 1969 and how I was, and still am, crazy too. Hey, I was kicked out for personality disorders, not PTSD. They wouldn’t go on to invent it (PTSD) for another nine years. By then, I think I was cured- if I ever was bent. I’m the messenger. I’m the gomer that listens and offers a path. I’m simply the one you consult like reading Tarot cards, casting the chicken bones or killing the goat to study the entrails. Don’t confuse me with the entrails themselves.

I am preparing to embark on a new journey as a non-attorney VA practitioner and that entails being an officer of the court. If I even suspect something is amiss- that a Veteran is falsely contriving a claim or engaging me in bad faith- I am obligated to walk away. I am not permitted to perpetuate a crime or be an accessory to and after the fact. Milking me for the proper combination of symptoms to obtain a higher rating was against the law before I ever considered this. I would prefer to think no one, most especially a Vet, would contemplate carefully orchestrating slipping on the floor in Safeway for monetary gain. Using artifice to assemble all the pieces of the pie to file for PTSD is equally repugnant but there it is.

A fellow HCVet and I once dreamed up several unique ways to deceive VA pecker checkers. How about this one. Go in every appointment with about 35 lbs of wheel weights packed tightly into your four blue jeans pockets. Then remove them and go in for a scheduled checkup a month later. Wow. It goes in the charts and is the predicate for a jump from 40% to 60% as a major weight loss under § 4.112. Use Maybelline© black eye shadow under your eyes and guard your upper right quadrant with your arm. Complain of a dull ache up under the rib cage. Yeppers. Good for a jump from 20% to 40%. The best I save for last. Buy some FD&C yellow #2 food coloring and dilute it 3 to one. Take an eye dropper and apply some to your eyes. Look out. Instant Sclera Ictera, dude! Fulminate Hep C. Just the ticket for that C&P coming up. All joking aside, a lab test afterwards showing normal bilirubin would raise a few eyebrows about why your eyes were so jaundiced.

unicornThat’s the gist of my bitch today. I’m on a mission from God. I help Vets. I trust you all. One apple does not a barrel of rottenness provoke. I don’t mind the personal attacks. I’m a big boy now. I draw lightning and am expecting it. I have the utmost respect for any man or woman who would serve America. However, I have nothing but contempt for anyone who would game the system and rob another Vet of his place in line- or worse- who would give us all a bad name.

Here’s the context just so no one thinks I’m insane myself:

—————————————————

Vet: I have memory issues, anexiety, depression. Severe anger outbursts, i was fired from my last two jobs for assaulting people. The last one had a brain aneurysm and was in a coma for a couple of days. That’s not the person I want to be, fortunately, I was able to remove myself from the public with the help of 100% disability. My wife deals with my road rage and memory issues. She reminds me to perform hygiene and take meds, appointments etc. I don’t sleep until 5am to avoid nightmares as long as possible ( I take prazosin). When I do sleep I wake up a lot.

The extra $700 would go a long way towards paying the bill, but I am afraid of being labeled incompetent.

When asked to elucidate as to why he was contemplating asking for A&A:

asknod:

<Severe anger outbursts, i was fired from my last two jobs for assaulting people. The last one had a brain aneurysm and was in a coma for a couple of days. That’s not the person I want to be, fortunately, I was able to remove myself from the public with the help of 100% disability. My wife deals with my road rage and memory issues.>

Seriously? You have guns in the house? Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you enjoy regular excursions from the home and experience road rage, it doesn’t sound as though you ” have removed yourself from the public”. Uncontrolled anger is a bomb waiting to go off. With that sure knowledge, owning firearms is a guaranteed recipe for disaster in your circumstances. I sure do not mean to preach but numerous news stories recently show the fallacy that some adjudicated with a severe MDD may still be fit to keep and bear arms. Each Vet is a case study in itself. There is no ‘one size fits all’.

Saying you have never used a firearm in anger is akin to saying you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen but have never had a fire…yet. I used firearms in anger many times during the war. Each time it became easier and after the first or second time I quit vomiting afterwards. Pretty soon I was able to joke about it with my buddies. That’s not the person I wanted to be either and it led to my being kicked out of the military. I suggest you re-evaluate your circumstances and decide whether ownership of guns is in your best interest. If you insist because you live in a high-crime environment, perhaps moving to a less-threatening locale would be advisable.

I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t speak up. I’m actually surprised I am the first. Pounding on someone so hard that it leads to aneurysm or coma is only a very short step away from accidentally killing them. When that happens, I assure you your guns will be removed from the home—along with you. We’re here to help you. That ‘help’ cannot, nor should it, condone your anger issues or advice on how to retain ownership of your firearms. I do wish you the best on this in spite of what it may sound like, sir.

Vet: I have guns because it is my second amendment right

I suppose putting details of my information on here is like asking for someone to scrutinize my life, even though you did ask me.

How about I add more detail.

I was security. A guy was harassing people at the front door. I told him to leave, he told me to xxxx off. eventually he left, but he came back with a friend. I met him in the parking lot and asked him to leave, he raised his had and i elbowed his jaw. He went unconscious while he was standing and his head bounced off the parking lot. I was charged with aggravated assault, but It was dropped because I had 10 witnesses to support my story. I’m 6’3″ 300lbs and I’m healthy. In fact last week i dead-lifted 610lbs.

What I, and most vets consider a fight is way beyond what a guy at a bar would consider a fight. They think they will have a fun story, but that’s not the case.

asknod you say you have used firearms in anger many times and you and you were actually kicked out of the military, and yet you are interested in “old guns that go rat-a-tat-tat.”

That’s pretty xxxxxxx hypocritical. Maybe you should evaluate your own situation before you shit your opinion onto the internet.

asknod: […]One thing I do not have is anger issues or I would seriously review my decision to own guns. I tried to convey to you that I am not judgmental of you or your choices vis a vis the 2nd Amendment. Your anger has overcome your ability to hear what I say. For that, I am sorry. I truly hope you find peace within and a successful VA claims path.

————————————————————-

This is what I try to avoid. To request information or a ‘how to’ is one thing. To even attempt to phrase or poise yourself in the proper posture so as to avoid scrutiny is permissible for the most part. When anger issues seep through a thin veneer of civility, I worry for obvious reasons that others may be in harm’s way. When it descends into bravado and a sneering insinuation about the degree of harm inflicted, I know I’m dealing with someone who either forgot to take their meds or the obverse (they need to take more and stronger ones). Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

About asknod

VA claims blogger
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10 Responses to PTSD CLAIMS–WHOA UP THERE, PARDNER

  1. USMC VET says:

    I remember this guy. I understand the fear of having guns taken away, etc etc
    I dont assume to judge, but I feel that if you are 100% for PTSD, by the very definition and what you would have had to have said and submitted as evidence would basically mean you are suicidal (have tried or think about it alot), you have severe anger issues, can barely function. Having a job as a bouncer is either proof you are not, or you make very poor decisions and dont understand fully what is happening with you. Either way i dont feel it is wrong for the VA to assume you are not capable of owning a firearm.

    You dont get to have your cake and eat it to, or in this case you cant claim you are fine to own firearms while claiming (real or not) to have severe mental issues. he never mentioned treatment at all, just how awesome he was.

    As far as vets gaming the system, unfortunately we are on two polar opposites in this the vet/VA world. In the VA, they seem to approach many of us with the opinion we are faking it until the evidence proves otherwise. and the vet community i think misunderestimates how many are actually gaming the system. I dont think its the majority <50% the VA treats it like (unofficially) and i dont think its the 1% that the vet community pretends it is, if i had to ballpark it i would say 10-20%. in this category i lump those outright faking conditions with those who embellish to get higher percentages. Anyone who actually does have real issues, would trade the paltry compensation 100x over for a shot back at the 17/18 year old version of ourselves to live a life free of this.

    I also think there is a major underreported large minority of vets who have issues and never claim them, out of pride. To them i say, you and the government signed a contract. part of that contract was 1) if you die, your folks/family get a life insurance lump sum, 2) if you get messed up they will take care of you and compensate you for the loss. You may not have even known that was part of the contract, but the other party (the government) knew it was. You lived up to your end, you raised your right hand, and said you would do what they told you. If that meant getting sent somewhere and possibly being blown up that was part of the deal. They also have to live up to their end. This is not a "entitlement" issue to me, its a contractual issue. We did our part, they need to do theirs.

  2. Vicki Foley says:

    This guy’s got a job as a bouncer (aka “security” at the front door) with anger issues and 100% rated for PTSD? A job that invites conflict and confrontation, how convenient. Bet that was by sheer coincidence.

  3. rdmurphy says:

    Sadly, every one of these folks trying to game the system makes all the folks with real issues look bad. Applaud you for taking the high road and being willing to walk away from the scammers. Not to mention you might find yourself in some legal trouble if you went along with them.

  4. Karen S. says:

    If you DO come across that vet who claims PTSD from something that they average person would not consider to be mentally stressful, ask if they have a history of therapy. I did, and found 40+ years of psychiatric care since VN war, not combat related. 100% TDIU

  5. Al Tetrault says:

    Thank you for writing this. As a VA Authorized Agent and Attorney, I get lots of similar calls, but none so tragic – yet. One peacetime Marine vet, on embassy duty in Scandinavia, claimed PTSD as the result of a bar fight decades ago. Another from Marine boot camp in the Korean war era. There’s a growing minority of vets trying to game the system.

    • Jon Schmidt says:

      So easy to game the system when the VHA is overwhelmed by mental health workers. An example would be Tomah VA. The deaths that occurred were because the system could not respond to a medical emergency. Spit in any direction and you probably hit ten Psychiatrist. Yet if you need a heptologist, they will send you to Madison to be seen by a part-time specialist from UW who may be in attendance once a month. Same with these FB groups that become dominated by MST and PTSD. When combat vets respond negatively to these people they get bounced from the group or labeled as “trolls”. From my perspective its more than just a minority who are gaming the system.

      • Jon Schmidt says:

        As a post liver TX vet. I wasn’t feeling the love of my local VA {Tomah}. So on a grin I did a count of the providers listed on the Tomah website. Of the 57 listed; 36 are mental and behavioral health professionals.

  6. Right on AskNod. Those guys are for sure the minority, but they are a big enough minority that they can muck things up for all the vets who are just trying to get some help and who ‘tell it like it is.’

    Most of the big wigs at VA won’t even talk about this problem for fear they will be excoriated as being ‘anti-veteran’. So they look the other way and make it easier and easier for the vocal minority to garner undeserved benefits.

    And, unfortunately, the veterans service organizations are not much better. They don’t want to tackle this problem either, for fear that the vocal minority within their own organizations will revolt.

    IMHO the only thing that will change the current state of affairs is what you just did. The more veterans who speak up about this problem, the more likely the VSOs, Congress, & the VA will take it seriously.

    As I’m sure Cupcake knows better than anyone, you’re a stand up guy whom I, and thousands of others, respect and count on to keep us informed with the truth.

    All the Best,

    Mark

    P.S. Improving the quality of VA PTSD disability evaluations (C&P exams) will also help address the other side of the coin: Vets with genuine psych disorders (PTSD and others) who either get denied or who receive an inaccurate low rating because of cursory exams.

    P.P.S. You would think I would not need to say this, but I’ve learned the hard way I must: Everything I have written here is my personal opinion, and should not be construed as representing the views or opinions of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. government.

  7. cdneh says:

    You aren’t nuts. But that guy, that 300 pounder with anger issues, is a bag of hammers. And I’m being polite.

  8. Karen S. says:

    Happy to see this. When asked by a vet if they have PTSD or how to prove PTSD, I point them to therapists/doctors with copies of DBQs. It is not for me to determine.

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