Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bubble Boy's Oedipal War Broke 'Em, But Bubble Boy Won't Pay to Fix 'Em

More tales of incompetence and inexcusible stupidity about shabby, shoddy "treatment" for American troops with PTSD.

(Recommendations for fixing VA system, here. Earlier WaPo story here.)

The American military, led by raucous draft-dodger George W. Bush as its shining, sock-stuffed-codpiece commander, apparently just can't handle treating its own troops with PTSD now, even thought it's Bush's own Oedipal war that gave them their severe psychological injuries.

Every month, 20 to 40 soldiers are evacuated from Iraq because of mental problems, according to the Army. Most are sent to Walter Reed along with other war-wounded. For amputees, the nation's top Army hospital offers state-of-the-art prosthetics and physical rehab programs, and soon, a new $10 million amputee center with a rappelling wall and virtual reality center.

Nothing so gleaming exists for soldiers with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, who in the Army alone outnumber all of the war's amputees by 43 to 1. The Army has no PTSD center at Walter Reed, and its psychiatric treatment is weak compared with the best PTSD programs the government offers. Instead of receiving focused attention, soldiers with combat-stress disorders are mixed in with psych patients who have issues ranging from schizophrenia to marital strife.

Even though Walter Reed maintains the largest psychiatric department in the Army, it lacks enough psychiatrists and clinicians to properly treat the growing number of soldiers returning with combat stress. Earlier this year, the head of psychiatry sent out an "SOS" memo desperately seeking more clinical help.

Individual therapy with a trained clinician, a key element in recovery from PTSD, is infrequent, and targeted group therapy is offered only twice a week.

Here's the real deall:

1. Assess.
Assess symptomatology, and the level of risk to self and others.
2. Refer In or Out, then Treat.
High-risk patients (dangerous to self/others) go inpatient, receive individual counseling at least twice a week, med eval, groups with possible referral for psych eval. They stay inpatient until they are stabilized.
3. Assess again, Refer Again.
Patients assessed as suitable for outpatient treatment get individual sessions, twice a week to start if they're very symptomatic, once a week if that will suffice. Med eval referrals made by clinician as needed. Work toward stabilization of symptoms.
4. Add Groups. (Maybe.)
Once a patient is doing well (symptoms less severe/less frequent), add group treatment -- down the line. Don't start out with group treatment.

Earlier in this series, the writers suggested that "more research" needs to be done on PTSD before treatment can begin.
This is total bullshit. Effective treatments already exist, the military just is not using them.

If the military's not prepared to treat their own wounded, they need to refer their wounded troops for treatment to experienced trauma-trained clinicians.

They're ready, willing, and able.

Get it done. Make it happen.

Get it done.


Lew Scannon said...

I'm almost sure those extended tours are only added to the problem.
The thing is, the chickenhawks, who have never had any combat experience, never saw anything resembling PTSD in any John Wayne movie, such behavior was considered "cowardice".

Jim Martin said...

I think that it isn't that they couldn't imagine it or didn't think of it. I think they don't give a shit.

enigma4ever said...

thanks for blogging on what matters....and PTSD is such a bungled mess...Dusty is blogging it too....and I am amazed how awful it has gotten in the past year....Thank you for your notes and your support- missed you so much....and Blogland....

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to write that it may benefit active duty & veteran family’s / friends of veterans to read a recently released book titled, “Still the Monkey: What Happens to Warriors After War?” "Author Alivia C. Tagliaferri became inspired to write Still the Monkey: What Happens to Warriors After War after she visited the Walter Reed Medical Center in the summer of 2003, and saw first hand the casualties of the War on Terror. Her later interview with a former Marine and Vietnam Veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder helped cement her determination to express the devastating toll of war. Still the Monkey is a historical fiction novel about a Vietnam veteran plagued with pain and sickness, and his fateful meeting with an Iraq veteran who lost both his legs. For ten days inside the walls of Walter Reed's Monologue House, the two of them begin a painful yet ultimately cathartic progression toward healing and learning to live again, one day at a time. A poignant and powerful novel, written out of the deepest respect and admiration for the men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of their nation.” - Midwest Book Review.

At you can learn more about this book, which is reality-based work of historical fiction that depicts the problems caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among returning veterans. I hope this post helps educate people out there that need assistance. Take care and God bless.