Abuse of Veterans is not Limited to Walter Reed

by James Glaser
March 5, 2007

I just figured if there were a story about abuse of veterans at one of the nation's premiere military hospitals, there must reports from other Veteran's Hospitals across the country.

What I did was Google, "neglect abuse veteran's hospitals," and wouldn't you know it, I got over a million pages to look at. The selections below, compiled by John Aravosis, are a few that I started reading, and enough to show you that for Washington, "Support the Troops" is really just a political slogan.

I picked these, as they are mostly about problems in the system with veterans who need help with Combat Stress. We know about the problems for veterans who have suffered the loss of a limb, are blinded, have severe head wounds, or burns. Those veterans with physical injuries, we are able to put a number to, but the veterans who need psychological help now, or will need help in the future, are an unknown number, but for sure it will be at least in the tens of thousands.

With a backlog of over 600,000 claims for disability, you know vets returning from Iraq will have a long line of claims ahead of theirs. Already, veterans in the system are finding their appointments cut, and some PTSD programs have no room for new patients.

Every war costs a lot of money going in, we now know those in Washington who control the spending, have not prepared the funds needed to properly care for those veterans who have given their all.

  • "Concerns Mount Over Waiting Lists at Veterans Affairs Mental Health Centers: Marine Jonathan Schulze, who hanged himself Jan 16. His family says four days earlier, Schulze had called doctors at the veteran's hospital in St. Cloud, Minn., and told them he was suicidal. They told The Associated Press that he was turned away on account of a waiting list for beds at the hospital. As a rule, the VA does not put off veterans with suicidal tendencies, say VA officials." — FOX News, 2/13/07
  • "Veterans Have Reduced Access to Mental Health Care at Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities, Investigation Finds: Veterans with mental illnesses on average had almost one-third fewer visits with mental health professionals in 2005 than they did in 1995, according to an investigation conducted by McClatchy Newspapers, McClatchy/Miami Herald reports. . . . almost 100 VA clinics 'provided virtually no mental health care in 2005,' McClatchy/Herald reports." — Kaiser, 2/12/07
  • "There are two troubling reports, one out today, that point to serious problems affecting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' ability to treat military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . Our veterans' mental and physical health is not something to play games with. They have served their country, and their country has an absolute obligation to return the favor." — Macon Telegraph, 2/14/07
  • "Bush budget cuts veterans health care in 2009: The Bush administration's budget assumes cuts to veterans' health care two years from now -- even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system." — AP, 2/13/07
  • [I]t is the invisible psychological harm — primarily post-traumatic stress disorder — that is the most pervasive and pernicious injury from this war and that is emerging as its signature disability. Veterans' advocates say it is the number-one issue facing soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The scope of the problem is daunting: 35 percent of Iraq veterans sought psychological counseling within a year of coming home, according to the Department of Defense. . . .

    Many VA PTSD programs are too full to accept new patients. . . . A survey of VA and Defense mental-health providers conducted by VA psychologist Steven Silver found that 90 percent had no training in the four therapies. Many said they did not treat PTSD at all because they did not know how. — Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/19/07
  • Veterans Affairs to end some medical research after computer data breach, AP, 2/16/07
  • Veterans clinic cancels routine appointments: Understaffed center seeks staff physician, Texarkana Gazette, 2/18/07
  • Growing Claims Backlog Frustrates Veterans: a growing backlog of disability compensation claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs has left many veterans waiting years for benefits they expected and needed much sooner. . . . VA workload reports for early February 2007 show that more than 600,000 disability compensation claims are waiting to be answered. — KFox TV, 2007.
  • A year ago on Thanksgiving morning, in the corrugated metal pole barn that housed his family's electrical business, Timothy Bowman put a handgun to his head and pulled the trigger. The bullet only grazed his forehead. So he put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger again.

    He had been home from the Iraq war for eight months. Once a fun-loving, life-of the-party type, Bowman had slipped into an abyss, tormented by things he had been ordered to do in war. . . .

    But an investigation by McClatchy Newspapers has found that even by its own measures, the VA isn't prepared to give returning vets the care that could best help them overcome destructive, and sometimes fatal, mental-health ailments. — Columbus Dispatch, 2/11/07

Free JavaScripts provided
by The JavaScript Source

BACK to the 2007 Politics Columns.