A recent Washington Post article states that a Veterans Administration (VA) psychologist in Temple Texas was encouraging other staff psychologists to avoid diagnosing Veterans returning from Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because so many veterans were seeking disability payments.
This psychologist recommended a diagnosis of "adjustment disorder" instead, which offers less compensation to veterans. She justified this by saying that diagnosing PTSD required extensive testing that staff members do not have time to do.
This outrageous behavior was not only unethical but possibly illegal as well. It seems like fraud. I can't personally imagine what it must be like to serve your country in a time of War but I know a lot of Daily Strength members can. I also can't imagine what it must be like for the friends and family who not only worry about loved ones deployed but also care for them when they return with physical and/or mental problems. I would imagine that those soldiers and families of soldiers trust that they will be taken care of if injured. Wasn't that part of the deal when they enlisted? What a betrayal! Diagnosing someone with an adjustment disorder when they clearly have PTSD is kind of like diagnosing someone whose leg was amputated with a bad limp. It would never happen. Can you imagine a person not offered the proper treatment or given a prosthesis, pain medication and physical therapy? Yet these poor veterans clearly suffering with PTSD are left hanging without proper treatment and compensation.
And what is this about PTSD requiring extensive testing to diagnose? As a psychotherapist who works primarily with people who suffer with PTSD, it takes the same amount of time to diagnose an adjustment disorder as it does PTSD. Quite frankly, you can do "extensive testing" for PTSD if you want to but the DSM lV created guidelines that any adequately trained professional can follow that requires absolutely no testing. In fact, I have tried to administer PTSD assessments to clients and I could never get past the first few questions without the client being triggered and experiencing extreme reactions. I do not have a military background and there very well may be a protocol for assessing PTSD in the VA that I am not aware of. I would be very interested to know. Does anyone know how this works?
Now the article did state that the VA did take action against this psychologist and stated that they do not support her view. I hope this is just a case of one bad apple and that our Vets do get the compensation and treatment they have not only earned but truly deserve.