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Everyday 18-22 American Veterans Commit Suicide and The Department of Veteran's Affairs Still Shows Veterans to the Door

By       Message Jennifer McClendon       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 11/26/12

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The point of this Op Ed is to illustrate significant flaws in the system that is set up to treat our veterans. If we continuously operate with a longstanding maladaptive treatment system for our veterans we might want to ask ourselves as a nation what their sacrifice was worth to this nation. We may want to ask ourselves whether we can do better on their behalf.


The Politics of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment is a moral atrocity at the Department of Veteran's Affairs and in military medicine. There is a national discussion between veterans about the treatment of traumatized at the Department of Veteran's Affairs specialized trauma departments.

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PTSD can be described as a set of symptoms that are normal reactions to abnormal and tragic stimuli such as war, natural disaster, or sexual assault. Another approach to defining PTSD is to define PTSD as a set of maladaptive traits that developed as a result of a trauma. The latter definition presents the traumatized veteran as flawed or defective. The conditions that cause PTSD are so horrific that referring to the person that suffers, as "Disordered" is a misnomer at best and victim blaming at worst.


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Paula J. Caplan, in her book When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How all of Us Can Help Veterans, alerts the American public to the fact that war is indeed horrific. Perhaps listening to veterans rather than labeling them is the most humane thing that America can do for those that served us.


The term "Disordered" is not the worst part of PTSD diagnosis and treatment. There is a politics that accompany PTSD diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms of PTSD can overlap with several other conditions such as "Bipolar II" and "Borderline Personality Disorder." According to a 2004 Article that was written by pioneer Military Sexual Trauma Advocate Susan Avila Smith:


         These women are misdiagnosed and labeled as "psychotic," "drug-seeking," and "bipolar" or "borderline personality." Knowing this, I tell them that they are "normal" if they are experiencing such symptoms and that they need to file claims for these symptoms Secondary to their PTSD. They typically break down with relief that they are not alone, because they often have been led to believe that they are crazy or somehow "delusional" because they have failed to "get over it." (Smith 2004)

These diagnoses are used in the military to discharge people that report rapes. Knowledge of the manipulative use of a "Borderline" diagnosis is nothing new. The question is whether our veterans are important enough to the nation to do something about this atrocity. This writer thinks that they are.

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Axis II psychotic diagnoses appear to be used by the Department of Veteran's Affairs to limit treatments to veterans that suffered trauma while in service and to keep the numbers in specialized trauma clinics low and therefore manageable. This can enable a research trauma clinic to report dynamic outcomes. Reported outcomes of "Evidence Based" therapy" are not convincing when veterans are killing themselves at a rate of 18-22 per day.


Composer, co-producer of Service, the documentary, and veteran advocate Patricia Lee Stotter coined the term "Weaponized Diagnosis." Weaponized diagnosis is when a psychiatrist or a psychologist diagnoses a condition, usually something they deem "pre-existing in order to remove a whistle-blower from active duty or deny a veteran treatment. Calling these people insane does more than deny them service and cover up assaults, they also kill careers and destroy families. It would be helpful to

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Jennifer McClendon is a US Navy veteran, a teacher, an historian, and a social issues writer. She believes that if given the chance people will ultimately do the right thing.

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Everyday 18-22 American Veterans Commit Suicide and The Department of Veteran's Affairs Still Shows Veterans to the Door