At a recent House Committee on Veterans Affairs, roundtable Republican Congressman Steve Buyer and Dr. Sally Satel of the American Enterprise Institute began laying the ground work for their “Work will set you free” campaign against injured soldiers and veterans suffering from PTSD.
This should not be a surprise to those who know about Buyer’s and Satel’s anti-vet agenda. However, here is a little background.
Congressman Buyer is known to veterans for his 2005 attempt to redefine who a veteran is--the fact that you protected and served your country, apparently, wasn’t sufficient to qualify. Buyer has also clashed with other members of the Republican Party over his stand against veterans. He even went as far as to claim that the Republican-controlled Congress of 2005,"…didn't know what it was doing when it passed veterans' benefits legislation".
Now in the minority, Buyer is working to dismantle the VA healthcare and benefits systems by downplaying the seriousness of PTSD in returning GWOT soldiers and veterans, in general. At the HCVA meeting, he claimed that returning GWOT soldiers were, merely, using PTSD as an excuse for “bad behavior”.
Buyer also showed little respect for VA doctors. He falsely implied that PTSD was ill-defined or, merely, an “umbrella, a catch-all term” that led doctors to misdiagnose “stress” as PTSD. He conveniently forgets that the VA funded a study on PTSD by the Institute of Medicine in 2006. Their conclusions completely contradict his statements. However, the lack of facts or truth doesn’t discourage Buyer, because he has an anti-vet cohort at the meeting who also doesn’t let facts get in the way. Her name is Dr. Sally Satel.
Dr. Satel has been an outspoken activist, supporting and encouraging “coercive” force in psychiatric treatment of patients. She is described by Brian Wilson, a veteran advocate, as a “former VA psychiatrist who now is a resident scholar at the very biased, neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI)”, “which is closely associated with the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)”. The American Psychiatry Association doesn’t have many kind words for her either.
In 2001, Psychiatric Services, A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, reviewed Dr. Satel’s book, “P.C. M.D. How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine”. According to their review, Dr. Satel can’t keep up with the facts stating, “in too many instances, she paints her subjects with such a broad brush that a number of potentially damaging or unjust accusations emerge.” The reviewer also points out Dr. Satel’s conservative political agenda, “(T)he fact that Satel has selected only issues that seem associated, at least in her worldview, with liberal or progressive political issues undermines the power of her arguments.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Dr. Satel would offer a radical conservative miracle that would cure PTSD and stop the VA from giving veterans with PTSD a “free ride”. First, marginalize PTSD by falsely claiming that PTSD is a “limited time affliction”--just like the common cold.
Second, claim that veterans suffering from PTSD should just go out and get a job (a.k.a. “work therapy”).
Dr. Satel, however, isn’t the first person in history to believe in the “work will set you free” approach to mental illness. In fact, at one time, there were others that believed in that approach, so much that they had that slogan posted on the gates to their concentration camps.