Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

VA Treating Roots of Homelessness

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki has made one of the main goals of his terms to ensure that no veteran ever ends up homeless. His time line for ending veterans’ homelessness is  the next 5 years. Ending homelessness among veterans is more than just providing beds; it is addressing the reasons why the veterans are homeless in the first place.

The VA was granted an amplified budget for 2011. As a result, Secretary Shinseki plans on escalating the homeless veteran program to have more of a preventative drive focusing on such issues as:

  • Education;
  • Jobs; and
  • Health care

Secretary Shinseki sees the VA as being primarily a reactive organization when it comes to helping homeless veterans. Instead of waiting for the veterans to become homeless, the VA needs to focus more on preventing the homelessness in the first place. Secretary Shinseki, therefore, is placing 85% of the budget allocated for the homeless veterans program towards:

  • Medical services for substance abuse;
  • Treatment for Depression;
  • Treatment for Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • Treatment for Traumatic Brain injury (TBI); and
  • Other issues linked to homelessness.

Aside from the new Post-9/11 GI Bill providing more education opportunities than ever before, the VA is working both with its existing programs and outside agencies to ensure veterans have better job opportunities. The old adage that “veterans help veterans” is still very true to this day. It is just a matter of veterans and veteran-employers getting together.

Over the last year, Secretary Shinseki’s initiative has resulted in a drop of approximately 18% in the homeless veteran population. According to Secretary Shinseki, anything short of ending the amount of homeless veterans is a complete failure.

Additional housing benefits are available to disabled veterans which may be based on your disability rating. If you are a disabled veteran who is fighting the VA to receive disability compensation, contact the veterans’ disability rights law firm of LaVan & Neidenberg.

New Facility Focuses on Veteran Trauma

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Norristown, PA is welcoming a new Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility. The facility treats veterans suffering from physical, emotional, and psychological trauma  while deployed overseas. The facility has a 4 person staff charged with managing programs focusing not only on veterans but on their families as well. After all, it is not only the veteran that suffers.

VA counseling programs are available to any soldier who has spent one day in either a combat or conflict zone; the solider must have been in a hostile, overseas country. Qualifying conflicts include:

  • World War II;
  • Korea;
  • Vietnam;
  • Lebanon;
  • Grenada;
  • Somalia;
  • Bosnia;
  • Iraq;
  • Afghanistan;
  • The global war on terrorism; and
  • American Merchant Marines engaged in ocean-going service between Dec.7, 1941, and Dec. 31, 1946.

The medical center offers counseling in many different areas. The primary goal of the clinic, however, is to treat veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), of which a vast amount of their patients suffer. PTSD very often causes soldiers to experience incapacitating symptoms. Because of how the veterans are affected, families are eligible to participate in therapy as well.

While the news is filled with stories of returning soldiers suffering from PTSD, statistically, there were more Vietnam Veterans suffering from PTSD than suffer in our current two wars. It is a good thing, then, this clinic treats veterans from every generation.

Learn more about this new facility focusing on veteran trauma such as PTSD.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.

It’s An HONOR Helping Veterans

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The HONOR center is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) comprehensive homeless center located in Gainesville, Florida. It opened its doors for the first time on Monday and will give aid to disabled and homeless veterans in the area.

Inside the center is a 45-bed portion called “the Residence.” Inside the Residence is a separated area designated specifically for homeless women veterans. The HONOR center will offer:

  • Counseling;
  • Therapy; and
  • Job skills training.

Of the homeless population, approximately one-third have served in the military. Approximately 3% of the 131,000 homeless veterans are women. The HONOR center is designed to stop the homeless veteran problem from getting any worse. The creators of the center plan on providing hope and new opportunities to homeless veterans through various programs.

Veterans are able to live up to 6 months in the Residence and will have access to many amenities during their stay designed to physically and mentally recuperate those in need. During their 6 month stay, veterans will have access to:

  • A library;
  • Buffet-style dining;
  • A workout room;
  • Recreation areas; and
  • Special programs focusing on occupational therapy, etc.

Veterans returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD at much higher rates than previously experienced. Untreated PTSD is one major contributing factor to veterans not properly acclimating back to civilian life. Without proper acclimation, veterans are more likely to become homeless.

The HONOR center will also aid in getting homeless veterans into any and every program they need to get back on their feet. Hopefully the HONOR center will, in the end, save lives and get deserving veterans back on their feet.

Learn more about the HONOR center and how it is helping veterans.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.

Non-Combat Injuries Plague Veterans

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Non-combat related physical issues are becoming more prevalent among returning veterans. According to Dr. Drew Helmer, the lead primary care physician at the DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, over half the returning veterans seen at his medical center have been diagnosed with severe pain in their backs, necks, and joints. The cause seems to be overuse or accidents.

Dr. Helmer believes this issue is approaching epidemic levels. A Johns Hopkins study of 34,000 military personnel found the top reasons for evacuation out of Iraq and Afghanistan are not combat injuries but:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders; and
  • Connective tissue disorders.

Post-traumatic stress and depression can make untreated disorders like the ones above harsher over time. The end result is an overall poor quality of life for the affected veteran and this is why it is so critical to diagnose and treat these problems as early as possible.

The study suggests the reason for the non-combat injuries are numerous tours of duty coupled with carrying more heavy equipment than has ever been required in the past. One very big problem is soldiers refusing to admit they have reached their limit.

It’s the soldier’s mindset: theirs is not to ask why, theirs is to do or die. Given the choice between existing with pain because of the load you carry or not existing because you weren’t adequately protected from IIEDs or enemy fire, every soldier will make the same choice.

Young soldiers in combat environments are very reluctant to admit they have physical or mental limitations. To expect them to leave their men for treatment, then, is not a realistic option. Therefore, their injuries are left untreated and they end up exasperating their ailments. Soldiers are stuck in a proverbial catch-22; they need the heavier equipment to protect their lives, but this same equipment is causing their non-combat injuries.

Learn more about non-combat pain plaguing returning veterans.

Treating PTSD With Dreams

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Not all veterans return from deployment with visible wounds. Many veterans suffer from what can be debilitating internal wounds, like brutal and haunting visions and nightmares. This is where “dreamwork” therapy is being applied.

The Portland VA Medical Center offers free treatment to all veterans suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Lori Daniels is a PTSD therapist at the Portland VA Medical Center using dreams as therapy. Daniels’ “dreamwork” therapy is based on the idea that people plagued by nightmares have the ability to rewrite them and in turn make them less disturbing.

Daniels stresses one thing her therapy is not: dream interpretation. Rather, it is taking time to understand what is happening within your dreams and nightmares and finding something to work with in order to change the dream or nightmare itself.

According to Daniels, the story embedded in a person’s dream can be used to help the veteran get around the PTSD symptoms. By confronting their nightmares and facing the trauma that manifests itself in their dreams, the nightmare will eventually cease to be overpowering to the trauma survivor. The therapy then, serves to put the veteran in charge of their trauma, as opposed to the other way around.

Once the trauma is drawn out into the open and recognized for what it is, PTSD sufferers can form a plan of action of how to deal with the nightmares. While the therapy may not be conventional, it seems to be a much better avenue of approach to dealing with PTSD than self medicating, which is common in veterans suffering from PTSD.

Learn more about dreamworks therapy and how it is used to treat veterans with PTSD.

If you are a veteran and suffering from PTSD and fighting the VA to get disability compensation, contact LaVan & Neidenberg, a veterans law firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We represent more than 5000 disability claimants. Our disability attorneys have experience with cross examining agency-appointed medical and vocational experts and take time when speaking with you about your disability claim. Call us today at 1-888-234-5758 for a FREE legal consultation. There is NO OBLIGATION to hire our firm and there are NO FEES unless one of our trained disability lawyers wins your case.

Montana’s First VA Mental Health Center

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

If you are a veteran in Montana requiring access to a VA mental health center, your options are currently limited to: (1) traveling out of state; or (2) not getting treatment. In 2009, Montana sent 252 veterans out of state for treatment of mental health issues.

When veterans did travel out of state, there were no guarantees they would receive any treatment at all. Often, there were waiting lists for available beds in treatment centers.

This issue, however, has just recently been addressed. The Fort Harrison VA medical center, just outside of Helena, is receiving an addition: a new $6.7 million mental health care facility. This will be the first VA mental health facility in Montana.

Family support is imperative for helping veterans suffering from mental conditions like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Traveling out of state for mental health treatments not only adds stress for family members, but the veterans themselves. As a result, many veterans simply chose not to get treatment as traveling out of state would just be too much of a strain on their required support systems. Having a more localized mental health facility will make the transition into a family care environment following VA treatment much easier for both the veteran and the veteran’s family.

The facility of itself will consist of 24 beds. It will be connected to the existing VA medical facility in the chance emergency aid is needed. The 34 member staff will include:

  • Psychiatrists;
  • Psychologists;
  • A medical doctor;
  • Counselors; and
  • Nurses.

The VA is also offering two-acres of land at Fort Harrison to develop housing for homeless veterans. This development could also provide a transitional housing for veterans between inpatient and outpatient care.

24 beds may not seem like a lot to a State with one of the highest ratios of veterans per capita, but it is a start. This new facility will be used only for those veterans in the most need. The projected rotation will be approximately one month per veteran. It may not be much, but for veterans in Montana, it’s a step in the right direction.

Learn more about Montana’s first VA mental health center.

If you are a veteran and suffering from PTSD and fighting the VA to get disability compensation, contact LaVan & Neidenberg, a veterans law firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We represent more than 5000 disability claimants. Our disability attorneys have experience with cross examining agency-appointed medical and vocational experts and take time when speaking with you about your disability claim. Call us today at 1-888-234-5758 for a FREE legal consultation. There is NO OBLIGATION to hire our firm and there are NO FEES unless one of our trained disability lawyers wins your case.

Albuquerque VA Hospital To Docs: No Medical Marijuana

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The majority of people enrolled in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For many veterans, however, the Albuquerque VA hospital is their primary source of health care but physicians employed there are forbidden from recommending medical marijuana to their patients.

The VA bases their “no medical marijuana” policy on the advice of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Despite New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, marijuana is still classified as an illegal drug. The VA policy works in a twofold manner:

  • VA Physicians can recommend treatments outside the VA system; but
  • VA physicians are encouraged to counsel patients in alternative treatments to marijuana.

Many veterans complain the standard pills used to control their PTSD symptoms resulted in the veterans feeling as if they were in a “zombie-like” state whereas medical marijuana allows them to lower the amount of prescription pills they take and does not include such severe side effects.

There is some research supporting the idea that marijuana does help veterans suffering from PTSD garner some relief.

The reality of the current situation is that veterans often self-medicate with the most common choices being alcohol or prescription drugs. The VA will help veterans that come off active duty addicted to pain killers, but that veteran will have a real problem if he or she tests positive for marijuana.

Essentially, the VA refuses to help veterans obtain a state license for medical marijuana. If they do, however, obtain a license, the VA may possibly accommodate those veterans in its rehabilitation programs. The Albuquerque VA has not yet said if they will consider a veteran’s positive drug test for marijuana as a relapse if that veteran has a state license.

Learn more about the Albuquerque VA’s policy regarding medical marijuana.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.

Videoconferencing Helping Veterans Deal With Anger Issues

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

One issue plaguing the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) lately is getting effective mental health care to those veterans returning from active duty and living in very remote areas. A new VA study may have found an answer to this problem: videoconferencing. The study suggests technology such as remote videoconferencing can be used to treat anger management just as well as group therapy.

Current estimations hold 40% of current combat veterans hail from remote areas of the U.S. One in six returns following deployment with combat-related post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) or PTSD related issues.

The study lasted four years and included 125 male combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD related anger. Participants were randomly selected to participate in either group sessions or therapy via video. With obvious exceptions of the presence of the counselor, both types of sessions were identical. Both groups were arranged in a circle with the therapist in the same spot, live or over video.

After six months, the end results were that both groups showed similar reductions in anger. The positive results of this study have led researchers to begin to attempt the same type of video therapy to treat PTSD itself, which involves much more complex treatments.

Confidentiality is a major concern with videoconferencing. In order for the videoconferencing to be successful, the technology must not be able to be breached. Three quarters of the participants in the study were Vietnam veterans and it is believed veterans of the current wars will be much more comfortable with such a scenario as they are much more used to technology.

Learn more about how videoconferencing can help veterans get needed mental health treatment.

If you are a veteran and suffering from PTSD and fighting the VA to get disability compensation, contact LaVan & Neidenberg, a veterans law firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We represent more than 5000 disability claimants. Our disability attorneys have experience with cross examining agency-appointed medical and vocational experts and take time when speaking with you about your disability claim. Call us today at 1-888-234-5758 for a FREE legal consultation. There is NO OBLIGATION to hire our firm and there are NO FEES unless one of our trained disability lawyers wins your case.

Veterans’ Courts Seeing High Success Rates

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Veterans returning from combat often face personal obstacles while attempting to re-adapt into the civilian world. Returning veterans often fail at adjusting back into a “normal” life because they don’t have the proper support system or resources.

Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be demonstrating inordinate amounts of chronic psychological conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some studies suggest up to 50% of veterans with PTSD or other major emotional disorders do not seek treatment for various reasons.

Veterans with psychological disorders who are not able to fit back into civilian life will normally end up homeless, addicted to drugs, in the court system, or all three. According to the VA, veterans account for 10% of all people with a criminal record.

Veterans’ courts were developed out of the idea that mental disorders, addiction, and homelessness are not best served by putting those people in jail. Buffalo, NY initiated the country’s first veterans’ court in 2008 and for the most part, handles solely nonviolent offenses.

The court matches veterans guilty of nonviolent felony or misdemeanor offenses with volunteer mentors. Once they are matched up, the veterans are:

  • Required to stick to a very stringent schedule of court appearances; and
  • Required to attend every court appearance.

Out of the 120 veterans enrolled in the Buffalo court program, 90% of the graduates have successfully completed the program. Quite possibly the most important part of the entire court program is the recidivism rate, which for the Buffalo court is zero.

The success of this program has inspired 22 other cities and counties to start their own veterans’ courts. Further, Senators John Kerry and Lisa Murkowsli introduced legislation to the Senate specifically to fund more veterans’ courts handling only nonviolent offenders.

Not everyone is thrilled with the veterans’ courts. Some ACLU chapters have issues with creating a separate legal class of individuals based on their veteran status. They look at this court as giving the veterans a chance not available to the general population.

Whatever comes of these courts, what is being demonstrated is that treatment works much better in some situations than incarceration. At least in these situations, counseling and monitoring are much more effective than simply locking people away.

Learn more about specialized veterans courts.

If you are a veteran and suffering from PTSD and fighting the VA to get disability compensation, contact LaVan & Neidenberg, a veterans law firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We represent more than 5000 disability claimants. Our disability attorneys have experience with cross examining agency-appointed medical and vocational experts and take time when speaking with you about your disability claim. Call us today at 1-888-234-5758 for a FREE legal consultation. There is NO OBLIGATION to hire our firm and there are NO FEES unless one of our trained disability lawyers wins your case.

Service Dogs Used To Aid Veterans With PTSD

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Sgt. Paul Martin returned to Camp Lejeune with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from his first deployment to Iraq. Two deployments later, he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and began to show incapacitating symptoms, including:

  • Nightmares;
  • Auditory hallucinations;
  • Agoraphobia; and
  • Depression.

Following numerous suicide attempts, Martin was sent to a VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia. There he heard about Paws4People, a nonprofit providing service dogs to those in need. Martin’s caseworker suggested he apply for a dog.  Sgt. Martin met a black Labrador named Lia, and made an instant connection.

Paws4Pets uses prison inmates to help train and rehabilitate service dogs for ownership. Once a veteran in need chooses a dog, the veteran spends time with the dog, and performs tasks with the dog that will eventually aid the veteran in his or her recovery to ensure there is a good match. There is no set amount of time before Paws4Pets will send a service dog home with a veteran for permanent placement.

Dogs like Lia are specifically trained to fit with their veteran’s symptoms. With Martin, Lia is trained to wake him from nightmares and “nudge” him out of a hallucination.

Martin has had incredible success with this program and has practically turned his life around. Paws4Pets has had success with other veterans as well and is currently attempting to open a new program in Ft. Stewart, Georgia.

Learn more about Paws4Pets and how they aid veterans with PTSD.

If you are a veteran and suffering from PTSD and fighting the VA to get disability compensation, contact LaVan & Neidenberg, a veterans law firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We represent more than 5000 disability claimants. Our disability attorneys have experience with cross examining agency-appointed medical and vocational experts and take time when speaking with you about your disability claim. Call us today at 1-888-234-5758 for a FREE legal consultation. There is NO OBLIGATION to hire our firm and there are NO FEES unless one of our trained disability lawyers wins your case.