Tag Archives: veterans

Invisible Wounds of War Report Available for Download

The Rand Corp. recently released a 499 page report titled “Invisible Wounds of War”.   This report was briefly summarized by numerous news articles and Internet reports, including my previous article. 

I’m happy to say that the entire report is available for free download online, or you can purchase a hard copy for $50 from the Rand Corporation through their online bookstore (link below).

Here is the link to the downloadable report which has details not reported elsewhere.  I strongly urge you to at least scan the entire report.   The subtitle is:

Psychological and Cognitive Injuries,

Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery

 

 

TERRI TANIELIAN AND LISA H.  JAYCOX, EDITORS

 

 

Download here   (2.9 mb full report)

or here  (200KB summary).

You can find the Rand Bookstore with these links here  

Oldtimer

  

 

20% of Iraq, Afghanistan Soldiers Have Depression or PTSD

Veteranstoday.com

Half of Depression and PTSD affected troops untreated

A study published by the Rand Corporation shows that of the 300,000 troops affected by mental disorders of depression or PTSDless than half have been treated.   Yes, that is 150,000 untreated heroes on active dury or recently released to the streets without proper treatment according to this independent study.

Picture from Veterans Today site.  Find it Here

The sad news continues…  About one in five, about 20%, of our Iraq and Afghanistan active dury and veterans suffer from depression or PTSD.

The Rand study says that too many soldiers and Marines are still slipping through the cracks since the symptoms of depression and PTSD can appear months after an incident, and many mental problems that appear later may never be caught, the study said.

The RAND study interviewed 1,965 current and former service members and asked them how many had suffered from PTSD within the previous 30 days and suffered from depression within the previous two weeks.

  • “We have tried to generate this estimate across the entire deployed population,” said Terri Tanielian, one of the study’s authors. “We are looking at the scope of the problem now among the population back in the United States.”

The study shows that 19.5% of veterans had received a concussion or other traumatic brain injury during their combat tour.    The study found that some service members actively avoid a diagnosis of a mental health problem due to a fear of negative consequences of such a diagnosis.    The worry is that co-workers would have less confidence in them after a diagnosis and thus impact their career.

  • “When we asked folks what was limiting them from getting the help that they need, among the top barriers that were reported were really negative career repercussions,” Tanielian said.

Please read the rest of this article (paraphrased above) here:  Veterans Today.

You can get a different take at Medical News Today.  They report that 30% of our soldiers that are on their third or fourth tour have expressed emotional illnesses as gleaned from 2295 anonymous responses to the survey (11.9 % first tour soldiers, 18.5% second tour, 27.2% third tour).

And from the Associated Press at the Atlanta Journal Constitution website.

I encourage you to write the candidates at every government level and all of our current congressmen to encourage them to show their support by increasing the help for these wonderful men and women that have served our country.  Let’s serve them now!

Help our Heroes!

Good News – Ask the right question!

Ask the right question. 

 Al was frustrated.  We were frustrated, even his case manager at MUST was frustrated.  The new transitional housing program was due to start April 1 but to get in, Al needed to prove his eligibility and he needed his DD-14.  The deadline was just a few days away.   It was already March 26.   He had his application in for months.  He had his request for his DD-14 copy in for months.  Nothing was happening.  His case manager had even faxed in a copy of the application papers.   No response.   It looked pretty bleak as nothing was happening at the VA.

No DD-14 on the way and no good reason why.  I don’t know the details other than this:  Al said he had been conferencing with his case manager on Wednesday and they were both lamenting that nothing seemed to be working.  Then Al happened to mention that he has a birthday coming up in a few months and he “needed to get his VA drivers license renewed”.   Just a simple off-the-wall comment to pass the time.

The case manager said something like:  “WHAT did you just say?!!!… You have a VA drivers license?… Let me see it!”  “This is all you need for proof… you are in!”.

It turns out that no one had asked the right question.  

You don’t get a veterans driver’s license without a DD-14  and it requires a certificate of eligibility from the VA to get the licence.  The existence of the driver’s license was all that has been needed all along.  Now Al is going into transitional housing on April 1.  It was an alert case manager that finally saved the day.  It would have been easy to not notice the remark.  None of us trying to help him knew.  No one at the VA asked whether he had a veterans driver’s license.   Al didn’t know it would suffice.   Only the alert case manager caught the significance.   Thank you Michael Laird of MUST ministries.  

Al once had his separation papers and has since lost them.  That happens to homeless veterans a lot.    He qualified for his veteran’s drivers license some time ago and has maintained it current.    

So much trouble and so much delay for lack of the right question.  So if any of you veterans are having trouble getting a copy of your separation papers and you have a veterans drivers license, pull it out!   You may have a shortcut!

We have something special planned for Al, but don’t go hinting, as it is a surprise.

Oldtimer

PS:  This is what the GA DMV says:

Veterans

Veterans receive a free license until they reach the age of 65. Then they must renew their licenses every five years and are required to pass a vision test each renewal period.

You’ll need to provide a copy of your separation papers, showing your honorable discharge, to your county’s Department of Veterans Service to receive your certificate of eligibility. Present this certificate to your local driver’s license office to receive your free license.”

  

Vietnam Veteran Loses Arm for Second Time

Teresa Yonkers of the Florida VA Team  aka Soldier’s Angels asked for me to help put out the following alert copied from their website:

(Click picture for video)

Vietnam Veteran Mitch Robertson and his wife Vickie left their home in Montebello, Virginia for their vacation in Destin, Florida. On their way they stopped in Gaffney, South Carolina at a hotel for the night. When they woke up their vacation had turned bad.

Mitch and Vickie went out to their car and found that someone had broken in and stolen their bags. In one of those bags was a Prosthetic Arm that helped give Mitch his freedom.

Mitch had lost his entire left arm when his helicopter crashed in Vietnam. The prosthetic arm that was stolen is a bionic model that was made specifically for Mitch. Mitch not only has lost his arm but is also slowly dying from Agent Orange. The new bionic arm gave him hope that his remaining years would be easier and that it would give him the freedom to do things he hasn’t done in 38 years.

Mitch put out a plea saying that who ever broke into his vehicle can keep his suitcase full of clothes and even the electronics that he had in there for his boat but please give him back his arm.

Our own Lori Tucker, SouthEast Regional Manager for the VA Team contacted Mitch and Vickie today. Lori asked Vickie what can Soldiers’ Angels do to help. Vickie’s response: For right now please just help us get the word out.

So to help this Veteran get his freedom back I’m posting this.

Here is some information on how to spot the bag:

-The arm is in a black and yellow duffell bag
-MHC Prosthetics is written on the bag
-the charger in the bag has the phone number of the company who made the arm

Link to Video   (from Channel 7)

(or click picture above)

Any one in the Gaffney, South Carolina area should be on the lookout and with ears wide open.  It is not likely the thief will try to pawn it or to sell it, but it is likely they will keep it around for the novelty of it and word will get around, so if you hear something from your kids or neighbors about someone with an extra arm or showing one off, or if you find one discarded somewhere, or it is donated somewhere, please call the direct number to the manufacturer 1- (540)-292-1165  (number is on the charger) or contact me through my blog or contact the Florida Angels througth their website and also the local police and give them this story.  If you have a blog of your own, consider posting this story there also!

Oldtimer

When Laws Should not be Enforced

Oldtimer’s comment, added on the 25th:  I warned the Mayor on the 21st, he called me on the 22d, I posted this article on the 23d,  and today I found out that Dominic, a homeless friend was found frozen to death huddled behind a local business on the 22d.  It means the Mayor likely already knew about the death when he said NO! to the moritorium and delay until warmer weather.  Now read the whole story and my warnings.  I predict we will find homeless people dead in various hiding places until spring.  Our Mayor and his Council are directly responsible for not heeding the numerous warnings from the community!  They cut up their tents, put their sleeping bags and clothing in garbage trucks and sent them into 19 degree weather to die.  The remainder is from Jan 23, 2008:

The Mayor of the City That Doesn’t Care (aka Marietta, Georgia) called me yesterday.  Make no mistake our Mayor does care and cares deeply!  We had a long and good discussion and he gave me full permission to report what he has said and he said all the right things.   He is sympathetic to the problem and supportive of our mission to help the homeless, including those that are being evicted from the meager existence they call home, whether cardboard box, blue tarp, or simply a sleeping bag under a bush.

He expressed appreciation for what we and and our mission team are doing and called it “good ministry”.  

The gist of it all, however, is that the unhoused homeless people have to be out by Wednesday (today) and there will be no exceptions and no delays due to the weather.  

He assured me that the city does not have any access to helicopters and no money to rent one if we did.  That a helicopter was going to be used to hunt down the homeless was just a rumor that developed among the homeless after a meeting of a police commander with the nearby MUST ministries.  MUST has been hosting some 75 residents and feeding the unhoused a meal each weekday.   (The homeless were not invited to the meeting, but thought they were.)  The city also met with the “Mad Housers” which is a group of saints that build simple structures for the homeless.  The city is graciously allowing the Mad Housers to leave the structures in place until they have time to move them. 

Essentially the Mayor said that all homeless camping in Marietta will be sent packing and if they don’t go they will be immediately arrested.  

It was my understanding that all homeless camped on private property that have the permission of the property owner can stay, but the health department will be called to determine if there are suitable sanitary facilities, and whether the campsite is safely habitable.  If not, they will be ordered out and arrested if they refuse the order.  

He suggested that some private property owners might allow them to camp, but the health department will be required to check out the property.   The Mayor seems sympathetic but admitted he has had to call the police in the past about his own property (warehouse nearby) due to homeless camping behind it resulting in concern and complaints from female staff entering and leaving the building. 

How it started:   The Mayor said that the problem started with a series of burglaries that were traced to a homeless person.  They had his picture and went to all the camps to find him, but he had absconded, already left town for parts unknown. 

However the camps on right of ways and on public and private property which they found in the heat of the hunt are illegal and the City can’t NOT enforce the law, and now that the police know where they are, they must be removed, period, no matter the consequences.  End of story.

OK, herein lies a problem for my sensibilities. 

If a law that must be enforced  will bring about, or is likely to bring about. or may bring about serious harm or death of an individual, should that law not be swiftly amended or not enforced when those situations arise? Continue reading

Marietta and Cobb County short 690 beds for Homeless

I’ve pulled out my copy of the 2006 Continium of Care (CoC) for Cobb County, Georgia’s grant application to HUD.   It has a lot of tables and columns and at one point I put some of them in here, but then I remembered I have a lot of readers that could care less about that.  

So I’ll summarize here:  According to this application, our local governments, our cities and counties provide only one service for the homeless –

Law Enforcement, listed in the category of “outreach”.  

Ok that explains it.  Homeless arrests and Evictions are an “outreach”.   Our local governments provide no preventive services and no supportive services for our homeless.  Our non-profit local charities provide plenty of services but they are not enough!  

There are a total of 124 year-around emergency shelter beds among all our shelters.  Plus another 48 “Seasonal” and another 18 “Overflow” beds.  There were no beds “under development”.   The application says that we are 330 emergency shelter beds short!   This is based on finding 330 unsheltered homeless persons during the point in time count.  That isn’t nearly all of them though!

There are another 316 beds that are “transitional housing”. (6 under development)   We are 275 transitional housing beds short!

There are 44 perminent supportive housing beds.  (none under development)  We are 85 beds short.

So Marietta:  Where do you think our homeless friend Al is going to stay tomorrow night?  How about the other 300 homeless people out there? The total of 690 needing help?   The ones with “unmet needs” beds (virtual beds?) Where are they going?   Who among our leaders care?  

There were 175 individuals in families with children unsheltered on January 26, 2006!

Children!!!!

And Marietta simply says “clean them out”.   Take the veterans too.  They might be carrying a flag.

“Go South” you said.   We already ship our poor sick to Grady.  Are we to haul our homeless to Atlanta too?

Oldtimer.

Report – Scientific Progress – Gulf War Illnesses

The full title of this report is “Scientific Progress Understanding Gulf War Illnesses:  Report and Recommendations“.

Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses
September, 2004 

This is an extensive report running 152 pdf pages.   The Executive Summary has these unsettling words:

In the years since the war, thousands of Gulf War veterans have been evaluated and treated by government and private physicians. But the federal research effort has not succeeded in identifying treatments that substantially improve the health of ill veterans.

Further, there are no programs in place to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments currently being used or to identify and develop treatments that may hold promise for these conditions.

(…) Many of the veterans who served in the Gulf War were exposed to a variety of potentially toxic substances during their  deployment.  Among these were several neurotoxins-chemical nerve agents, pills taken to protect veterans from the deadly effects of nerve agents, and multiple types of pesticides-that belong to a single class of compounds that adversely affect the nervous system.

Finding 1  A substantial proportion of Gulf War veterans are ill with multisymptom conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness.  (…) 

Finding 2  Treatments that improve the health of veterans with Gulf War illnesses are urgently needed. (…)

Finding 3 A growing body of research indicates that an important component of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses is neurological in character. (…)

Finding 4 Evidence supports a probable link between exposure to neurotoxins and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 5  Other wartime exposures may also have contributed to Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 6  The health of Gulf veterans must be carefully monitored to determine if Gulf War service is associated with excess rates of specific diseases, disease-specific deaths, or overall mortality.(…)

Finding 7  Important questions concerning the health of children and other family members of Gulf War veterans remain unanswered. (…)

Finding 8  Progress in understanding Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has been hindered by lack of coordination and availability of data resources maintained by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  (…)

Finding 9  Research on Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has important implications for current and future military deployments and for homeland security.  (…)

Finding 10  Further progress in understanding and treating Gulf War veterans’ illnesses requires federal research programs that are properly focused, well-managed, and adequately funded.  (…)

Each of these findings are supported in detail with charts, data and supporting research documents that are organized by topic and by suspected causes.

Here are just a few of the tables and figures:

You can see from this figure that those in the Gulf war report 2 to 7 times as many symptoms as veterans not in the theatre.

Many of the symptoms are common among veterans that did not serve in the Gulf War as shown in the left side of this figure.  However, those veterans that were deployed in the Gulf are about 10 times as likely to report 3 to 6  types of symptoms from Table 1 than those not deployed.

The excess illness column on the far right was used in the study to show that the excess illness was consistent among particular units of deployed veterans vs non-deployed veterans from the same area of the country.  The ratio of deployed ill veterans was 2 to 4 times as high as those not deployed and even though they came from the same area as those that went to the Gulf .   For example those from Kansas that were deployed in the Gulf had 2.5 to 4 times as many multiple symptoms than those from Kansas that were not deployed.

This table is very alarming to me.   It shows that the deployed Gulf War veterans are developing Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) at a rate nearly 4 times higher than those veterans not deployed as they age to 55 and older.  ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, with less than 10 percent of patients surviving more than five years after initial diagnosis.

Possible effects of pesticides, PB (Pyridostigmine bromide pills used to pre-treat nerve gas exposure), and other AChEis (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) chemicals used during the Gulf War.

Evidence in the literature is suggestive, but not conclusive, AChE inhibitors such as organophosphates and carbamates, could be among the potential contributing agents to some of the undiagnosed illnesses seen in Persian Gulf War veterans. -From: A Review of the Scientific Literature As It Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses–Volume 8: Pesticides48

This topic was extensively discussed and seems to be of significant concern to those conducting the study.   AChEis compounds are sometimes used for beneficial medications for Alzheimer’s Disease, but also to make pesticides and saran nerve gas.  

(…) these studies have consistently identified AChEis to be significantly associated with higher rates of symptoms and illnesses in Gulf War veterans. The uniformity of these results contrasts with a lack of consistent findings in multivariable analyses for such wartime experiences as participation in combat, exposure to oil fire smoke, and exposure to depleted uranium. Limitations in epidemiologic studies that rely on selfreported exposures always require a cautious interpretation of findings.

Taken as a whole, however, this accumulated body of research provides compelling evidence of a probable link between neurotoxic exposures in the Gulf War and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.

Pregnancies, micsarrages, birth defects: 

In 2001, a report from VA’s large National Survey of Gulf War-era Veterans and their Families indicated that Gulf War veterans reported a significantly greater number of post-war pregnancies that ended in miscarriages or children born with birth defects than nondeployed era veterans.

This table is very alarming to me.  It shows that the rate of birth defects for first live births for deployed veterans is two to 3 times as high as for those not deployed.   This applies to children of both male and female veterans.   Something is tragically wrong with this picture.

The above is only a brief overview of this subject.  Depleted Uranium is also a part of this study, but is largely discounted, but not thrown out.   If you are interested in the details, the report is remarkably readable and available at the link above or can be viewed or downloaded here.  This report is more than 3 years old.  It will be interesting to see how many of its recommendations have been followed.

What is so heartbreaking is that the rate of ALS among deployed Gulf War Veterans is higher at all age levels than Gulf War veterans not deployed, 3.5 times as high at ages above 55, birth defect rates are double, Gulf War Veterans are 3 to 4 times as likely to be ill with these symptoms. Yet the funding is dismal, only about $31 million average a year through 2004.

That is about $32.00 per deployed Gulf War veteran a year research funding.    Hmm, 88 cents a day per veteran – about the cost of a single plain doughnut.

Equivalent Funding for Gulf War Illnesses

(photo courtesy of roboppy who posted as creative commons)

(all the others are copied from the cited report)

The veterans deserve significantly more research, deserve the best possible treatment and deserve adequate compensation to offset their illnesses. They are all heroes to me.

Oldtimer

Traumatic Brain Injury – TBI and Spinal Cord Injury SCI

The VA says this about TBI and SCI: 

Due to the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) accounts for almost 25% of combat casualties.

Improvised explosive devices, blast (high pressure waves), landmines, and explosive fragments account for the majority of combat injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although Kevlar helmets and advances in body armor have saved the lives of many soldiers, they do not protect against blasts and impacts to the head, face and cervical spinal cord.

Blast injuries often result in multiple traumas, including injuries to internal organs, limb loss, sensory loss, and psychological disorders. The term “polytrauma” has been coined to describe the co-occurring injuries.

The information above and below come from here which are part of an introduction and overview prepared by Joel Kupersmith, MD, Chief Research and Development Officer, VA for the purposes of a proposal solicitation.  I thought the overview might be of interest to those with these injuries and their families.

Traumatic Brain Injury:

Kevlar helmets have done much to protect the head but leave the forehead unprotected. The left and right frontal lobes, located behind the forehead control intellectual abilities such as the ability to plan and organize. This area of the brain also controls personality, behavior, and emotional control.

Concussion or mild TBI is the most common form of combat-related injury. Mild TBI can occur even in those not directly hit by the blast, without obvious external injuries, without loss of consciousness and without visible findings from acute Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Problems with memory, lack of concentration, increased anxiety and irritability are common hallmarks of mild TBI. Although evidence suggests that the majority of OIF/OEF soldiers who suffer mild TBI will recover over time, early diagnoses and treatment are critical so that aberrant behaviors due to TBI are not misinterpreted and soldiers are spared the risk of second impact syndrome. Appropriate recognition of TBI will facilitate quick return to pre-injury activity levels, including return to duty status.

In addition to mild TBI, soldiers close to the blasts are experiencing severe diffuse and contrecoup injuries. Soldiers with a moderate to severe TBI often show the similar symptoms as mild TBI yet also report: worsening headaches; repeated vomiting or nausea; seizures; inability to awaken from sleep; slurred speech; weakness, numbness and loss of coordination. Unlike mild TBI, these problems and others can persist long-term or result in permanent difficulties with memory, reasoning, emotion and expression making it impossible to return to duty, hold steady employment or regain pre-injury quality of life.

Penetrating focal injuries from mortar rounds or other forms of heavy artillery resulting in severe brain injury are not as prevalent. However, focal destruction of brain tissue is the most life-threatening, intractable type of brain injury causing permanent damage to the affected area and the functions it controls.

Spinal Cord Injury:

Current designs in military protective gear and advanced evacuation procedures have resulted in both a decrease in the percentage of spinal cord injured soldiers and an increase in the number of those that ultimately survive. Blast force and shrapnel injuries are most common. For those that survive, the cervical spinal cord, the unprotected and most mobile portion of the spinal cord, is the most common site of injury.

Soldiers with cervical SCI face short- and long-term consequences of losing motor and sensory function below the level of injury, coupled with a loss of autonomic regulation. Every organ system may be affected by cervical spinal cord injury. Alterations in the gastrointestinal, renal, skin and musculoskeletal organs are common, and respiratory problems are the overwhelming cause of morbidity and mortality. In addition, patients may experience chronic pain at or below the level of injury and, less frequently, above it.

Alterations in respiratory mechanics, and the development of alveolar hypoventilation, pneumonia, aspiration of gastric contents, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary edema, and sleep apnea are a few of the common respiratory complications associated with cervical SCI. Ultimately, dysfunction depends on the level and extent of injury. Lesions above C3 paralyze all respiratory muscles. When SCI involves C3 to C5 lesions, profound respiratory muscle dysfunction occurs leaving the patient unable to generate a cough or clear secretions. Because of this, neuroprotective strategies that rescue even one or two segments may be of significant functional benefit to veterans with SCI.

Let’s pray that this proposal results in research that leads to significant help for our injured veterans.    

Oldtimer

VA Research Factsheet on PTSD

The following is a factsheet from the VA’s Research Advances Series titled Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),  published in September, 2007:

Soldier from VA BulletinSoldier from VA Bulletin VA’s Office of Research & Development supports a strong program of research directed to understanding, treating, and preventing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is an unrelenting biological reaction to the experience of a traumatic event. In the case of veterans, the trauma may occur from combat duty or other experiences where one’s safety or life is threatened. VA researchers have long been leaders in discovering new advances for treating and understanding PTSD.    The photo came with the article in 2007    I found a larger version here They title it “Prayer”.    I don’t know who the original photographer was.

Examples of VA research advances

Drug already used by millions may be effective in the treatment of PTSD – In an exciting new treatment development, VA researchers found that prazosin, an inexpensive generic drug already used by millions of Americans for high blood pressure and prostate problems, improved sleep and reduced trauma nightmares in a small number of veterans with PTSD.  Plans are under way for a large, multi-site trial to confirm the drug’s effectiveness.

Prolonged-exposure therapy effective in treatment of women veterans with PTSD– VA researchers found that prolonged-exposure therapy – in which therapists helped them recall their trauma memories under safe, controlled conditions-was effective in reducing PTSD symptoms in women veterans who have developed PTSD as the result of sexual trauma in the military, and that such reductions remained stable over time. Women who received prolonged-exposure therapy had greater reductions of PTSD symptoms than women who received only emotional support and counseling focused on current problems. This approach may be tested in, and applied to, other PTSD populations.

First ever clinical trial for the treatment of military service-related chronic PTSD– The largest study of its kind, involving 400 veterans from 20 VA medical centers nationwide, is being conducted to determine if risperidone, a medication already shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of PTSD, is also effective in veterans with chronic PTSD who continue to have symptoms despite receiving standard medications used for this disorder.

Facts About PTSD:

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can affect people who have experienced life-threatening events, such as combat, a terrorist attack, or a personal assault. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, depression, and social withdrawal, as well as physical health changes. Treatment often includes anti-anxiety drugs or other medication, as well as exposure therapy, a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy in which patients recall their traumas in a safe setting and gradually learn to adjust their emotional response. VA Research has long been leaders in making new advances for treating and understanding PTSD.

http://www.research.va.gov
Research & Development
Veterans Affairs

Oldtimer’s Comment: There are 17 of these factsheets.  Below is a linked list of them.    You may find something of interest in one or more of them.   For example, PTSD is mentioned in several.

Factsheets

  • Alzheimer’s Disease (193 KB, PDF)
  • Depression (192 KB, PDF)
  • Diabetes (168 KB, PDF)
  • Hearing Loss (194 KB, PDF)
  • Heart Disease and Stroke (223 KB, PDF)
  • Hepatitis C (198 KB, PDF)
  • HIV / AIDS (205 KB, PDF)
  • Iraq / Afghanistan (232 KB, )
  • Low Vision (248 KB, PDF)
  • Mental Health (191 KB, PDF)
  • Obesity (214 KB, PDF)
  • Osteoarthritis (175 KB, PDF)
  • Parkinson’s Disease (179 KB, PDF)
  • Personalized Medicine (208 KB, PDF)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (189 KB, PDF)
  • Prosthetics / Amputations (209 KB, PDF)
  • Spinal Cord Injury (205 KB, PDF)
  • Substance Abuse (175 KB, PDF)
  • Womens’ Health (201 KB, PDF)
  • Oldtimer

    PTSD Payments Vary State to State

    PTSD Payments Vary State to State

    I’m indebted to the blog at Healing Combat Trauma for alerting me to this information in which they refererence an article published in Military.com with the above title.   You should read the information at Healing Combat Trauma as it is told better there than I can do it.   Below is a summary of information.

    It seems that the McClatchy Newspapers chain did extensive research through the freedom of information act and discovered that there is wide variation in the way disability ratings are given depending on where the veteran lives.   A veteran returning from Iraq that lives in Ohio or Montana for example, is typically given a much lower disability rating on average than one that returns to New Mexico.

    The study involved some 3 million disability claims records.  Consider these quotes from the Military.com article:

    “The VA workers who decide PTSD cases determine whether a veteran’s ability to function at work is limited a little, a lot or somewhere in between. They examine the frequency of panic attacks and the level of memory loss. The process is subjective, and veterans are placed on a scale that gives them scores – or “ratings” – of zero, 10, 30, 50, 70 or 100.

    “McClatchy’s analysis found that some regional offices are far more likely to give veterans scores of 50 or 70 while others are far more likely to stick with scores of 10 or 30.

    “Consider the New Mexico and Montana offices, where there are big differences up and down the scale.

    “In Montana, more than three-quarters of veterans have ratings of zero, 10 or 30. In New Mexico, a majority of the veterans have ratings of 50 or 70.

    “On top of that, 6 percent of New Mexico veterans had the highest rating possible – 100, worth $2,527 a month – compared with just 1 percent of Montana veterans.”

    The initial ratings pretty much stick with a veteran for the rest of their life, and the disparity in how the disability is rated may make a difference of hundreds of thousands over the remaining lifetime of the veteran.   Apparently some offices make a point of being generous in their ratings and some apparently are downright stingy, not giving a proper rating. 

    “Of recent vets processed in Roanoke, Va., 27 percent have high ratings for post-traumatic stress disorder. In Albuquerque, N.M., the number is 56 percent.”

    You need to read the Healing Combat Trauma article for some excellent commentary and also the military.com article for some extra details.   The research suggests that something is wrong with the VA’s rating system when one city rates twice as many of their veterans higher than in another city.   The VA does not treat our heroes fairly if they happen to live in the wrong part of our great country.

    Oldtimer

    Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans

    Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans

     Oldtimer’s Comment:  I’ve seen a number of these types of articles.   Although the estimates vary depending on the subject area from 400 to about 1500, the word on the street is that the returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are showing up in shelters much faster than in previous wars.  The problem stems from higher rates of PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) which still take too long to diagnose, and which are resulting from the combined effect of IED’s and higher survival rates.    The VA has long under diagnosed these problems and only recently, after much heat, begun to actively pursue it. 

    Photo by Jeff Swensen for The New York Times
    Frederick Johnson, a veteran of the Iraq war, lives in temporary housing provided by the V.A. after spending a year on the streets.

    By ERIK ECKHOLM

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 – More than 400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have turned up homeless, and the Veterans Affairs Department and aid groups say they are bracing for a new surge in homeless veterans in the years ahead.

     

    Photo by Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times
    Joe Williams lives in a homeless shelter in Washington.

    Experts who work with veterans say it often takes several years after leaving military service for veterans’ accumulating problems to push them into the streets. But some aid workers say the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans appear to be turning up sooner than the Vietnam veterans did.

    “We’re beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters,” said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. “But we anticipate that it’s going to be a tsunami.”

    With more women serving in combat zones, the current wars are already resulting in a higher share of homeless women as well. They have an added risk factor: roughly 40 percent of the hundreds of homeless female veterans of recent wars have said they were sexually assaulted by American soldiers while in the military, officials said.

    “Sexual abuse is a risk factor for homelessness,” Pete Dougherty, the V.A.’s director of homeless programs, said.

    Special traits of the current wars may contribute to homelessness, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, which can cause unstable behavior and substance abuse, and the long and repeated tours of duty, which can make the reintegration into families and work all the harder.

    Frederick Johnson, 37, an Army reservist, slept in abandoned houses shortly after returning to Chester, Pa., from a year in Iraq, where he experienced daily mortar attacks and saw mangled bodies of soldiers and children. He started using crack cocaine and drinking, burning through $6,000 in savings.

    “I cut myself off from my family and went from being a pleasant guy to wanting to rip your head off if you looked at me wrong,” Mr. Johnson said.

    (…)  Read more about Fredrick at the link above

    Poverty and high housing costs also contribute. The National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington will release a report on Thursday saying that among one million veterans who served after the Sept. 11 attacks, 72,000 are paying more than half their incomes for rent, leaving them highly vulnerable.

    Mr. Dougherty of the V.A. said outreach officers, who visit shelters, soup kitchens and parks, had located about 1,500 returnees from Iraq or Afghanistan who seemed at high risk, though many had jobs. More than 400 have entered agency-supported residential programs around the country. No one knows how many others have not made contact with aid agencies.

    More than 11 percent of the newly homeless veterans are women, Mr. Dougherty said, compared with 4 percent enrolled in such programs over all.

    Veterans have long accounted for a high share of the nation’s homeless. Although they make up 11 percent of the adult population, they make up 26 percent of the homeless on any given day, the National Alliance report calculated.

    Oldtimer’s comment:   My studies show that homeless male veterans make up 43% of the homeless male population, far in excess of what would be expected.

    According to the V.A., some 196,000 veterans of all ages were homeless on any given night in 2006. That represents a decline from about 250,000 a decade back, Mr. Dougherty said, as housing and medical programs grew and older veterans died.

    Oldtimer’s comment:  Oops!  That is a deliberately misleading statement.   A GAO report states that the drop from 250,000 a decade ago was due to a major change in how homeless veterans are counted.   While it is true that our older veterans are dieing off, many more veterans are joining the ranks of the homeless and make up for it.  There has been no real decline, and actually there has been a steady increase in the percentage of homeless veterans vs the overall population of veterans.

    The most troubling face of homelessness has been the chronic cases, those who live in the streets or shelters for more than year. Some 44,000 to 64,000 veterans fit that category, according to the National Alliance study.

    On Wednesday, the Bush administration announced what it described as “remarkable progress” for the chronic homeless. Alphonso R. Jackson, the secretary of housing and urban development, said a new policy of bringing the long-term homeless directly into housing, backed by supporting services, had put more than 20,000, or about 12 percent, into permanent or transitional homes.

    Oldtimer’s comment:  I’m not sure where these numbers come from.  It appears the HUD secretary is talking about all chronic homeless, not just veterans.   20,000 is 12% of 166,000, which is about right for the chronic homeless for the entire homeless population. To get a feel for progress among veterans, see the following two paragraphs.

    Veterans have been among the beneficiaries, but Mary Cunningham, director of the research institute of the National Alliance and chief author of their report, said the share of supported housing marked for veterans was low.

    A collaborative program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the V.A. has developed 1,780 such units. The National Alliance said the number needed to grow by 25,000.

    Mr. Dougherty described the large and growing efforts the V.A. was making to prevent homelessness including offering two years of free medical care and identifying psychological and substance abuse problems early.

    Oldtimer’s Comment:  ‘Bout Time!

    (…)

    Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program 28 cents a day per vet

    Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program

    US Department Of Labor HVRP Fact Sheet

    Oldtimer’s comment:  You must read to the bottom of this to get the whole story, my fact checker. 

    The purpose of the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) is to provide services to assist in reintegrating homeless veterans into meaningful employment within the labor force and to stimulate the development of effective service delivery systems that will address the complex problems facing homeless veterans.

    HVRP was initially authorized under Section 738 of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act in July 1987. It is currently authorized under Title 38 U.S.C. Section 2021, as added by Section 5 of Public Law 107-95, the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001. Funds are awarded on a competitive basis to eligible applicants such as: State and local Workforce Investment Boards, public agencies, for-profit/commercial entities, and non-profit organizations, including faith based and community based organizations.

    Grantees provide an array of services utilizing a case management approach that directly assists homeless veterans as well as provide critical linkages for a variety of supportive services available in their local communities. The program is “employment focused” and veterans receive the employment and training services they need in order to re-enter the labor force. Job placement, training, job development, career counseling, resume preparation, are among the services that are provided.

    Supportive services such as clothing, provision of or referral to temporary, transitional, and permanent housing, referral to medical and substance abuse treatment, and transportation assistance are also provided to meet the needs of this target group.

    Since its inception, HVRP has featured an outreach component using veterans who themselves have experienced homelessness. In recent years, this successful technique was modified to allow the programs to utilize formerly homeless veterans in various other positions where there is direct client contact such as counseling, peer coaching, intake, and follow-up services.

    The emphasis on helping homeless veterans get and retain jobs is enhanced through many linkages and coordination with various veterans’ services programs and organizations such as the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program and Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives stationed in the local employment service offices of the State Workforce Agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, One-Stop Centers, Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services.

    For more information about U.S. Department of Labor employment and training programs for veterans, contact the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service office nearest you, listed in the phone book under United States Government, U.S. Department of Labor or at this link.

    ———————————————————————— 

    Oldtimer’s comment:  The above is copied in full from the Dept of Labor at the link at the beginning of this post.  There are other services and publications available as links at the same site.  Worth a look-see if you are a homeless veteran or know of one in your community.  

    However, they farm all of this stuff out to certain areas of the country through grants to a few private and public organizations in 30 states.  Most areas have no such programs, including 20 entire states that received no funding.

    I took the liberty of looking up the grants provided by this program. 

    In 2007 they provided 87 grants totaling 20 Million dollars and some change.  The grants went to such places as Goodwill ($1.54 Million), Nashville’s Operation Stand down ($300,000), both of  which Wanderingvet, our homeless veteran friend, either wrote about or visited.  I’m not sure that he would claim we get our money’s worth.  Some city, county and state govenments benefitted.  The HVF mentioned in a previous post was not listed among the grantees. 

    There were 12,877 planned enrollments which are expected to result in 9113 employments, at a cost of $2226 per placement at an average salary of $9.87 and hour.   The highest rate was $11.50 and the lowest $6.95 an hour.  Cost of placement varies by location.  Nevada for example can employ a veteran at a cost of $971 while others go as high as more than $5000 per placement such as in California.

    OK Department of Labor:  What are you going to do if the other 190,000 homeless veterans show up?  It is gonna be a long line.  You have funded $101.42  per homeless vet.  That works out to 27.7 cents per day!   Pencil and a few sheets of paper anyone?

    Creative Commons photo provided courtesy of [martin]

    Department of Labor:  You are not doing enough for our homeless heroes!

    Oldtimer

    Homeless Veteran Fellowship

    The Homeless Veteran Fellowship (HVF) is located in Ogden, Utah.   Their motto is “Veterans Helping Veterans and Our Community”.  It was founded in 1989 by a group of veterans. 

     

    Main Office, drop in center and some residences

    Folks, this is a pretty neat operation!   They provide 32 transitional residences for needy veterans.   They also provide a comprehensive range of services to assist the homeless veteran to move from transitional housing to independent living by providing:

    Substance-free, zero-tolerance, stabilized transitional housing.
    Acquisition of skills and knowledge necessary to obtain suitable employment.
    Acquisition of life skills necessary for independence and self-sufficiency
    Employment development and placement in suitable occupations which maximizes the resident’s income potential
    Substance abuse counseling to promote maintained abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol.
    Mental health counseling to assist residents to process issues that may impede their ongoing development.

    They consider themselves as an aid station for behind the lines assistance to veterans in need of help.

    They have a drop in center that welcomes homeless veterans.    The Drop-in center is manned by volunteers and transitional housing members. People working in the drop-in center are prepared to discuss program basics and initiate paperwork, assist with Veterans Administration needs (DD 214, ID Card, etc.).   The drop in center has a small library of donated paperback books for those who just want to rest and relax.

    The drop-in center provides hot coffee, donuts, and reading material for visitors, workers, and residents. Donated supplies, including coffee, sugar, plastic ware, pastries, creamer, cups, napkins, and cleaning supplies.  Also paperback books, magazines, board games, card games, food items, such as canned goods, boxed or packaged items.   Hygiene items (soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant, etc.) are also available for those living on the street.

    HVF provides referral services through the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, and through other local agencies. HVF also provides extensive case management services for clients to ensure that all critical needs are met.

    There is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and Substance Abuse counselor on staff to provide both individual and group counseling for Veterans in the Transitional Housing program.

     HVF’s employment development program consists of a full-time Employment Development Specialist to assist clients in obtaining meaningful employment. HVF has a vendor license with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation for Supported Job Based Training (SJBT).

    The Homeless Veterans Fellowship provides a Transitional Housing Program which is designed to temporarily stabilize the housing needs of veterans, both single and with families.

    Main Housing Unit (there are 3 others)

    Facilities:

    The HVF Office building houses the Drop-In Center, Director’s Office, Employment Specialist, VA Counseling Services and apartments.
    Next Door to the Office Building is the main housing facility with apartments available for male, female, or family participants.
    To the rear of the main housing facility there is a renovated house that has been converted into apartments to support residents.
    Just up the road about a block is a 4th facility with apartments to support residents.
    In all there are facilities to house 32 participants
    .

    This looks like a program that could be emulated across the country.  Homeless Veterans Fellowship is a non-profit organization, as such, it depends totally upon the generosity of the community and public and private grants.

    That is the way to minister to the homeless veteran! 

    Oldtimer

    Cold to the Bone

    I wrote this last January 29, 2007.  I didn’t want to wait until it got that cold to publish it again. There are too many men, women and children in the woods as I write this.  Too many of the adults are veterans – Heroes, but the cold doesn’t care.  Everyone hurts.  All need help. 

     I hope that this helps inspire someone to help at least one homeless person find shelter, find warmth and find a way out of the mess they find themselves in before it gets unbearably cold again. 

    ——————————————————————————-

    It was 16 degrees F. when I got up this morning, 67 inside.

    Cold to the bone

    What was it like around the campfire…

    When the embers went out?

    What was it like under the train trestle…

    Where no fire could be built?

    What was it like in the bushes…

    When the old man had to go?

    What was it like in the tent…

    When it was really just a box?

    What was it like to be outside…

    Where it is… Cold to the Bone?

    Were you warm last night? ,,,,,  Count your blessings.

    They are still out there

    Grace and Peace,
    by Jim Tabb/Oldtimer

    Won’t you volunteer somewhere today?

    Vital Mission: Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

    New Report –

    Vital Mission:

    Ending Homelessness

    Among Veterans

    Homeless Veteran

    Photo by  |Shrued (creative commons licensed)  Find it Here

    This 36 page report released by the National Alliance to End Homelessness details the following highlights:

    In 2006, approximately 195,827 veterans were homeless on a given night-an increase of 0.8 percent from 194,254 in 2005. More veterans experience homeless over the course of the year.  They  estimate that 336,627 were homeless in 2006.

    Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people. They represent roughly 26 percent of homeless people, but only 11 percent of the civilian population 18 years and older.  (Please see Oldtimer’s comment on these numbers below before you repeat them.) This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed, and have a lower poverty rate than the general population.

    A number of states, including Louisiana and California, had high rates of homeless veterans. In addition, the District of Columbia had a high rate of homelessness among veterans with approximately 7.5 percent of veterans experiencing homelessness.

    They estimate that in 2005 approximately 44,000 to 64,000 veterans were chronically homeless (i.e., homeless for long periods or repeatedly and with a disability).

    Oldtimer’s comment on the numbers:  My own studies show that  the real numbers are more like 43% of the male homeless are veterans. Here is an interesting footnote to the numbers reported above:

    This estimate was calculated with 2005 veterans data from the CHALENG data set and 2005 tabulations of Continuum of Care (CoC) point-in-time counts.The CoC counts do not differentiate between adults and children, so in the number provided here-percent of homeless people who are veterans-the denominator includes some people under 18. If children were taken out of the 744,313 total, veterans would make up a larger percentage of the homeless population. This suggests that 26 percent is a conservative estimate. Either way, this estimate falls within the bounds of past research.Rosenheck (1994) reviewed research studies and found that between 29 and 49 percent of homeless men are veterans. HUD’s recent Annual Homelessness Assessment report (2007) puts the percentage of homeless veterans at 18 percent; however, 35 percent of the cases in this data source were missing, making the estimate highly unreliable.

    The Rosenheck estimate  range includes the 43% that I had independently found.  The basis data for my findings are here.

    The National Alliance to End Homelessness has an interactive map that show veteran homelessness by state.  Click on the map to activate it, then your cursor will bring up data for each state as you hover over it.

    It is interesting to note that Washington DC has the highest percentage of veterans that are homeless, more than double the rate of any other state at a whopping 7.51%.  Other high percentage states are Louisiana, California, Oregon, Nevada, Connecticut and  North Dakota in that order.   The highest number of homeless veterans are in California with more than 49,000 homeless, followed by New York, Florida and Texas in that order.

    The following comes directly from the report:

    Lack of affordable housing is the primary driver of homelessness. The 23.4 million U.S. veterans generally do not have trouble affording housing costs; veterans have high rates of home ownership and appear generally well housed. However, there is a subset of veterans who have severe housing cost burden.

    ■ We estimate that nearly half a million (467,877) veterans were severely rent burdened and were paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent.


    ■ More than half (55 percent) of veterans with severe housing cost burden fell below the poverty level and 43 percent were receiving foods stamps.

    4■ Rhode Island, California, Nevada, and Hawaii were the states with the highest percentage of veterans with severe housing cost burden. The District of Columbia had the highest rate, with 6.4 percent of veterans paying more than 50 percent of their income toward rent.

    ■ Female veterans, those with a disability, and unmarried or separated veterans were more likely to experience severe housing cost burden. There are also differences by period of service, with those serving during the Korean War and WWII more likely to have severe housing cost burden.

    ■ We estimate that approximately 89,553 to 467,877 veterans were at risk of homelessness.  At risk is defined as being below the poverty level and paying more than 50 percent of household income on rent. It also includes households with a member who has a disability, a person living alone, and those who are not in the labor force.

    However, the report body shows a laundry list of causes:

    Lack of Income: Veterans who experience homelessness, like most homeless people, typically have very low incomes, and research suggests that extreme poverty predisposes veterans to homelessness. For this reason, veterans who joined the service after 1973 through the all-volunteer force are more likely to come from poverty and have lower rates of educational attainment.  (…) The unemployment rate for veterans aged 20 to 24 is 15 percent,

    Physical Health and Disability: One out of 10 veterans is disabled and many suffer from physical disabilities, oftentimes caused by injuries in combat. (…)  The number of disabled veterans is increasing with more than 20,000 veterans suffering from wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Mental Health and Disability: Mental health issues are also prevalent among veterans. The VA reports that 45 percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness, including many who report high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  (…)

    Substance Abuse: According to the Department of Veterans Affairs,  approximately 70 percent of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse problems (…)

    Weak Social Networks: (…) Veterans have low marriage rates and high divorce rates and, currently, one in five veterans is living alone.  (…) Social networks are particularly important forthose who have a crisis or need temporary help. Without this assistance, they are at high risk for homelessness.

    Lack of Services to Meet Current Need: The VA has over 19,000 transitional housing beds for homeless veterans (10,000 through partnerships with local community agencies) with 460 FTEE in homeless program staffing.  (Oldtimer’s comment:  19,000 beds to serve over 300,000 veterans that are homeless during at least part of the year of which 44,000 to 64,000 are chronically homeless and 195,000 are homeless on any one night!)

    I hope you can sleep well tonight after reading these statistics and findings. I know that I won’t.  I also know the homeless heroes sleeping in the bushes, alleys, behind dumpsters, in doorways, and in the woods or on mountain sides are not going to sleep as well as they could if we could only get our government to respect and support our troops when they come home.

    Our Heroes

    are out there tonight

    and it is so very cold!

    Oldtimer