VA PTSD Backlog: Improvements over the Two Years and Forever Standard

It now takes only about 18 months to have a claim resolved by the VA. This is a great improvement over the last eight years. In the previous eight years it generally took between two years and forever to have a claim accepted or denied.

The backlog of all veterans’ claims at the Veterans Administration now approaches 1,000,000 cases, according to veteran advocates. That means nearly one million human beings are not receiving the compensation and/or health care the US Government assured them they would get. It also means, of those women and men, several hundred thousand families have a loved one and bread winner left in limbo by the VA. This, by itself, damages families and relationships.

The New York Times reports that the claim backlog is becoming one of the reasons veterans call suicide hotlines.

I can see some of my critics whining that not having your paperwork processed is no reason to commit suicide. If you suffer from PTSD, how people and institutions treat you is one of the reasons you kill yourself. You evaluate people and institutions by what they actually do, not merely by what they say. Ignoring the needs of the PTSD afflicted individual tells that person they might as well be dead in your eyes.

If you suffer from PTSD all of your relationships are damaged. If you suffer from PTSD your sense of self-worth is damaged. If you suffer from PTSD, you spend a lot of time finding reasons to stay alive. PTSD isolates us. It mangles our relationships and sense of meaning. [This paragraph and the one previous also apply to civilian PTSD, especially in cases like rape trauma and clergy abuse].

If the VA, the people paid to take care of your PTSD needs, ignores your condition, then the soldier experiences that their lives have no value to the VA. When troops deployed, they were sometimes in-processed and shipped out in just 72 hours. If the government thinks something is important, then they can make it happen. If suicide prevention and other health issues are important then we can improve on the between two years and forever standard of the previous eight years.

The VA is under new management and is starting to show improvement. Only 18 months to be told yes or no. Compared to its former performance this is a great advance in a relatively short time. Let’s hope that they continue to improve.   Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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