VA Manages to Treat Only Half of PTSD Sufferers
Report says military unprepared for coming 'wave' of mental illness
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jun 20, 2014 3:50 PM CDT
John David Shackelford visits the grave of his brother Spc. Jaymes Nickolaus Shackelford. The Army veteran served two tours of duty in Iraq before returning home with PTSD and taking his own life.   (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Mike Brown)

(Newser) – The Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are ill-prepared to handle a looming PTSD epidemic—or even the cases they already have, according to a 300-page study released today. Experts from the Institute of Medicine, under direction from Congress, found that just 53% of veterans whose primary diagnosis was PTSD got the recommended eight sessions of psychotherapy over a 14-week stretch last year, well short of the VA's 67% target, the AP reports.

The Pentagon isn't doing much better; its programs for treating active-duty PTSD sufferers are "ad hoc, incremental, and crisis-driven, with little planning devoted to the development of a long-range approach," the report concluded. What's more, neither department is effectively measuring whether their PTSD programs—which cost $3.3 billion in 2012—are actually working. "We found it surprising that no PTSD outcome measures are used consistently," one epidemiologist tells NBC News. All of which is troubling, because experts expect the steady stream of diagnoses to continue. "We are at the cusp of a wave of PTSD," the committee's chair tells USA Today.

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Showing 3 of 24 comments
bruno937
Jun 22, 2014 9:45 AM CDT
Last Thursday I had to restrain an Afghanistan veteran suffering from PTSD, coming out of anesthesia in a dentists office with the help of another patient. There was blood all over the sidewalk and just then his wife and kids pulled up in their car. Wish I was dead instead of seeing his little girl look at me like that in shock while I held him down. Cops took forever to arrive and when they did you could tell that they did not have much training for PTSD. He was convinced that his unit was under attack and 20 minutes later with eight cops and two firefighters trying to strap him to the stretcher he was still going on and on. I am extremely concerned about what he can do to his wife and kids at night. We keep sending our kids to harms way to fight other peoples wars AND pay for it AND are hated worldwide. This has to stop and we need to retake charge of Washington and Pentagon away from Tel-Aviv.
orlandojon
Jun 22, 2014 6:57 AM CDT
Government does such a great job with healthcare, liberals want to let them have more control of it.
GarColga
Jun 21, 2014 10:19 AM CDT
I have a feeling that if there were more good jobs available that a lot of these people wanting to be diagnosed with PTSD would just go back to work. It's amazing that the returning veterans of WWII who saw much more combat for much longer periods of time didn't cripple the economy by being unable to work because of PTSD.