Intro

Welcome to our Big News section for all the latest news concerning Military Disability.

We'll do our best to keep you up to date on everything that could affect your disability. Since the majority of our news will cover legal issues that can be dragged out for a long time, if you'd like an update on an issue, let us know, and we'll do what we can.

Please feel free to comment and submit questions. We want to give you the information you need, so help us by letting us know what you want to know.

This page is strictly for the latest and upcoming news. If you are looking for specific information about the disability system or your disability, see our Military Disability Blog: Advice From the Big Guy or our website, www.MilitaryDisabilityMadeEasy.com, for all the answers you'll need.

Monday, June 29, 2015

VA Now has New Ways to Identify High Suicide Risk in Veterans

Suicide is a serious problem among veterans. As we reported last Fall, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day. The VA is aware that this is a huge tragedy. That is why they have put in place programs to provide support for at-risk veterans, such as crisis lines and awareness programs, like The Power of One, which launched last September.

In addition to these programs, the VA is now focusing on training all their medical professionals to better identify those veterans who may be at risk of suicide. Although all medical personnel are trained to monitor their patients for signs of suicide risk, it can be very difficult to identify at-risk veterans.

To address this issue, the VA and the National Institute of Mental Health recently conducted a study of the VA patient population from fiscal years 2009-2011. The researchers divided the patients from those years randomly into two equal groups. Using information gained from the first group, they developed a model to predict suicide risk and then tested it on the second group of patients. They found that the model they developed from the first group was far more successful in identifying patients with high suicide risks than simply relying on information obtained in clinical settings alone. In fact, this model correctly identified 67% more at-risk patients than had been identified in clinical settings. That is fourteen veterans each day that could be saved from suicide.

The VA is now training medical professionals to use this new model to better predict and protect those veterans who are at high risk of suicide so that targeted care and prevention can be provided as soon as possible. This will allow the VA to not only improve clinical care but also provide better care through their Suicide Prevention programs.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help IS available. We encourage you to reach out to the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, www.VeteransCrisisLine.Net, or to any of the many local suicide crisis lines.


Monday, June 22, 2015

National PTSD Awareness Month

June is National PTSD Awareness Month, and the VA has established June 27 (this Saturday) as National PTSD Awareness Day. The VA’s 2015 Campaign encourages people to “learn, connect and share” in order - to help people recognize the symptoms of PTSD, learn about available treatment options, and share that information with others.

Throughout time, traumatic events have been a part of the human experience. Whether a saber tooth tiger attack, a devastating natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or an every day car crash, traumatic events cause similar physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms. PTSD can occur after any type of trauma, including sexual trauma (like rape), battle, death, or abuse.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first officially established as a diagnosis in 1980. Prior to that time, symptoms of PTSD were identified by many names, such as “nostalgia” which was described in 1761 by Austrian physician Josef Leopold as feelings of sadness, homesickness, sleep problems, and anxiety among soldiers who experienced battlefield trauma. During the Civil War, these symptoms became known as “Soldier’s Heart” due to the rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, and anxiety experienced by soldiers.

During World War I, some PTSD symptoms, such as panic and sleep difficulties, were labeled “shell shock” because they were considered a reaction to artillery shell explosions. In World War II, “shell shock” was replaced by Combat Stress Reaction (CSR), otherwise known as battle fatigue, and there was quite a bit of disagreement among military officers as to whether CSR was real or not. Lieutenant General George Patton nearly ended his career when he slapped two soldiers who were hospitalized with “nervous conditions” and called them cowards.

In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the first Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Orders (DSM-I), which did not include a classification for PTSD. Over the years, the APA and the medical community struggled to come up with a definitive diagnosis for the stress disorders suffered by those who experienced traumatic events. Finally in 1980, the official diagnosis of PTSD was added to DSM-III. The VA currently uses the DSM-5 requirements for diagnosing PTSD. More information on this can be found on our PTSD page.

The VA is one of the largest health care systems in the US to provide specialized treatment for PTSD, since it recognizes that PTSD is a significant health care issue for our veterans. In 2014 alone, over 535,000 veterans were treated for PTSD by the VA. The VA and their National Center for PTSD lead the way in research, education, and the training of medical professionals in top PTSD treatments.

For more information about the VA’s National PTSD Campaign and to learn more about the many resources available to you, read their recent article. Among that information you will find a free mobile app, PTSD Coach, that gives you information on PTSD and treatment options, allows you to screen and track your symptoms, and offers direct links to help and support.


We strongly support any programs and resources designed to help our veterans suffering from PTSD. Help and hope are available.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chiropractic and Child Care for Veterans Acts Proposed in Congress

In the last couple of months Congress has introduced several bills that affect veterans’ health care.

The Veterans Access to Child Care Act would make it possible for eligible veterans receiving certain types of care at a VA facility to receive help with child care.

To be eligible, a veteran must be the primary caregiver for one or more children and be receiving either mental health care or other types of intensive health care at a VA facility that require them to travel back and forth in order to receive that care. A veteran would also be eligible if he or she is in need of such health care but not able to get it because of a lack of child care.

Child care assistance may include care provided at an on-site child care center at the VA facility or financial assistance of some sort to help pay for care at a licensed child care facility.

The Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act of 2015, introduced in the Senate earlier this month, would require the VA to provide chiropractic services to all veterans at VA medical facilities. The timeline to put this into place would require chiropractic care to be available at a minimum of seventy-five VA medical centers by the end of 2016 and in all VA medical facilities by the end of 2018.


These bills have just been introduced, so there is no way of knowing at this point if they will ever become law. However, we are encouraged that these issues are being looked at as ways to improve veterans’ access to improved care and quality of life. We will keep an eye on them and keep you informed about their progress.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Help for Caregivers on the Way?

A few new bills have recently been introduced in the House and Senate that are aimed at providing assistance to the families and caregivers of Disabled Veterans. One of the major points of these bills is expanded eligibility for veterans under the Family Caregiver Program by removing the requirement that a veteran’s qualifying injury or disabling illness occurred after 9/11/2001.

These bills would also expand the services offered to disabled veterans and their families to include child care, legal and financial services relating to the needs of disabled veterans, respite care, and training for caregivers, among other things. In addition, these bills would improve access to services and community resources for families of disabled veterans, increase stipends for caregivers, and expand the requirements for disabled service members to receive Aid and Attendance before they separate from the military.

These bills have just been introduced and are currently in committee, which means it could be several months before we know if they have a chance of becoming law. We will keep watch on these bills and let you know when any progress is made.


It is encouraging that lawmakers recognize the incredible service and sacrifice caregivers make for our disabled veterans, and that they are looking for ways to make life easier for them and their veterans.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mental Health Care and Mental Health due to Military Sexual Trauma Legislation Updates

We thought we’d give you an update on some pending and recently introduced legislation concerning mental health in regards to care and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Two bills concerning mental health care were recently introduced. The Senate bill, introduced on March 23, 2015, would amend the Veterans Choice, Access and Accountability Act to make it possible for a veteran to receive mental health care from a non-VA facility or provider if the veteran submits a written statement (either in person, by fax, or electronically) that says the veteran wants mental health care from the VA but has not been able to get adequate or timely care from a VA facility

The House bill introduced on April 7, 2015, would go a bit further, making veterans eligible for non-VA mental health care regardless of where the veteran lives, the date on which the veteran enrolled in VA health care, or whether or not the veteran tried to get an appointment for mental health care at a VA facility.

On March 25, 2015, the Ruth Moore Act of 2015 was introduced in the House. This bill is almost identical to the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 that had passed the House, but died in the Senate. Hopefully it will make it through this time around. The Ruth Moore Act allows for Mental Disorders caused by MST to be considered service-connected, and thus eligible for Military Disability, even if the original incident wasn’t reported, as long as a mental health professional diagnoses the condition as being caused by MST and there is sufficient evidence that the trauma did occur. (Further details on “sufficient evidence” of MST can be found in our earlier article on MST Awareness.) The VA would also be directed to decide any reasonable doubts in favor of the veteran.

All of these bills are still in the early stage. We will keep an eye on their progress and let you know if and when any of them are signed into law.