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, July 20, 2015

Studies Show that Medical Marijuana Does Not Help PTSD

As of this date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Each state has their own list of conditions that are approved for treatment by medical marijuana, but these lists vary widely from one state to the next. Many of these states are now seeing a push to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the list of approved conditions for treatment with medical marijuana, but this is causing growing concern among physicians and regulators.

While few studies exist and no scientific proof has been found that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for any condition, studies have found that medical marijuana in the treatment of PTSD could actually make the condition worse. A 2014 study conducted by physicians and researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine showed that the use of medical marijuana to treat PTSD in veterans “was significantly associated with worse outcomes in PTSD symptom severity, violent behavior, and measures of alcohol and drug use.” The study concluded that “marijuana may actually worsen PTSD symptoms and nullify the benefits of specialized, intensive treatment.”

In June, the White House announced that they would be lifting a regulation limiting the ability to conduct scientific research on the development, use, and affects of medical marijuana. Currently, there are no strict regulations on the production of medical marijuana, causing a huge disparity between the quality of each batch. Additionally, marijuana contains more than 400 compounds, the effects of which have not been fully studied. Hopefully this policy change will allow more concrete evidence to surface that will lead to the safer and more regulated production and use of medical marijuana for conditions that truly do benefit from its use as a treatment.


While medical marijuana is not recommended as a treatment for PTSD, proven treatments do exist. The VA’s National Center for PTSD, www.ptsd.va.gov, provides many valuable resources for the treatment of PTSD. Help is available.

Monday, July 13, 2015

New Bill Aims to Ease VA Staffing Needs and Increase Access to Care

A new bill introduced in the Senate last month is aimed at streamlining and expanding VA efforts to increase staffing and provide timely care. The Delivering Opportunities for Care and Services for Veterans (DOCS for Veterans) Act comes at a time when the VA is struggling to provide speedier access to care as well as increasing availability of certain types of care, such as mental health care, for veterans in rural areas.

The VA is still falling behind in reducing appointment wait times for veterans. While the VA was making some progress in reducing wait times, they have experienced such an unexpected increase in veterans needing care that efforts to decrease those wait times have actually lost ground over the last year. The VA had 2.7 million more appointments this past year than in any previous year and authorized 900,000 of those veterans to seek care from outside providers. This bill aims to authorize additional funding for more providers and make it easier and faster for the VA to get them on board.

The DOCS for Veterans Act would also provide increased mental health care aimed at reducing the high suicide rate among veterans. As we reported last November, an average of 22 veterans a day are tragically choosing to end their lives. To help increase access to mental health care, the VA would be authorized to recruit more doctors, nurses, physician assistants and mental health care providers, especially in rural areas. This bill would also establish a VA Nurses Advice Line which would target rural veterans and provide medical advice, eligibility and benefits information, as well as help with scheduling appointments.


The DOCS for Veterans Act is backed by many veterans’ organizations, such as the American Legion, AMVETS, and the National Guard Association of the US, among others, as well as many mental health organizations. We will keep you informed about its progress through the hallowed halls of Congress.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Could the VA Cover In Vitro Fertilization in the Future?


A bill was introduced in the House on May 12 aimed at providing additional reproductive treatment for eligible disabled veterans. If this bill is passed, the VA will provide In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to couples who have not been able to conceive due to the veteran’s service-connected disability.

IVF is the process where eggs and sperm are combined outside the body in a laboratory, and the resulting embryos, usually at least 3 at a time, are then implanted in the uterus, hopefully resulting in a pregnancy. IVF is a complex and very expensive procedure and is never the first choice of treatment for infertility. In fact, it’s usually the “last resort” treatment choice, after other methods such as fertility drugs, surgery, or artificial insemination have been tried.

To be eligible for IVF under this bill, a veteran must be enrolled in the VA Health Care System and have a service-connected disability that includes an injury to the reproductive organs or spinal cord that directly results in infertility without medical assistance, or be the spouse of such a veteran.

The VA would be limited to providing no more than 3 IVF cycles, resulting in no more than 6 implantation attempts. In addition, the VA would cover cryogenic (frozen) storage of unused embryos for no more than 3 years, after which time the veteran would be responsible for further storage costs. The VA would not be able to provide any benefits to a surrogate or be able to provide any help in obtaining a third-party donor.

This bill has only recently been introduced and is still in committee. We will keep watch on it and let you know when progress is made.