Caring for our veterans

Posted in NetCasts by biofeedbackresources on November 17th, 2007

Whatever personal opinions are about the current U.S. Military actions in Iraq, everyone seems to agree that the soldiers who are serving should be appreciated, respected, and most importantly cared for.

Recently it has come to light that in many instances we have been falling short of taking proper care of our veterans.  I’m sure that by now you have seen many news reports on TV, internet, and in the newspapers.  Some of the items that were disturbing include the poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Building 18, higher rate of traumatic brain injury (TBI) with many cases of missed diagnosis, and problems veterans are having with the paperwork required to receive medical care.

According to a February 21, 2007 WashingtonPost.com article written by Dana Priest and Ann Hull, The White House and Congress are promising fast action to correct the problems at Walter Reed.

Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman who is the commander at Walter Reed said that he has been promised by Army leaders that he will get the additional staff he requested to address the problems.

There is also talk of new legislation to make the veterans medical paperwork easier and to add case managers to assist as well as more psychological counselors.

Mental Health Issues of Veterans

On September 28, 2006 Cathleen C. Wilblemo, Deputy Director of the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation  Division, Commission of The American Legion, testified before The Subcommittee of the  Health Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – US House of Representatives on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

She discussed the seriousness of the problems of PTSD, as well as other mental health conditions like depressive disorder, acute reaction to stress and substance abuse.  Ms. Wilblemo described psychological treatment as most effective for PTSD.  The importance for making treatment available was stressed in her statements.

It was stated that research shows that a high percentage of soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from mental health problems including PTSD.  Some possible reasons for the higher resulting mental health problems are that a high percentage of those serving are from the National Guard and Reserve, more are women, and more are married.

Three new centers were appointed to specialize in mental health in the VA system in December of 2005.  They are Waco, San Diego, and Canandaigua.

The VA Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 budget included over $3 billion for mental health services. The American Legion which is one of the organizations that advocates for veterans wants to make sure that this money goes to the intended programs in order to best help the veterans.

Biofeedback including EEG/Neurofeedback has been an important modality of psychological treatment in the VA Healthcare system.  Some of the most important biofeedback research ever done was done in the VA Healthcare system.  Dr. Eugene Peniston, who recently passed away, did research on Biofeedback/Neurofeedback with PTSD and Substance abuse in Vietnam Veterans.  The reference is listed along with references on other related work.