The LA Times reports that the doctors at the Veterans Affairs Department are beginning to wonder if they’re handing out disability checks for PTS a little too often;
As disability awards for PTSD have grown nearly fivefold over the last 13 years, so have concerns that many veterans might be exaggerating or lying to win benefits. Moering, a former Marine, estimates that roughly half of the veterans he evaluates for the disorder exaggerate or fabricate symptoms.
Depending on severity, veterans with PTSD can receive up to $3,000 a month tax-free, making the disorder the biggest contributor to the growth of a disability system in which payments have more than doubled to $49 billion since 2002.
“It’s an open secret that a large chunk of patients are flat-out malingering,” said Christopher Frueh, a University of Hawaii psychologist who spent 15 years treating PTSD in the VA system.
You know what doesn’t help? When Senators blame their plagiarism on PTS, when the media blames everything bad that a veteran does on PTS. When we veterans blame our own bad behavior on PTS. When we blame the fact that we can’t sleep, or that we don’t feel hungry, agoraphobia, a jumpy reaction to fireworks all on PTS. yeah, sometimes it is, but not always.
In one case The Times reviewed, a woman was awarded PTSD compensation based on breaking her leg in a fall walking to the mess hall.
As the number of cases has climbed, so has debate over their legitimacy.
A 2007 study of 74 Arkansas veterans with chronic PTSD, most of them from the Vietnam War, concluded that more than half were exaggerating symptoms. Other research has found little evidence of malingering.
Here at TAH, we’ve seen folks who claim that they have PTS because they were at 8th & I and saw the smoke from the Pentagon on 9/11. One fellow claims that he had PTS from listening to other combat veterans’ war stories. Yet another claimed that he has PTS because he DIDN’T deploy and he was worried about his unit while they deployed. Another claimed that he caught the PTSD from his drill sergeants. Beat your wife and kids? PTS made you do it. Rob a bank? PTSD caused it. Driving drunk? You were self-medicating for PTSD. Wear a Bronze Star Medal and a Green Beret you didn’t earn? PTS, dude. Did you watch a guy murder someone and didn’t report it to the police? Well….
PTS is hip and cool and the catch-all for all bad behavior. And all of the malingerers just keep the real cases that need to be treated away from the doctors and the stuff they need to cope with it, because who wants to be lumped in with the fakes and lazies who clog the system?
Fake PTS is probably far more common than Stolen Valor, because it’s easier to fake and less likely you’ll get caught, but just as shameful and much more hurtful to the veteran community, not to mention those folks who really do suffer from it and won’t seek treatment.
Category: Veteran Health Care