Thursday, July 26, 2007

President's task force to improve health care delivery for our nation's veterans

That's the name of the group that just presented this report to the President.

I haven't read it yet, but it's not that long so I'm pretty sure I will. I just wanted to comment on the name of the group.

Just the name of the group is political speak at it's worst. "Health care delivery for our nation's veteterans"

What's wrong with "Veteran's health care" Or "Health care delivery for veterans"?

I'll tell you what's wrong with those shorter titles. They don't serve to evoke emotional feelings of ownership. "Our Nation's Veterans". It's an emotional appeal to unity. The President (or someone on his staff) picked that title at the very git-go. That suggests to me that the whole thing is just a political jerk-off to try to make everybody feel better.

When the title is chosen for it's emotional appeal rather than it's descriptive value then I'm not really going to be expecting much.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Class action lawsuit against the VA

From the San Francisco Chronicle
Two veterans' rights groups filed suit Monday in San Francisco seeking to force the federal government to make major changes in how it cares for hundreds of thousands of injured veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Depression and anxiety disorders

Many vets develop mental problems. The most common is PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). That's an ailment that can often be addressed with talk therapy, even group therapy, and various kinds of psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis is based on the idea that there is some event, or group of events, in your past that can be pointed to as some sort of cause for your current mental problems. With PTSD that would certainly be the case.

But sometimes that kind of stress can seem to trigger more serious mental disorders. Various irrational fears and feelings are grouped together under the two umbrellas of anxiety disorder (irrational fears) and affective disorders (irrational feelings and depression). When that's the case psychoanalysis probably isn't going to help.

Full blown depression or anxiety is based on a disorder of thought, it doesn't have a "cause" somewhere back in the history of your life. There may be some historical event that seems to have triggered the disorder, and combat stress can certainly be such a trigger. But that event probably didn't really cause anything. The stress just brought the effects of an existing underlying disorder of thought to the surface.

Once the underlying disorder hits the surface you can quickly reach a situation where your brain is essentially re-wired, you begin the make very irrational judgements about life risks and life situations that seem rational to your disordered brain.

You'll almost always need medication to re-wire such a miss-wired brain. And often the medication really won't do the brain re-wiring, it will just free up your brain to be re-wired. Psychoanalysis, looking to the past, won't help.

What probably will help is cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy helps get the damaged thought processes back to rationality by looking to the short term future, but directly addressing cause and effect -- "If I get on that airplane it might crash, but it probably won't". The disordered brain thinks, "If I get on that airplane it will crash".

Some psychoanalysts do cognitive therapy as part of their bag of tricks. But not many, and even some who claim to do so don't really rely on it. If you suffer from an actual mental disorder rather than PSTD which is traceable to a specific event, then steer away from psychoanalysts who want to talk about your childhood or want to do hypnosis. Those are not serious practitioners of cognitive therapy.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vets and agent orange

A blog for collecting experiences of veterns exposed to agent orange. Both experiences of the combat exposure and subsequent experiences dealing with the Veterans Administration. Experiences of both vets and those who know vets or work with vets.