Veteran's Odyssey : combat trauma and the long road to treatment (report from VFW Post 6974)



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Combat veterans often return from war with psychological as well as physical injuries. Armed service members who are bodily injured routinely go to hospitals for treatment, first at military hospitals and later in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. But those with psychological injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often go years, if not a lifetime, without treatment, in large part because the VA denies their claims with dubious justification. Veterans’ service organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, and others, as well as state and county governments, have knowledgeable service officers whose job is to help guide veterans through the VA system and through the many appeals that are often needed to get treatment and an adequate disability rating that could result in monetary payments. This report tells the story of one VFW post in Burnet, Texas, its veterans, their families, and how their success in getting treatment for PTSD has positively affected their lives. It has also enabled them, as they recover, to help other veterans seek treatment and win compensatory disability ratings too. The report focuses on one Vietnam veteran, who four decades after his discharge from the Army came to be treated for PTSD.