Minnesota’s “Diamond” Program Improves Treatment for Depression

Countless soldiers returning to the U.S. from Afghanistan and Iraq have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress, or PTSD. These veterans return home depressed, aggressive, moody, on edge, and prone to flashbacks, disorientation, and heavy drinking. But many soldiers with PTSD have had trouble getting therapy and benefits from the Veterans’ Administration (VA) to treat the condition. Recent changes to the claims process will make it easier for many of these service men and women to get the treatment they’ve needed for months.

Previously, there were two major hurdles facing returning soldiers. First, diagnosis, and second, compensation to cover treatment. Soldiers report being given medicine and no therapy, or counseling that skims the surface, focusing on the person’s marriage rather than the trauma they experienced overseas. Even with a diagnosis, disability compensation and treatment coverage have been hard to secure from the VA. Until now, being a returning soldier with PTSD has not been enough to secure therapy from the VA: a person had to document dates, times, and specific incidents to prove that the PTSD was caused by military service and not some other experience. But the new claims process makes things much easier. Military service in a combat zone (including medics, combat analysts, and other non direct-combat personnel) and a diagnosis are all that’s needed for disability coverage and treatment.

Treatment and therapy for PTSD is essential for the health and well-being of both the veteran and his or her family. Untreated, the condition worsens over time, and often people without access to therapy will turn to alcohol or other destructive behaviors in an attempt to cope or self-medicate. Veteran suicides have gained a growing spotlight in the national media as people try to deal with PTSD on their own after being denied assistance from the VA. These new, more accessible claims requirements are also retroactive. As such, they’re expected to deliver treatment and PTSD therapy to potentially thousands of individuals who have been needing it for quite some time.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Heather


    July 14th, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Many places on the internet I read that returning soldiers have PTSD but none of them dissected into the issue as to how this actually happened and why they are not being given enough treatment for it.Your blog has been good in actually exposing why they turn to alcohol an d other problems rather than facing recovery.

  • JoJo


    July 14th, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    great to know that they have done this…we can now have fewer dollars to buy more important things than sending our troops to war and then spending money on looking after their health issue which were incurred due to the war that was not required in the first place!

  • Kayla


    July 15th, 2010 at 4:28 AM

    Good Lord more government red tape to determine whether or not you really have a mental disorder. maybe the time is right to take all of the bureaucracy out of diagnosing problems and leaving this to real professionals who have real experience in these areas?

  • Harry


    August 23rd, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    As a Viet Nam Veteran it has been a couple of 10 years since, I myself, had delt with my in-country experiences. But during the last 7 years since I first submitted my claim for compensation disability, the VA has done nothing but ‘move the goal post’ and also changed the ‘ISSUE’ to ensure their denials.(I submitted 18 appeals, my claim was remanded twice) The deliberate side-steping by the VA to deny my claim has forced me to relive my traumatic military issues by trying to prove the truth to them. I was at my braking point with nightmares, flashbacks when on June 23rd I first went to the VA Columbus, Ohio Clinic for help with my PTSD. It took them until August 18th to give me an appt. so I could talk with someone about the problems that was brought on by the VA claims assesors. Then I was told the appt. would be on August 26th and that they would start with my childhood and then build up to present day. From the treatment I’m recieving from the VA Claims people and the incompetent VA medical care, not to mention the way the country has turned their backs on Viet Nam Veterans, I’m at the point where I’m thinking that it was a huge mistake for me to have enlisted back in 1969.

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