VA Email– Don’t Diagnose PTSD!

The continuing saga of the Bush administration leadership in the Veterans Administration revealed evidence there was an attempt to alter the diagnosis of veterans in order to save money. Veterans diagnosed with PTSD are eligible for health benefits, and, in some cases, disability retirement pay. According to Brandon Friedman, of the, there is a tendency to say, “Ah, you’ve got something temporary, it’ll go away, so we don’t need to pay you for the rest of yur life.” He said several veterans have told him they were diagnosed with “adjustment disorder” rather than PTSD. Unfortunately, for the VA, there is now concrete evidence of a plan to hold off on diagnosing veterans with PTSD.

Friedman’s group has uncovered an email which came from a VA hospital’s PTSD program coordinator which was sent to several employees in the hospital. The email read: “Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans, I’d like tto suggest you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out. Consider a diagnosis of adjustment disorder…Additionally, we really don’t…have time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD.”

VA head, James Peake acknowledged the email had been sent but insisted there was no VA program to give adjustment disorder diagnoses instead of PTSD. We hope the VA is committed to such a policy, but we also are concerned that a member of the VA could use an insulting expression such as, “compensation-seeking veterans.” These are men and women who risked their lives in the service of their nation.