PTSD Substance Abuse Committee
The purpose of the VVA PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee is to support and advocate actively for the health care--diagnoses, clinical practices, clinical research, treatments, specialized programs, and related educational efforts--necessary to meet the needs of veterans with PTSD, substance addictions, and other debilitating psychological reactions to trauma resulting from military service. This advocacy and support also includes health care for family members of such veterans.” from Policy & Procedures Statement adopted by VVA BOD in April 2004. Because PTSD was one of the key organizing issues around which VVA was founded, the history of VVA and its PTSD/SA Committee are intimately linked together. At its beginning in the early 1980’s the Committee focused primarily on advocacy for Vet Center PTSD programs and other special in-patient VA PTSD programs, but the focus was soon broadened by the Committee’s earliest spokespersons (including Jack Smith, Steve Bentley and Harold Bryant) to include advocacy for various substance abuse recovery programs as the need and demand for these programs grew. In 2004 the Committee’s principle focus still remains on advocacy for PTSD and substance abuse issues for veterans and their families, but has again been expanded to now include all military service-connected mental health issues such as those associated with military sexual trauma, for example. A list of the current Committee members can be found on this page.
BY THOMAS C. HALL, Ph.D., CHAIR
During the past year the committee expanded its focus to include several initiatives. We established two additional subcommittees: Suicide Prevention and Substance Abuse. The lat-ter subcommittee will work with Veterans Against Drugs. Both subcommittees will reinforce VVA policy initiatives aimed at expanding VA organizational capacity for the treatment of these areas of mental and behavioral disorders.
A critical area of emerging involvement for the Substance Abuse Subcommittee is the National Drug Take Back program in the fall and spring of each year sponsored by the DEA and local law enforcement.
The committee has also filed a request to have Dr. William Schlenger, the principal investigator on both the 1985 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study and the current National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study, to share his research findings at the VVA Leadership & Education Conference in Wichita this August.
We continue to monitor the search process for the executive director for the National Center for PTSD, the director of Mental Health Services at VHA, the director of the Veterans Readjustment Centers at the VA, and the under secretary for health at the VHA. We also continue to work closely with VVA Government Affairs staff to address PTSD, TBI, and MST policy and legislative issues in Congress, and we are working closely with the national office staff and the Veterans Incarcerated Committee to address mental and behavioral health issues affecting incarcerated veterans.
VVA will work with Congress to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure accountability for the organizational capacity and funding for the accurate diagnoses and evidence-based treatments of the neuropsychiatric wounds of war, particularly PTSD, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, and suicide risk.
VVA will work with Congress to ensure that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs develop, fund, and implement evidence-based, integrated psychosocial mental health programs, substance abuse recovery treatment programs, and suicide risk assessment programs for all veterans and their families, for active-duty troops and their families, and for reservists and members of the National Guard who have seen service in a combat zone.
VVA will work with Congress to ensure that DOD corrects all wrongful diagnoses of "personality disorder," "adjustment disorder," and "readjustment disorder" discharges so that all veterans found to have been inappropriately diagnosed and discharged are correctly diagnosed and accorded access to the benefits and care that they deserve.
Report of the Chair:
Report of the Committee:
During the report to the President and Board of Directors, the chair expressed thanks to the members of the PTSD/SA committee for all their hard work, inspiration, and dedication to veterans. Special recognition was given to staff liaison, Dr. Tom Berger, for amplifying the will of the committee and working diligently to keep us all apprised of the latest developments in PTSD and Substance Abuse over the last two years.
PTSD/SA Committee report
Delivered keynote speech at dedication of new PTSD/SA and Women's Clinic in Kansas
Met with Secretary Shinseki in Kansas City, MO to review local and national concerns veterans have regarding various V.A. programs and initiatives. This was a positive meeting and the Secretary was given the list of “talking points” I developed with the assistance of the National Office.
Dan Stenvold reported working with major stakeholders in his state (North Dakota) who continue to express concern and are soliciting ideas to stem the tide of national guard suicides.
For Qualifying Veterans With Exposure to Blast Events &/or Loss of Consciousness
A study of EEG biofeedback, a non-invasive, medication-free therapy, for symptoms associated with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Participants need not discuss trauma-related events.
Participation provided at no cost.
[ download details ]
SAMHSA ADS Center Training Teleconference
Mental Health for Military Families:
The nightmares of war don’t always end when our loved ones return home. . . . Sometimes the deadliest wounds are the ones you cannot see, and we cannot afford to let the unseen wounds go untreated.
U.S. President Barack Obama (2009)
What systems-level and policy changes need to be implemented to increase U.S. service members’ and their families’ access to the mental health services, supports, and treatment they need? What resilience-building, self-care, or preventive measures, on an individual or systems level, should be considered and implemented prior to deployment to reduce the frequency and/or severity of mental health problems during and after combat? What solutions might increase the likelihood of successful community reintegration upon a service member’s return home?
Examining the Progress of suicide prevention Outreach to Efforts at the Va
The subject of suicide is extremely difficult to talk about and is a topic that most of us would prefer to avoid. Although statistics on suicide deaths are not as accurate as we would like because so many are not reported, as veterans of the Vietnam War and those who care for them, many of us have known someone who has committed suicide and others who have attempted it. But as uncomfortable as this subject may be to discuss, VVA believes it to be a very real public health concern that needs solutions now.
Suicide is most often the result of unrecognized and untreated mental health injuries. Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are three of the most common mental health injuries and conditions that can lead to suicide. The three conditions in particular are medical conditions that can be life-threatening.
V.A. Is Easing Rules to Cover Stress Disorder
The government is preparing to issue new rules that will make it substantially easier for veterans who have been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder to receive disability benefits, a change that could affect hundreds of thousands of veterans from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.
Veterans Sought for PTSD Research Study
A psychology graduate student at Purdue University is looking for Vietnam, Persian Gulf and OIF/OEF veterans to participate in a doctoral study, which will examine veterans’ help-seeking attitudes related to PTSD and suicide that will be used to develop model interventions for decreasing stigma. If you are interested in participating, please contact Azi Ghaffari at email@example.com
The VVA Veteran March/april 2010
The PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee, as required by the VVA National Board of Directors, provides this yearly report on its mandated Resolutions to the membership.
Vietnam Veterans of America shall continue to press Congress to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure accountability for the organizational capacity and funding for the diagnoses and evidence-based treatments of the neuropsychiatric wounds of war, particularly for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Vietnam Veterans of America shall continue efforts to extend the authority of the Vet Centers to treat all veterans and their families and to increase the number of staff at each existing Vet Center.
Vietnam Veterans of America shall continue its congressional efforts to ensure that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs develop, fund, and implement evidence-based, integrated psychosocial mental-health and substance-abuse recovery treatment programs through the Vet Centers for all veterans and their families, active-duty troops and their families, as well as for those Reservists and members of the National Guard released from active duty.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
The PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee: Thomas C. Hall, Ph.D, Chair; Fr. Phil Salois, Vice Chair; Sandy Miller, Secretary. Members: Peter Bessigano, Frances Cartier, Tom Devlin, Warren Digel, Marsha Four, Dee Hagge, Henry Illelio, Dave Johnson, Joseph Morgan, Wayne Reynolds, Francis Rowan, Ed Ryan, Ph.D., James Shott, and Dan Stenvold. Special Advisor: Sharon Hobbs. Staff Liaison: Tom Berger, Ph.D.
What's NewCOMMITTEE REPORT:
THOMAS C. HALL, CHAIR
Suicide rates in the active military and among veterans are on the rise. Military Sexual Trauma (MST) continues at epidemic proportions, and under-diagnosed traumatic brain injury (TBI) ensures a future of pain for veterans and their families. Homelessness and incarceration await too many of our returning troops.
The Department of Defense assures us that new research initiatives will be funded to find out how to address the rising suicide rates in the military. Studies continue to investigate the causes and treatment of MST, TBI, PTSD, and all the substances used to self-medicate the many symptoms that come with each.
New England Journal
Psychological Association - Journal
of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Veterans' Emerging Mental Health Crisis
Coming Home - Readjusting to Civilian Life After War Two months ago, Caleb Catron lived worlds apart from the quiet rural town of Onalaska where he grew up. The 22-year-old was immersed in the bustle of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, where he was stationed as a U.S. Army military police officer for a year. (more)
Emotional Toll Can Weigh Heavily on a Soldier's Mind "Hateful." That's the word Lois Edwards uses to describe her husband's behavior when he returned home from Iraq. (more)
In The News
VVA Legislative Testimony
PTSD Does Not Mean You're Crazy! Get the brochure in PDF format.
Study Results The results of a study entitled "Spirituality and PTSD in Vietnam Combat Veterans" can be found by clicking on the name of the study.
Special Report “Never Shall One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another…” Steve Robinson, Executive Director of the National Gulf War Resource Center*, has just released an excellent report on mental health and the military in Iraq. The report includes a great deal of information that has not received very much press coverage to date. Go to the report - Hidden Toll of the Iraq War: Mental Health and the Military