VA Seeks to Gather More Information on Women Veterans to Improve Care

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — With more women leaving the military and becoming healthcare-eligible veterans, VA is focusing more energy and funding than ever into women’s health research.. Despite spending more money on women’s healthcare research in the last few… Read More

Better Imaging Techniques Show Promise in Improving TBI Diagnosis and Treatment

By Stephen Spotswood BETHESDA, MD — A number of drugs have been shown to have neuroprotective benefits in animal models of TBI. When studies have moved on to human subjects, however, most have had poor results. Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, MD, PhD… Read More

Single IED Blast Can Cause Degenerative Brain Condition

By Brenda L. Mooney BOSTON — Compelling evidence that a degenerative brain condition can be caused by a single blast, equivalent to a typical improvised explosive device (IED), raises troubling questions about the future healthcare needs of servicemembers returning from… Read More

VA Claims Backlog Also Caused By High Error Rate, Not Only Processing Speed

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — VA’s goal within two years is to have a claims-adjudication system that gets a first-time claim decision to a veteran within 125 days with 98% accuracy. The agency has a long way to go. It… Read More

What’s In a Name? – Name Change Proponents Say Labeling PTSD a ‘Disorder’ Prevents Treatment

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — What’s in a name matters for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to proponents of changing what the condition is called, because the word “disorder” keeps some sufferers from getting the treatment they need. The issue… Read More

VA Seeks Increased Mental-Health Staff to Respond to Growing Needs Among Veterans

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON —VA’s announcement that 1,900 mental-health staff will be added to its roster is more reactive than proactive, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told legislators at a recent hearing.   “A certain number of folks walk in the… Read More

Servicemembers Lose Benefits after Improper Discharges for Alleged Personality Disorders

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — The U.S. military continues to use improper processes to diagnose significant numbers of servicemembers with pre-existing personality disorders (PD) and then discharge them, according to government documents obtained by an advocacy group. The Vietnam Veterans… Read More

Virtual Reality Is No Game for PTSD Patients Reliving Traumatic Events

Editor’s Note: U.S. Medicine writer Annette Boyle recently took an inside tour of the virtual reality program that has shown promise in helping veterans who suffer from PTSD. Here is her account. ATLANTA — It might look like a game,… Read More

Can Virtual Reality Help Veterans Avoid As Well As Recover from PTSD?

By Stephen Spotswood  BETHESDA, MD — Research rooted in treating trauma in the civilian sector is examining how a combination of pharmaceuticals and virtual reality can help combat veterans recover more swiftly from chronic PTSD. Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, director of… Read More

VA Study – Stress Can Increase Inflammation and Worsen Cardiovascular Disease in Patients

By Stephen Spotswood SAN FRANCISCO — New VA research suggests that lifetime exposure to stressful events, such as those which cause PTSD, is linked to greater levels of inflammation in patients with cardiovascular (CV) disease. Higher inflammation generally leads to… Read More

Mental-Health Screenings Questioned After Shooting

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — In the wake of a killing spree that left 17 Afghan civilians dead last month, questions were raised about whether the U.S. military is effectively diagnosing neurological and psychiatric problems that can become ticking time… Read More

More Opioid Prescriptions Adverse Effects for Vets With PTSD

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — Veterans with PTSD are more likely than others to be prescribed opioids for post-injury pain, and that can lead to an increase in adverse mental and physical effects, according to a recent VA study.  “Iraq… Read More

Advocates say 40 percent of Vets Seek Counseling From Clergy and VA Partnership Could Help

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — According to VA statistics, four out of 10 veterans with mental-health challenges seek assistance from clergy — more than all other types of mental-health providers combined. Veteran advocates and researchers maintain, however, that VA has… Read More

Telemental Health Services Benefit Native Veterans

 WASHINGTON — After American Indian and Alaska Native veterans initially tried telemental health services, their use of any health services significantly increased, as did the proportion receiving psychotropic medication, a new study found.1 Telemental Health Services is the provision of… Read More

More Funding Requested for Veteran Healthcare – VA Questioned on Acquisition Tracking

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — Funding for veteran healthcare continues to increase in the Obama administration’s latest budget proposal, but legislators had some pointed questions about how well VA is tracking its spending for medical supplies and services. The administration’s… Read More

50-Year-Old VA Disability Rating System Just Now Being Fully Revised

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — For more than 50 years, the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) has been the mechanism for determining how much disability compensation is provided to veterans. While the system has seen minor adjustments over time,… Read More

Claims Deadline Extended for Undiagnosed Gulf War Veterans

By Stephen Spotswood WASHINGTON — Continuing a pattern of easing the way for Gulf War veterans to seek care and compensation, VA has extended the presumptive period for them to file claims for benefits for previously undiagnosed illnesses. The change… Read More

Catalyst for Healing- Writing Helps Returning Troops Deal with Experiences

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — In 2006, Ron Capps was on his third combat deployment when he took a 9-millimeter pistol and drove out to the desert in Darfur. He said he was prepared to kill himself but was interrupted… Read More

Caffeine Shows Promise in Saving Lives of Brain Injured

By Sandra Basu WASHINGTON — The common chemical stimulant available in a cup of coffee or some soft drinks may hold promise for saving the lives of brain-injured troops. A recent preliminary study published in the journal Experimental Neurology suggests… Read More

Is the VA Mental Health Scheduling System Gamed? Senators Seek Audit

WASHINGTON — Frustrated by the numerous reports of veterans unable to receive timely mental healthcare at VA facilities, legislators have called for the VA Office of the Inspector General to conduct a formal audit of wait times. Sen. Patty… Read More