Most people are familiar with the catastrophic physical injuries of war — amputated limbs, disfigurement, paralysis. However, there are many other invisible injuries that plague veterans, are difficult to detect, and are often misdiagnosed or overlooked.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other invisible injuries plague countless veterans across the country. Unfortunately, returning home from wartime and seeking treatment is not as easy or timely as it should be.
Problems veterans face trying to get treatment for PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental condition caused when a person is exposed to a deeply disturbing situation. Unfortunately, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, numerous military servicemembers are suffering from PTSD. According to the American Public Health Association, “Nearly 50 percent of combat veterans from Iraq report that they have suffered from PTSD” and “Studies indicate that 56 percent to 87 percent of service members experiencing psychological distress after deployment report that they did not receive psychological help”.
Sadly, there are many barriers preventing military personnel from getting treatment for PTSD, including:
- Having long distances to travel to a facility — Geographic accessibility makes it difficult for veterans and service members to seek medical help in a timely manner.
- Long wait times — Active duty service members and veterans alike complain of excessive wait times to see a PTSD specialist.
- Workforce shortages — There are simply not enough PTSD specialists in the country to treat the demand of troops coming home. An example cited by the NCBI explains that there are 8.2 psychiatrists per 100,000 people in the mid-Atlantic area.
- Mental health disorder stigma — In military culture, seeking treatment is sometimes frowned upon. Soldiers are expected to “tough it out” and may not seek help for fear of being viewed as weak.
Other barriers include not knowing where to go for treatment and not having enough leave time.
TBI exams not always performed by specialists
A brain specialist should be the person who ultimately determines if a solider has a TBI and what the treatment plan should be. Unfortunately, many veterans are being examined by nurse practitioners and other under-qualified personnel. According to VA policy, “the TBI screening tool may be administered by physicians or other clinical providers, such as nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and nurses, who have the clinical background to review results with the veteran.” As a result, individuals may be misdiagnosed and proper treatment may be denied.
For example, Butch Hamersmam, a veteran, was denied treatment for TBI after being examined by a nurse practitioner. Later on, when Hamersmam developed a brain tumor, a VA neurologist determined that it was caused by his earlier TBI that was misdiagnosed.
Contact aggressive injury lawyers in Santa Barbara
The Bertling Law Group is dedicated to representing veterans and active service members who suffer from PTSD, TBIs and other injuries. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with a skilled attorney today, contact us at 844-295-7558.