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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Vets Disability Benefits Comm: Contact Them Now on PTSD

The President and Congress have created the independent Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission, meeting next week Thursday, July 13, 2006 to discuss issues revolving around post-traumatic stress disorder. Its work will focus on reviewing current PTSD studies; taking a look at how the military arrives at its PTSD diagnoses; examining how their treatment and outreach programs are working; and considering how PTSD benefits claims are verified. These are all hot-button issues, as cost-cutting desires historically translate to under-cutting the services our veterans deserve to have access to.

The public is welcome to attend this meeting in Washington, DC [details], and public comments are accepted. Prior to the meeting, please consider writing (instructions here - pdf) or phoning (1-800-827-1000) them to add your views.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Navy Times:

The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission will focus on post-traumatic stress syndrome during its July 13 meeting. Commissioners will look at studies being conducted by the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute of Medicine on how the military diagnoses and assesses new PTSD cases and also at post-deployment health programs and how eligibility for benefits is verified. ...

Dramatic increases in the number of PTSD cases reported among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have been a major concern for Congress and the Bush administration, with disagreements surfacing about whether enough steps are being taken to locate and provide treatment for PTSD sufferers. Post-deployment health access has been a major concern for National Guard and reserve members who often live too far from military or veterans’ hospitals to easily receive what help is available.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. James T. Scott is chairman of the commission, which has stirred controversy by creating at least the perception that wants to cut benefits.

Commissioners have discussed cutting disability payments if a cross-check of records shows a veteran is receiving other federal benefits for the same disability. They have also talked about their interest in better job training and employment programs so disabled veterans can find work more easily. Commissioners have denied considering cuts in benefits, saying they are just trying to get a better idea of the overall financial situation of disabled veterans.

How adequately VA benefits replace lost income is one of the core decisions facing the commission under its congressional mandate. Administration officials expect the panel to find that many disability ratings need to be updated because many service-connected disabilities no longer pose serious problems in holding down a well-paying civilian job.

The Institute of Medicine has several contracts with the commission to look at specific benefits questions. On PTSD, the institute is looking, specifically, at the accuracy of screening techniques and how to compensate and treat veterans afflicted with PTSD.

From the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission website:
The next public meeting of the Commission is scheduled for Thursday, July 13, and Friday, July 14, in the Oasis Room of the Almas Temple located at 1315 K Street NW in Washington, DC. The meeting will begin each day at 8:30 a.m. On July 13, the meeting will end at 4:15 p.m., and on July 14, the meeting will end at 3:00 p.m.

The meeting is open to the public.

The (tentative draft) agenda for the two-day session will include updates on the progress of the research and studies being conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA). IOM will present a report of its Committee review of PTSD diagnosis and assessment. There will be additional presentations related to PTSD, post-deployment health and eligibility verification. The agenda will also include an expanded discussion on quality of life and follow-up reporting on additional programs serving seriously injured and disabled veterans and service members.

2006 - Tentative Dates and DC-Meeting Locations

  • August 17-18 - Embassy Suites, 900 10th Street NW
  • September 14-15 - Beacon Hotel, 1615 Rhode Island Avenue NW
  • October 19-20 - Beacon Hotel, 1615 Rhode Island Avenue NW
  • November 16-17 - Embassy Suites, 900 10th Street NW
If you can't attend, another option is to submit your comments to the commission (here's a helpful template sheet to help you compose your letter - pdf).

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