D.C. ) – “The Institute of Medicine/National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences report on PTSD Compensation and Military Service, released today, validates what Vietnam Veterans of America has been alleging for some years. The VA needs to do a much better job of accurately diagnosing and properly adjudicating disability compensation claims for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),.” said VVA National President John Rowan.
“This report reiterates the need for much better training and standardized certification of adjudicators at VA, better training for VA’s examining clinicians, and adequate time and resources for examining clinicians to do their job properly at VA. Further, it notes that the onset of legitimate PTSD or a major relapse can occur at any time, sometimes decades after the experience, sparked by a variety of causes,” Rowan continued.
The report underscores the need for Congress to take urgent steps to ensure the VA implement the guidelines proffered by the Institute of Medicine regarding improved training, certification of raters, standardization of work products, adjusting workloads of clinicians to allow them enough time to do their job properly the first time, and accountability for quality of work by both clinicians and by the lay persons at every step in the process.
VA has already developed many of the tools necessary to improve the process to which the report refers, such as the PTSD curriculum located at www.va.gov/vhi or the already existing VA- developed (in 2002) guide named the “Best Practice Manual for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Compensation & Pension Examinations” located at http://www.vva.org/Committees/PTSD/PTSDManualFinal6.pdf, which could serve as a basis for operating and training until the VA can test other standard operating procedures and examining instruments specifically for PTSD. Rowan noted, “VA has the tools, now they need to just pick them up and use them correctly and with discipline.”
VVA thanks the National Academies and the participating scientists for their careful work and for producing a report that the VA can start to implement before Memorial Day 2007. VVA calls on Secretary of Veterans Affairs Nicholson to embrace this report in the positive spirit in which it has been prepared and move to implement the highly practical recommendations without delay.
“Our young men and women returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as veterans of previous generations who suffer from neuro-psychiatric wounds deserve no less than immediate implementation of the results of this fine work, ”said John Rowan.