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Before the Subcommittee on PTSD Gulf War & Stress: Health Project Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science Regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Treatment February 13, 2006

VVA emphasized the importance of providing the appropriate PTSD clinical diagnoses and services to assist veterans with PTSD. This service requires:

An understanding of the stresses and stressors to which they have been exposed

The willingness to commit financial and personnel resources necessary to help these veterans cope and eventually recover.

If early intervention and treatment of PTSD go unmet those individuals left untreated run the risk of becoming debilitated in their daily lives.

When the Veterans Health Administration cut back on staff in 1996, there was a shift in mentality, placing more emphasis onto productivity and not quality. Patients as a result were misdiagnosed and therefore not treated properly.

In 2006 a “Best Practice Manual for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Compensation and Pension Examinations” was created. It contained:

scientifically validated assessment instruments for the diagnostic evaluation of PTSD

guidelines for the determination of a service-connected disability for PTSD

However, the VA has not issued directives to clinicians and to adjudicators to use the Manual and copies of it are not even available to staff throughout the VA.

VVA offers the following advice to the mental health clinical diagnostic practices offered:

The VA Central Office must formally direct the distribution and use of its “Best Practice Manual for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Compensation and Pension Examinations” throughout the VA healthcare system.

The VA must provide the resources for appropriate, in-depth training for the VA mental health clinicians, staff, and adjudicators to properly and effectively implement the Manual’s protocol and guidelines.

The VA mental health leadership in cooperation with the Veterans Benefits Administration must change the way PTSD and other disability claims are adjudicated.

The VA should also develop and launch an internal mental health anti-stigma campaign that focuses on PTSD.

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