This website is dedicated to the raising
of awareness of the Plight of our
Veterans trying to get help through the
VA system! And to educate the
American Public to the existence of the
Vet Center program with the intent of
procuring additional funding to
Save Our Veterans!!!
Save Our
Vet's

Government Accountability Office
Report Abstract
VA Health Care: VA Should Expedite the Implementation of Recommendations
Needed to Improve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Services, GAO-05-287,
February 14, 2005 PDF
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is caused by an extremely stressful
event, can develop after military combat and exposure to the threat of death or
serious injury. Mental health experts estimate that the intensity of warfare in Iraq and
Afghanistan could cause more than 15 percent of servicemembers returning from
these conflicts to develop PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating and include
insomnia; intense anxiety; and difficulty coping with work, social, and family
relationships. Left untreated, PTSD can lead to substance abuse, severe depression,
and suicide. Symptoms may appear within months of the traumatic event or be delayed
for years. While there is no cure for PTSD, experts believe early identification and
treatment of PTSD symptoms may lessen their severity and improve the overall quality
of life for individuals with this disorder
. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a world
leader in PTSD treatment and offers PTSD services to eligible veterans. To inform new veterans
about the health care services it offers, VA has increased outreach efforts to servicemembers
returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Outreach efforts, coupled with expanded
access to VA health care for these new veterans, are likely to result in greater numbers of
veterans with PTSD seeking VA services.
Congress highlighted the importance of VA PTSD
services more than 20 years ago when it required the establishment of the Special
Committee on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Special Committee) within VA, primarily
to aid Vietnam-era veterans diagnosed with PTSD. A key charge of the Special
Committee is to make recommendations for improving VA's PTSD services. The Special
Committee issued its first report on ways to improve VA's PTSD services in 1985 and its
latest report, which includes 37 recommendations for VA, in 2004
. The Special Committee
reports also include evaluations of whether VA has met or not met the recommendations made
by the Special Committee in prior reports.  Congress asked us to determine whether VA has
addressed the Special Committee's recommendations to improve VA's PTSD services. We
focused our review on 24 recommendations related to clinical care and education made by VA's
Special Committee on PTSD in its 2004 report to determine (1) the extent to which VA has met
each recommendation related to clinical care and education and (2) VA's time frame for
implementing each of these recommendations.
GAO determined that VA has not fully met any of 24 Special Committee
recommendations in our review related to clinical care and education.
Specifically, we
determined that VA has not met 10 recommendations and has partially met 14 of these 24
recommendations. For example, the Special Committee recommended that VA develop,
disseminate, and implement a best practice treatment guideline for PTSD. The Special
Committee designated the recommendation as met because VA had developed and
disseminated the guideline. However, because we found that VA does not have documentation to
show that the treatment part of the guideline is being implemented at its medical facilities and
community-based clinics, we designated the recommendation as partially met.
We also
determined that VA does not plan to fully implement 23 of 24 recommendations until
fiscal year 2007 or later. Ten of these are long-standing recommendations that were
first made in the Special Committee report issued in 1985. VA's delay in fully
implementing the recommendations raises questions about VA's capacity to identify
and treat veterans returning from military combat who may be at risk for developing
PTSD, while maintaining PTSD services for veterans currently receiving them. This is
particularly important because we reported in September 2004 that officials at six of
seven VA medical facilities stated that they may not be able to meet an increase in
demand for PTSD services. In addition, the Special Committee reported in its 2004
report that VA does not have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of new combat
veterans while still providing for veterans of past wars. If servicemembers returning
from military combat do not have access to PTSD services, many mental health experts
believe that the chance may be missed, through early identification and treatment of
PTSD, to lessen the severity of the symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for
these combat veterans with PTSD. Moreover, VA has identified geographic areas of
the country where large numbers of servicemembers are returning from the current
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. VA could consider focusing first on ensuring service
availability at facilities in areas that are likely to experience the most demand for PTSD
services.
Link to
the  
GAO's
website!
Key In Report
# GAO-05-287
If you would
like the full
report, and
are having
trouble
accessing it,
please e-mail
me here. I
will send it
back to you
in Adobe
format, the
format I was
able
download it
in!
to send an e-mail to your Senator,
your Representative The
President ,and to sign the petition!

Please include your name, hometown, state
and zip
and  we will do the rest!
Thank you!
Link to
the  
GAO's
website!
Key In Report
# D04069

Mental health experts predict that because of the intensity of warfare in
Iraq and Afghanistan 15 percent or more of the servicemembers returning
from these conflicts will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).1, 2
This rate approximates the PTSD rate for Vietnam War veterans.

VA lacks the information it needs to determine whether it can meet an
increase in demand for VA PTSD services. VA does not have a count of the
total number of veterans currently receiving PTSD services at its medical
facilities and Vet Centers—community-based VA facilities that offer trauma
and readjustment counseling. Without this information, VA cannot estimate
the number of new veterans its medical facilities and Vet Centers could treat
for PTSD.

VA has two reports on the number of veterans it currently treats,
with each report counting different subsets of veterans receiving PTSD
services. Veterans who are receiving VA PTSD services may be counted in
both reports, one of the reports, or not included in either report.

GAO recommends that VA determine the total number of veterans receiving VA
PTSD
services and provide facility specific information to VA medical facilities and Vet
Centers. VA concurred with GAO’s recommendation and plans to aggregate data
on the total number of veterans it treats for PTSD at VA facilities. DOD concurred
with GAO’s findings and conclusions.

Federal Insider
Friday, June 24, 2005
$1 Billion Short
Link to full story!

to send an e-mail to
your Senator, your
Representative The
President ,and to sign
the petition!

Please include your name,
hometown, state and zip
and  we will do the rest!
Thank you!