To the editor: There are reasons why claims to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for post-traumatic stress disorder are high: ("As disability awards grow, so do concerns with veracity of PTSD claims," Aug. 3)
- In previous wars, PTSD was not acknowledged. My father went through horrors in World War II. Based on things my mother observed, he clearly suffered from PTSD. He spent the rest of his life using alcohol for numbness.
- The nature of experiences and injuries has changed. Never before have so many been sent back into combat time after time. We never had wars that lasted so long and relied on a volunteer force. Fighters come back with injuries, or witness them in others, that would have meant death previously.
- There is evidence to suggest that those who volunteer in the armed forces these days are more inclined to have had difficult upbringings, so that the nature of the enlistees has changed.
I say err on the side of overtreatment and care for those who served while we at home paid little attention to their sacrifices.
Patricia LoVerme, South Pasadena
Although I am not well versed in the inner workings of the VA, I wonder if making treatment and therapy mandatory for veterans who receive benefits due to PTSD would help with decreasing the cases of exaggeration and lying during disability examinations.
Mandatory therapy and treatment would be disincentives for veterans who are merely looking to receive monetary benefits. It would also allow therapists to interact more with veterans, giving them more information on how to deal with PTSD and allowing them to further observe other patients to see whether they are indeed telling the truth about the extent of their PTSD.
Rebecca Michelson, Los Angeles
To the editor: I find your front-page headline about veteran dishonesty with regard to PTSD both unfair and misplaced.
I don't doubt the fact that some vets are untruthful and trying to scam the system, but your inflammatory display will only serve to provide red meat for those zealots in Congress who need very little encouragement to undermine any support for those vets who really deserve treatment for what they have gone through.
It is certainly your job to provide legitimate information to the public, but it is not in the interest of our true wounded warriors to sacrifice or dilute that support by trumpeting the dishonesty of some. It is not a story that justifies the front page.