Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'veterans'.
Found 2 results
VA proposes changing disability ratings for mental health, other conditions | Stars and Stripes
I thought it would be interesting to hear others' thoughts on this topic. The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have brought issues of military service and mental illness to the fore, with high rates of post-enlistment diagnosis. About five years into the Iraq War, I looked into the possibility of serving (in the U.S. Navy). I was asked what medications I was taking (no questions about diagnoses, though I was BPII). I said I was on Paxil , and was told that I would need to be off that medication a full year before I could enlist. Later, after my medication regime had changed, this time to Lithium, I thought I would check again, less because I thought Lithium would be more acceptable and more because I wondered if perhaps the policy had changed--for want of troops and because that policy seemed to incentivize untreated mental illness in a war zone. The policy had not changed. Some thoughts for discussion with anyone who cares to discuss them: I believe that the military has a responsibility to protect its soldiers and noncombatants. I believe the consensus of the mental health profession is that serious mental illnesses are not temporary diagnoses, which would seem to make electing to forgo life-saving medication medically unsound. The U.S. military might be said to economically incentivize this course of action. Furthermore, although many mentally ill soldiers are not a risk to others, some are. Knowingly putting persons less-well-equipped to handle stress into situations of high-stress seems irresponsible. And then we have situations where soldiers are known to be mentally ill, don't receive proper treatment, and go on to commit crimes. They are punished as though the factor of mental illness has no mitigating power, and as though the U.S. military has no culpability in employing mentally ill soldiers and in not doing enough to remove them from combat situations. And then there's my friend, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was awarded the purple heart, and has had great difficulty in getting mental health assistance through the VA. These are all instances in which the military might be said to be failing our (mentally ill) people. (I can hunt down specific sources for you if you'd like them.) Are their still ways for our people to serve? I'm good at languages, for example, and at medical things. And aside from my mental illness, I'm a rather athletic person. I'm a good team player--able to give orders and to take them, able to get results. My medication makes me better able to do these things. Why would I want to leave them at home? We best know our own diseases. We don't want to hurt others. We best know how to protect others from our own diseases. I don't like guns. They're loud and they hurt my shoulder. Maybe if these were saber days we'd be having a different conversation. I don't understand why, when I can go out my door right now and run five miles, do "boy" push-ups, have the respect of men when I speak, and have a decent stack of letters and "W's" and "sportsmanship" awards from high school, that when I say "put me in, coach," I can't even get an audition for a theater from which it seems like everyone is walking away. What do you think? Should our people be given an audition? Do our illnesses necessarily make us a military liability? And how is targeting mental illness medications in war zones not a terrible, terrible idea?