SEAL TEAM – APRIL 24, 2019

On Television Last Night

Last night, April 24, 2019 I was watching The Seal Team on TV and rather than being entertained, I was very aggravated. It presented a former Seal team member as having PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and other ailments. The member went with a friend to the local VA to get help. When they went in, they were given a patient number and waited with all the veterans until their number was called.  When the number was called, they both went in to talk to someone who seemed to be a nurse practitioner, who appeared to feel bad while listening to him talk about his PTSD and physical injuries. The Seal veteran told her that all the information that he was currently relating was in the paperwork that he had to complete prior to being seen. The nurse practitioner told him that she was too busy to read the information sheet, and he should just tell her what was happening. She listened and then prescribed him some additional medication to add to his large laundry list of medications. After that was completed, they now were waiting to see the physician. After a number of hours of waiting, they were told that the physician was backed up and that they should make another appointment for eight weeks later. The Seal wanted to confirm a new diagnosis and a new problem that was plaguing him, and needed to see the physician that day. It appeared that the receptionist really couldn’t care how the patient was feeling; he could take the date he was giving him or leave. Either way was fine with him. While the patient, the Seal, was getting worked up and very upset, his buddy quickly explained that the patient developed thrush and a rash around his private area, so the receptionist begrudgingly allowed him the immediate appointment. While this is just a television show, in this case it does mimic the real world, and has thus far been very accurate. Our service veterans, those who have given up families and productive family lives in order to protect us, are treated very poorly by the Veterans Hospitals. This is a fact.

Our TV seal patient finally gets to see the physician and explains that he just discovered that he may have a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and he wants an MRI to confirm that, and then rattles off some medical methodologies used to treat it. The physician explains that while he understands the problem, he can’t do anything about it. The reason for is, unless you report the TBI while you are active duty, it doesn’t count. The Seal correctly explains to the physician that TBI’s are only found years after the incident or incidents have taken place. In this case, it was years later, and it was received in performing seal duty throughout the world. The physician appeared compassionate, but had to follow the current law. So, NO he couldn’t order an MRI, or a CAT scan of his head, and since it wasn’t reported when active, there is nothing he can do about it.

The seal was very upset, and went to get his medications. It appears that he was waiting at the pharmacy a while and then decided to just leave. His friend stayed back to get his medications and the Seal left the building. After his friend finally was able to get his medication (some time that night) he went to meet his friend in the car. That is when he found his friend had committed suicide by gunshot.

Why am I writing about this? Because it is true and it happens. Our systems are old and antiquated. Even though we know that TBI’s are caused by repeated hits to the head, be it in football, boxing, bombs, explosions and other ways, we still do nothing. Even though we are aware via academics and statistics that people afflicted only become aware of it years later, our VA still does little to protect our veterans.

So, what do our veterans do when they can’t get any assistance, when they come home as heroes, but no one cares about their medical exploits thereafter? Yes, you are right if you say they do exactly what this Seal veteran did, commit suicide. What is the point of serving your country, keeping it safe from invaders, giving of your time, your being, your limbs and your future, if your country doesn’t take care of you when you come home? When it doesn’t take care of you when you are ill, or disabled, or need help?

While the show had a disclaimer at the end, indicating that this was not based upon anyone’s specific life, and any seemingly portrayal to the truth is just happenstance, this was the truth. These incidents are happening daily, and we, who should be helping these fallen soldiers, only frustrate them more with delays, long lines, inappropriate help, and inconsistencies with how we do things or don’t do anything at all.

I am not a veteran, however I see veterans in my practice and all have consistently said the same thing. Maybe it is time we really did something productive to assist them in their time of need.

 

Dr. Howard Chusid, Ed.D, LMHC, NCC is a Mental Health Counselor with offices in Hallandale and Coral Springs, Florida, focuses his practice on PTSD and ADD/HD.

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