Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
click here for new regulations on PTSD claims, Dept Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet July 12, 2010
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that surfaces after experiencing a very dangerous, frightening, and uncontrollable event such as military combat exposure, a violent crime, a life-threatening accident such as a car wreck, criminal or sexual assault, a terrorist attack, or a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, hurricane, or earthquake. Not everybody who is exposed to a stressor requires treatment. However, if left untreated, PTSD can affect individuals to the point that, over time, even their daily functions become seriously impaired. This places them at higher risk for self-medication and abuse with alcohol and drugs, domestic violence, under employment and unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, and suicide. Research studies have also demonstrated that PTSD is linked with co-occurring physical illnesses such as physician-diagnosed chronic pain, hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep disorders, and cardiovascular diseases.
Symptoms of PTSD can be terrifying and usually start soon after the traumatic event, although they may not surface for weeks, months, or even years. PTSD symptoms fall into four categories: 1) avoidance (amnesia, dissociation, numbing, hyper-vigilance, controlling behavior, and isolation; 2) reliving or re-experiencing (flashbacks, sleep disorders, overwhelming feelings, and overreacting); 3) victimization (distrust of others, abandonment, helplessness, and fear of change); and 4) shame (feeling guilty, feeling as if you're mentally ill, and feeling unworthy). Untreated PTSD can also have a negative effect on one's family and loved ones; and sometimes those suffering from PTSD also develop symptoms of depression that are sever enough as to require additional treatment.
In acute PTSD symptoms generally last one to three months after the traumatic event. In chronic PTSD, symptoms generally last three months or longer, and with delayed PTSD, at least six months elapse between the traumatic event and the onset of symptoms. If your symptoms are bad enough, go directly to a hospital.
Fortunately there are several evidence-based treatments for PTSD. These include cognitive therapy and exposure therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and some medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Always discuss with your physician which medication may be right for you.
New VA rules will ease access to PTSD benefits, Arizona Daily Star, July 8, 2010
Agent Orange is a highly toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, between 1961 and 1971 in all 4 military zones, to deprive protective forest cover used by the northern Vietnamese forces enemy and to clear the perimeters of military installations. Although colorless, it is known as "Agent Orange" because of an orange-colored band painted on the drums used to store and transport it. Agent Orange is a 50:50 mixture of the herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Over 72 million liters (19 million gallons) of herbicide was applied over southern Vietnam, and accounted for approximately 60% of all herbicide used during the war. Dioxin (specifically 2,3,7,8 Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) was a contaminant in the Agent Orange mixture.
After years of advocacy led by Vietnam Veterans of America, Congress enacted into law the Agent Orange Act of 1991. This legislation empowered the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare certain maladies as "presumptive" to exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin and enable Vietnam veterans, as well as some veterans who served along the demilitarized zone in Korea during the late 1960s, to receive treatment and compensation for these health conditions. Service-connected benefits, however, may also be granted for other maladies not yet recognized as presumptive service-connected health conditions.
Presumptive Service Connected Illnesses Recognized by the VA As Connected to Agent Orange Herbicide Exposure
- Acute Peripheral Neuropathy: a temporary dysfunction of the nervous system characterized by involuntary tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Adult Onset Type II Diabetes Mellitus (and subsequent complications caused by): non-insulin dependent and characterized by high blood sugars
- AL Amyloidosis: a rare group of diseases that results from the abnormal deposition of a particular protein called amyloid in various tissues of the body
- *Chloracne: an acne-like eruption on the skin due to prolonged exposure to certain chlorinated compounds
- Hodgkins Disease: a tumor found in the lymph nodes characterized by increasing enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen and accompanied by progressive anemia
- Ischemic (or ischaemic) heart disease: a heart condition resulting when the arteries that bring blood and oxygen to the heart are blocked. There may be a buildup of cholesterol and other substances, called plaque, in the arteries that bring oxygen to heart muscle tissue. Over time, the heart muscle does not work well, and it is more difficult for the heart to fill and release blood. It is the most common cause of congestive heart failure.
- Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma: a rare type of cancer which causes malignant tumors of the lymph nodes, distinguished from Hodgkins disease by the absence of giant Reed-Sternberg cells
- Parkinson's disease: a neurological disease which limits a person's ability to control some of his or her muscles. It's caused by a slow, gradual loss of certain cells in the brain which manufacture a chemical called dopamine. This chemical is needed for muscles to work normally. In many people, Parkinson's disease causes movement and muscle problems and may be accompanied by slight, uncontrolled shaking of the arms and legs.
- *Peripheral Neuropathy: a dysfunction of the nervous system involving either the somatic nerves or the autonomic nervous system (see Acute Peripheral Neuropathy); can cause sensory loss, atrophy, and muscle weakness
- *Porphyria Cutanea Tarda: characterized by skin lesions on exposed portions of the body and pigment changes in the skin; liver disease occurs in some patients
- Spina bifida in Children Conceived After Veteran First Arrived in Vietnam: characterized by a defective closure of the spinal chord in which the chord may be exposed and/or protrude.
- Cancer of the Bronchus: a malignant tumor found in the bronchus, an extension of the windpipe (trachea) connecting to the lungs
- Cancer of the Larynx: a malignant tumor found in the voice box (larynx)
- Cancer of the Lung: a malignant tumor found in the lungs
- Cancer of the Prostate: a malignant tumor found in the prostate gland
- Cancer of the Trachea: a malignant tumor found in the windpipe (trachea)
- Soft Tissue Sarcoma (a group of soft tissue cancers characterized by malignant tumors which develop on muscles and connective tissue, or in body fat)
- Adult Fibrosarcoma: a tumor formed from connective tissue
- Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma: a sarcoma found in the aveoli, the sac-like ducts in the lungs
- Angiosarcoma: a tumor occurring in the breast and skin and believed to originate from blood vessels
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: characterized by progressive increase in production of white blood cells
- Clear Cell Sarcoma of Aponeuroses: a sarcoma found at the end of a muscle where it becomes a tendon
- Clear Cell Sarcoma of Tendons: a sarcoma found in the tendons
- Congenital Fibrosarcoma: a malignant tumor formed before birth and derived from connective tissue
- Dermatofibrosarcoma: a relatively slow-growing skin tumor consisting of one or more firm nodules
- Ectomesenchymoma: a tumor found in certain parts of the skin
- Epithelioid Malignant Leiomysarcoma: a malignant tumor derived from smooth muscle found in the layer covering the muscle
- Epithelioid Malignant Schwannoma: a moderately firm, benign tumor found in the layers of membrane covering surfaces inside the body cavity caused by too many Schwann cells growing in a disorderly manner
- Epithelioid Sarcoma: a tumor found in the membrane covering surfaces inside the body cavity
- Extraskeletal Ewing's Sarcoma: a tumor outside the bone consisting of small rounded cells
- Hairy cell leukemia: a slow-growing form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) called such because the leukemic lymphocytes have short, thin projections on their surfaces that look like hairs when examined under a microscope. Hairy cell leukemia is caused by an abnormal change in a B lymphocyte (a type of white cell).
- Hemangiosarcoma: a tumor derived from blood vessels and lining blood-filled spaces
- Infantile Fibrosarcoma: a tumor formed as a child derived from fibrous connective tissue
- Leiomyosarcoma: a tumor derived from smooth muscle
- Liposarcoma: a tumor that may occur anywhere in the body consisting of irregular fat cells
- Lymphangiosarcoma: a tumor derived from blood vessels
- Lymphoma: a malignant tumor of the lymph nodes
- Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma: a type of tumor found in connective tissue
- Mailgnant Giant Cell Tumor of the Tendon Sheath: a tumor found in the membrane of tendons
- Malignant Glandular Schwannoma: a moderately firm malignant tumor in the glands caused by too many Schwann cells growing in a disorderly patter
- Malignant Glomus Tumor: a tumor found in the tiny nodes (glomuli) in the the nailbed, pads of fingers, toes, ears, hands, feet, and other body organs
- Malignant Hemangiopericytoma: a tumor characterized by rapidly growing fat cells formed in blood vessels and lining blood-filled spaces
- Malignant Mesenchymoma: a malignant tumor in the embryonic tissue or fluid
- Malignant Shwannoma with Rhabdomyoblastic: a moderately firm malignant tumor found in skeletal muscles resulting from the rapid disorderly growth pattern of Schwann cells
- Multiple Myeloma: cancer of specific bone marrow cells characterized by bone marrow tumors in the skeletal system
- Proliferating Angiedotheliomatosis: increasing numbers of benign tumors in blood cells, often causing skin discoloration
- Rhabdomysarcoma: tumors derived from skeletal muscle
- Sarcoma: tumors arising in connective tissue, bone, cartilage, or muscle
- Synovial Sarcoma: a tumor found in the lubricating fluid surrounding joints and tendons
- Spina Bifida: children born to either male or female Vietnam veterans; Spina Bifida Occulta not included
Children born to female Vietnam veterans
- Achondroplasia: produces a type of dwarfism
- Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
- Congenital Heart Disease
- Congenital Talipses Equinovarus: clubfoot
- Esophageal and Intestinal Atresia
- Hallerman-Streiff Syndrome: premature small growth and other related defects
- Hip Dysplasia
- Hirschprung’s Disease: congenital megacolon
- Hydrocephalus Due to Aqueductal Stenosis,
- Hypospadias: abnormal opening in the urethra
- Imperforate Anus
- Neural Tube Defects
- Poland Syndrome: webbed fingers
- Pyloric Stenosis
- Syndactyly: fused digits
- Tracheoesophageal Fistula
- Undescended Testicles
- Williams syndrome: thyroid defects
Additional information about birth defects and Agent Orange exposure can be found online at the Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc. site, that is maintained by the National Birth Defect Registry.
To file a VA claim based on exposure to Agent Orange, contact a service officer at the following link: http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.html
Characterizing Exposure of Veterans to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides Used in Vietnam: Interim Findings and Recommendations Committee on the Assessment of Wartime Exposure to Herbicides in Vietnam. Click here to access the PDF file.
The extent and patterns of usage of Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam. Click here to access the PDF file. Source: Jeanne Mager Stellman, PhD, Professor and Deputy Head, Dept Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 600 W 168th Street, 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10032.
Ben Grayson is the Veteran Liaison for the Mesothelioma Center, an organization devoted to assisting veterans through their application processes for VA benefits, and helping them obtain the maximum benefits for which they are entitled. The information noted below, and provided by Mr. Grayson, is an effort by the Mesothelioma Center to educate our nations's veterans.
Countless veterans are currently suffering from life-threatening illnesses that are a result of exposure to asbestos, a material that was commonly used in hundreds of military applications, products, and ships primarily because of its resistance to fire. Unfortunately, asbestos-related diseases are not always recognized by the VA, which is why I'm reaching out to veterans -- in hopes of helping them win the rights to their benefits.
The Mesothelioma Center provides a complete list of occupations, ships, and shipyards that could have put our Veterans at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases. We have a veterans-specific section on our website in order to help inform them about the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Countless Veterans were exposed to asbestos during their military service. Visit the Mesothelioma Center today to learn more about mesothelioma statistics and all the different treatment options. Our Veterans Assistance Department can help you with your asbestos-related VA Claims or assist you with questions about potential benefits.
To find out more about Mesothelioma, and how it relates to Veterans , please visit the following site for the most up to date information for Veterans. http://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/
Rachel Gilner is the Veteran Liaison for assisting veterans with Pleural Mesothelioma, which is the majority of all mesothelioma cases, that develops in the mesothelium, or the thin layer of tissue that lines and protects the chest cavity. According to statistics, veterans account for a sizeable percent of all cases of mesothelioma, due to asbestos-contaminated products that were used by the military.
The Mesothelioma Lawyer Center is an organization that was created to help the millions of people who were exposed to asbestos, a cancer causing mineral. Many of these men and women were exposed at work or during their military service and are now suffering from asbestos related diseases, such as Mesothelioma cancer, a devastating and nearly always fatal disease. Their website is a comprehensive asbestos disease informational resource. Additionally, they offer mesothelioma victims and their families the following items, free of charge: a comprehensive Mesothelioma & Asbestos Guide, three must-read Mesothelioma books written by medical professionals and mesothelioma survivors, veteran benefits assistance, and more.
Asbestos exposure, the only known cause of mesothelioma, was unavoidable for millions of veterans, whether they were deployed overseas or working in the U.S. Up to 30 percent of all diagnosed Mesothelioma cases are veterans. Our mission is to help educate all veterans on the dangers of asbestos exposure and to also help provide service members suffering from mesothelioma the most up-to-date and accurate information on treatments, clinical trials and other patient resources.
Mesothelioma Guide has a Community Outreach group is program whose mission is to spread awareness to veterans and their families. Their website offers free veteran specific resources and support for patients and families. One-third of all Mesothelioma patients are veterans, and approximately 6,000 afflicted with this asbestos-caused cancer died between 1999 and 2005 alone. The reason this cancer targets so many veterans is because of the prevalence of asbestos use in the military in the past.
Alex Kerwin is the communications director for BrainandSpinalCord.org. The site was created and sponsored by the Swope Roante law firm for brain and spinal cord injury survivors. Our goal in creating BrainandSpinalCord.org is for the website to be the most reliable, timely and complete resource on the internet for brain injury and spinal cord injury survivors. Our hope is that this site will become relied upon as a trustworthy resource for the community and for those who are searching for information.
The following PDF files links to information for Vietnam Vets who suffered brain or spinal cord injuries
The following PDF file is a VVA (Vietnam Veterans of America) self help guide for Service-Connected Disability Compensation For Exposure To Agent Orange for Veterans and Their Families. The purpose of this guide is to present information and describe the process in a user-friendly fashion for a Vietnam veteran or surviving family member to file a claim for service-connected disability compensation or death benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for illnesses/diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange and other related herbicides during military service.