Sunday, November 15, 2009

God and Country

From a piece about the failure to treat veterans for combat-related PTSD and other psychological disorders:
[Paul] Sullivan was working as an analyst at the Veterans Benefits Administration in Washington in early 2005 when he was called to a meeting with a top political appointee at the VA, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Michael McLendon. McLendon, an intensely focused man in a neatly pressed suit, kept a Bible on his desk at the office. Sullivan explained to McLendon and the other attendees that the rise in benefits claims the VA was noticing was caused partly by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were suffering from PTSD. “That’s too many,” McLendon said, then hit his hand on the table. “They are too young” to be filing claims, and they are doing it “too soon.” He hit the table again. The claims, he said, are “costing us too much money,” and if the veterans “believed in God and country . . . they would not come home with PTSD.” At that point, he slammed his palm against the table a final time, making a loud smack. Everyone in the room fell silent.

Mr. McLendon now denies saying those words, but continues to assert that PTSD is "a made-up term" which "is not a diagnosis based on empirical evidence, but rather . . . it is an artificial construct erected by a vote of selected psychiatrists."

It's amazing to see how the profoundly anti-scientific bent of the Bush administration destroyed so many policies, and in this case, betrayed the trust of our nation's soldiers. I continue to be utterly awe-struck by the audacity of it.

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