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Vets, Report: VA Care Hard to Get for Mental Health


By Heath Druzin
Stars and Stripes
Published: October 29, 2015

WASHINGTON — Navy veteran Dean Maiers broke down in tears Wednesday afternoon as he told a panel of senators about his post-deployment struggles, which included a suicide attempt.
Speaking to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran said the …

Email Update: October News, Stories, and More


Dear Friends,
Sound Off has had an excellent summer! We were featured on the front page of the Huffington Post on Memorial Day and our support network expands every day. We continue to receive critical praise for our efforts: we recently took second place in DC-incubator Eastern Foundry’s “Foundry Cup”. This three day conference brought …

Local veteran’s PTSD struggle leads to suicide


MONTELLO (WAOW) – For a man at war, Chris Surdyk of Weston appeared carefree, bringing smiles wherever he went as he served in Iraq. But when Surdyk was discharged from the army, he brought home both physical and mental wounds.
“He came back so different. This wasn’t the same boy.” Chris Surdyk’s Mother Jeanna Powell …

Health-Care Chaplains Use Online Chats to Extend Reach


Sept. 27, 2015 10:29 p.m. ET

Following the telemedicine trend, online services pop up to serve growing spiritual needs
The communication lines are modern, but the questions are often as old as mankind itself: Why am I in pain? Am I being punished? What happens after this life?
Mirroring the move to …

Senators: Use Private Sector Tech Firms to Fix VA


A bipartisan group of senators believes the latest scandal to rock the Department of Veterans Affairs is evidence that the VA needs technological assistance from the private sector – and believes IT companies will offer the necessary help for free.
The lawmakers, including Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, ranking member of the Senate Veterans …

Desert Storm veteran says she is fed up with “Veterans Choice Program”


The “Veterans Choice Program” comes out of firestorm created when veterans had long wait lists and horrible customer service nationwide.
But with a private contractor running the program for the V-A there are kinks that are raising many people’s blood pressure.
Loretta Wickie is not asking for much. The retired member of the ND Air …

Report: VA Falls Short on Mental-Health Care Despite Hiring Push


The Department of Veterans Affairs lacks enough full-time psychiatrists to meet demand for services and those on staff aren’t being used efficiently, despite a multiyear, multibillion-dollar effort, says a report from the department’s internal watchdog.
The VA hasn’t been “fully effective” in hiring psychiatrists or in using those it has, the VA’s Office of Inspector …

Daniel Wolfe Is Killing Himself Live on Facebook


IT’S LATE AFTERNOON, MAY 5, 2014, and Daniel Wolfe walks up a shady street through bright sunshine, the heat still rising as the light falls. There’s hardly anyone around to see him, but still he’s a sight: a big lumbering shadow, six feet four, two forty, with a bad knee and a black …

Sound Off Update: Vote Sound Off SXSW Panel Picker


Dear Friends,
Sound Off has had a great Summer!! We were awarded 2nd place at the Foundry Cup’s Demo Day, we continue to expand our Board, and we continue to receive nothing but positive feedback! We have been invited to compete in the South by Southwest Panel Picker, where the public is able to help …

House Passes Two Historic VA Reform Bills


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House passed two pieces of VA reform legislation. The VA Accountability Act of 2015 passed with a vote of 256 – 170. The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 passed with a vote of 385 – 34. Chairman Miller released the following statement:
“I applaud …

Some Vietnam vets currently have PTSD 40 years after war ended, study finds


While it has been 40 years since the Vietnam War ended, about 271,000 veterans who served in the war zone are estimated to have current full post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plus sub-threshold (meeting some diagnostic criteria) war-zone PTSD and more than one-third have current major depressive disorder, according to an article published online by JAMA …

Vets’ disability claims ended up in shred bins


A pair of California lawmakers want to know why paperwork required to finalize veterans’ disability claims ended up in a Los Angeles shredding bin.
The latest embarrassing episode for the Veterans Affairs Department comes alongside questions surrounding 240,000 deceased veterans on agency medical waiting lists and worries from senators that physician credentialing problems in Arizona …

Almost A Third Of Veterans On The 847000-Long Waitlist Have Died Without VA Care


A new leaked document from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicates 238,657 veterans have died while waiting for health care appointments.
There are a total of 847,822 veterans on the enrollment waitlist, meaning a third have been declared deceased while in line for care, The Huffington Post reports.
Nevertheless, the problem isn’t quite as bad …

Army vet takes his life after July 4th fireworks trigger PTSD


VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) – On July 4th, Jon Kreft says he and his brother Mike were in a bar playing pool, when Mike, an Army Combat veteran, began hearing fireworks.
“I was walking behind him, and every time a firework would go off, he was covering his ears and he would jump and flinch,” says …

Email Update: The Runner Up at Demo Day, NY Times Article, and more!


Dear Friends,
Sound Off has had an excellent summer! We were featured on the front page of the Huffington Post on Memorial Day and our support network expands every day. We continue to receive critical praise for our efforts: we recently took second place in DC-incubator Eastern Foundry’s “Foundry Cup”. This three day conference brought …

VA: Worker’s response to vet is unacceptable


Iraq war veteran Chris Dorsey figured that no one would believe he had been turned away from a VA clinic when he sought an appointment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
So when he went on Tuesday to another facility, the VA Oakwood, Georgia, Community Based Outpatient Clinic, he flipped on his smartphone camera.
On the video, …

Wait Lists Grow as Many More Veterans Seek Care and Funding Falls Far Short


One year after outrage about long waiting lists for health care shook the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency is facing a new crisis: The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now 50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year’s problems, department officials say. The …

VA Campaign Encourages Public to Help Raise PTSD Awareness


WASHINGTON – As the country recognizes Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, the VA National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) is inviting the public to participate in its “PTSD Awareness: June 2015” campaign, which began June 1. This year’s goal is to help more Veterans, their families, caregivers and community members understand what PTSD is and …

Suicide rate of female military veterans is called ‘staggering’


New government research shows that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women, a startling finding that experts say poses disturbing questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the armed forces.
Their suicide rate is so high that it approaches that of male veterans, a …

The Long Tail of War


War’s impact on mental health stays with soldiers long after they leave Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since U.S. military operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 2.7 million men and women have served or continue to serve there. Some have been deployed two, three, four or more times. More than 6,800 service members have sacrificed their lives in …

U.S. Suspects Hackers in China Breached About 4 Million People’s Records, Officials Say


U.S. officials suspect that hackers in China stole the personal records of as many as four million people in one of the most far-reaching breaches of government computers.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the breach, detected in April at the Office of Personnel Management. The agency essentially functions as the federal government’s human …

Summer of Service: Join VA in serving Veterans this Summer


VA begins a new nationwide initiative today to increase the number of people and organizations serving Veterans in their communities. It’s called “Summer of Service” and we are asking citizens across the country to join us in serving our nation’s Veterans.
“We have made progress over the past year addressing the challenges we face in …

Children of Veterans and Adults with PTSD


Researchers have recently examined the impact of veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms on family relationships, and on children of veterans in particular. Family members of individuals with PTSD may experience numerous difficulties. This fact sheet explains the common problems that children of veterans experience and provides recommendations for how to cope with these difficulties. …

Foreign Policy – Exclusive: Pentagon Shutting Highly-Regarded Support Program for Troubled Troops


The Defense Department has long praised a support program for troubled troops. That wasn’t enough to save it from the budget axe.
The Defense Department has spent years hailing the success of Vets4Warriors, a Pentagon-funded call center in suburban New Jersey that connected troubled troops with veterans who shared their backgrounds and had in many cases …

Huffington Post – “How We’re Using Existing Technology to Save Vets’ and Service Members’ Lives (and How You Can Help)”


Reposted with permission
Today we pause to honor those who gave what President Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion” on behalf of our country. But as we recognize the service and sacrifice of those who came before, we must also face a societal failing to those who served, and continue to serve, our …

Email Update: Our efforts to revolutionize veteran mental health support


Veterans are not just a number in our system. They should never be without resources. Their identity should never be compromised. And they should never feel alone in the fight.
Veterans’ deserve mental health support as unique as they are.
Sound Off is the system that is revolutionizing veteran mental health support.



Nate Waits wakes up before 3 a.m. four days a week to get to his job at a Bentonville distribution center for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where the former Marine is among more than 92,000 veterans the company has hired in the past two years.
As the two-year anniversary approaches of the …


Though only 10 percent of American forces see combat, the U.S. military now has the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in its history. Sebastian Junger investigates.
The first time I experienced what I now understand to be post-traumatic stress disorder, I was in a subway station in New York City, where I live. It …

Moral injury — the quiet epidemic of soldiers haunted by what they did during wartime


On March 24, 2007, in a city just north of Baghdad, US Army infantryman Alex Horton shot a man twice in the abdomen. He saw the man stumble, then fall behind a building, out of sight. That’s all Horton knows, and all he will ever know, about what happened. He’ll never know if he was …

Rep. Tom Rice wants private sector more involved in veterans health care


Earle Ford resorted to his backup plan Tuesday.
He went to Myrtle Beach’s Veterans Affairs clinic.
“Every time I come in here, it’s like jam packed,” the 28-year-old said. “The only reason I’m here is because I just got to the area and my primary care doctor won’t see me for another month.”
Unbeknownst to …

VA Crisis Line under investigation


Amid concerns that the Veterans Affairs Department’s suicide hotline has left veterans stranded during high-volume call periods, a senator has asked VA to investigate the service to ensure it is meeting veterans’ needs.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., recently sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald asking for data on the Crisis Line’s call …

National Guard Members Face Challenges In Seeking Help For PTSD


It was December 2007 and Darryl Davidson was driving down a busy San Antonio street when something flew off the truck in front of him. He thinks it might have been a car battery, but he still isn’t sure.
“I was in some sort of flashback. I was there for probably 20 or 30 …

To help veterans with PTSD, Bellevue considers 10 p.m. fireworks curfew


Iraq war veteran Matt Clark doesn’t sleep well around Independence Day.
The fireworks, which he loves setting off himself, traumatize him at night when he’s not expecting them.
“I can plan for that on the Fourth of July,” said Clark, who lives with post-traumatic stress. “But during the night it’s worse. You’re asleep …

What Veteran information security and privacy mean to VA employees


VA holds personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) for nearly 9 million Veterans, and we take that very seriously. We know that this sensitive information holds the key to the livelihood and well-being for those that have given so much to this country. Information security and privacy are top priorities for …

The VA Wants to Raid a Veterans’ Health Program to Pay for Its $1.4 Billion Construction Screw-up


Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Tuesday that he wants to pay for a $1.4 billion construction cost overrun by taking about $1 billion out of a fund that was designed to pay for veterans to get care outside the broken VA system.
Congress has been harshly critical of the VA’s botched project in …

637 veterans’ personal data ‘erroneously’ released by state employee


The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs officials confirmed in a statement to News 3 Tuesday that they are investigating an unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable information by one of its employees.
Officials said the employee “erroneously” gave the information to an unauthorized recipient.
“WDVA took appropriate and timely action to notify affected veterans and …

VA restarts study to see if service dogs help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress


Chiefland resident and U.S. Army veteran Michael Gaither remembers how post-traumatic stress disorder isolated him. “For four or five years, I was at home,” said Gaither, 69. “I had the doors locked. I had the curtains closed. Nobody came to visit. I did not open the door. I did not answer the phone.” He only left …

Army Veteran Writes Children’s Book To Explain PTSD To Younger Kids


Mental health disorders can be so complex that many adults can’t comprehend them. So, how exactly do you explain them to children?
Army veteran Seth Kastle encountered this problem with his own young family after returning from deployment. Kastle struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and found it difficult to communicate what was going …

Joni Ernst urges help for veterans in 1st speech on floor


WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Joni Ernst proposed legislation Monday that would allow military veterans to get mental health care outside the Veterans Affairs system until they receive help from the agency.
In her first floor speech since taking office in January, Ernst, an Iraq War veteran, devoted nearly all of her remarks to the needs …