Friday, April 25, 2008

What the VA's concerned about

The plaintiffs' lawyer asked Kussman about a speech in 2006 by Frances Murphy, then one of his top deputies, who said the number of veterans seeking care for behavioral conditions was rapidly increasing and that some VA facilities did not provide mental health care or had long waiting lists. Murphy's job was eliminated shortly afterward.
Kussman said 35 percent of troops who are screened by the VA after returning from Afghanistan or Iraq show symptoms of possible depression or other mental conditions. But he said the problem shouldn't be exaggerated.
"The number of patients who have adjustment reactions to the experience that they have in Afghanistan or Iraq is very important, but we don't believe that's mental illness," Kussman said. "It would be unfair and inappropriate to stigmatize people with a mental health diagnosis when they are having what most people believe are normal reactions to abnormal situations."

The above is from Bob Egelko's "Official defends VA's mental health effort" (San Francisco Chronicle) . As you read the above, you may recall the first full day of Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation a panel was held entitled The Crisis in Veterans' Healthcare and, specifically, the testimony of Adrienne Kinne. Think about that testimony as the claim's put foward that the VA worries about "stigmatizing" veterans. That's not their concern. The VA's issue is they don't want to pay. Here's Kinne speaking about her time as a civilian following her second discharge and specifically, from that time period, of being a research assistant at a VA where she helped on a group that devised a way to screen for PTSD and TBI in such a way that there would be no confusion in diagnosing. Here's her testimony on what happened after they had study ready to be implemented.

Adrienne Kinne: And then they went to go to the next step, to actually make this happen. And I was actually on a conference call when someone said, "Wait a second. We can't start this screening process. Do you know that if we start screening for TBI there will be tens of thousands of soldiers who will screen positive and we do not have the resources available that would allow us to take care of these people so we cannot do the screening." And their rationale was that medically, medical ethics say if you know someone has a problem, you have to treat them. So since they didn't have the resources to treat them, they didn't want to know about the problem.

That's the reality and why the VA's 'concerned' about how they 'diagnose.' Labeling it as the illness it is would require their paying for its treatment.

The US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad, April 24." The announcement brings to 4052 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Lloyd notes Geoff Garin's "Fair Is Fair" (Washington Post):

What's wrong with this picture? Our campaign runs a TV ad Monday saying that the presidency is the toughest job in the world and giving examples of challenges presidents have faced and challenges the next president will face -- including terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounting economic dislocation, and soaring gas prices. The ad makes no reference -- verbal, visual or otherwise -- to our opponent; it simply asks voters to think about who they believe is best able to stand the heat. And we are accused, by some in the media, of running a fear-mongering, negative ad.
The day before this ad went on the air, David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief strategist, appeared with me on "Meet the Press." He was asked whether Hillary Clinton would bring "the changes necessary" to Washington, and his answer was "no." This was in keeping with the direct, personal character attacks that the Obama campaign has leveled against Clinton from the beginning of this race -- including mailings in Pennsylvania that describe her as "the master of a broken system."
So let me get this straight.
On the one hand, it's perfectly decent for Obama to argue that only he has the virtue to bring change to Washington and that Clinton lacks the character and the commitment to do so. On the other hand, we are somehow hitting below the belt when we say that Clinton is the candidate best able to withstand the pressures of the presidency and do what's right for the American people, while leaving the decisions about Obama's preparedness to the voters.
Who made up those rules? And who would ever think they are fair?

And we'll note "Montana for Hillary Announces Lena Belcourt as Indian Affairs Coordinator: Belcourt hails from Rocky Boy Reservation" (

Billings, MT -- The Clinton campaign today announced that Lena Belcourt, a Chippewa Cree Tribal member, is the new Indian Affairs Coordinator for Hillary Clinton's campaign in Montana. Belcourt is a health policy analyst and consultant who advises elected Tribal Leadership on local, state and national policymaking.
Belcourt makes her home on the Rocky Boy Reservation in north central Montana.
"Indian people need a candidate who will hit the ground running, who has links to Indian Country and has supported legislation important to Indian Country. We need someone who knows who we are. That's Hillary Clinton."
In 2004 Belcourt served on then Governor-Elect Schweitzer's transition team as a policy advisor, and in 2005 she was detailed by the Chippewa Cree Tribe to the Office of the Governor of Montana, serving as the Governor Schweitzer's Policy Advisor on Health and Disability. Belcourt also staffed Alvin Winy Boy, Sr., former Chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, on his health policy agenda.
Belcourt intends to make Indian healthcare a focus of her work for Montana for Hillary.
"We as Indian people have been left out of the American dream by our lack of access to accessible, affordable healthcare. I believe in accessible, quality healthcare for Montana Tribes and I know that Hillary Clinton will work her hardest to make it a reality."
Belcourt assisted the Northern Arapaho Tribe in the planning and development of their SAMHSA Indian Country Methamphetamine Initiative in 2006-2007. She has also worked on the development of the Chippewa Cree Tribe's Medicaid Eligibility Determination contract, the CCT Medicaid Administrative Match Cost Allocation Plan and the CCT's SAMHSA Indian Country Methamphetamine Initiative.
Belcourt attended the University of Montana and the University of North Dakota.

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