Sometimes sports analogies make sense, sometimes they don’t.
It’s one thing for a parent to tell a teenager, “That’s twice; Three Strikes and You’re Out. Do it again add you’re grounded. And if you’re frustrated with a project in the workshop, it’s okay to say, “It’s time to punt.”
But those analogies don’t make any sense in combat. Can you imagine a platoon leader telling the grunt, “You’ve completed three patrols you can go home now.” Or the Squadron Commander telling the aircrew, “You’ve flown three combat missions, so you can go back to the States now. It’s somebody else's turn.”
American servicemen and women don’t have the opportunity to punt in combat either. Even if they think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess, they can’t just punt and walk off the field. They have to stay in the war zone until their tour is complete.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for treating all veterans who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of their experience in combat.
But all the recent headlines about the backlog of cases at the VA clearly indicate that the VA’s bureaucrats are not getting the job done.
According to the Buffalo News, “Local veterans filing disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs benefits office in Buffalo wait on average 311 days to learn whether they qualify for disability payments. If that sounds like a long time, consider the veterans in Cleveland. They wait 463 days. In Indianapolis, it’s 488 days. And in New York City, 501 days.”
The backlog is bad enough, but some VA bureaucrats make matters worse. In a meeting earlier this month a VA bureaucrat in Rochester bragged about how he had told an Iraq war veteran that the veteran was crazy because he couldn’t hold a job.
The VA bureaucrat had helped the Iraq war veteran find a job three separate times, but the veteran had quit each job. After the veteran quit the third job, the VA bureaucrat told the veteran, “Three strikes and you’re out.”
But not being able to hold a job is a classic symptom of PTSD. As Psychologist Steven Taylor stated in the journal Visions; “Some people with PTSD are unable to hold a job or socialize with friends, because they are so seriously affected by the disorder.”
The VA knows this, in fact the February 2012 issue of the VA publication CTU Online makes it quite clear that holding a job can be an impossible task for some veterans with PTSD.
"For some individuals, work problems are one of the most significant consequences of PTSD. PTSD can decrease the ability to get and keep a job, and can lead to impaired work performance."
CTU-Online (Clinician’s Trauma Update) is an electronic newsletter published by the VA National Center for PTSD. Yet the VA bureaucrat ignored the evidence and blamed the veteran anyway.
Not being able to hold a job is such a common problem for combat veterans with PTSD that lawyers even use it in their advertising. Such as the North Carolina law firm who puts it this way, “For those suffering PTSD, being able to hold a job may be too much of a challenge.”
The VA bureaucrat may split hairs and say that he never used the word crazy, and that, he only told the veteran that the veteran had a personality disorder.
But, according to the Mayo Clinic, “A personality disorder is a type of mental illness in which you have trouble perceiving and relating to situations and to people — including yourself.”
So to a lay person, like you and me, or the Iraq War veteran, being told that you have a mental illness is just about the same as being told you are crazy.
Put yourself in that Iraq War veteran’s shoes. He went to the VA for help with his PTSD, and the VA bureaucrat told him, “Three strikes and you’re out.”
That sounds like failure on the part of the VA bureaucrat, not failure on the part of the veteran with PTSD. Maybe the the VA bureaucrat is the one who has a personality disorder.
No wonder the suicide rate is so high among the troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. When the veterans seek help, the VA isn’t always on their side.
The VA bureaucrat was way off base, and after pulling this stunt, maybe he should be told that he he is one and done. Reassign him to another position where he can’t do any more damage, or better yet, send him to Afghanistan where he can find out first-hand what combat is like.