The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

John much to be said

John McCain is a veteran, and most veterans, it seems, would support a G I bill that increases veterans benefits such as improving the path to college for vets. But McBush, er, McCain, like his hero George W, is opposed to improving the lot of those who fight for our country.

Of course their reasoning is flawed; they say that better college benefits will decrease re-enlistment and result in less numbers of servicemen. But a prediction by the Congressional Budget Office says the bill will increase recruitment by 16%, which happens to equal the predicted decline in re-ups.

VoteVets is urging McCain to support the bill. Watch.

At the VoteVets site you can also find news stories about V A officials urging fewer diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder. Now my understanding of good medical practice is when a disease or disorder is present, you diagnose it. Don't avoid the diagnosis to make the numbers work or to reduce costs.

It is absolutely ridiculous and a sin that people returning from war can not get all of the counseling and therapy that they need. Perhaps then some of the estimated 18 suicides per day among veterans could be avoided. Of course the VA claimed that there were only 790 suicide attempts in all of 2007, when in reality about 1000 attempts per month were seen at VA facilities. 18 per day works out to be about 6,570 attempts per year.

Here is how Dr. Ira Katz, VA head of mental health, communicated about the numbers: ( from it )

First, he titled his e-mail: "Not for the CBS News Interview Request."

He opened it with "Shh!" - as in keep it quiet - before ending with "Is this something we should (carefully) address … before someone stumbles on it?"

Our country just uses its young men and women, then discards them with no concern for their future.

But really I didn't set out to write about PTSD in current veterans. But it does lead right into my column on John McCain and his medical records.

McCain released (some of) his medical records on Friday. Here is my column from today's Western Tribune about that:

Forty years ago, in the summer of 1968, John McCain was a prisoner of war. As is often repeated, he is a war hero, in part for surviving this harrowing experience, and should be honored as such. His past heroism is partly responsible for his success as a senator, while also providing somewhat of an excuse for his hot temper and at times unexplainable behavior.

As the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican Party, under media pressure, McCain released his medical records last week. Included were such accolades as being much younger physiologically than he is chronologically. Not included were his psychiatric records.

When McCain was released from captivity he admittedly had experienced severe trauma, but avoided the diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder because the term was not used at that time. Information in his medical record clearly shows he would have received the diagnosis had it been recognized as such then. We have also seen that since the diagnosis became available in 1980, that veterans from as far back as World War 2 would be diagnosed with current episodes related to the condition.

PTSD can be overcome, or can linger and become a chronic condition. Shouldn't John McCain release his psychiatric records if we are to believe he can be our president? If he has recovered, his records should say so, and we should be able to see them.

In addition, during that summer 40 years ago, McCain twice attempted suicide. I am not sure that anyone undergoing the torture that he went through could endure it without similar thoughts, but still, do you want a president whose answer to a most severe problem, regardless of the magnitude, is ending his own life?

Don’t get me wrong. I do not think that there should be a stigma associated with mental illness or even a suicide attempt, and if treated properly and a recovery is made this should not preclude one from becoming a leader or taking a position of responsibility including becoming a senator. But a senator works as part of a body of legislators, and is not by himself making decisions of national importance.

A president does make such decisions, often under unpredictable stress. For this reason, and unless John McCain releases his psychiatric records, I do not believe he is qualified to be president.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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