Saturday, December 13, 2014

#DearVA Can You Please Consider...

#Dear VA,

Can you please consider making a program that helps your staff understand PTSD? Actually UNDERSTAND it and what kind of impact it has on the hero as well as the entire family?

A training course per say, that doesn't involve just reading through a book for theory and some actual hands on practice.

Tell me how you would feel VA if in the course of a year, at a facility that is there for your care, the following things were said to you or your loved one.
  • a physicians assistant who says "oh I have that too, but you just have to not let things bother you"
  • The psychiatrist that says "I don't understand why you just don't come to your appointments" (Poor memory, inability to follow through, problems with handling simple every day things like appointments)
  • A nurse who laughs and says "well you better not leave the house again!"  when you explain that he stopped taking his meds when you were unexpectedly not home for a couple of nights and now he's unstable and doesn't think he NEEDS the meds(emergency hospitalization of my own)
  • The nurse that said "I don't know what kind of drugs these guys were doing over there, but they all come back with kidney stones" (Um... excuse me? My husband has never done drugs... and if they are all coming back with kidney stones I suspect a study should be done)
All of these things cause issues in any patient. For a patient with PTSD, it makes what is already a hellish appointment for them and their caregiver into a nightmare.
#NewVA, what can we do about this? Is there a type of specific program or training that could be given to your staff? Shouldn't it be? If it has already happened, whatever form of training you are utilizing isn't very effective. Let's rethink this.




It’s getting late. I’ve been at work all day today. I leave my home at 7 and I get home around 5:30. It’s not every day that these are my hours at a job outside of my home, but it’s often enough to make it a struggle. And every single time I do this it is frightening. You see, I leave my warrior home alone during these times… and sometimes he’s left with our children. It’s not that I’m worried he’ll hurt our children, that’s never been a concern. It’s that I’m worried that he’ll be overwhelmed and simply “check out” due to the stress and difficulty of having a 13 year old and a 4 year old. The 13 year old remembers when Daddy wasn’t overwhelmed and upset so easily. The 4 year old will never know those days. You see, Daddy was diagnosed pretty much about the time we realized there was a problem. The problem and difficulties getting help at the #VA are why there will not be any more children. It’s still a hard pill to swallow. You see, I can’t handle any more on my plate. I already take care of my family, heart wrenchingly entrust a person that I know is in need of my help to care for our children when necessary and I just can’t be away from work if we were to have another baby.

This didn’t use to be an issue. Once we were really struggling and I was very fortunate to be one of the first people in our area to become a VA Caregiver. But just like the doctors and nurses at the VA, they weren’t prepared for the need and the Coordinators became overwhelmed. Many of us would try to call the #VA and get answers or help or advice… but often we didn’t get answers. Sometimes we were simply given answers of no because the coordinators didn’t know the answer and were so overwhelmed as to not feel that they had the time to find the answers. What’s worse, and an issue I’m very hopeful that #NewVA will address, was that the program started to be administered based on very limited information and opinions. There isn’t any oversight and no guidelines to follow. When we caregivers raise questions we often face backlash and downgrades or removal from the program. I know this happens because it happens to me. And advocating at the #VA is a dangerous game. Once you’ve angered the powers that be locally, you run out of options. No vet should have to contact their congress person or Senator for help dealing with the organization that’s supposed to be helping them. We know the problems are big and that the fixes are difficult and won’t be overnight. But caregivers are a necessary thing and the VA is served mightily by their knowledge of the vet’s real daily habits and issues. Vets get better care when they have somebody available to help them, remind them, guide them and speak for them when necessary. 

I wish you a shorter and less stressful day, but we all know that may not be the case. Please keep fighting and fixing the issues that plague our system.

100% Navy Wife

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