Cable newscycles place us all in a Manichean universe not of our making. Look at the following two points.
(1) Beside those who have worn the uniform into harm's way, no other evidence of true patriotism and national service even registers; not flag pins, not self-serving nationalistic jingoism. Consequently, no nation is worthy of this sacrifice which fails to take care of them as have borne the weight of the battle.
(2) The practice and policy of VA compensation to those claiming Post-Trauma Stress Disorder is riddled with fraud on both sides of the counter.
Can these warring premises just get along? Let's see.
Inductive reasoning, from the specific to the general, would mean I should start with a concrete personal sampling and move up to grand theory. Okay. I'll try, the micro to the macro, in two quantum leaps.
Meet Dave. Short, pudgy, balding. He's in a work uniform, and he's chuckling. The war in the desert has just ended succesfully without much loss on our side and it came in under a hundred hours. He says, I spent more time in the air than that, and when we went up, we weren't just patrolling. We were bound for action.
Dave has bad teeth. He's ground them down, in the night, mostly. He was a door gunner on a Huey in Vietnam for a tour or three. He's working now, getting by, but he did come by the office for help, at his wife's insistence.
He is 100% bonafide true real and absolutely suffering as he presents and from the suggested causes. I might come to believe that all the wide world besides my family is some gigantic hoax like the Truman Show meant to hoodwink me with actors playing false with me behind my back; still, I'd believe in Dave.
This is Harry, and that's Bill, and over there's Ralph, and Tracy, and Bob. They are all alike in their symptoms, which are: they are hyperalert, don't sleep much, have flashbacks and a poor job history, spousal battery, divorce, worry others, cause trouble in public, stockpile weapons and walk perimeter guard with them, act out at the VA Hospital anytime they meet an Asian human on staff. It is not too surprising they have caught these symptoms, because the American Legion bar is an extremely contagious site. That's where you might learn that any stray vet who was ever in combat might score around two thousand per month tax free with an arrearage for time spent waiting out the claim. Not bad for a high school dropout with never a trace in personal history of a life different than the one he presents to the VA.
But, never fear, for there is a cure! Whenever the VA at long last adjudges them service-connected for PTSD, they will be instantly all right, they will drop their meetings and their spots in the clinic, and take off with their wealth for more scenic locales.
Sometime in eternity, the Veterans Administration hit an iceberg known as Agent Orange. They seemed to the public a mite slow in recognizing the results of dumping millions of gallons with dioxin on the jungles of Vietnam and the troops living there. The firestorm in the seventies brought the VA up short. America, is this correct? You want we should spend more of your funds quicker?
When the first inkling of an emotional reaction to war came down the pike, they were ready. Conceding the principle that vets might no longer trust the feds, the "storefront" counseling centers were established in the communities, with peer counselors paid by but showing no badges from the VA. A large portion of Veterans Services in every Regional Office was set aside for meeting and greeting questions on PTSD, and Adjudication and the Rating Board sections were staffed and trained likewise. Fee-basis counseling was authorized, so that vets might seek help from private providers. And then came the PTSD Centers, VA facilities in the neighborhoods primarily for the treatment of the hidden ravages of war.
Now, PTSD was called "shell shock" in WWI and "combat fatigue" in WWII. You would see guys in old photos in sanitariums hiding under bunks, or on film moving about with head-bobs like chickens. There were no questions about those diagnoses. But an explosion of the finding of these emotional reactions to war came about when the boomers came home from Vietnam, although earlier wars had more troops under fire for longer.
At this time, the VA was losing its largest client load, WWII vets, at the rate of some 1,500 per diem. The PTSD industry became a mission to replace census rarther than return to Congress any budget savings due to loss of business. Bureaus of any government act like that.
Both Dave, and his cohorts, Harry, Bill, Ralph, Tracy and Bob, were well know within the VA and outside among the various non-governmental counseling groups (of which I made up one). The only denial of possible fraud in PTSD claims was made by the VA public relations office when a rare report in the news documented abuses. (However, we remember when the gross cost of Dohbya's war in Iraq was first coming home to roost, the VA "reviewed" those earlier PTSD awards with the idea of saving costs.)
So the PTSD claims comprise the worst of waste as well as the best of service by this Constitutional expression of the public weal we call government, and it all depends on your personal perspective and decided narrative.
Links are lacking because this is my own private report, based upon personal experience, which you are warned ended in the spring of 2000 and does not include current vets.)