Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Slap in the Face, Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs

I had another anxiety attack today. I left the post office and walked to my car. The rage was building, the despair was creeping, and I could tell I was losing it, but I kept going. I called my advisor from the Disabled American Veterans, and screamed into the phone. I got into the car, still yelling, and started the engine.

I had just gotten three letters from the VA. The first two were just like the ones I had been receiving for months. “We are still processing your application for compensation. We apologize for the delay.” It had taken me years to be able to admit to myself that I had PTSD. I registered with the VA when I got off active duty. The first time I went to the VA hospital, I knew the numbers, and I knew it was a disaster. Then I saw it first hand.

At first I saw the Vietnam vets. Men that were hustled through their midlife years and were walking with canes or in wheelchairs, sometimes muttering to themselves the regrets that only a broken soldier knows. Then I saw the World War II vets, clinging to life with the pride of a dieing breed. Then I saw the vets that looked like me. They bore the scars I recognized but couldn't feel. The IEDs of Fallujah echoed in the halls.

I thought I didn't belong. I got a consultation for PTSD, but missed my first appointment and never rescheduled. I didn't want to be a burden. There were those far more deserving than I. But then I needed help, and help came in the form of a fistful of prescriptions. It didn't help.

Then a Vietnam vet told me that I had earned my due. I needed to file for disability. It was the cost of my innocence, but I felt dirty to put a price tag on that and I didn't want to even ask what kind of check came with the “70%” label. So I filled out a lot of forms, and in a gut-wrenching all-nighter, described in detail my “stressors.” With my advisor, I turned in the forms in person in a building that could only make a bureaucrat smile.

It took me over a year and a meeting in person with the secretary of the VA just to get an ID card. I wasn't surprised when they wanted me to fill out more forms and I sent them in, like a good little veteran. Then over the course of months, the letters came. “We apologize for the delay.”

Today was different. The third letter I opened said, “We determined that the following condition was not related to your military service, so service connection couldn't be granted: Medical Description, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” “Service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder is denied.” “Review of your DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, and 201 Personnel file are negative for any evidence of combat medals or ribbons that can be considered evidence of participation in a stressful episode.” Bureaucratic words that still slice like razors to the bone. I guess they didn't see my Combat Action Ribbon, or Navy Commendation Medal. Maybe I really was crazy before I joined the Marines!

I was livid to say the least. As I drove on and the desperation overcame the anger I cried. I turned up the music to drown the sorrow, but the tears kept coming. I know there is an appeals process that I intend to pursue, but this is worse than being called a “phony soldier” by some neocon nut job. So I guess it's back to being another struggling veteran, trying to figure out how I will cover the rent this month.

But my veteran friends were able to put things in perspective for me. I spoke to Scot Camil, whose courage as a veteran speaking out against the war in Vietnam has been a great source of inspiration for me. I spoke to Chris Hill of Gathering of Eagles, who happens to be a bit of a war fetishist, but understands the brotherhood of veterans. I spoke to Jeremy Williams, who served with me in the same unit at Camp Pendleton, and is now toiling as a tireless veterans advocate in Texas. It could be a lot worse. And before I went to bed, I spoke to my muse and heard the music and she touched my soul and everything was right as rain again.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure this has been said many times before, but I'm really new to the issues being faced by our returning soldiers. I wish that every person who puts a yellow ribbon magnet on the back of their car would actually do something to support our soldiers-- at least write their congressman demanding reform. Otherwise that cheap magnet is nothing but a hollow platitude that only makes the owner self-righteous.

allie said...

im sorry, thats horrible. thats all i can say.

Gypsii said...

This is just a reminder of why you are fighting this fight. This treatment reminds all of us why we must join and support this fight. Keep speaking out - don't ever be discouraged. We hear you and are with you. Keep speaking - more and more will hear you and join this tidal wave set to wash away the effluvium.

Laura Baran said...

Adam what courage it takes to share your pain. I am honored to be a human because of humans like you. You're making a huge impact. Never give up. & thank you!!! - LB

rotten777 said...

Oh Christ... That is absolutely terrible. It makes me sick to hear. I don't even know what to say to help you other than I'd like to help you. I'm no doctor or wealthy person though. Just an ordinary citizen. Just know you have a ton of people on your side wishing you well and hoping for the best.

Also, I'd like permission to publish this on my blog (with credits and a link of course) to bring more attention to the issue.

If that is okay with you, please send me an e-mail at rotten777@gmail.com...

ia said...

Don't know what world view you share, but I'm adding you to my prayer list today Adam. I really have a heart for you! This country needs you now more than ever. I know its hard, but please keep going.

Anonymous said...

Hey Adam, I'm sorry this is happening to you, it's f@#ked up that you should be denied the care you need. I find it outrageous that you and other veterans aren't being taken care of, this type of treatment is always a blemish on our whole country.
And it really pisses me off that this is just another example of how our society has a long way to go towards taking mental health care issues seriously!
I hope you get the care you need somehow, and that your appeal is successful. And no, you're not crazy, you weren't before you went in, and you're not now. :)

You know you have the support of so many of us out here, and I hope you find some comfort and strength by confiding in your fellow veterans who understand what you're going through.
I wish you well as always.
take care,

Anonymous said...

Hey Adam. Stephen Here from the Daily Paul. My handle is oruval over there.

regardless I'm glad you stood up and Addressed Barr today and removed your support. I've felt for sometime he was bad news. Regardless we have now thanks to Ron Paul have weeded out a wolf in sheeps clothing from the Liberty movement.

Come Join us on the DailyPaul.com

You have many fans of your true patriotism there.


Samantha said...

That's an interesting post. Here's a website that is useful for those who wish to overcomepost traumatic stress. http://www.howtorelievestress.org has plenty of tips and guides which you can use to improve yur condition. Hope this helps ya.

Anonymous said...

I know it sounds irresponsible, but maybe you should consider taking MDMA.

Matthew Jeffers said...


Hey man! We met a few times over the course of the leadership summit, the concert, and the rally. It was so badass seein you on CSPAN holding up that banner! Me and Joanna were cheering in our bed! I wish I could have been there with you man, but we were already back in TN.

Anyways, I thought you might get a laugh out of this: I was walking around inbetween classes today, carrying my umbrella. It started raining lightly so I opened it up and continued on my way. A minute later, the rain let up and I closed my umbrella. Before I even knew what I was doing, I was carrying it across my chest like a rifle, walking with it like I was on a patrol! Oh man. I know I spent too much time in the Corps.

I never saw that sandy hell, thank god. I stayed in the rear with the gear for my four luckily. Me and Joanna, we talk about the military. She really listens and tries to understand. I'm glad you have a muse. They help. But the cure comes from inside man. I know that may sound hollow and distant, but man, you got to bear it out. Stay strong. Keep fighting for others. That's what I served for. To fight for others, victims, the weak, etc. Same ideals, new mission.

I liked what you were saying at the Rally, about continuing to serve, not in the military, but within these other organizations and groups. That is right and just.

I've been able to talk a few people out of joining the mil this year. I freely talk about my experiences on active duty and what the transition back into the civilian world was like. It's harsh. Most are unprepared. And those truths keep many out. I tried to influence a few people at the local ROTC that their loyalty and duty lies with the Constitution. I got through to a handful. The others are too in love with the idea of being in charge and blowing stuff up. It's a hard struggle that comes with few victories, but that is duty.
And as Emporer Meiji said "Duty is as heavy as a mountain.

Here's a link to an article I wrote for the TN Libertarian Party:


I know you will understand what I'm saying.

Very respectfully,
Matthew Jeffers

Gunner24 said...


As a your friend and as a victim of the bureaucracy of the Veteran Benfit Administration, I empathize with you and your pain. I can say only say that you must keep the faith and fight the good fight. We as a new generation of veterans must blaze a pathe for other to follow. Please use this as fuel for our cause.

I was disturbed by your current post, that has become my fuel to help fellow veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Please remember that you have brothers that stand beside you and will be a pillar of strength when you need us.

In closing, remember this powerful quote from Thomas Jefferson: "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."

Sgt Kokesh, you have the strength to and fortitude to over come this, I believe in you. Semper Fidelis.


A Lance Corporal of Marines.

greenenergy said...

Adam, you're an example of what it means to be a true patriot.

Thank you so much for everything you do. Because of you and IVAW my fiance chose to get out of the military, and is currently in the process of getting his discharge papers.

Continue to keep up the good work and fight the good fight. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Thus Spake Ortner said...

You and I probably couldn't agree on whether water is wet, but I used to be a Veterans Advocate on the Board of Veterans appeals. Be sure to appeal, because you only need three items to get service connected, and the one they are claiming you don't have is presumed with a CAB. Ask for the Oral hearing.

Your DAV peeps should be able to get it fixed in no time. So long as the CAB is on the damn DD214, then the VA is full of it, and the good news is that when the Board gives you service connection, the check will be back dated to the original date of application.

Andi Hayes said...

Dear Adam,
That is just heartbreaking to read how you and all the soldiers who participated in war are being treated by the government. All the billions of money spent on killing and then the vets are just thrown in the trash when they return.
But don't forget, when a door is slammed shut in your face, a window is opened with new possibilities.
I know you will continue on as a leader of the Campaign for Liberty movement. We need bright passionate men like you in office!
Warmest regards and good luck,

Chris F. said...

The United States government and its corresponding departments have always lied to the soldiers. Unfortunately, it seems most of them don't even realize it until it is too late.

Anonymous said...

Adam and all veterans who may read this, may we someday soon tire of the futility of trying to "shock & awe" others into submission. I am the only person I know who wrote to the President & asked him not to attack Iraq. If only. . . . My mother, now 94 years old, often said, "If a frog had wings, it wouldn't bump its rump so much." My brother was in Nam, has PTSD, & has experienced some healing in going back to visit. His nightmares stopped after going back . ??? Not exactly an option for you right now. Unfortunately, the fact that we are all Americans does not mean that we treat each other with dignity and respect. Too bad that folks in the bureaucracy don't know that PTSD isn't an organic problem; it is a fully understandable reaction--a survival tool, if you will. It's ok; it's not ok to be discounted, but putdowns seem to be what many Americans do best!! Que lastima. What a pity! Godspeed. Praying for you and all others who work for something higher than aggression.

jae said...

Your honesty and courage amaze me and have me feeling proud to be American.
May I please re-post this at my blog?
Let me know, I will not do it without your express permission.
Wishing you Peace Of Mind,

Roxi said...

Adam i am so sorry, this really sucks... you are a true patriot my friend

chantal yo said...


Don't give up! You can't see us, but we're with you.

dreamy drea aka IAM said...

ADAm your are not alone.
as we spoke about ptsd the first- second time we met you were visibly pTSD'd hey if oyu can be visibly drunk as the cops say then that you were. Ill tell you what did it... your body language. It almost got its own dictionary. Although you allowed my starstuck self a hug i could tell immediately. For it truly takes one to know one. Ive been labebled a major depressive with CHRONIC PTSD. Really Im certifiable paperwork and all. But like my favorite Pitt quote:
"you are not the contents of your wallet"
(i know you know what i mean)
meaning that no matter what THE VA
decides they cant make or break you and dont you dare let em. PTSD POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER is a euphemism for living life. Anyone who was alive on 091101 was tramatized if you own a tv cell phone or read the paper there was no escape from the faces of death.Even birthing and being born is tramatizing. basically if you are not PTSD in this day and age it probablys because your'e already dead. My conscience, depression, denial, and personal guilt morphed from a house fire to the lake of fire they call HELL. I (accidently of course)burned down the first floor, but to this day it has shaped my life from then on. But like the bible says HE gives BEAUTY FOR ASHES , STRENGTH FOR FEAR, GLADNESS FOR MOURNING AND PEACE FOR DESPAIR. im a little crazy but no Pyromaniac
(oh good movie 2 wtach early John legizamo " A pyromaniacs love story" A MUST SEE:) wELL bIG MAMMAS House is back and better than ever so you will prevail, just not the way you expect. Just like Zach De LA Roca WE MUST RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.But keep in mind we are all part of the machine. Without us who will grind the gears? tHEY THINK they have you right were they want,simply step aside. they will miss. "Pull the truck over hand me the keys and let me drive you home," that what I would've if I could've. COntact the NIH in bethesda my mom got connects but u wont even need um. They have research trials for pTSD I qualified but got cold feet and moved to TEch with my ex - jason.
and guess what? They pay you for treAtment or apply payment to direct loans.however there is a risk you'D agree to be a lab rat really. BUT i cant tell you what to do. Just as cheesy as it sounds think outside of the box. the box being the VA. Of course they know you have PTSD, but assuming they also know of your activism. Your OFF limits as far as VA asistnace, you my friend have been blacklisted. Have you tried to reup? NO! DUH well guess what you are illegible if you have PTSD. You must Call me Punk I need to compare notes with you.more that I CANNOT state hear. Call MS.T. she knows where to find me. I,ve become somewhat or a rolling stone lately. I have a poem for you, but dont panic I just fell in love with this Jamican guy... really @ kid 19. Im robbing the cradle demi- style. And Believe me he is Jamacianmecrazy. But I would not mind looking into those everloving eyes of yours again, they burn like fire its electric. As you know Im a sucker for TRUEEYES. GOODBYE *aerdna*

Charlie said...


I have n words to describe how sorry I am that they stabbed you in the back again. Hang in there and keep your chin up.

In peace,


chantally said...

"Even birthing and being born is tramatizing."

sorry, i had to lol. that is what "they" want us to think. the people who run medical america try to portray birth as traumatizing and scary when it is supposed to be peaceful and even enjoyable. yes, enjoyable. it's all about the bottom line. giving birth is a business and they want to scare you into thinking you must have a hospital birth which = more $$$ for them. plus, everyone giving birth these days is practically on medicaid so the prices get raised. anyway, to me, this issue ties in with so much i already believe: big business, etc...
sorry for digressing.



Let's get educated, even on this.

Anonymous said...

Adam, hope you got my message on Facebook about this. I also had (have?) PTSD and know how hard it is to live with and that it is even harder to find someone that knows how to treat it.

I almost gave up but did find someone that knows how to treat it. I urge you to find treatment, as it WILL make your life better.


The Light said...

I am the sister of a person with PTSD, I became a healer for that reason. I have watched you speak and listened to your story. I want to thank you sincerely for telling the truth in a world full of lies and for defending our god given rights, you are a hero. I offer you my hands ~ if you ever come to Florida I will be there. If I can be of assistance to you please feel free to contact me. Don't give up, there is always light, we can not be defeated, your following is larger than you know and it is growing every day. Like my brother I too would be proud to be at your side if there were need. Thank you again.
Kerin ~ LMT