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News stories tagged with "mental-health"

McHugh: someone denied soldiers benefits help

North Country Congressman John McHugh wants to know who tried to prevent Fort Drum soldiers from getting help with their disability benefits. National Public Radio broke the story Tuesday. The story said instructors from the Department of Veterans Affairs - the VA - used to help soldiers at Fort Drum summarize their disabilities so they could get better benefits. But reporter Ari Shapiro found that help was now being denied. In a press release, the Army disputed NPR's story. It said it didn't tell the VA to stop helping soldiers. Congressman McHugh says he trying to find out who did. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

PTSD, Pt.4: A war trauma counselor

This week we've been reporting on the struggles of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in getting help with combat trauma. Today we get a window inside their world from one of the North Country's most respected experts. Nellie Coakley is a Vietnam veteran. She relies on her own experience in her work as a war trauma counselor. She's worked out the region's Vet Center since the 1980s. Vet Centers were created to give an alternative to Vietnam vets who didn't trust the standard VA channels. Coakley counsels an increasing number of Iraq and Afghanistan vets, and she sees a similar mistrust. She says the American public needs to do more to understand post-traumatic stress disorder and help veterans re-enter society. The trouble is, soldiers coming home with PTSD find they can't leave their warrior training behind. For them, Coakley told David Sommerstein, combat is life-changing.  Go to full article
The PSTD panel at the Different Drummer.
The PSTD panel at the Different Drummer.

PTSD at Ft. Drum, pt.3: A cafe for dissent

Since the war in Iraq began, the U.S. military has come under increasing fire for a mental health system that even top officials acknowledge needs a complete overhaul. Soldiers fighting combat trauma go untreated. Trained psychologists are in short supply. Funding for research into post-traumatic stress disorder is inadequate. Across the country, a growing number of soldiers are taking matters into their own hands. They're compiling lists of resources for people who need help. And they're organizing their own group therapy sessions. In part three of our series on PTSD, a café in Watertown has become a refuge for soldiers who are breaking rank and seeking help on their own. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

PTSD at Ft. Drum, pt.2: A soldier speaks out

If you hear one complaint from soldiers about how the Army handles post-traumatic stress disorder, it's about a bureaucracy that doesn't seem to care. The military officially recognized PTSD as a medical illness almost 30 years ago. Yet soldiers still complain of not getting the help they need. Mountains of paperwork, a backlog of claims, a shortage of licensed psychologists, and a dearth of scientific research all get in the way. In part two of our series on treating PTSD at Fort Drum, David Sommerstein has the story of one soldier who says Fort Drum's mental health system failed him again and again.

CORRECTION TO ORIGINAL STORY: This story first reported that the military requires three letters from commanders documenting that a soldier was in a traumatic combat situation. A Fort Drum spokesman e-mailed to say that one letter is required. The audio has been changed accordingly.  Go to full article

PTSD at Drum, pt.1: What the military does

Last month, 3500 soldiers returned to Fort Drum from a 15-month tour in Iraq. According to Army studies, a quarter of them, or almost one thousand men and women, will bring home mental problems associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Their depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and substance abuse, if not properly treated, can deeply scar themselves, their families, and the communities they live in. But study after study finds the military's mental health system in disarray: a backlog of PTSD-related claims, a shortage of licensed psychologists, a need for an overhaul of the entire system. Today we begin a 4-part series on post-traumatic stress disorder at Fort Drum. We'll hear from soldiers who feel they've been neglected, and we'll visit a café in Watertown that provides them refuge. But first, David Sommerstein reports on how Fort Drum identifies and treats soldiers for combat-related mental illness.  Go to full article

Troops train for family life

The 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade continues to return home from Iraq this week. The last flight, carrying the brigade's headquarters, is expected to land at Fort Drum next Monday. 3500 soldiers return after a 15 month tour-of-duty, three months more than they expected. Some members of the 2nd brigade have served in Iraq two or even three times. Experts say the longer the deployment, the harder it is for soldiers to reintegrate into ordinary life. Army officials are trying to ease the transition with a new program called "Battle Mind Training." 10th Mountain Division Chaplain Mike Charles told David Sommerstein it gets soldiers to think about home while they're still in the battlefield.  Go to full article

Taking steps to stop suicide

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for men in the U.S. In the North Country, suicide rates are nearly twice as high as in New York City. Experts say isolation and depression are major risk factors. And even though it touches many, discussion of suicide and its aftermath remain taboo. SUNY Potsdam will host an "Out of the Darkness Community Walk" on Saturday, November 3rd. Organizers want to raise awareness and prevention of suicide. Dr. Colleen Livingston, a psychiatrist in Canton who's helping to promote the Potsdam event, says suicide affects people of all age groups and backgrounds and is the fourth leading cause of death among adults. She spoke with Todd Moe.  Go to full article

Walk promotes mental health awareness

The first annual Lewis County Walk for Mental Health gets underway in Lowville Wednesday morning (10 am). The nearly five mile long walk is from the Lewis County Mental Health Center to the county's Opportunities center in New Bremen. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Patience says mental health problems are real and common, and the goal of tomorrow's walk is to increase awareness of the local services available.  Go to full article

Suicide a "silent epidemic" in North Country

Suicide is a painful subject, complicated by sorrow and stigma, but public health experts say silence can be deadly. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for men in the U.S. Here in the North Country, suicide rates are nearly twice as high as in New York City. Experts say isolation and the easy availability of firearms are big factors. Yesterday in Lake Placid, more than four hundred activists, mental health experts and suicide survivors gathered to look for strategies that might slow the rate of suicide. As Brian Mann reports, they say the first step is speaking out.  Go to full article

Pataki considers mental health bill

During last week's special session, the state Assembly approved Timothy's Law. It requires that insurance companies cover mental illnesses as comprehensively as they treat physical ailments. It only needs Governor Pataki's signature to become law, but as Karen DeWitt reports, that occurrence is far from certain. Karen DeWitt reports.  Go to full article

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