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Web Letter

At the height of the Vietnam War, B52-46-07 fixed Navy jets instead of going to Canada. Please admit fault, pay veterans their benefits if you send them in harm's way, and you spend "In God We Trust"--why do our employers cheat Uncle Sam's favorite nieces and nephews: veterans?

A Navy veteran,

Robert Byanski

Chicago, IL

Aug 8 2009 - 2:55pm

Web Letter

I was in economics class today at college, when my teacher told us about Jon Town. I decided to research it for myself. This is messed up, for what they are doing to Jon. I for one know how they screw the veterans. I am a former vet. I was injured during PT in boot camp. They sent me home diagnosing me with a "personality disorder." There was nothing wrong with my brain, it was my back. Still, to this day I have all kinds of problems with my back, and the military will not do anything to fix it. I can't even pick up a gallon of milk without being in pain. I also can't drive that much, because my right leg goes numb and can't feel if my foot is on the gas/brake pedal. I have had years of pain but no one wants to help me. I can't work, I can't lie down to sleep, can't drive. The government just wants to turn its back on us vets. I know all kinds of people that fought in the war and are getting shit on by the military.

Lisa (Lechner) Morris

Sabina, OH

Oct 15 2007 - 5:49pm

Web Letter

I would urge all veterans to watch for a new psychological scale that I fear will hurt them and their cases. The publisher of the mmpi2, one of the most commonly administered psychological tests in the nation, is now using a scale that brands people as dishonest (malingering) by honestly admitting to various symptoms of brain damage and psychiatric symptoms. I have taken a number of depositions of doctors who have accused my clients of attempting to exaggerate their symptoms with this scale (that has now been thrown out by three judges). I fear it's going to be applied to our veterans to somehow bolster a denial of benefits. If anyone has heard of this happening, please contact me. I have copies of the orders throwing out the scale.

Dorothy Clay Sims

Ocala, FL

Oct 14 2007 - 12:22am

Web Letter

I returned home from Vietnam in 1970. I believe most VA personnel should be veterans--not a civilian that denies a soldier's claim to save taxpayers money. Walk a mile in the vets shoes and remember, you let us go to war and were all happy that the war economy made many very wealthy. Now you turn your backs on us. Wait till you see what happens when we turn our backs on you. Don't think its not coming its already begun and the moral fabric is in flames. Big business, newspapers, politicians, all profit from our sacrifice. In the end was it worth it?

Pray for peace but prepare to meet your maker.

Donald Slater

Milford, CT

Oct 12 2007 - 12:56am

Web Letter

I was saddled with that same thing in the Army in 1971. I have it written out on a blog of mine. I was given a General Discharge on November 18, 1971, but it has since been upgraded to Honorable. There was a class action suit in the 1970s that got me the upgrade, and they contacted me to tell me that they had won the suit, but I don't know what it was all about. A lawyer contacted me to tell me that they had won and that's all I remember about it. I searched the web for it but found nothing. This old lawsuit may help today's newer vets to get their earned benefits.

David Riobert Crews

Dundalk, MD

Jul 18 2007 - 2:51pm

Web Letter

So the screwing goes on. My father was an atomic veteran who was sent in 24 hours after the bomb blast in Bikini to assess underwater damage to ships anchored at the site. I had to help him fight to get information on atomic veterans benefits.

I was stationed in Thailand during Vietnam (or the American War, as the Vietnamese call it) in the bomb dump. Picture this area with absolutely no vegetation in the middle of the jungle. When I got out I started hearing about Agent Orange and related herbicides used during the war. I went to the VA to be put on the Agent Orange registry and they wanted to deny me based upon the story they had no records of herbicides used in Thailand. Well I pitched a big fit and finally got on the registry and got the required tests. Just last year Department of Defense came out with information admitting to use of herbicides, not only in Thailand but places in the US also.

So you see, the military just wants your body and they don't care about anything else. The higher ups continue to be bought off with over generous salary and benefits. I am sorry for the Iraq veterans and what they are going through. One more reason to get rid of Bush and his band of thugs.

Dirk Beaulieu

Eugene, Oregon

Apr 27 2007 - 1:25am

Web Letter

The actions of the US Army medical corps are scandalous in the extreme. Thank you, Joshua Kars, for having looked into the matter. The only thing to be regretted is this: the term "personality disorder" is used loosely both by the persons quoted & by Mr. Kars, with the consequence that a fine opportunity was lost to cast a good deal of light on the trap into which so many soldiers are being led, and on personality disoders in general (these are listed as Axis II disorders in the DSM-IV used by psychiatrists for purposes of diagnosis). What sort of "personality disorder" are these soldiers being diagnosed with? Borderline Personality Disorder? Paranoid Persoality Disorder? Anti-Social Personality Disorder? Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Schyzotypal Personality Disorder? The cost to the health care system, & to the economy in general, that is due to these Axis II disorders is beyond calculation. But what I really want to know is this: What *specific* personality disorders are these VA & Army doctors diagnosing? Each disorder has different diagnostic criteria. It is simply not possible for *any* reputable psychiatrist to diagnose a person with "personality disorder" as such. Take a second look into the matter, Mr. Kars. There may be more to say, and more to lament, than we suppose.

Mark Richardson

Kyoto, Kyoto

Apr 19 2007 - 2:11am

Web Letter

As I read about Mr. Town and his family, I felt devastated and enraged. And yet, he seems determined to suffer it as reasonably as he can. With such a damaging "diagnosis" looming over his head, he is wise to put aside the awful emotional anguish and mental torment that must accompany such a betrayal, as well and often as he can.

If, faith shattered, he reacts or acts out in wrathful disorder, allowing himself to epitomize the judgment (Personality Disorder), he could only fulfill and further the diagnostic "charges". I sense an illusive kind of composure on his part. I don't think that he is weak, as he struggles with a bad case of circumstantial destination fatigue. He must have believed that he could rely on a contract with the army, at one time, destination-wise! I found myself having to put the article aside as if it were a map of bad news memories. It helped me compose myself to allow my mind to go blank.

Who needs to be lost in America? As people make public issue to "Bring Them Home", I have felt troubled with the question; what are they coming home to?

Reflecting on civilian experiences that I and my family have endured, forced to rely on public funding resources for medical needs, I am once more incredulous at the lack of reasonable support Americans may find when they need help the most! Omnimously, most probably the military hopes to dump unwanted ex-armed services patients into the mainstream public services sector. The nightmare is along the exact same lines (procedurally), and gets worse.

The treachery that Mr. Town's ex-employer is willing to stage to steal away his paycheck and benefits, under such circumstances as his, is even more astounding to me. The Army is providing the ideal setting for such a disorder, provoking it by virtue of their actions/inaction, enacting this callous dismissal. They are inflicting the disorder on an afflicted man.

God bless him and his family, and give them strength. I hope that they sense the irony and the freedom gained by strength of character. I am glad they have someone with the resources to help them, in their corner of the ring.

Who needs

Lynden Adaire

San Rafael, CA

Apr 18 2007 - 9:53pm

Web Letter

Just when you think Bush and Co. can sink no lower, you read an article like this. It is beyond surreal, the gumption this administration has. I'm thinking, since it's absolutely obvious that our president suffers from personality disorder, and since the voters of the country were not aware of this condition when he was elected (well, most of them were not), I think it would be appropriate to strip him of his job, his insurance, and his lifelong benefits. He should also be required to use his elitist family's bank accounts to reimburse the country the billions he has stolen from it, including Specialist Town's $15,000.

A couple years in a cage with a hood over his head listening to the Dixie Chicks turned up to 11 would be nice, too.....

Jim McKay

Brooklyn , NY

Apr 11 2007 - 11:10am

Web Letter

I am saddened to see our government using an age-old insurance defense ploy against our soldiers in “How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits” (April 9, 2007) by Joshua Kors.

I am an outraged lawyer with no formal medical or psychiatric training. Some years back I noticed that insurance companies were denying some disability, personal injury and other claims by alleging the plaintiff was either “malingering” (that is, lying), was not injured or was suffering from a pre-existing condition unrelated to claims of brain injury, post-traumatic stress or depression.

After 10 years of extensive investigation and study of the tests insurance company doctors use to diagnose brain trauma, I discovered to my horror that doctors were administering the wrong tests, scoring incorrectly and intentionally misdiagnosing plaintiffs.

Many people with brain injuries are stigmatized as “malingerers” or as having serious psychiatric conditions when, in fact, their behavior and symptoms are nothing more than healthy and typical reactions to injury and pain.

The government takes the position that Jon Town and many others like him have a previously undiagnosed condition known as a personality disorder. The government sure is spending a lot of money on apparently incompetent psychologists who screen soldiers as fit for combat, but who later are diagnosed with a serious pre-existing psychiatric disease after they return from the battlefield!

Does this mean the government is putting guns in the hands of deviants? How comforting.

To have a diagnosed personality disorder, one must have personality traits so severe they “cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress.” (American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, page 686 (APA 2005). His or her behavior “deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture… .” Many with personality disorders find it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain and maintain significant relationships.

How amazing that Town was able to marry and have children, all the while suffering from this severe condition, hidden until a government doctor branded him with the disease.

According to your statistics, government diagnoses of personality disorders among military personnel increased 25 percent between 200l and 2006. That is staggering. Someone somewhere should be reporting this apparent psychiatric epidemic.

I’d like to meet those soldiers Col. Steven Knorr claims were “quite pleased” at being diagnosed with a personality disorder and discharged. Why would anyone be pleased upon receiving a diagnosis of a condition that is likely to interfere with his or her ability to keep a mate, maintain a job or relate to a parent or child?

Major Byron Strother claims that diagnoses at his hospital were made “only after careful consideration of all relevant clinical observation, direct examination and appropriate testing,” yet Captain Patrick Brady spent only 30 minutes with William Wooldridge. The most common personality inventory test in the nation is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which takes 60 to 90 minutes just to administer the test (see http://www.pearsonassessments.com/tests/mmpi_2.htm).

How, then, could both a test and a complete psychological examination of Wooldridge have been conducted in 30 minutes? I’d sure like to see the testing data supporting that claim of “personality disorder.”

Don’t our veterans deserve, at a minimum, a little intellectual honesty?

Dorothy Clay Sims

Ocala, Florida

Apr 10 2007 - 10:32am

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