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Diagnosis of Vets Betrays a Lack of Understanding

June 18, 2005

Re "Saving Our Vets Once They're Home," Commentary, June 13: Sally Satel thinks returning Vietnam War vets were over-diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Slaughtering human beings with high-tech, flesh-shredding machinery shouldn't make anyone insane. It was those massively extravagant disability payments that led to all those homeless guys wandering around my nearby town of Oceanside.

Those guys were led to expect that they might have problems so, voila -- they developed problems.

And when their doctors tried to treat those imaginary problems, voila -- they made them worse.

We don't want these same things happening to our new crop of temporarily stressed-out warriors.

They should just suck it up and forget all those memories of blood and terror. We can have some more tax cuts with all that money the Veterans Affairs Department will save.

Eric Parish

Vista

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I am a Vietnam War veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. The problem with the treatment of this disorder is that the people treating us have never been to war.

People like Satel always seem to blame us for our problems. We couldn't just forget it and move on. Most of us did move on and went to college, married and had careers. Then the PTSD took control, and men who had been business executives or broadcast journalists ended up homeless and in need of benefits from the VA.

People like Satel aren't there to help veterans but to protect the system. Her idea about veterans being rehabilitated makes it sound like we are convicts.

Wasn't it the veterans themselves after Vietnam who set up groups to address the disorder because the VA wasn't doing the job or discounted the validity of PTSD?

I went to the VA in 1988 and got help from a staff that treated me like a human being and not another number, but the program was terminated and the veterans were left to go back to isolation and demoralization.

I didn't ask to go to war, and I didn't ask to be treated by the VA, and I didn't plan in junior high to be living on disability as I approach the end of my life, but that's what happens sometimes when you send naive, small-town boys off to a immoral and worthless war. Satel and the like-minded can go to war and then tell me what is best for me.

Tim Connelly

Richfield, Minn.

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