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Sonja Batten on veterans care

As much hope as these nursing programs offer, it’s difficult to overestimate the psychological stress our servicemen face.

Consider this startling statistic: During the first five months of this year, 154 active American service members committed suicide. That’s nearly one a day — and exceeds the number who died in combat.

So what can the Veteran Affairs department do to treat traumatized vets once they return home? For more on that, we are joined from Washington by Sonja Batten. Dr. Batten is the V.A.’s deputy chief consultant for specialty mental health.


  • VA Employee

    Great program.  Ms. Sonya Batten did not adress the problem of the Veterans hospital closing mostly at
    3:3pm – which makes it difficult for any veteran to get time off from work. I don’t understand why the VA acts like it wants to really help these veterans when they expect the veteran to take time off from  work (and lose money) just because the doctorsproviders want to work particular schedules.

    Regarding the VA again, when they are hiring all these psych social workers the facility in xxxxxx does not even have office space for the employees they have now.  Some employees have to search the hospital often for a PC and bring their work to the library which is not meant for additional work space.

    The Caregiver Support Program – althought > 1 yr. now- many VA’s do not even have the staff they are to have and they often times receive push-back from admin. and employees because the program is new & not really understood nor respected.  It  is a great program for sure, if given approp. staff & time to develop the program to it’s fullest potential.

    These returning veteran need to have a broad range of office hours and the social workers/psych need for be given adequate space/room so that they veteran may have the oportunity to talk to providers in private.

  • GofrillerZiller

    Your comment about Veterans losing work hours to seek medical help from VA hospitals that close at 3:30, really hit home. The VA Hospitals do NOT PAY the bills submitted by the hospitals that provide surgical facilities for them.  This causes GREAT MENTAL STRESS for the veterans who, with pre-existing conditions, cannot get medical care via any other insurer.  The VA payment centers are refusing to pay the bills despite having authorized the work from doctors in certain designated hospitals. Why?   Are they just waiting for their heart patients to die?    

            With a decree that our neighbor had to accept the implantation of a heart defibrillator, the regular heart doctor said “Don’t do it. The leads are often defective and you will receive repeated, horrible electric shocks to no longterm benefit.  After five years, the device will no longer be guaranteed, and the leads cannot be removed to be examined for lawsuit purposes because heart muscle will have grown around the lead. Any attempt to remove the leads from a living patient will tear up the heart muscle, causing possible mortality. Then, new leads, if it can be determined which has malfunctioned, will have to be installed in ADDITION to the old leads – about 3 leads for every seven years….. If you’re 42 now, how many leads will be under your skin when you’re 70?  Will you die first from the tazings or from the 4 surgeries?  At $70,000 dollars of debt per surgery, UNPAID by the VETERANS HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATION, how will your stress level be doing?   And what will have happened to your CREDIT  RATING ??!!!” 

             The VA Hospital will claim that they have not received the billing information and the details of the surgery from your hospital – the real hospital that they authorized to do the work for their 20-story building that houses no real hospital facilities. Return receipt, courier-delivered paperwork also receives the same excuses.  What is the scam?

  • Lostandfound

    When you look past all the weasel words this person used when asked pertinent questions as to why veterans are not getting the care quickly enough or, in a lot of cases, not at all, what I took away from it was, you’re on your own when you come back from war. As a child, I was victim to a household war everyday until I was old enough to flee the war zone. Not the same you say? Live it, then offer your take. The powers that be see fit to spend billions of dollars on needless war but, not to take care of the people they sent into harms way, and, so it is with the civilians who were fractured mentally for life by insane parents. Yet, the government/oligarchy is tearing down the social network put in place to help such people. On the show a male nurse was given a job, not in his field but sent to a household where a broken soldier makes his wife and kids nuts, for how long? Not just for one or two tours in battle but, for the remainder of their lives. This male nurse councils the wife on how to cope and care for a man who has more than a credible chance of committing suicide or worse, killing his wife and kids in a rage only professional people can treat. I work forty to fifty eight hours a week and can’t afford the treatment I need, this soldier and his family doesn’t have a chance. And, for the lady of veteran affairs and the nurse who thinks he’s doing a great service, I say, you don’t have a clue.   

  • John king

    The only way to get emergency  treatment for a mental condition at the VA is to go to the ER and tell them you are going to blow your brains out if you don’t get help. You have to tell them you have a definite plan and even then they will try and talk you out of an admission. The other way is for the police to bring you there. If you get violent the VA will turn you over to the same police because they are afraid of vets.