Desert Storm Vet: Veterans With PTSD Misjudged

Thursday, 03 Apr 2014 02:46 PM

By Lisa Barron

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Many military veterans who are being treated for PTSD are angry because the media and often the American public immediately associates them with acts of violence such as Wednesday's shooting rampage at Fort Hood says SPC Andy Rubenstein, who served in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield.

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"It does anger me, because those four letters, all of a sudden people think we're all violent, you know, that all we do is think about the war and we're going to take it upon people and anything like that, where there are many people that I know, that are at the current VA that I attend weekly, if not monthly, and they're very calm, no violence whatsoever," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman, J.D. Hayworth and Ed Berliner on "America's Forum" on Thursday.

"The bottom line is, when you suffer from PTSD you just have to stay away from things that are triggers and for me, I don't really have any trigger points to where I become violent because I'm just not a violent person."

Rubenstein, who was based at Fort Hood from 1990-1991, is currently working towards his college degree. He is also a NASCAR enthusiast who two years ago was honored by the Armed Forces Foundation and Phoenix Racing at the Sprint Cup Series race in Indianapolis; his name was on the No. 51 car driven by Kurt Busch to raise awareness of PTSD.

Rubenstein said the Veterans Administration provides 24 hour telephone support system for those being treated for PTSD.

"They have a 1-800 number that we can call at any time we need. And if we feel like we're going to harm ourselves, or harm other people, we can just contact them and talk to them. What they do is, they send a message over to our doctor and our doctor will follow up with us or if it's during the day and we just want to talk to someone, we can just actually email our specific doctor through the Veterans Administration website."

Asked if there are enough doctors to treat the tens of thousands of veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD, Rubenstein replied, "I would say they've fallen short, but in a sense they're doing much better. [With] Vietnam there was just nothing there. Now, there is 24 hour access, there are groups. The problem is there are just not enough doctors and there are not enough psychotherapists, and once they get all of those people on board then ultimately… the problem will never go away, but they'll… we’ll be able to be seen more frequently."

Rubenstein said that it would be difficult to implement policy changes in terms of access to firearms and military bases such as Fort Hood.

"Fort Hood is huge. I'm talking 70,000-plus people. It's basically a city. If they were to literally check everyone that came in and out of that base as if, say, a TSA would do, the backlog to get onto the base would be miles long. So it seems literally impossible," he explained.

Rubenstein said there is help for troubled vets, but many do not want to be part of the Veterans Administration because they feel that they don't get treated fairly. But, he added, "You get free healthcare, free prescriptions, all you have to do is you might have to wait a little bit at the doctor."

Rubenstein said he would not be opposed to background checks for firearms purchases that revealed whether someone had PTSD.

"As a matter of fact, I don't know if I'm going to be in the minority or majority on this, but if someone is mentally incapable of holding a weapon responsibly, they shouldn't carry it anyway, and if that means that they have to go into our VA records to determine that I've been 'diagnosed' with PTSD, then I'm good with that."

"And you know something? I wouldn't even try to get one anyway. But yes, to answer your question, they should have stricter laws for mental health ,and that is also maybe throw in the application, were you ever in a war zone and if that's the case, have you been diagnosed with PTSD?" he added.

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