PTSD frauds, fakers and the rare Real Thing

11Feb14

Doing something a little different today, guys. I’m just learning how this whole Search Engine Optimization thing works, and apparently I’ve been stealing views from the sites I write for by reposting my essay here. So I’m just going to put up the first paragraph of my most recent essay, and ask you to please follow the link to read the rest of it. And feel free to comment here, on the other site, or both. Thanks guys.

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Staff Sergeant David Moore, standing third from right. I'm kneeling at far right.

Staff Sergeant David Moore, standing third from right. I’m kneeling at far right.

A couple of months ago I was watching Fox News and a preview for an upcoming story came on. The story was about a veteran with PTSD who had been prescribed a “PTSD dog”. The preview showed the back of the veteran’s head and showed him petting his dog as he drove his truck. The veteran’s southern drawl was evident, but his face was never shown.

I’m a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and am well aware of the PTSD problem among some veterans. Unfortunately, I’m also well aware of the legion of liars and fakers pretending to have PTSD in order to get a monthly government handout. When I saw the preview, my first feeling wasn’t sympathy or concern. It was, Yeah, this guy has PTSD. I bet a rocket landed two miles away when he was on a huge base, and since then he’s been making up symptoms so he can get a disability check. Sure, whatever.

A few minutes later they showed the full story (which is here, if you’re interested). When I saw the veteran, I was stunned. It was Staff Sergeant David Moore, a Georgia National Guard soldier I was with on many missions with in Afghanistan.

David Moore and his PTSD dog Wilco.

David Moore and his PTSD dog Wilco.

Read the rest at http://www.breachbangclear.com/site/10-blog/632-ptsd-fakers-and-frauds-and-wtaf.html

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34 Responses to “PTSD frauds, fakers and the rare Real Thing”

  1. Amen.

    Make fraudulent statements a 100% bar to any further benefit payments, and prosecute their past receipt like it was income tax evasion and fraud. By the IRS, no less. They’ve proven ever so tender and understanding about that sort of thing.

    For the more egregious whoppers, including anything that remotely qualifies as Stolen Valor offenses, the vets in question should be recalled to active duty, tried by general courts martial by a jury composed of 100% combat vets, and awarded whatever such court might direct, to include incarceration in a military prison at hard labor, a DD upon release, and permanent posting of their particulars on an open and public government website. People that proud of their military service should have it put on display to receive its proper due.

    I’d be happy to see a cut of an equivalent fraction of the federal prison budget in trade for putting those douche potatoes where they belong.

    • Have you considered running for office? :)

      • Yes, but being honest, I wouldn’t be able to find many allies, and showing up for work every day with a fully charged flamethrower would upset some folks.

        But thanks for the thought.
        Keep writing.

    • 4 John Duffy

      I tricked the VA into giving me 100% Disabilty for PTSD. Best thing for my future and retirement. And I don’t care what you think. Just sayin’!

      • On the off chance you’re telling the truth, why don’t you explain how you did it? Was it difficult? Seriously, I’d like to know.

        The floor is yours.

  2. My wife is a social worker, and she (gently) chides me whenever I object to TV dramas and the like that imply that all vets are somehow broken psychologically. I can’t get it across to her that I’m still in touch with tons of folks I served with, and not one of them – not one – is anything like what Hollywood likes to portray as a vet.

    I haven’t run into fakers, and I don’t know for sure how I’d react. But I expect that my initial reaction to meeting a vet claiming PTSD would be skepticism, much like yours. And I hadn’t considered your on-target point about how unfair that is to the folks who really are suffering from PTSD, which is all the more reason for rejecting the liars.

    • Thanks Boyd. I know vets who do have PTSD, and I know vets who seem to have never suffered any ill effects from wartime service. I also hate the assumption that all us vets are suffering. I even had an aspiring writer, when my wartime service came up in a conversation about my writing, suddenly get a look of concern and ask me, “Are you okay?” That crap really gets on my nerves.

  3. 8 Andrew Johnston

    Chris, I just read this essay on disqus and wanted to thank you for letting me work with your team for a couple weeks back in 09. I learned a lot from you guys and remembered it when I got my own team. So, thanks for putting up with me.

    • Hey man, we enjoyed having you. I still have the pictures from those missions you were out on. You don’t happen to have a copy of your “MoH recommendation”, do you?

  4. 10 JKosprey

    I agree with this on multiple levels. This kind of behavior hurts ALL vets. It may actually do more harm to the non-PTSD sufferers than it does to the real deal- I think the ones with indisputable issues are more likely to get help no matter what…but it makes the borderline or less serious cases leery of reaching out.

    I deployed to Iraq in 2010 as a medic for a company of engineers. We were pretty much fobbits. We did a bunch of base closure or base improvement work. We fixed roads, hesco walls, drainage work, forklifted CHU’s. We spent about half the time on a very large, safe base with all the amenities. My platoon also spent about 6 months on a tiny firebase with the 4th ID.

    The only danger we were exposed to was IDF (a couple that felt pretty damn close but none that was life-threatening), and a few IED strikes while running to different project sites, that did almost no damage and caused no casualties. I spent most of the time handing out ibuprofin and eventually learned to run some of the equipment.

    I still had problems adjusting when I came home, and 3 years later I’m still working through them. Being “ON” for that long, waiting for something to finally happen- and having it never happen- actually affected me worse than I think direct danger would have. It was like combat blue balls. I had a startle reflex for awhile- hated the fire siren in town that sounded like the incoming alarms, I’m still bothered by fireworks or other sudden loud noises.

    There’s also guilt that comes with it. I know a bunch of other vets that DID see combat. I read all kinds of stories of what other soldiers did over in the Middle East (and yours, Chris, are some of my favorites). And I feel downright awful that when people learn I’m a veteran and a medic, they lump me in with the guy who patched up his buddies under fire- when really, I was a glorified construction worker with a greater-than-average knowledge of pharmacology. It was enough to drive me to try and go back- but that’s not an option due to some (non-military related) hip problems.

    I would NEVER try to use my adjustment difficulties to scam money. However, these fakers make it so that people like me are less likely to go forth and talk to anyone professional. Not only do I not want to be diagnosed with PTSD, I also fear being labelled a PTSD-faker.

    • J,

      Hey man, if your problems are real, they’re real. You don’t have to have hit the beach at Normandy to have some issues from your service. If you don’t want money for it, don’t get any, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t just go talk to someone. That’s what the counselors are there for. My only point with the essay was that so many veterans are lying about trauma that they’re causing problems for vets who really need help. Any veteran who isn’t lying isn’t part of the problem.

      About combat blue balls, I know EXACTLY what you mean. As a convoy escort guy in Iraq I never PID’d a target and was never in a direct fire engagement. Once I was loaned to another team that needed a gunner, and I was stoked; “Yay, I don’t have to command anything, I just get to shoot some insurgents!” So we make a run to Camp Victory, and nothing happens. The next night on the way back, nothing was happening. We passed another of my company’s convoys going the other way. About three minutes later I hear one of my friends on the other convoy, screaming “Contact! Ambush right!” on the radio, with his gunner dumping .50 rounds in the background. I remember ducking into the Humvee, looking at my TC and blurting, “What the fuck? WE WERE JUST THERE! Why the fuck didn’t anyone shoot at us?”

      One of my friends from my Iraq deployment later volunteered to go to Afghanistan with an embedded training team. We had very similar experiences over there. He later told me, “Afghanistan was therapy for Iraq.” And I absolutely agree.

  5. 12 zuk

    Holy Crap Chris, I read the comments on the other site. You’d think you were putting puppies in a blender on youtube and not sharing your personal opinions and reactions. The lack of critical reading and comprehension is probably directly correlated to their (in)ability to understand the negative effects that the fakers have on the system and society.

    There also sounds like some really personal “doubling down” going on there. (Like when a kid gets caught in a lie and tells an even bigger one.) Some sort of “I’m sick dammit, I really am!!!11!~!!11″ with complete obliviousness to your argument that the fakers distract and steal resources from them–if they really are affected.

    You even got a concern troll or two.

    In other words, you got the whole range of internet comment types in a very short space, with an extra helping of vitriol. The worst ones seem to have come in via links, or other forums (so not longtime readers or fellow travelers) and they were quick to get out the torches and pitchforks.

    Anyway, just finished Line in the Valley, and it kept me glued right to the end. I think your technical skills have increased a lot, so whatever you’ve been doing, keep it up :-) I hope the follow on comes soon, I am REALLY interested to see how it all works out. Not sure if it would fill a novel (without maybe triggering a constitutional crisis) but I want to know where it ends. I can see the challenges of telling that story in an active way….

    BTW, did you write the story of the Houston event and I just missed it? Or is that just a detail you put in to give you a hook to hang another book on?

    Keep up the good work,

    zuk

    • Thanks Zuk. I’ve pretty much filtered through the nonsense comments, and mostly engage only the substantive ones. There have been some great observations, both opposing and supporting my essay. I’m still tickled by the guy who hates me for making veterans more likely to commit suicide, claims I secretly have PTSD, and then wants me to commit suicide.

      Glad you enjoyed LITV, I was pretty nervous how well it would be received. Would you mind dropping a review on Amazon? And you didn’t miss anything, I haven’t released the Houston story yet. That was actually book 2 of the series, but the first one I wrote. I hope to have it out later this year.

      Thanks for the support, brother!

  6. 14 Joe in PNG

    As anyone who as browsed This Ain’t Hell can tell you, pretty much every Valor Thief will claim PTSD, even the jackwagons who washed out of basic after 2 weeks, but claims to be a 1st Cav SEAL with multiple awards from “over there”.

  7. Howdy Chris! Talk about fakers…. Did you see that U.S. marshals arrested a guy named A.J Dicken who passed himself off as a highly decorated navy seal? He claimed all the predictable, including not one but two, congressional medals of honor. Ammoland ran the story today, monday Feb. 17. I’m not sure which is worse, valor thieves or crappy hollywood types who think that actual heroism isn’t enough!

  8. Pat Martin • 2 minutes ago Note left on the breach bang site.
    If you’re a combat veteran you most likely have things to deal with even if you think you don’t. Some have manageable milder symptoms but their story may not be over yet! There are a few ways to cope with ptsd and working a lot along with distraction can help you slide through your busy years. Once the kids are raised and life begins to slow down things can fall apart and the veteran has no idea why. I agree with John Kovaka that some have ptsd and you wouldn’t think they should have it. (Side note) In addition to the hundred thousand plus Vietnam era suicides are the accidents which take veterans lives. A combat veteran is five times more likely to die living life on the edge, motorcycles, etc. If you find yourself doing risky things you better take review; it can be suicide by proxy. If you think you’re out of the ptsd woods I recommend that you stay aware of changes in your life many years after the fact. Most of the Vietnam drinkers, druggers are no longer with us but the guy who submerges himself in tons of work is a ticking time bomb, stay aware for the aftershock my brothers.
    • Edit• Reply•Share ›
    Avatar
    John Kovaka • 7 days ago
    56,620 ,KIA. Vietnam 2400 or so missing presumed Dead body not recovered. A nation that called us killers dopers and threw crap in our faces. Most tours of 13 months in combat zones ( grunts) saw 205 days of Combat. Actual combat arty, ambushes search and destroy missions . DOD stats …Hundred thousand at least (VA stats) committed suicide after returning home. I was a Marine in I corps participated in hasting, mutters ridge and 12 other operations (see history 3rd Bn 4th marines) my mos 0331 machine gunner. I know what ptsd is. I have a friend who served in the army in an air conditioned office… His job….. typing up every after action death report for graves Reg. after a year when he returned home he went off the deep end.seeing all those name reading all those death reports finally ,got to him. Do not judge what we as human beings can take we are after all different ……are there fakers yes but watch out who you accuse. My friend never quite got over that year that slowly took his very being away. His life never got to normal. PTSD yeah he had it.

  9. 19 reserve corporal

    Hi Jason, i posted this video in an old post and i trully love it, i especially love the stupid look the guy as in front of this congresswoman. It s a trully awesome footage !

  10. 20 maston

    I commented on a Facebook page that I thought service dogs for PTSD was bullshit. I didn’t say that PTSD was bullshit, just acquiring a legitimate service dog was bullshit. Oh boy, let the harassment begin! I was called a cunt, there were 3 requests that I be raped. Pictures from my Facebook page were inserted in the comment section calling me and my daughter pigs. Many people threatened me with bodily harm. There was a comment asking how much flour I had to be rolled in so my husband could fuck me. And on and on it went. So, I was forced to deactivate my page for fear of more personal attacks against me or my family.
    So I Googled “Am I the only person who thinks PTSD is abused”, and found your article.
    I was in the Navy and back in the 80′s the last thing you’d ever do is go to medical and say you were depressed. You didn’t want anything in your medical records even suggesting you’re a little crazy.
    Now, every vet I meet claims some form if PTSD. I guy I know was in Vietnam, and I know things were terrible. But now he’s claiming PTSD because he doesn’t like crowds and loud noises. How about just saying, I don’t like crowds and loud noises, and go about your day!
    Why does every member of our society now seem compelled to have some type of condition?
    I find it so annoying! My dad would have said PTSD is like global warming, and suggest that they man up and quit acting like a little girl. He was a marine and cut off his fingers in a meat grinder while slicing carrots. He must have had PTSD because after the accident he couldn’t eat sliced carrots.
    For those with real PTSD, get counseling and move on with your life. Dwelling on past events and being “labeled” won’t help and neither will getting a certified Service Dog. Just go get a dog and enjoy it.

  11. Chris, you don’t need to approve my last comment but guys like matson really upset me. They have lots of opinions but no education on the subject. If you don’t have PTSD you won’t ever understand so shut the hell up.

  12. Damn it, now I am pissed off just thinking about it. I’ve met veterans who have not applied for a disability who had a good career after combat but later on fell apart and only went to the VA for help; guys who just wanted to die and had no idea why. Once again if you don’t have PTSD then, damn it, keep your mouth shut and leave this to the professionals.

  13. Chris Hernandez, this question is for you! Why have 150,000 Vietnam Veterans committed suicide? What about the 90% divorce rate, the 33% higher accidental death rate over the non veteran population? The list goes on in a negative way exceeding the civilian population. If PTSD should only really affect a small percentage then why have we seen these numbers. Yes, I agree there are fakers or people who had prior problems blaming it on combat. Chris, I cannot speak for your war but I know veterans die every day from suicide even as we speak. I truly do think if a person did not become affected by PTSD then how can they place a personal number on who or how many should or should not encounter PTSD.

  14. Almost 500,000 Vietnam Veterans died between the years 2000 to 2007, only about 20% of all Vietnam Veterans are still living. Compare this number to the general population and see what you get, it’s not even close. Sorry Chris, just letting it out buddy. done here!

    • Pat,

      I’m not ignoring your comments (or the comments that pissed you off), but I’ve been tied up with family stuff today. I’ll respond as soon as I’m able. Do you have a link for the 20% statistic?

    • Pat,

      According to the stats I just found, 2.6 million troops served in Vietnam. If you include those who served in ships, it’s over 3 million. If we only count the 2.6 million, then the claim is that only approximately 500,000 of those troops are alive. That’s hard to believe. Granted, a certain number of those deaths are to be expected; the senior officers and NCOs, in their 40s in 1965, would be in their 90s now. Even the youngest veterans, 18 in 1975, are nearing 60. But even with the normal mortality rate for those age groups, I have a hard time believing over two million VN vets have died since the end of the war. Where did you find that claim?

        • The fastest population growth is 85 years of age, yes it’s been a long time since Vietnam but did you not read the part about the 150,000 who killed themselves and you can double that considering the dare devil life style of many of them. You implied in your initial story that real ptsd cases were nothing like what these reports show, just saying. I agree there are many fakers, no denying that but Chris you seem to minimize the real numbers involved with PTSD, I’m just saying take a closer look at it and you many not be so critical of some who you may think are fakers just because they are not like you and could take it like you did. The thing many don’t realize is that other people are not us, they do not react or do things like we do things but often we judge others from our own perspective. I think PTSD is more than you do but not saying I’m right, it’s just my opinion.

        • Interesting stats, definitely a lot higher mortality rate than I would have expected. But actually, I found one particular point extremely enlightening: four out of five people who claim to have served in VN are lying. That’s more what I was talking about, not minimizing the effect of PTSD.

          • Almost half of the veterans were already dead when this “Census” was taken in 1995. Note, this was a census and yes the lied on the phone but they were not claiming being in country to the VA, it shows on your DD214 where you have been. What you were talking about was not the liars on the phone it was the liars who said they have PTSD and granted there are a lot of them and I have never disagreed with you on that. What I am disagreeing with is “PTSD frauds, fakers and the rare Real Thing” The RARE real thing is not so RARE buddy. It’s obvious that from my era of Veteran it’s not so rare. The ones who never got help are mostly dead way earlier than they should have been and there are many like this. If you don’t agree Chris, that’s ok, but I think the facts support that PTSD is not so rare, I’m willing to bet you have PTSD, not in a severe way but I bet you tag 50% of the signs. I don’t think you’ll ever fall apart due to it but it is possible as droves got hit by it after their busy years. may last post here, no more responses from me, thank you for all you do and thank you for your service.


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