This is why we must treasure each positive step we make towards improving the treatment system. One of the most frustrating things about the mental illness treatment system for our families is the lack of objective measures to help determine a diagnosis. That lack of objective measures leads to wrong diagnoses and improper treatment, with potentially debilitating or even fatal consequences.
Senator Jon Tester, working with NAMI Montana and our national organization, is beginning to turn the tide on this issue. In a November 1st letter to the Secretary of the VA David Shulkin, MD, Senator Tester stated, "I call on the VA to work with pertinent Federal and non-governmental partners to deploy at least two additional brain health diagnostic measurements for clinical use at VA facilities before 20121, with the deployment plan in the next year."
We are deeply grateful for Senator Tester's leadership on this critical issue. National NAMI and NAMI Montana held a Capitol Hill briefing on November 9th to further build support for improving the diagnostic system.
CSM(R) Tom Satterly and his wife, Jennifer, were the highlight of the briefing. Tom spent 25 years in the U.S. Army, 20 as an operator with 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta (Delta Force). Upon leaving the military, Tom's post traumatic stress injury (PTSD) was missed because of his responses to the diagnosing clinicians survey questions. Tom later almost lost his life to suicide.
Tom and Jennifer have worked together to achieve recovery from his post traumatic stress injury. The wrong diagnosis was a barrier to effective treatment, but it was a barrier that they were able to overcome together.
Tom and Jennifer's powerful and courageous story brought additional Congressional allies to the fight to improve the diagnostic system. Emily Blair, Military & Veterans' Policy for NAMI, and the NAMI Montana team are going to continue to press this momentum in Congress throughout the holiday season and into 2018.
It takes a long time to make a big change like this. Fights like these not measured in weeks or months, but in years. Still, I am grateful for all that we've been able to accomplish to this point.
Grateful to Senator Jon Tester, CSM(R) Tom Satterly, Jennifer Satterly, Emily Blair, and everyone that has worked so hard to turn the tide of veterans brain health issues.
Thank you and happy Thanksgiving,
p.s.Here are two articles for anyone who is interested in learning more about the VA's current efforts to improve diagnostic system. Article 1, Article 2