VA strengthens research and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder

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As more veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seek treatment for post—traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the Department of Veterans Affairs has improved how it funds PTSD research and treatment.

About 20 percent of veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced PTSD, an anxiety disorder which develops after experiencing a life—threatening event. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, maintaining relationships, and returning to civilian life. The VA conducted a thorough analysis of treatment options and implemented training programs to make the highest—rated treatments widely available throughout the Veterans Affairs hospital system, a Government Accountability Office report found.

Two types of therapy, cognitive—process therapy and prolonged—exposure therapy, were reviewed and approved by a Veterans Affairs medical panel as the standardized treatment for PTSD. Both treatments involve re—experiencing traumatic events and learning relaxation techniques to address anxiety associated with stressful memories.

The VA implemented a national training program to ensure its medical providers were trained in the preferred treatments. This guaranteed that all veterans who might need treatment for PTSD could receive it. In addition to treatment improvements, the VA increased PTSD research from $9.9 million in 2005 to $24.5 million in 2009.

FAST FACT: In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs received $510 million for medical and prosthetic research.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.

MISC.

  • The Chinese Communist Party uses student informants at universities to expose students and professors with subversive or unconventional political views. The Student Informant System was established after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Students have had scholarships revoked and their academic records penalized based on information reported by the informants, but recent backlash has led to the informants’ names being posted online. (CIA)
  • The director of the Congressional Research Service, Daniel Mulhollan, is stepping down in April. A leadership change could bring about other changes—such as the possibility that CRS reports could be released to the public, which is currently forbidden. Mulhollan also imposed a strict neutrality policy, which barred analysts from stating one position was stronger than another, even when evidence indicated otherwise. (FAS)

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