On March 12 of 2015 I gave a speech for the “Grand Rounds” at the VA Hospital in Washington DC. One of my main points was the lack of trust between combat vets and VA mental health clinics. I have also voiced this opinion to the Poly Trauma Center at the Richmond, Virginia VA Hospital.

I have been asked many questions about one specific aspect of VA health care; “is my mental health information protected?” Short answer, NO.

There are many rumors in the veteran community about the VA releasing their health care information to States, to have their guns taken away. There is a plethora of information about attempts to circumvent the 2nd Amendment and vets feel like they are or will be targeted. I do not even know if the articles are accurate (too many to go through them all), but perception is reality, therefore if vets feel threatened, they are being threatened.

Multiple times I have heard vets say,

I cannot be honest, or at least totally truthful with the VA mental health clinic; I omit much information, because I am scared they will say I am a psychopath – just because I felt nothing (no sympathy, no empathy) when I was killing people who were trying to kill me and or my friends.”

Well the vets are right; people should look up psychopath in the DSM 5 before they judge warriors for doing their jobs. FYI, the infantry’s mission is “to destroy the enemy and his will to fight.” That many times it requires killing them – they are doing their jobs.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Notice of Privacy Practices, Effective Date Sept 23, 2013 (http://www.va.gov):

How the VHA may use or disclose YOUR health information WITHOUT your authorization (see below for more information about these categories):

Note: I will only mention the ones that apply to this topic. These are pretty general in nature, therefore up to interpretation by bureaucrats.

Health of safety activities.

NOTE: I am not sure what this means and it is not defined.

Public Health Activities (e.g., giving information about certain diseases to government agencies).

NOTE: Does this mean the State can say PTS is a disease and request all mental health records for the VA hospitals in the State?

Law Enforcement.

NOTE: Awfully general. Does that mean anyone in Law Enforcement?

National Security Matters.

NOTE: Makes sense to me; unless the State determines that Vets owning guns are a threat to national Security.

When Required by Law.

NOTES: Sounds like a court order to me, but not sure – again, not definition.

Much more information can be found at: (http://www.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=1423).

BUT, I recommend you be as honest as possible with the VA.

Your best therapists are those you fought with. You can share stories with them without worry of judgment.

Think about that…………

SF DKD

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Originally published on: Aug 7, 2015

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About The Author

David K. Devaney SgtMaj USMC Retired 2009 City of Hit Iraq with PTTDavid was born in Geneva New York and graduated from Geneva High School in 1980. He joined the Marine Corps on a guaranteed Infantry contract in April of 1983. After graduating boot camp he was stationed in Hawaii with 3rdBattalion 3rd Marines (3/3). While assigned to 3/3 he held billets as a rifleman, fire team leader, and squad leader. During 1986 Corporal (Cpl) Devaney was selected as a member of Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine. Upon graduation of Scout Sniper School he was assigned to the Scout Sniper Section of 3/3 STA Platoon. During his second deployment as a Scout Sniper with 3/3 he was promoted to Sergeant (Sgt). After a tour on the drill field from 1989-1991 Sgt Devaney returned to STA 3/3 were he deployed two more times. During 1994 Sgt Devaney was selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) and ordered to III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), Special Operation Training Group (SOTG); while at SOTG SSgt Devaney was assigned as a Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) and Urban Sniper Instructor and Chief Instructor. At the time III MEF SOTG Instructors were members of Joint Task Force 510 (JTF 510 CT); a Counter Terrorism Task Force. In 1998 he deployed to Operation Desert Fox with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4 and was attached to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 572/594 as a sniper. SSgt Devaney deployed again, during 2000, with ODA 135/136/132 to Malaysia as member of JTF 510, working with the Malaysian National Police. After leaving SOTG Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Devaney was assigned to Company A 1st Battalion 7th Marine, and spent much of his time training the Scout Snipers of 1/7. Just before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, he was selected to the rank of First Sergeant (1stSgt) and led 270 Marines, sailors, and soldiers during combat – receiving a Bronze Star Medal for destroying the enemy and their will to fight. During 2004 1st Sgt Devaney was ordered to duty as the Inspector Instructor Staff 1st Sgt for 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company, Savannah, Georgia. During 2007 he was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) and received orders to Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) stationed at Cherry Point, NC. There he trained a CADRE which in turn trained a massive Quick Reaction Force in combat operations. After two more deployments to Iraq SgtMaj Devaney received orders to Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, VA. SgtMaj Devaney retired from the Marine Corps on 31 December 20013. He now works as an adjunct combat instructor at the “Crucible’’ in Fredericksburg, VA. David is also on the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Association. David’s published work: Books Devaney, D.K. (2007). Surviving combat: Mentally and physically (3rd edition). 29 Palms, CA: USMC. Devaney, D.K. (2015). They Were Heroes: A Sergeant Major’s Tribute to Combat Marines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Articles Devaney, D.K. (2011) Enough Talk of Suicide, Already! Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2011) Can PTSD Be Prevented Through Education? Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2012) PTSD Is Not Cancer. The Marine Corps Gazette. Devaney, D.K. (2012) Women in Combat Arms Units. The Marine Corps Gazette.

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