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?
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…………
*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
Brought to you by the dudes at Spotter Up