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Has the VA made a monster of me ?


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Hello, this will probably be a very long post, it may also contain many spelling and punctuation errors, please forgive me, I am less worried about my typing atm, and a bit more worried about getting this off my chest.

I am a 39 year old Veteran of Desert Storm, now I never actually saw any action, as i was stationed in Fairbanks Alaska, however the term still fits.

I want to make sure i stress the above statement, everything that has happened to me, is a result of training in Alaska.

The problems all started I guess, because we happened to have a first sergent who really did not care to see if his subordinates actually performed thier duty's while adhearing to the guidelines described under the UCMJ, which in layman's terms is pretty much a police officers guide to what is lawful, and what is unlawful.

It also goes into some detail about the requirements of being a soldier, such as what laws must be obeyed, and what you can and can not do to the people that you outrank, like can't sleep with thier wifes, cant force them to pay you a portion of thier check, etc etc.

In one of the guidelines, I cant remember the exact passage, it speaks of the physical level a soldier must meet, and what punishments can be given if they cannot meet it.

The passage I am going to speak of concearns the ability to perfom the bi-daily 5 mile run, which all soldiers in the army must be able to do at 8 mins a mile.

So a 5 mile run would take 8 mins a mile times 5 = 40 minutes, the platoon I was in required you ran 7 min miles, even though the UCMJ stated this was not allowed, I apologize for all of this extra info, but I need to feel you understand where this all started.

So, to get closer to the main point of this book, those of us who were unable to complete this run under this new time frame, were given remidal PT and smoke sessions.

Remidal PT simply means more PT, you run extra miles every day pretty much while they are screaming at you.

Now smoke sessions, and here we get to the meat of this letter, this was left up to whatever twisted mind was in charge that day, and would often consists of the Koala Bear (Which is 2 sergents would grab you, turn you upside down, force you to wrap your arms and legs around the trunk of a tree, and then let you go).

You would then be forced to hang like that, until your arms and legs could no longer support you weight and you would fall onto your head, sometimes they would do this many times back to back, just to watch you fall as soon as they let go.

Next was the stair run, you would be in full gear, about 100 lbs, and they would then pile into your arms 2x4's or 4x4's whatever they had near, and force you to run up and down a stairwell until your body gave out, and you lay on the floor twitching, this was called Smoking you, which pretty much means they force you to hurt yourself, until your body just cant keep up anymore, and your arms and legs are like rubber.

I mention all of this because it leads me to the problem I currently have, due to all of this abuse (Which only stopped when i walked into the platoon sergents office with a copy of the UCMJ opened to that passage, and boy did I pay for that).

I now suffer from very bad lower back pain, imagine a charley horse but through your entire left side of your body, this has led to a weaker left side of my body, as you tend to baby the pain, and this has been going on for around 10 yrs.

When I first got out of the army, i went to the VA there to complain of back pain, they x-rayed me told me i was nuts, and sent me home.

Over the net few years I tried again a few times, with the same results, I guess I was still in the army frame of mind, because it took me a few years before i started getting angry about it, and not taking go home as a answer, by that time my problem had become progressivly worse, and i was in pain alot, and about 4 years ago, it began to become really bad, to the point, that at this time i walk with a cane, I can no longer perform the phsyical action of sex, and at the ripe old age of 39, I am no more active than a 90 year old man.

I am, or was fighting the VA tooth and nail, they seem to want to spend 98% of thier work day trying to prove your a drug addict, or faking a back injury, and 2% of the time actually looking at you.

So October of last year I went to the local ER, as the VA one was a 45 min drive away in Erie PA, I had fallen and the impact had sent my poor pain receptors in my back into a frenzy, the gave me a cat scan, for the first time in my life, and after about 8 years of the VA seeing me.

The local ER doctor came back with the results in his hand, and told me that I was legit !!, and also said he felt i should not let up on the VA, that if i kept fighting them i would eventually win.

I tried, I even wrote my congressman, I fought for a long while, but now I find myself, the person I call me, the one person I can never leave, turning into someone I cant stand, I am so mad all of the time, I am so filled with hate, I honestly at times want to seriously harm the doctors at the VA.

So worried that I might actually snap one day, I went in 1 final time, told them to shove thier crappy medical service into dark holes noone ever sees and walked out.

Now I am dealing with SSID, not much different, and i still have not been able to get rid of the anger that the VA pretty much gave me as a free present,.

So I went from the complete polar opposite(I was always the funny guy people gravitated too at parties, the guy you knew would watch your back, a good person)

Into a person who thinks about teaching them a lesson they wont soon forget.

So, my body is screwed, but my mind still works, thats not heatly at all, and i cant stand being that way, the VA has messed me up in a way I never thought possible.

So what can I do from here ?

I hide in my room locked away from the world in fear i will snap.

I can no longer have a physical relation ship with a woman, well one that would keep her around anyway, I am 39 and cant go fishing, cant work (And I used to live for work) cant act like a normal person all because someone thought they were above the military and had the right to make up new rules as we went along.

Can you even understand how much anger this would give to a person ?

I am going to end this letter here, I honestly dont know what else to say on this subject, I will be checking back periodically to answer questions, and or read a responce or two.

If anyone out there has ANY experience at all about any of the issues above, please respond, I desperatly need to find some way to cope until i can get the help i need.

Thankyou for taking the time to read this note.

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In answer to your question, no, I don't believe the VA has made you a monster. Only you can do that. I have been dealing with the VA for the last 30 years and have seen enormous changes, most for the better. Without seeming the advocate, the VA has provided me with what I consider to be quality care. That does not mean that there hasn't been times were I had to wait or disagreed with their diagnosis, but I never lost my cool for they are people too and have short comings as we all do. They are almost always under staffed and under pressure to provide the best possible care at their disposal. If I had to pay for my medical care I would have died a long time ago, so I am grateful beyond all measure in that their care has allowed me the opportunity to live a productive and fulfilling life.

What exactly are you looking to gain from the VA besides medical care? Have you filed for disability and been denied? Have you ever confided in an older vet or tried to get one to become your advocate? Older vets know how to get things taken care of or at the least will be able to point you in the right direction. It has been my experience that if you can maintain your cool and not get angry but persist in your idea you are more apt to receive the care you are looking for.

You do seem to have anger issues which you attribute to the VA and their lack of service. To me it seems to be more than that and you may very well benefit from therapy. For you see, I used to be angry too and I blamed it on the government but the truth be known I was really more dissatisfied with my own decisions. I had not given much thought to who I was and what I expected from myself,and therefore failed to realize my full potential. The thing about therapy is that it takes time and their is no quick fix to problems that at the time seems over powering.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi dcosper and Anonnymous,

I agree with Annoymous that you may have some psychological problems. Please understand that I do not mean that your back pain is unreal. I am quite sure that it is very real. However, there is a strong tone of anger and rage in your E. Mail. Here, too, do not misunderstand: I am sure you have good reasons for your anger. However, it is not helping you. You are out of the army and need help with a couple of things: 1. Your back pain, 2. Your avoidance of going out and doing things, 3. You emotional state and it does appear that you are upset. In fact, perhaps you are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of your army experiences.

So, I suggest that you get your self some psychotherapy along with help for your back. The VA does provide psychotherapy or you could see someone privately but that will cost you.

Can you tell us more about your self and your life before the army?


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In fact, perhaps you are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of your army experiences.

Agreed - this is a possibility. However, at the very least, your army training experiences were legitimately abusive and you may be dealing with coming to grips with legitimate anger surrounding that abuse and the subsequent frustrating experiences you've had with the VA. You don't need to develop PTSD as a result of being abused to get angry about it.

Your experiences remind me of being bullied as a child, only what you went through was worse than what I had to endure, it sounds like. I wrote an essay about the long term effects of bullying which has been well received. many people have commented on it and have shared their own experiences. It is very common to leave a bullying experience angry and wanting revenge, and for these feelings to persist decades later.

I agree that you might very well benefit from psychotherapy. The VA may have anger management therapy available to you, for instance as you are surely angry. you would benefit from learning how to express anger and control it better, and also how to let go of it when it isn't serving you. It may be useful to connect with other abuse victims, possibly other service veterans who were abused within the service. There's a lot of that and no one talks about it. The image is always "Team America" as though its one big unified bunch, but just as in civilian life, soldiers form cliques and get their jollies by picking on people perceived to be weak. Full Metal Jacket (the film) was about that sort of thing. And there are sadists distributed everywhere, although thankfully in small amounts only.

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