Department of Florida

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VA&R

December 2021

Much to talk about this month. I’ll begin with last month’s busy Fall Conference. As always many classes were conducted and all were well attended. I held a combined meeting of the Department’s VAVS reps and VA&R Committee. In attendance were members having combined Legion experience of well over 100 years and we were of the consensus that we can find ways to work around COVID restrictions and step up our game, so to speak, in doing all we can to help our fellow veterans. I look forward to the coming months and being able to expand the Legion’s footprint.

We also conducted yet another successful Post Service Officer class with instruction done by our partner, the Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs and graduated 51 PSO’s. Congratulations to all and thank you for your dedication.

Just a couple of pieces of information related to benefits. It has been noted by the National Institutes of Health that female military personnel and veterans are 40% more at risk of developing breast cancer and especially those who during their service were exposed to burn pits. Especially those under the age of 40. Two Senators have begun putting pressure on the Department of Veterans Affairs to do in-depth research into that link. I anticipate there’ll be more information forthcoming. An issue I’ve spoken to previously continues, that being companies or individuals who charge veterans or their families for claims assistance. According to information gathered from these groups their charges would be illegal were they actually accredited representatives. Steer clear of them!

I’d now like to address an issue that’s been a couple of years in the making. There’s been increased conversation with regard to what’s apparently some confusion linking “PTS” with “PTSD” and a so-called “cure”. A couple of things: first, the American Psychiatric Association ( who publishes the DSM-5 manual of mental disorders), the VA agree on two things. That PTS is a normal reaction to a traumatic event and not a mental disorder and is more likely than not to improve or substantially subside within 1- 3 months, therefore no treatment is recommended, therefore PTS isn’t even mentioned in DSM-5. Should that condition worsen it can develop into PTSD and the individual should by all means be treated by a trained clinician. PTSD is indeed a disorder and mental health experts agree that there is no cure, however with effective therapy patients can learn to manage symptoms and live a more normal life armed with the knowledge that the possibility always exists that symptoms/triggers may occur. With regard to this, please be aware that if a veteran is rated by the VA for PTSD, that rating can indeed be reduced or taken away should the veteran adamently claim to be cured or if his/her claim is shown to be fraudulent. The catchphrase is, “The VA give-ith and the VA can take-ith away”. I hope this clarifies or at least answers some of the questions that have arisen from this matter.

As always, I look forward to the new year and continuing to do all we can for our brother and sister veterans and their families.

Alan Cohen
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation