Comments: 206 • Responses: 93  • Date: 

Grindstone50k63 karma

No question here, just one vet to another, hope things turn better for you. Stay safe!

vamcthrow201321 karma

Thank you much! You do the same!

elwray198929 karma

How are you doing?

vamcthrow201343 karma

Doing great, I went to a "civilian" psychiatrist two days after I left. Different diagnosis and put me on my original meds. I was actually experiencing "discontinuation syndrome" when I left. They stopped most of my meds rather quickly.

Snart_the_Cat4 karma

I would that be a fancier word for withdrawal? I know some mess like Paxil, you need to be very careful going off em.

vamcthrow20133 karma

Pretty much. From what I understand, all SSRIs are like that.

Gragorin2 karma

Yes, alot of psyche meds are not something that you just go cold turkey on. Doing so can result in all kinds of very nasty side effects and the best thing is to taper them off.

vamcthrow20132 karma

No doubt, 3 days certainly was not a good taper - at least in my case.

wesleyt891 karma

Is that a fancy way of saying withdrawing from your meds?

vamcthrow20133 karma

That is precisely what it is

throwawaygyno127 karma

So what did you witness there that you found so disturbing?

vamcthrow201348 karma

Mainly coercive / borderline threatening behavior by employees. There was a lot of odd stuff. Lot's of in-fighting by staff (union vs non-union), poor physical structure, lack of actual therapy, and intermixing of extremely low functioning patients with predatory and high functioning patients.

Edit for clarification: Many threats to file for legal custody of voluntary admit patients for politely questioning a medicine change

Belle_22229 karma

You mention that there was a "lack of actual therapy". Do you mean that they basically just gave you drugs but didn't have therapy where you could talk about what happened and deal with the psychological (as opposed to psychiatric) issues?

vamcthrow201319 karma

Pretty much. Meds, lots of crossword puzzles, TV room time, bibles, and walking the halls. Individual therapy was absolutely minimal. They did have various types of group therapy session scheduled approx 5 times a day; however, virtually none of them were ever held. It looks good on paper. I never saw more than one group therapy being held a day. There was one exception, we had psychology group and rec-group (It was me and a rec-therapist playing Wii with an older lady with dementia. Comparatively I was on a small number of meds. However I asked for (and received) sleep medicine and they allowed me to take it with another sedative. I did that to knock myself the hell out to make the time go by faster, it was also hard to sleep in that place.

iama_giraffe_amaa20 karma

I have spent time at a private psychiatric facility and it isn't much better. I'd say 90% of the time was spent coloring in these mandala things. I spent 5 days there and saw a psychiatrist twice for a total of 5 minutes each time. We didn't even go into an office or anything, he just talked to me out in the middle of the common room. Other than that, there were a few "optional" group therapies, like you said, during the day that no one went to.

vamcthrow20136 karma

Which I can understand this while someone might be being held pending transfer to a specialized unit............doing that shit for 7+ days will drive you crazy in itself though.

cloud_watcher4 karma

I was in a private facility. "Charter Ridge," just called "The Ridge" now. (Which seems like a poor choice, like "The Precipice," but whatever.) But it was actually really helpful. The weekends sucked (and I went in on a weekend) because there was very little structured activity. But I was there 8 days and during the weekdays there was a lot. Seems like meet with psychiatrist, meet with psychologist, and several groups. Seems like there were different kinds of groups, like one for remembering it was possible to be happy, one to plan when you got out, one to talk, etc.

In a weird way, I still feel incredibly close to those people. It wasn't fancy and it wasn't perfect, but I think it saved my life. I was 8 days inpatient and then maybe 3 or 4 weeks outpatient.

The thing is, you have to be READY. If you have any normal mental health left you'll probably be thinking, "This is a dump." "I have to get strip searched!" "These people are not like me." and other crap like that. But it you're at rock bottom, you overlook that stuff.

In my place that I was, I mean. I am sure there are many places that just plain suck no matter what.

vamcthrow20132 karma

Holy fuck, the ridge? I worked with a lot of kids that went there. That is, if there is not multiple places known Charter Ridge / The Ridge

cloud_watcher5 karma

There are. I think it's a chain. Like Applebees, but with more mental illness. (Slightly more.)

vamcthrow20132 karma


peeonyou8 karma

This was pretty much my experience of the mental ward of a local hospital. Forced to take drugs and surrounded with actual crazy people 24 hours a day. The therapy consisted of "why did you want to kill yourself?" and "your life isn't that bad."

vamcthrow20137 karma

Oh yes. I was like I checked myself in because.........at this point, I think my life is that bad. Now let's fucking work on it.

peeonyou3 karma

Same here. But now I know better.

vamcthrow20138 karma

I wouldn't kill myself now (of course I am saying that right now as I don't feel depressed). Mental illness is a bitch.

FrannyIsRoyalty7 karma

This makes me furious and sad. My goal is to end up working for the VA in a psych unit (currently going for my BSN and MS in Psych). Its the job of the nurses and doctors to explain to patients why they are getting specific medications, and why they are being changed.

:[ Maybe one day I can start a movement for change.

vamcthrow20136 karma

Here is the thing, some doctors I encountered wanted to put their "personal touch" on the treatment. If nothing needs changed, just let it hang.......no need to make a change to justify your usefulness as an employee.

throwawaygyno12 karma

Thanks for replying. Follow-up: It sounds like there was a wide range of problems that patients were there for. What did the most common issue among the patients seem to be? I guess I'm also wondering, what do you mean by "predatory" exactly? Certain people trying to take advantage of others who were less intelligent or less aware of their surroundings?

vamcthrow201316 karma

That was one of the scariest things about it, for me. There were patients there who would have no way to effectively communicate if they were victimized (or would be less likely to be believed). By predatory I meant violent patients who would try to take advantage of lower intellect patients or fuck with them. Like asking if they saw the tiger that was running through the unit.

throwawaygyno14 karma

Jesus, that's terrible. You'd think the staff would've intervened :( I hope you're doing better now, I wish you the best.

vamcthrow20137 karma

I am doing great, a lot of the floor staff is elderly and not in the best physical shape. When I heard a commotion I would normally walk over - some of the staff appreciated it.

vamcthrow201312 karma

Most common condition.............that's a good question. It was very broad. PTSD, alzheimers, bipolar, suicidal guys, schizophrenics. It was anything but predictable as to the makeup at any given time

madsell1 karma

Ok i've changed my mind. I'm becoming an army clinical psychologist the minute I can join the military (meanwhile, I'll be child-oriented). But this is freakishly upsetting. As employees of a psychiatric facility they need to be better about their ethics. Contact the APAs, dude. Psychiatric and Psychological. These people should freaking know better (You get beat over the head all the time with ethics in psychology).

God dammit, the condition of civilian mental health facilities is falling apart enough without this going on inside the VA too (in my experience they are all far too understaffed). Hope things have improved.

vamcthrow20132 karma

Like you said mental health is a fucked up situation in private setting as well as the VA. Many of the staff was complaining about being forced to do more with less people.

ls1z28chris-2 karma

Edit for clarification: Many threats to file for legal custody of voluntary admit patients for politely questioning a medicine change

This is the one point I try to make to people all the time. Never, ever, under any circumstances, permit yourself to be admitted to a psychological unit. If one of the staff doesn't like your personality, even if you are there "voluntarily," they will threaten to have you involuntarily committed to a state institution where you will be treated indefinitely. This is not an idle threat. They can and will do this to you, and there is nothing that you can do about it.

I'm glad you're doing better, OP. I hope things continue to improve for you, and I'm glad you stepped up and took charge of your life. But this system is fucked up. Avoid inpatient treatment at all costs.

vamcthrow20131 karma

I will say it did leave a bad taste in my mouth over inpatient treatment. I do it see it as beneficial for some people. However, it is a delicate situation.

SayethWeAll12 karma

As a voting US citizen, what can I do to help solve this? Are there any proposed bills concerning the VA? Awareness campaigns by veterans' groups? Or should I just write my Congressman and hope for the best?

vamcthrow201311 karma

You can track upcoming, current, and defeated bills at http://www.govtrack.us/ . You can also write to congress (whether or not they will care is questionable), this is the same government that has an internal security apparatus that is being compared to the Stasi. Don't blindly donate to veteran's groups - some are frauds. PVA (Paralyzed Vets of America, Wounded Warriors, DAV (disabled vets of America) are all good groups. If you are a hands on person, volunteer your time. Just talk to veterans who do not have anyone there for them (get ready for some lonely Korea / Vietnam era vets). Like I said previously though, I try to not to support vets who have committed atrocities......you may run into people who did some foul stuff. This doesn't just apply to the US though - wherever you are from it is good to support the vets, even if you don't support all the wars that their employer may wage.

SkyChild119 karma

I am a higher level admin at a VA hospital and I would second everything that OP has said here. (I am not a vet, btw.) I would also add that, at least at my VA, sending inquiries to your Congressional reps WILL GET ATTENTION. Any inquiry from a vet that goes to that vet's Senator or Congressperson gets sent from their office to my VA's Director for review and response. The same is true for inquires/complaints sent in from non-vet family members.

Again, just my experience at my VA.

vamcthrow20133 karma

This is absolutely true. I do not know how effective a generalized letter concerning the VA would be. But like you said, congressional inquiries are feared by most federal agencies. If you write a congress member over a specific case or act, it will trickle down.

Disco_Drew9 karma

I went in to the urgent care at my local VA last week and the nurse that I saw was an absolute bitch. She had to be about 70 and clearly hated her job. Most of the people I come across are just disinterested. The "doctor" that I see at my clinic is an exception. She seems to genuinely care about how I'm doing and is just a nice lady. The thing is, I only get to see her about once a year.

Best of luck to you. I hope that you have a better experience in the future.

vamcthrow20135 karma

I saw both when I was there. Some nurses rocked, some didn't. Here is the issue.......the problems come from the top down (to include budget cuts). I have met some really cool doctors at other VA facilities though.

batwing978 karma

As a medical student about to spend 4 weeks at the VA for psych, what could I do to improve things while I am there?

vamcthrow201312 karma

Keep your temper in check, you aren't the one with a mental illness (maybe?). Some of those guys / gals would lose their tempers with lower functioning patients.

way_fairer8 karma

Why do so many of are military men and women commit suicide? What is being done to address this problem.

vamcthrow201310 karma

There are lots of reasons. Some have psychological problems stemming from mental trauma, some have traumatic brain injuries that alters their thinking, some people have altered thinking from exposure to chemical / environmental hazards (that includes experimental vaccines / meds).

As for stopping it? They have a suicide hotline, chat, and therapy. I found inpatient mainly to simply keep you from doing it - not changing your thought process.

SkyChild114 karma

Also, some join with a pre-existing mental health condition that is potentially exacerbated by the service and conditions that OP describes or at the very least not helped by those conditions. For some people, the military is the right option and for some people it is the only option.

vamcthrow20132 karma

Very true, going into the service with a mental illness is never a good idea. Even if you do not deploy to a combat environment it can certainly make things worse.

robsj3 karma

I've found that the months right after leaving the service is extremely difficult. I was in for 10 years before leaving the service, and I found that I was in no way prepared for civilian life. I felt lost and hopeless and to some extent I still do. The one thing I have going in my favor is that I just keep working to improve my situation, even though there isn't much more that could happen that isn't an improvement.

I never really truly recognized how badly I was affected with PTSD, until I left the service and had nothing but time to sit and think and let depression kick in. Its been a rough go over the past few months, and even this months been a rough go, but I am seeing results of my hard work which is making things a lot better at least for the time being.

vamcthrow20131 karma

No doubt, it is even harder to see how much it affects you if you live alone. I was pretty socially isolated for the longest time except for work.

mrsmiller547 karma

This particular AMA frightens me. I dont mean to overstep here but this sounds oddly like our VA hospital....Oregon?

vamcthrow201310 karma

Nope, Eastern US (I don't wish to ID the exact state, as some employees were disciplined due to statements I made and pictures one of my visitors took)

mrsmiller542 karma

I was curious because our is under construction as well. Not the actual hospital but the grounds. I have a very close friend who was recently in there and had a similar experience:(

vamcthrow201310 karma

I can't speak about every VAMC; however, this place was like hell. I seriously felt like I was leaving guys wounded and on a battlefield when I walked out the doors. I cried the whole way home. It definitely gives you some insight to the invisible injuries that veterans from all eras can get.

I_Ask_About_IceCream7 karma

Do they ever serve ice cream to the patients?

vamcthrow20133 karma

I do remember there was ice cream, I did not eat any though. I am not really big on desserts / sweets. I do not have any complaints about the food, it was really good

survrX34 karma

Thank you for your service and sacrifice. As a spouse of a retired military member with PTSD what are things I can be doing to be supportive? And is there hope that the military mental health services will get any better? Our men an women are choosing to end their lives at close to 3 per day.

vamcthrow20134 karma

Just listen to the veteran if they want to vent. I sat down and just listened to a lot of the guys I was in there with without peppering them with questions. A couple of guys said I was a good therapist (which I find hilarious). I do not see it getting better......programs are getting cut. There was a couple of extended in-patient programs that were 28 days and are now 21 days due to cuts. They were mainly a lot of powerpoint presentations though. Patients would get maaaayyyyybee an hour of legit, individual, therapy a week.

Dalton_Jay3 karma

My father was a Veteran of the Vietnam War, and I recall when I was younger hearing about how bad the care was. I actually hear it's not that great, I hope you're doing well though! Just wanted to say thank you for your service.

vamcthrow20133 karma

I appreciate the thanks, but it was just a decision I made when I was still a kid..........nothing special. I went to active duty when I was seventeen. It isn't that great, but it is somewhat cheap / affordable. People should have access to cheap healthcare anyway..........but that is a whole other thread, lol.

floydballs3 karma

Thanks for sharing, this is very interesting AMA. I wish nothing but the best for you.

vamcthrow20134 karma

Thank you, and I wish the best for you too.

uberlad2 karma


vamcthrow20136 karma

You get one life, you have to make the best of it. A major component of life is suffering, you gotta accept it and deal with it. Love those who spread love, hate those who spread hate.

uberlad1 karma


vamcthrow20131 karma

Thank you, good luck in whatever you do (as long as it is fairly positive) :)

palesnail2 karma

WTF!!!!!!!!!!! I just keep losing faith in mankind. Write your Governor endlessly til you get a care plan.

vamcthrow20134 karma

I lost a lot of faith in humanity there too. I cried the whole way home. I am getting pretty good care from the "civilian" side of the house. I actually have decent health insurance. I do plan on doing more patient advocacy though, not everyone is lucky as me (to have a choice).

1moar2 karma

Maybe this is a bit personal and I completely understand ignoring it, but why did you end up there in the first place? I ask because from a big picture perspective I've already noticed some very twisted things being done at the federal level with regards to the VA psych unit and vets.

Many thanks for your service and I hope you start feeling better.

vamcthrow20131 karma

I don't want to make this about me, just what I saw there and how I interpreted it (along with my outpatient treatment I received). However, I just hit a rough patch in my life that led to a suicide attempt. Looking back on it I really just need better coping skills. 90% of the time I am pretty happy and outgoing.

1moar1 karma

I'm sorry fwiw, and I think I understand (that is to say about the experience, I've had my own that pale in comparison, that help me relate somewhat); thank you for sharing.

Anyways...follow up if you like - aside from a breakdown in general hierarchy and command/discipline structures, do you see anything sinister at play? I guess maybe to phrase it better, did it seem like the behavior of the staff was ordered or otherwise encouraged through chain of command? Or was it a handful of bad apples and shitty conditions?

Stay strong.

vamcthrow20133 karma

I talked with a lot of floor staff about general procedures and why things the way they were, they pretty much pointed the finger at the people higher in the chain. There were a few bad apples, even at the low levels. To that though, I give you a comparison. If a Navy Medic assigned to a Marine unit is with a patrol in Mosul, Iraq and pulls his sidearm and smoke a kid.........the whole population will blame that "Marine unit" and not an individual that was augmenting it. I know that not everyone in an organization is not bad because of a few bad apples, but a lot of people believe a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.

Edit: grammer/spelling


vamcthrow20131 karma

You caught it, even though the first instance was proper "a lot" :) Edited accordingly

Metlover2 karma

Have you ever read "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest"? If so, would you find it comparable?

vamcthrow20132 karma

I actually have not read it. I will say that the stereotypical image of people just walking up and down the halls of the ward is true. Hell, I did out out of boredom and to avoid weight gain. There were instances of people just laying in the floor just screaming or "acting out."

doubleplushomophobic1 karma

I am 15, and was in my local hospital for a week on suicide watch. The doctor visited for a total of five minutes, changed my diagnosis from depression to Bipolar 2 because my dad suggested it. I was confined to a 5x5 room, no internet, newspaper, phone. Had to shower with door open. All this with everyone in agreement that I wasn't a flight or suicide risk. The recommendation was that I either check in to an acute facility (imagine padded rooms, fiberglass furniture, all doors magnetically locked (including emergency exits) or go home.

Shits fucked up. Hope you're doing well!

vamcthrow20131 karma

Doing much better! Keep your head up, you are young so it will be hard. Just try to be calm as you can and see if your parents can get you a second opinion.

Loso2201 karma

Did they wake you up every hour in the night, to check if you was still alive? My friend got sent for a week and told me so many bad stories.

vamcthrow20132 karma

Nope, my roommate said they did come in the room to check on me - but they never woke me up

demosthenesjax1 karma

You don't need my penny ante questions. Thank you for your service. Our nation owes you better than the bullshit you put up with. Stay strong and go kick lifes ass!

vamcthrow20131 karma

I am kicking it's ass; it just got a few good hits in on me last month.

caesarnaples1 karma

I don't like the message of the post, but I can say that I've never been to a "VA" psych unit and apparently you're not getting the help you truly need with discontinuation syndrome. However, I think it's irresponsible to complain and do an AMA so quickly after being released as a psychiatric patient. In my opinion, this is a really bad idea for an AMA. It borders on ridiculous that a sheet of paper can be your "proof."

vamcthrow20131 karma

Well, Caesar if you would like. If you are from my area - I'll sign a release of information and me and you will take a trip to the hospital and review my medical records that include statements that were used for personnel actions. PM me if you would like more - I don't mind bringing you along to appointments so your narrow mind can be opened up a little.

vamcthrow20131 karma

I am glad you are able to form and voice your opinions. Since most of this doesn't pertain to me. I assume you find it acceptable to let patients lay in feces and urine for 6+ hours? I might have some depression issues but I can tell time.

[deleted]1 karma

You sound pretty bitter, although it is inexcusable about the feces and urine.

Also, your proof isn't enough for me frankly. There are enough actually "acute" psychiatric patients (and notice I'm not denying you're acutely ill) who would be completely bitter about treatment they received. Not that they're dangerous, but I am saying that when a sheet of paper is "proof" of an AMA, there's usually the person's face. I'm not asking for your face. I'm honestly asking you to reconsider this AMA's validity.

vamcthrow20131 karma

If you don't think it's valid, message the mods. Please Caesar, tell me what you would like.

[deleted]1 karma

Whew, I'm glad I didn't respond to what you your unedited post said.

vamcthrow20131 karma

What did it say? I am glad too :) You must feel real important.

[deleted]1 karma

This is on my front page because it was voted so high.

vamcthrow20131 karma

Ok, so what did my unedited post say? I know what it said, I would like to hear your complaint.

[deleted]1 karma

What the actual fuck?

I've messaged the mods, this isn't front page material

edit, sorry--you responded to my message twice.

Anyway, this reeks of NSA

vamcthrow20131 karma

I am sorry that you are butthurt, Caesar. Being an internet tough guy must be a hard life. Did you serve? If so, I can help you look up some places to deal with your angst. If you haven't we can look at Medicaid or some other entitlement program.

vamcthrow20131 karma

of NSA? Woahhhhhh there. Who is paranoid?

elizabethmeghan1 karma


vamcthrow20131 karma

Pretty spot on and what was scary. From the older folks with alzheimers, to the early 40 somethings with schitzoprenia, to PTSD stricken people of all ages, to people simply detoxing from alcohol/ drugs, to violent / aggressive people - all on the same ward - same chow hall (dining room) - same visiting area. They said no one under 16 could visit but they allowed my three year old to visit for some reason. However two of my relative "stocky" friends brought her onto the unit and to a private exam room for visitation. I will say that is the one cool thing they allowed.

whentheredredrobin1 karma

This AMA is interesting to me. I was recently on placement at a mental health hospital in England which happens to have an MoD wing attached to the acute psychiatric ward. Was your hospital military only, or were you attached to a civilian part?

Were there any/many women there? I got the impression at my hospital that they didn't usually have women, and they can choose to either stay in the civilian female wing, or the MoD wing which is basically male.

Were there any problems with drink or drugs at your unit?

Did you have your own room? How much privacy did you have? (Were you on frequent observations, if you're happy to answer that?)

(I have to say, I was quite impressed with the place I saw - looked nice and modern, staff treated the patients well, patients were a little bored at times but did have things like a gym, TV room, various sessions, great occupational therapists, etc.)

vamcthrow20131 karma

There was women, both staff and patients. There were a few people there detoxing from drugs and / or alcohol. I shared a room with a guy who was detoxing. Hourly observations unless we were on close / suicide observation. No gym (for acute psych patients), one small visiting room

sarcasmplease1 karma

My father received his medical care from the VA hospital in Louisville, KY when he had cancer. B/c of all the negative things I had heard about VA hospitals I was concerned. I was actually impressed with the care he received there and am convinced if he hadn't had the oncologist he did he would have died. I have no idea what the psych ward is like there. I am sorry that the VAMC you were at did not provide you with as good as care.

vamcthrow20131 karma

All the folks weren't bad. I think the VA does well with somethings. Especially things that they have specific expertise in (Depleted Uranium exposure) and the like.

anal_is_for_pussies1 karma

I hope you are reporting these problems so that it can be stopped. I voluntarily admitted myself and other than the night shift being incompetent and loud sometimes, the care was pretty good. We had many groups scheduled every day and they were actually conducted. Not just scheduled to look good. I was only there for 5 days but I was supposed to be released in the morning but wanted to stay for the groups that were scheduled. Cognitive behavior therapy was that afternoon. I didn't want to leave. Wish I had extra civvies but the scrubs weren't too bad. Since it was a short stay, I only saw a Psychiatrist once. Mainly dealt with social workers or whatever.

vamcthrow20131 karma

There was a particular incident that was reported immediately - which was resolved. Due to there being such a stigma over the reliability of mental health patients I am waiting a bit before I push much harder.

JordanFox21 karma


vamcthrow20131 karma

If you can do it, bad part is not everyone can.

JordanFox21 karma


vamcthrow20131 karma

Indeed, if you aren't willing to put your kids on the line, don't put mine on the line.

JordanFox21 karma


vamcthrow20131 karma

Brother, but I can don a wig if I have to. I'd make a pretty ugly woman though.

blorgensplor1 karma

Sorry to hear about that man. I hope it gets better for you.

Would you compare the treatment by them to how other civilians within the DoD act? For example, during my time in the military I've noticed that most civilians will treat you like dirt any chance they get. So I'm assuming it's the same sort of treatment there.

vamcthrow20133 karma

Not so much. I worked with some DoD civilians and tons of DoD contractors. I would say the VA is worse. Especially if they did not "work the floors" It was those fuckers with their own offices, lol. Don't take this that all VA employees are bad, though. Some were pretty good, some were pretty bad..........however they were all fucked by the red tape, budget cuts and "decisions from above them."

I8NY1 karma

Glad to hear you are doing better.

I believe the VA system in most cases may be pretty comparable to private care for treatment. I believe that all health care needs a big improvement for customers to be pleased. The VA has worked very hard to improve its care and certainly the reporting system for medical errors has led the private system. It's easy to pick on the VA and certainly our troops should receive good service because they deserve it, but I think saying the private system is better or vastly better may not be so accurate.

Just one person's opinion.

vamcthrow20131 karma

Nothing wrong with having your own opinion, that's what makes us unique. However, I do feel the saying "you get what you pay for" is appropriate in a lot of cases (not just the VA).

brightbrightfish1 karma

When I was a student I spent a lot of time in state hospitals, private practices and va hospitals and was able to compare my experiences. I can't speak specifically to psychiatry, but the instruments, and treatment protocols at the VA were among the best that I experienced for my discipline. I also did not feel like the clinicians were less competent or caring. If I were a vet, I would certainly choose some free or reduced VA care over any other care setting.

It's funny, many people follow the mantra "you get what you pay for" in my discipline... And they are almost always getting ripped off. Just because you aren't paying for it doesn't mean the government isn't dropping loads and loads of money for your care.

vamcthrow20131 karma

I have had better luck with them related to non mental health issues. I have skin conditions and other physical problems likely related to DU. If we want to split hairs, everybody is getting ripped off at some point. Whenever I get healthcare and use my private insurance, you better believe unnecessary tests / services happen. If there is something glaringly horrific I usually call my insurance company.....after all the buck gets passed on via monthly premiums and to other insurance holders.

Man_eatah1 karma

Were they kind to you?

vamcthrow20133 karma

For the most part they were kind to me (I am still very high functioning and intend on staying that way). I do not feel they were as kind to lower functioning patient. An example was when a female patient was having a panic attack upon being admitted involuntarily. a Male nurse yelled at her "this isn't the fucking holiday inn, you better check yourself." I found that to be more like what you would hear at a prison. That's just my 2 cents.

Man_eatah1 karma

That's pretty terrible. I am a veteran, too and found myself, though a misunderstanding, nearly arrested and taken to the VA mental hospital. I think the only thing that stopped it was the fact hubby is a Registered Nurse and knew the cop the VA sent to perform a "welfare check" on me.

vamcthrow20132 karma

There is definitely people who are there for misunderstanding or just because they pissed off someone. The VA should not be your personal army :)

westward_man1 karma

So my platoon sergeant checked into an Active Duty-funded PTSD clinic for 3 months, and he said it was one of the best things that every happened to him. Changed man and all that--and anyone who knows him can tell.

Where do you think the disconnect between the big Army level of treatment and the VA level of treatment lies, and how do we bridge that gap?

EDIT: Also thanks for your service and post, brother. Take care and stay healthy.

vamcthrow20131 karma

I don't know where the disconnect occurred that changed the level of treatment. Maybe it is because when you are on active duty, they know the government is likely to blame? There was some people that improved when I was there with just some tweaks to their medicine, no ALL of it was bad. I had a stalker (he was pushing 70), who would follow me around and come into my room 5x a night. Once they got his meds straight he was the coolest guy ever.

queserasarrrah1 karma

Do you mind if I ask which VA? I work at one, although not in a psych unit.

vamcthrow20131 karma

I do not wish to ID the facility. I will say it is in a rural location in the eastern part of the country.

queserasarrrah1 karma

Ah, no worries. Understandable.

Well, as someone who works for one and has veteran family members, I'm really sorry you had such poor service. You should be taken care of much better. Like the Lincoln quote (that the VA uses!) says "To care for he who has borne the battle." I hope a better facility can restore your faith in the VA, but if not then I hope people start to better understand what it means to be a veteran and why it is important to care for them upon their return.

vamcthrow20131 karma

I am glad you are there and are passionate about why you work there. We need more people like you.

m_sli1 karma

I saw that you mentioned working with a Rec Therapist. I am a future Rec Therapist and am just curious as to what types of things (that you were able to do) you found beneficial, and some things that you didn't find beneficial. I am currently interning in a mental health setting and we do a lot of coping skills and teaching about safe behaviors. Is that the type of things you did when you actually received services?

vamcthrow20132 karma

When we did rec-therapy we would listen to music (a lot of jazz, actually), play the Wii, walk in the courtyard, and pass a nerf football. To be honest not a lot of coping skills were taught in the acute unit. There was also the longer term unit that specializes in coping skills, but it was a lot of powerpoint shows - impulse control and such.

AgingLiberalDouche1 karma

I'm glad you are doing better. I had a similar stay at the lovely VA psych ward in MA. I live with manic depression (bipolar), and found myself there for about a week. It was very humbling to see what condition some of the other patients were in, like the paranoid schizophrenic patients or severe ptsd. They changed my meds, and since then (3 months) not a wiff of depression, which is life changing. Personally, I've always been impressed with the health care I've gotten at the VA, but I'm sure it just depends on what region you're from. Keep on keeping on .

vamcthrow20132 karma

I am glad to hear you are doing better! I can definitely agree about the humbling part. I felt really bad for a lot of the ladies, gents that were there.

people19251 karma

Do you dislike the VA in it's entirety? What do you think needs to change? Do you think this is true for all facilities?

vamcthrow20131 karma

I do not dislike it in it's entirety. I have actually learned one of the ladies I saw also does private practice. I am working on seeing her on the "outside." As for changes.........better funding and better employees. I have a strong disdain for most federal employees. Many are very lazy, I worked on the civilian side of the federal government and experienced a lot of people who just punched a clock and generally did not give a fuck about the quality of their works.

people19251 karma

This post just saddens me. I'm a VA volunteer, and the one I work at is regarded as one of the best in the country. I've never been to the mental health part (it's a locked unit that has a age requirement), but from what I've seen I thought they had excellent care.

vamcthrow20131 karma

Like any insititution care will vary across the spectrum. I am not ignorant to know that mental health is probably one of the most taxing health care profession on the provider (except oncology). However, if you can't handle it or start to to lose grip, get out

swimcool081 karma

I am glad that you are doing better and that everything will go better for you in the future.

This may have been asked already, but do you believe that an influx of money into the VA hospitals would help the situation or do you believe that the entire system needs to be revamped including new, possibly better, personnel?

vamcthrow20133 karma

Both, as one person said on here - they actually have some nice equipment. However, physical plant (buildings and infrastructure) is lacking . I think they need some higher caliber (pun completely intended) employees. Something does not sit right with me when a nurse should be doing close observation checks every 30 mins but won't get the fuck off facebook to do them. That's right, the IT staff hasn't blocked access to productivity wasters / information security threats on a network that contains veteran's PHI.

master_blast3r1 karma

i'm not very surprised. i'd expect nothing more from a country that has an absolutely terrible track record of taking care of it's veterans.

vamcthrow20131 karma

Yes, they tend to get upset when you remind them that they are pretty much known for fucking up. Looking at you, VA employee who left his laptop with unencrypted patient information in his car that was stolen.

yachterotter1 karma

First of all, I just want to say that I really can't thank you enough for your service and hope your situation continues to get better.

Second of all, I just want to send a message to anyone who is saying, "What can I do?" There are a number of great options that OP has already highlighted, such as writing to your Congressman or simply listening to a Veteran. But there are other options that provide the opportunity to work first hand with Vets or work first hand in advocating for better conditions. There are great organizations, such as the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary that work first hand with Veterans affairs, advocacy for Vets, and assistance with families of members. They do a wide variety of things ranging from welcoming service members home from duty, helping out families in times of need, to going to the VA and helping out with poker night or bringing supplies/cookies to underprivileged Veterans. Both are great organizations, but you have to be a Veteran or a relative of a Veteran who served active duty in a war in order to join. However, communicating with your local Legion/Auxiliary post will also have a great amount of resources that could point you in the right direction.

I hope this helped at least one person. Helping Veterans is one of my passions, and I just hope others get to have the same opportunity to help our heroes.

vamcthrow20131 karma

Indeed, the local Legion does do a lot of good works. Some of the ones in my area has ran afoul of liquor laws and gambling laws, but I like them

yachterotter1 karma

Yeah, the Legion can be corrupt in some areas, mainly in the East/Southeast. I suppose I am used to the Legion posts on the West Coast, where they are not as big/don't have other interests. It's good to hear they are doing good work though!

I wish you the best!

vamcthrow20131 karma

They do have shady parts, buts I have never seen them be malicious or cause any real harm. The only bad part about the Legion is that it can be a very scary environment for someone who may be an alcoholic.

_From_The_Internet_1 karma

Have you written to the hospital director, a congressman, or the media about your stay? You should try some of the veteran organizations that have political sway. That's completely unsat.

vamcthrow20133 karma

There are already 4 employees who were wrote up in light of some of the things that happened. however, I believe if they stay discipline free for six months it will be off their record. I am waiting for me to stabilize a little bit further before I decide to talk to anyone to far up the chain. Mental illness has such stigma that many complaints are dismissed as crazy talk. I was lucky that I had the presence of mind to document times, room numbers, and names in the complaints that I filed when I was there. Otherwise they probable would have got thrown out.

drummerwill031 karma

What meds were you put on? Any that you didn't agree you needed and made you feel worse?

vamcthrow20131 karma

That's the funny part. I wasn't really put on any additional meds (except Ambien was given as a request). They "weened" me off Celexa over a three day period, which led to some intense withdraw (at least it felt like it and the lady I have since seen privately agrees). Aside from the ambien, no change at all. My dosage of seroquel remain the same before, during, and after.

alban9871 karma

Can I ask about the withdrawal symptoms? and why they took you off? I've been on celexa for many years and I've felt the withdrawal on accident.. it's a reaaaal bitch

vamcthrow20131 karma

Sure. They took me off because they said it can actually make people want to commit suicide. The withdrawal symptoms were a crazy headache, nausea, sweating, and wooshing and ringing noise in the ears,

alban9871 karma

Interesting. From what I know it really only does that when you first start or stop it.. For me the withdrawal symptoms were pretty wretched. I felt like a zombie, suicidal, felt like my brain was being electrocuted, nausea, etc. not alot of fun!

vamcthrow20131 karma

Absolutely not, which is scary for folks that get medical treatment and suddenly lose coverage.

alban9871 karma

Yeah, I lost my job a 2 months ago and lost coverage. My monthly for just medication is about $140 not including mandatory Dr visit every month which is another $60. Thank god for goodrx.com.. otherwise the medication costs would be well over $500 a month

vamcthrow20131 karma

Exactly, now imagine if your shit was more expensive. This is America, a lot of people with untreated mental health systems get free housing.........in prison

drummerwill031 karma

I heard seroquel makes you like a zombie from a friend that was put in a psych ward after a bad car accident. Did you find that happen to you when you were on it?

vamcthrow20132 karma

In high doses it most certainly can. When combined with ambien it most definitely lays you down for the night. Most of the time you cannot tell I take any medicines or have any mental illness.

drummerwill031 karma

Well I'm glad you seem to doing better. Are there a lot of vets that are in the hospitals for substance abuse?

I've read that a lot of veterans have substance abuse problems when returning home from war. Is the counseling they receive (inside or outside the hospital such as therapy or support groups) as bad as what you have seen? As in, are they not really getting the help they need?

Thanks for your replies I enjoy reading them.

vamcthrow20131 karma

They have some inpatient substance abuse programs. Addiction is a pretty big problem in veterans, along with suicide. There were several guys there for drug and alcohol addiction. It is hard to gauge on how effective the service was in relationship to this particular MC. However, I do have many people I served with who has went to the VA and still has crippling drug addiction. Relapse is so common in all groups though, just not veterans.

TheCockslayer1 karma

Is it true that most of the VA's administrative operations are still paper-based?

vamcthrow20131 karma

Doesn't appear to be, they appear to be making a smooth transition to a (more) paperless environment. Most government agencies have made great strides in that. I should also add that is why a lot of agencies are fucked up. It is so difficult to get fired, you can essentially refuse to adapt to the current technology and just stroll through it - fucking up every bit of data you touch.

phoenix7621 karma

-just wanted to say...first, I am so sorry about the treatment you received, that's terrible...

I work part time @ a VA hospital and so far I haven't seen anything too distressing...then again, I am only there one shift every 2 weeks, and I only have worked in the intensive care units....never have been in the psych unit.

We have all computer charting, and I was told in orientation that all VA medical centers have this info across the board....good thing about that is, no matter what VA you have been in across the country, the info will be available to the docs.

I am a vet as well, and I use the VA system, because my private insurance sucks ass...the VA will bill my insurance carrier what they can, and I will pay the VA the co payment.

I do notice that I (apparently) must be more diligent than the FT employees, because the nurses are always surprised when I stay in my assigned area and take care of anything they need as soon as I can....which makes me wonder about the care the FT respiratory therapists give.

At my full time job, this is a given....if we are not on top of things, and not able to take care of our patients in a timely manner, that is grounds for dismissal...my FT employer (for profit cancer hospital chain) doesn't play.

I do have to say my VA respiratory therapy director is trying like hell to make our department better, little by little trying to get the FT therapists accountable for doing more and more...and it's like pulling teeth, he says it takes a long while to get any thing done (apparently because of the federal union, of which I am a member, lord knows why....because I am hearing they suck, is making it hard for the director. Pfft).

vamcthrow20131 karma

Lol, don't start doing your complete job description - you might get an award. I received many awards when I worked on the civilian side of the federal government - which always puzzled me. I was simply doing my job.

PernXanthNeverland1 karma

Glad you made it out of that ward okay. Mental illness is a bitch. Try to remember that there are a whole lot of people suffering with you. Just trying to get by.

vamcthrow20131 karma

It is a vicious bitch. When I was younger it was easy to sit back and dismiss mental health issues as bullshit. Even a little bit when you are wrestling with it yourself. Once you step on those units and see some really sick people.........well........it's unforgettable

TroughStyleBreakfast0 karma

Do you regret joining the military after you saw how they treat you guys afterwards?

vamcthrow20137 karma

Not at all. I do think it is sad and deplorable though. That being said, there are war criminals in the US ranks that deserve whatever mental anguish they get.

jpicol-2 karma

Even though you dont want to reveal the location, I'm gonna take a wild guess and say you were in the VA in Topeka, KS.

vamcthrow20133 karma

Actually no, but from the responses on this AMA - I have described 2 VA hospitals pretty spot on. I'll let you digest that information and draw your conclusions about the general state of VAMC service.

meltdownup-5 karma


vamcthrow20133 karma

I have been to multiple facilities, I have seen it since 2005. It tends to leave a more of a mark on you when you are immersed in it 24/7 for over a week. This was my first inpatient trip. If you want to contribute to the discussion, go for it. As stated above, I don't plan on getting further treatment from them.

vamcthrow20133 karma

Also I hope you quit. As a former AFGE Union employee (different agency from the VA, same union). I know you would likely have had to rape and kill a cop to get fired (not necessarily in that order)

SkyChild111 karma

AFGE is the worst! (AFGE is a federal employee labor union: http://www.afge.org/) AFGE is a huge barrier to overcome when disciplining employees or attempting to remove employees. I am regularly disgusted at the length the union goes to when trying to protect a 'bad apple.' It really takes a toll on good managers who have to bust their asses for months and months to get terrible employees fired for things you could get fired for on the spot in the private sector. How does this help the patient? (It doesn't.)

(This is not a comment on unions in general, only my observations and experience at my VA.)

vamcthrow20132 karma

It doesn't help the patient. AFGE fucks almost every government agency and the citizen that uses them in the ass. I cannot make it much more clear than that. They have helped a few employees who were in the right. For the most part, they make sure shitbags are retained.

BattleBarnes2 karma

Are all VA employees as cunty as you?

I think I found the problem.

vamcthrow20133 karma

You, I like you.............You say the shit I am thinking.

clint_taurus_200-7 karma

Have you noticed all those spiders climbing up your legs?

vamcthrow20138 karma

Ah good one! I think that is pretty funny though. Mainly because there was a pretty rampant insect infestation (no arthropods, though). I asked the staff about it and they blamed it on a construction project near the unit. To make my point I killed every insect I found and left them outside the nurse managers office. That probably made me seem more unstable than I actually am.

brownboy13-15 karma

Hello vamcthrow2013! Your post has been removed because this topic isn't suitable for /r/IAmA. Try posting in /r/CasualIAmA instead. Sorry for the inconvenience! We don't allow AMAs about psychological disorders.

vamcthrow20136 karma

We don't allow AMAs about psychological disorders

That is fine, I'll head over there :)

Although this post wasn't really meant to talk about me or my disorder, but the poor conditions of the VA, I probable should have specified that.