Many news outlets, including CNN, have voraciously covered the newest scandal regarding the Veterans’ Administration. A VA facility located in Phoenix, AZ, was discovered to have left 40 U.S. veterans die from lack of care due to the presence of a secret waiting list.

According to a CNN article associated with AC360 called “A Fatal Wait: Veterans Languish and Die on a VA Hospital’s Secret List” said that the list was trying to hide the presence of 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans who would have each wait months before they each could be examined by a doctor.

“There's an "official" list that's shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there's the real list that's hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.” Apparently, the VA is required to provide care “in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days”.

This is not the first time that the VA has been caught mistreating and all-out neglecting the needs of U.S. veterans. Reports released by CBS News in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. Veterans who suffered from mental illnesses like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, consisted of many of these neglected veterans.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively.

Not many people consider PTSD to be potentially fatal, but 22 veterans a day are committing suicide due to the inadequacy of resources available for veterans to recover from their traumatic experiences while at war. It is safe to say that of these 22 veterans, some, if not most, of them suffer from stress disorders like PTSD, and their untreated symptoms have gotten so out of hand due to inadequate medical care that they turn to suicide for physical and emotional relief.

Due to the frequent negligence put forth by the VA, veterans who are in need of urgent care, like those suffering from traumatic brain injuries and PTSD, should consult outside organizations, like Operation: I.V.

Operation: I.V is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life!

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.