As feared, lawyers are increasingly
soliciting troops coming back from duty overseas, and urging them to claim they
have Combat fatigue (or PTSD,
post-traumatic stress disorder) and apply for disability benefits. This
recently became big news in Australia, but the involvement of crooked lawyers
in disability scams has been big business in the United States for decades.
PTSD usually first manifests itself
while troops are still in the combat zone, if not in combat itself. This has meant stationing lots of mental
health personnel as close to the fighting as possible. Getting troops to
acknowledge that PTSD is just another combat injury has proved difficult. But
there is progress, albeit slow, in getting the troops to report problems they
are having. But the crooked lawyers will coach troops to exhibit the right
symptoms, and then guide them through the application process, in return for a
portion of the disability payments received.
PTSD was first noted after the
American Civil War. That war was one of the first to expose large numbers of
troops to extended periods of combat stress. The symptoms, as reported in the
press a century and a half ago, were not much different from what you hear
today. At the time, affected veterans were diagnosed as suffering from
"Irritable Heart" or "Nostalgia." Symptoms noted included fatigue, shortness of
breath, palpitations, headache,
excessive sweating, dizziness, disturbed sleep, fainting and flashbacks to
traumatic combat situations. Many of these symptoms were noted while troops
were still in uniform. During the 20th century, the condition came to be known
The problem with the lawyers
assisting troops in scamming the government for benefits payments is nothing
new. It has been going on for years in the civilian disability insurance and
social security disability systems. Lawyers involved in class action suits, for
large numbers of victims have been caught doing coaching, and records
falsification, on a large scale.
Veterans groups are trying to stem this
sort of fraud, as it diverts money needed by veterans with real injuries, into
the pockets of scammers.