Law Offices of Scott J Bloch, P.A.

“Justice delayed is justice denied”

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Washington, DC 20036
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CONTRACTORS WITH PTSD ARE LEFT FLOATING WITHOUT A PADDLE

Mary on river

 

 

 

 Post-traumatic stress disorder is a real disease and should be taken seriously. How many tales have we heard about someone who has gone  through a tragedy and never really are the same?  Ask Mary Southerland, a client of Scott J. Bloch, who is doing something about it even though  SOC and the insurance company Allied World/Broadspire are doing everything they can to make it harder for her under the DBA.  She is kayaking on the Ohio River to promote how those with PTSD are “left floating” by the system.

Southerland said it is difficult for veterans and almost impossible for civilian contractors to get proper treatment for PTSD. Unable to work  because of what happened to her, she used up all her savings and was lucky to find a therapist willing to work with her on credit.  Others have not  been so lucky. The Department of Defense has noted military suicides have been rising since 2006, reaching 349 last year, which is more than the 295 reported killed in Afghanistan during the same time.

The Defense Department has argued that the deaths have nothing to do with the deployments, that is just something that is happening in the civilian world because of factors such as mental illness, substance abuse and financial problems. But how many of those deployed suffered from these problems before being sent into a high-stress environment?

Why are we not doing more to help PTSD sufferers in the military and those who have served as civilian contractors in war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq among others? According to figures from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, up to 20 percent of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars experience PTSD. That number was even higher, 30 percent, for Vietnam War veterans.

Southerland said it is difficult for veterans and almost impossible for civilian contractors to get proper treatment for PTSD. Unable to work because of what happened to her, she used up all her savings and was lucky to find a therapist willing to work with her on credit.

Others have not been so lucky. The Department of Defense has noted military suicides have been rising since 2006, reaching 349 last year, which is more than the 295 reported killed in Afghanistan during the same time.  Changes have to be made to clear up the system and specifically to make sure those in the most need of help are being bumped to the head of the line. Leaders also need to be proactive about searching for signs of PTSD in those who return. Stoicism is a part of the military culture. No one wants to admit to having problems and being seen as less able to deal with things. But the military has to protect its members from themselves sometimes.

PTSD sufferers are no less than anyone else, they just need help to get back to the way they once were.  Mary is fighting and we will continue to pursue her case until her employer and the insurance company pay what is required by the law.

Southerland talked about fellow contractors – friends who’ve killed themselves, her growing frustrations with government red tape and private insurance companies she says are responsible for worker compensation payments for contractors injured while abroad.

She also discussed how she’s using the Ohio River as more than a means for travel, but as a path to healing.  There was a time, she says, when she considered committing suicide – even asking her attorney if her family would receive health benefits if she killed herself.

“When you think about ending your life because your head is so wrong, it just scares you to death,” she said.  Mary says she has to remind herself about why life is important. Her speeches encourage others to lobby the government for more mental health services for contractors and soldiers. She doesn’t get specific about what led to her own struggles.

“Not right now. Right now it’s still kind of raw. It’s still extremely very raw,” she said.  Traveling with friends, she credits her faith and her service dog Henry with helping her get through those tough times.  “I know that I’m not there yet but with Henry – that gave me hope. Henry saved my life,” Southerland said.

PTSD sufferers are no less than anyone else, they just need help to get back to the way they once were.  Mary is fighting and we will continue to pursue her case until her employer and the insurance company pay what is required by the law.

For more press on this important story, see this story, http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/a-journey-to-raise-awareness/article_c5e7e760-8d62-59de-9dc3-833bd73b461f.html