Butler VA Health Care System
NEWS CLIP- ACPA Focuses on the Complex Issue
December 15, 2010
“The biggest problem veterans with pain have is the same problem that the general population has, overcoming the barriers and stumbling blocks to finding treatment,” said Dr. Tim McNulty, physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at VA Butler Healthcare in Butler, Pennsylvania. He explained that veterans are often faced with a complex array of physical, mental, and situational issues that affect their health, how they feel, and how they are treated for pain.
“A vet’s condition is rarely straightforward,” said Dr. McNulty. While some returned veterans may be dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), almost all face emotional upheaval when they leave the service. For veterans with chronic pain, this can compound their condition, make their symptoms hard to identify, and affect their ability to manage pain. Dr. Roger Brooke, PhD., ABPP, is director of military services for the Duquesne University Psychology Clinic in Pittsburgh, which offers free counseling and support to military service members and their families. He said that veterans who return to civilian life often feel alienated.
“There is frequently a sense of not fitting it, entering a foreign culture. They expect to return to the life they lived before their service, but they are no longer the person they were,” he said. “There is a lot of anger, depression, irritability, mood changes, even in the absence of PTSD.”
In moving from a civilian to a soldier and then to a veteran, former servicemen and women may be faced with unemployment, marital discord, and/or drug abuse. These feelings can be intertwined with chronic pain and have an impact on the ability to have a productive life.