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What options are available to those suffering with PTSD? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

What options are available to those suffering with PTSD?

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - A war vet from Essex Junction, Kryn Miner, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and was shot and killed by one of his children when he threatened to kill his family.

Kryn Miner's wife, Amy, says she won't forgive the Burlington Veterans Affairs clinic for his experience and says she wants to illuminate the problems with the system in order to honor his legacy. Her efforts come as many in Congress question top VA officials about backlogs that may have contributed to the deaths of 40 former soldiers.

Staff at the Burlington VA clinic work to heal the physical and invisible mental wounds of war. The number of staffers here is on the rise, but doctors concede the return of more than 1,000 deployed troops in 2010 stretched their staff.

"The way we dealt with that was triage," said Dr. Laura Gibson, the director of behavioral health at the Burlington VA.

But Gibson says wait-lists are not a problem here. The closure of the state mental hospital after Tropical Storm Irene, not resources, proved to be the clinic's biggest foe in recent years.

"The entire mental health system has been in this same boat as far as a shortage of psychiatric beds," said Gibson.

Gibson helps treat those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, but says she cannot speak specifically about Kryn Miner or other cases.

She says when a patient shows up in crisis in Burlington, they work with Fletcher Allen Health Care, a faster alternative than the VA facility 90 miles downstate. Outside emergency settings, she says patients here can receive group and individual therapy from the same doctor on a regularly scheduled basis. She says it's healthy for the public to question the system following cases like Miner's.

"And people want an answer understandably, but I think that any situation this tragic and complex is not going to have a simple answer," said Gibson.

Miner's family members aren’t the only ones with questions.

"This makes me, makes me mad as hell," said VA secretary Eric Shinseki.

Thursday, members of Congress grilled Shinseki over allegations that treatment delays in Arizona led to 40 preventable deaths. The secretary says he'll act if an audit finds truth in the claims.

"Every one of those deaths is a shame and something that we have got to address," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

Sanders offered sharp criticism, but also defended the agency stating that despite problems, customer satisfaction surveys indicate most vets like the care they receive.

Gibson says many vets in Vermont have an easier time getting a bed than their civilian counterparts, but that is little comfort to veterans' families, like the Miners, who see the country's system failing those who sacrifice everything for it.

Related Stories:

War veteran's widow directs her anger at the VA

After husband's tragic death, widow takes on PTSD

How the Vt. Guard helps veterans cope with PTSD

No charges in fatal shooting of Vt. Guard vet

Shooting death of Vt. National Guard member a homicide

Did PTSD play a role in Essex shooting?

Investigation continues in Essex shooting

Shooting death investigation in Essex


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