Military culture is a thing that many outside of the military have difficulty understanding. I grew up a military brat. My Dad served and retired from the Air Force. My sister retired from the Air Force with a Bronze Star for her work in Iraq in the last few years.
I am a psychotherapist and addictions counselor. I am also a trauma specialist. I’m not saying I am a military culture expert by any stretch of the imagination. But I do think I have enough life experience to understand military culture and the way in which it impacts people. And in the story I am about to tell you, military culture is playing a part.
I practice EMDR and teach other therapists how to do EMDR. The military recognizes the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD, but the VA has not trained it’s counselors in this treatment approach. The VA does recommend EMDR to it’s veterans who do not respond to other approaches, and instructs veterans to go find an EMDR therapist for treatment. But there is a hitch; many EMDR therapists are not providers for programs that reimburse for such services.
I am currently dealing with this situation myself. I have treated veterans for years. What I did not realize was that I was considered “out of network”. So when a veteran reached out to me in early 2016 and informed me of my out of network status, I contacted the particular veterans insurance program that would cover my visits. I wanted to change my status so I could begin working with this veteran immediately. Much to my dismay, I was informed that a new management company had taken over the program and I would have to reapply. I did. I was told that from the time my application was received, it would take 120 days for approval to be granted. I was shocked. One hundred twenty days?
I called the veteran and offered to get started for nothing and would back bill once the approval was granted. The veteran refused. Pride is part of military culture. I then researched and found a stipend being given to any veteran that applied. I called the veteran again and explained that the stipend was being given to any veteran of the U.S. military. All that was needed was a completed application. No qualifications other than being a vet. I then emailed the application. Once again, the veteran refused, saying that “someone else could use this more than me.” Military culture means sacrificing for others more in need than yourself.
Sixty days after faxing my application, I received an email from the program, informing me that I had to fill out a supplemental application so that the program would better understand my specializations. I filled it out immediately but could not locate a fax number or even a mailing address with which to return it. Two days later, I was successful in finally talking to a human being who gave me the fax number. I faxed it immediately. I then sent an email and asked when I could begin seeing the veteran.
Six weeks later, I received an email informing me that my application had been forwarded to a regional manager of the program and it would now be 120 days until final approval.
Today is September 10, 2016. I first talked to the veteran in January of this year. I still have not met the veteran or received approval.
I can’t make this stuff up, folks.