Head shot of author Liz BensonI was checking the guide on TV Thursday August 9 and saw a show with the focus on PTSD. Believing our military members sacrifice enough and deserve good care, I tuned in. . .just in time to see Dr Phil grandstanding disabled veterans to get ratings. Besides the Department of Veterans Affairs medical and mental care and benefits, there are hundreds of valid, credentialed service organizations for Veterans. There are also predator organizations out there taking advantage of our heroes. Dr Phil, perhaps by the “sin of omission,” clearly misled the people watching this show. He knows how decisions for care are made and people believe he intends to help. What happened to “do no harm?”

At this time when Veteran unemployment is so high and employers comment that they are wary of hiring vets–he decided to completely undermine all the good results working with Vets, so he could look like a hero–rather than really uplift the heroes. Shame on you, Dr Phil!

I am not speaking glibly. I am a Blue Star mother and military spouse. Two of my daughters were serving with the U.S. Navy when “the world stopped on 9/11” and one is disabled, receiving high tech, compassionate medical and mental health care from VA. Both daughters are honorably discharged veterans, completed degrees with their GI Bill monies, and were warned to watch for credible resources rather than people or organizations trying to look good by using Veterans.

I have two more children serving on active duty now. My son is a Marine and has served in combat zones multiple times. The USMC does a great job providing family and loved ones with tons of information to find appropriate, credible help for our heroes. My youngest daughter serves in Security Forces for the U.S. Air Force and just finished a tour at the NATO base in Turkey, close to the unstable Syrian border. They, too, provide information about multiple resources.

Dr Phil is often considered a fairly credible resource, yet that day he completely misled a population of Americans that deserves, and in fact, earned more respect from him than this. I did note it was a repeat, re-showing is to my mind adding insult to injury.

Dr Phil should be ashamed. That show should spend at least a full show highlighting the real work being done out there by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Wounded Warriors and Boston’s Vet Run. . .the list is huge. It’s the least they could do. I am a thoroughly disappointed, former fan of that show.

Elizabeth Benson is a Blue Star mother and military spouse.

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Published on Aug. 13, 2012

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 267


  1. James Stotts August 31, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    My name is Jim Stotts and I was diagnosed in 2010 with SC PTSD form my service aboard the USS Coral Sea in the early years of the Viet Nam war. I was awarded a 50% SC disability from the VA and am presently awaiting a De Nova review of my claim for an increase. I cannot take anti-depressant drugs, so my Primary Care doctor at the Little Rock VA is helping me with my depression with Vit B-12 injections and Vit D. I have not heard anyone on this blog mention the VA Vet Centers. The Vet Centers were started in 1979 as an outreach program for Viet Nam vets who were not getting help for their PTSD because they were hesitant to go to the VA. A licensed Vet Center therapist travels to my home town of Mountain View, AR. twice a month, and I receive individual and group therapy for my PTSD. I’ve been an active member of the Vet Center program since 2008, and the treatment I have received from them has saved my life and marriage. If any Vet has problems getting help from their local VA with their PTSD,PLEASE look into the VA’s Vet Center Program. If you think you might have problems with PTSD, please don’t think it’s going to just “go away” by its self. Call your local VA or Vet Center and get an evaluation,asap. It could save your life or marriage like it did mine.

    Jim Stotts, US Navy veteran

  2. Eric Christensen August 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I’ve been told by multiple doctors (outside of the VA) that they believe I have a strong chance of having PTSD considering the mental state that I’m at. I went to the VA PTSD therapist and after literally 3 minutes of questioning, he said I didn’t have it and was sent to Mental Health. I don’t believe I was seen properly and wasn’t given any chance in heck to be diagnosed for PTSD. After going back to talk to them, they didn’t even want to see me. Once and done apparently.

    • David Hatfield September 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Eric, don’t accept that for an answer. Go back and ask to speak to the Director of the PTSD Clinic, who might be the Director of the Mental Health Clinic, and tell him or her you felt the 3-minute interview wasn’t sufficient time for the therapist to develop your case properly. Insist you be seen by someone else who will take the time to fully develop your case, review the evidence from outside physicians, and make an unbiased opinion based on the DSM IV criteria (the DSM IV) is the manual all health care providers use to diagnosis different mental health illnesses).

      Make sure you get the outside physicians to write letters stating their observations and diagnoses, along with any prognosis, short or long-term. Any other evidence you can provide – orders for deploying to a combat zone or to whatever situation put you in a position of developing PTSD, statements from others, including your spouse, parents, friends, or other family, who can describe the difference in your behaviors prior to and after the period when you believe your PTSD began manifesting itself.

      If you don’t have all that, get it. Get it now.

      The most important thing: before taking my or anyone else’s advice, call or go see your nearest veteran’s service representative. This could be someone from the VFW, DAV, American Legion, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, your state Veterans Benefits Office, or many others. Each of these organizations has people known as Veteran’s Service Officers whose job it is to help you gather all that evidence and file a claim for benefits, which include both disability compensation and treatment for injuries or illnesses caused by your service to our Nation. Use them to help you – it’s what they do and most of them are very good at it!

      Good luck, my Brother!

      Dr. Dave Hatfield
      SGM, US Army (Retired)

    • Edward Humelhans September 2, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      Wow. If I didn’t know any better I would swear you were talking about me. I was seen by a therapist at the VA in North Little Rock. After several months she finally told me i was suffering from PTSD. I then put in a claim. 3 Years later I finally saw the evaluating doctor. After a few minutes of the interview I was told she was finished. a year later she denied me. What a joke. I am appealing but how this doctor thinks she can know anything about me in a few minutes time is totally absurd.

  3. Valerie August 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I have had nothing but excellent, excellent treatment from the VA since I retired in 1999. I have received excellent mental health care since 1992 and continue to receive it. I can’t say enough great things about the VA. But, at the same time, I hear the people who are not receiving great care and I really feel bad for them. Everyone, every Vet should be treated with individualized care. If you are not, work up the chain of command with letters, write your congressman/woman or senator, who will respond to your issue. The VA is run by people, just like you and me. If that person doesn’t care about their job, you, or anything else, your services will reflect this attitude. I think this is what has happened in many cases here. I also know there has been a job freeze and the current VA workers are over worked. I wish people who are not getting the care they feel they deserve would pursue the issue by contacting that person’s supervisor, the hospital director, and anyone else in that chain. Someone needs to know what is going on. You’re telling me here on this blog, but you need to get the correct people’s attention. And that is not to say that you have not already done this. But you need to pursue the matter until you get the correct treatment! Why should I get great treatment and you don’t? I’m not any more special than you are. We should all be treated the same. I think Secretary Shinseki is doing a great job and that the VA is so much better than it used to be. It took my dad (now deceased), decades to get a claim for Agent Orange. But now the VA acknowledges that it actually did cause problems and is paying claims. When my dad first put in a claim back in the early 70s, the government would not even acknowledge it existed. Thanks for listening, and for all my fellow Vets, thank you for serving this country!

    • Kay Kardian-Porter August 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

      I have written several letters to congressmen, senators, doctors, and even the chief of staff at the VA hospital in Portland. I have requested my husband’s medical records but have only rec’d nurses reports and the surgical report. I have not rec’d the doctors notes their diagnosis reports and treatment reports from them. I feel that because of the wait that my husband had to endure during the second transplant that they realize that they made a mistake and that is why they do not acknowledge mine letters. So far i have not rec’d any kind of acknowledgement from anyone I have contacted. i will keep on trying and sending letters until I get a response as to why my husband had to die. He did not die of his pre-existing liver problems he died because he developed Sispis which i did not know about until after his death which was on the autopsy report. I don’t feel that he got the treatment he deserved and never will. How did he get the Sepsis why, you get this infection in a control enviroment which is the hospital. Something went wrong and I will pursue it until I get some answers. I have contacted attorneys but because it is a government issue they don’t want to touch a case like this. Besides you only have a short window to file a claim. So I have done many letter writings. I found this page and i thought it was a good place to tell my story, not because i just wanted to blow off steam. I am just not telling you I hope I have let everyone know what happened to my husband. I have seen many people suffer because of liver dieseases and I have seen the hope and the disapointments in their lives. I have seen happeness also from individuals who have had transplants and they continue to live their lives satisfactory, but on the other hand I have seen hope in their eyes and sadness hoping that they would be the next one to get a liver or kidney only to be pushed back on the list because someone else were sicker, which I understand also. I was my husbands caregiver for four years and spent time with others for several months waiting for their chance to live another ten years or more. I have seen our vets fight with the VA just to get help. I feel that they put trainees in this field and it is all funded by the government and peoples taxes. So mistakes are rare but when it happens to you it hits home really hard. I am not putting down our Vets they are the tops in my life they deserve better. Its the people who run the VA that makes these rules rather they have a staff of large or small they still have to take care of our Vets. My…

      • Sandra August 23, 2012 at 10:06 am

        I have a coworker that successfully sued the VA over her husbands death. People would would tell her, “you’re crazy, you’ll never win.” Not only did she win, the VA actually admitted wrongdoing. Now that is unheard, right? Don’t give up, there is someone out there that will take your case. For as much excellent care that the VA provides, there are just as many mistakes and cover ups. I spend five days a week at a VA facility, you’d be amazed at what goes on. I am very proactive in the care that I receive, I don’t ask I demand. My VA is staff by tons of residents, I demand that they give their report to the attending physician in my presence. I want to make sure that nothing is missing when the attending validates/disagrees with the residents conclusion. I a resident tell me, “I don’t like to prescribe narcotics for your condition.” Come on, I’ve been taking these meds for my condition that were prescribe by the head Dr of the clinic. Let’s just say, my meds were not changed, and I gave clear instructions to never schedule me with that Dr again.

      • Linda August 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm

        I wish I could contact me. Is there any way??

  4. Mon Ngon August 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Americans love their

    • Kay Kardian-Porter August 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      I cannot comment on what Dr. Phil did on his show i did not watch it. My comment is this..My husband was a patient for three years with the VA medical center in Portland Or. They made all the decisions about my husband’s care while he was ill. My story is: My husband had a liver transplant in March 2009, withing a few months after the transplant the liver stopped functioning. The VA transplant team had stints enplanted in him for the drainage because the liver was not functioning properly. His first transplant was a DCD liver and I understand that they do not do those anymore. Whatever, the VA hospital put my husband back on the transplant list and he waited for two years to get another transplant meanwhile having to have those stints replaced every three months meaning trips back in forth to Portland from San Diego. He bacame very ill losing rapid weight and having to change bandages daily, he was in constant pain in his stomach. Finally in September 2011 they called and told him that he was number one on the list and to get to Portland asap. He had his second transplant and it was wonderful he felt great for a little while. A few weeks later he developed an infection. They treated him with many antibiotics but the infection was not responding to the antibiotics. He had seizures several times, bank in forth to intensive care then back to the ninth floor again and again. Finally after four months in the hospital the transplant team came in and informed us that the antiobitics were not responding to the infection. They ask him if he would consider a third transplant and that the VA does not do third transplants but that they would contact Pittsburg to see if they would, to this day I have never heard what actually happened to that plan. My husband was sent home to San Diego to the VA hospital and later we planned to take him home. Unfortunately, two days after my husband arrived at the VA hospital in San Diego he died. It was a shock to me because the Dr. told my husband that he had six months to a year to live but never told me his wife and caregiver. I was in total shocked about his death. I am very disapointed with the VA transplant team in Portland they allowed my husband to suffer for three years while that first transplanted liver was rottening in his body. They should have done a transplant as soon after they found out that the liver was not working but they did not they sat on hoping it would kick in as one team member mentioned. My husband contacted Hepititus during the Viet-Nam era. I am appalled at how he was treated. I…

  5. War Dragon August 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I am a Vietnam Vet that is rated 100% disabled for PTSD. I thank God that the VA had a system that treated PTSD. I went through a Nat’l Center for PTSD in West Haven, CT back in the early 90’s and if it wasn’t for them I would still be walking around thinking I was crazy and I was the only one feeling that way. People condemn the VA system but they don’t really see the services they provide to us Vet’s. I couldn’t live without them. Dr Phil is a joke….if it wasn’t for Oprah he would be a nobody. He lives off other people’s problems and exploits them to his advantage and makes it look like he is the helping them. What a poor excuse for a human being and proposed DR.

  6. Dave Sander August 16, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I too have PTSD, and ANY public discussion of it is welcomed! I like Dr Phil and he is a smart, honest “doctor”; however, I agree that his staff failed him by not doing enough research on the subject.
    I also agree with many, that there are those who like me deny the effects of PTSD on their lifes and the people around them.
    I am thankful for the VA of today, for when I was discharged in 1970, the VA was nothing more than a nursing home. They have came a long way in 40 years…..
    Keep up the good work and continue to sensationalize mental illness, Dr Phil!

  7. Caila August 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    The Roseburg, Oregon VA does a horrible job with PTSD and hires people who don’t believe it exist, but next to Dr. Phil, Dr Phil is a pile of dog doo doo. Shame on him! Anyone who profits from a veterans disabling condition needs to be confronted by Jesus.

  8. Teresa August 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I thank your family for it’s service and I am very happy to hear that they are being well cared for. However, I have to agree with Emily’s post, many, MANY are being let down by the system. My husband is one of them. We have tried and tried to get him into treatment for his 100% disabling PTSD and all they’ve done is throw pills at him, at one time more than 120 a week! Any and all resources we have found have been through my hard fought efforts and internet research. I am grateful that my husband has medical coverage through the VA (as NOBODY else will cover him with his current medical needs, nor can he get life insurance because of the pre-concieved notions and medications that go with his ptsd) but what he receives is a far cry from adequate care. If he left his mental health care to the VA, he would be seen 4 times a year. That’s the best they can offer us. As it is, we seek treatment outside of the VA where he’s never told “you’re young, you’ll get over it.” Yes, that’s a direct quote from the head of the local VA’s ptsd department. We, like so many others, have lost faith in the VA.

    • Jessie August 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      I do not know where the people live or what VA y’all use, but I’m seen 2x/mo and was sent to the MHRRTP program in Tuscaloosa. I have absolutely no complaint about the VA mental health system. I’ve seen them work with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and they have a great system. I’m sorry that the VA is not meeting your needs, but be aware that you can go to any VA you want to. If the closest one to you isn’t working for you, go to the next one.

  9. Joseph August 15, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Americans love their vets like Michael Vick loves his dogs; as long as they make a profit and are dead.

  10. sgt tom August 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I sent an e-mail to the Dr. Phil show pointing out their sin of omission in not saying anything about the help available from the VA. This help has been around since Vietnam or before. They havemade many advances in tyhis field. To date I hasve not heard a single word from them. SHAME

  11. HOOT August 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Sorry to say the guy gives me the!#$^%Y_ Its like many things that are changing in this world . Just to which TV not to mention all the other #&*&^%$( we need more people to come together .Look at all the other Races in this world, take your pick,color, the way talk ,look, eat,, or what ever,they are very family loving people. We don t need talk shows like them people.Trust in GOD,CHURCH, FAMILY……

  12. Sara Sage August 14, 2012 at 2:59 am


    Dr. Phil is NOT a DOCTOR! He is an attorney / entertainer!!!! He is just for enertainment period nothing else!!!

    • John August 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Most persons on T.V. calling themselves doctors are able to do so because they have a P.H.D. or Professional degree of any kind, which according to university standards allows them to use the D.R. in front of their names. I could have a P.H.D. in basket weaving and still be able to call myself D.R. John . . . Most of the idiots on television are nothing more than professional entertainers. They are lucky if they have a PHD in basket weaving.

  13. emily August 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I have never been a fan of Dr.Phil and from what you wrote I understand the issue to be that he did not recognise the VA or other organisations that offer help and is parading the injured. What caught my attention was your comment about those who support the heros. For as much good as the VA and other organisations are doing to help our soldiers with physical and mental traumas, there are too many going without needed assistance. Many are left alone and not helped with their illness or how to transition into the civilian world. My brother is one…a Marine who served many tours overseas and who suffers with PTSD and TBI. This not only effects him, but it effects his wife and children too. Come on VA and others, thanks for what you do, but realise that you aren’t grand saviors either. There is more need than there are resources and maybe calling for help (in any way that may be heard) and making the matter known (so that it is not stigmatised) will bring more to the table who may be able to help.
    I do thank your children Elizabeth for their service to our country and am thankful that they are receiving care and support that they need.

  14. Arlinda Befort August 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I hope you sent this to the Broadcasters and advertisers that support Dr. Phil’s show. It’d be nice to get this set right. – Retired Navy Nurse

  15. GENE August 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    This Phil character is only on tv show because oprah felt sorry for the yoyo. He needs to get down on his knees and pray for forgiveness from all the Veterans that he showed (obama) distain and his haughty attitude. He can be replaced with a can of PORK N BEANS and definitely be missed. He is just another hack that someone gave a hand so he could weasel into the talk show business. Forget this clown.

  16. Geri August 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I completely agree! I saw this episode when it originally aired. Through out the show I kept waiting for Dr. Phil to mention the numerous resources out there for verterans, especially the VA healthe care system. He only mentioned the two private facilities that the two gentlemen were being sent to by Dr. Phil. I am a naval vet with PTSD and have had the best treatment out there for PTSD over the past 17 year–within the VA and there are so many more! I was so angry with the show that I wrote to them. This episode only showed me how little research he and his team put into it.

  17. Allen G. Bolin August 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Never, and I mean never, have I thought Dr. Phil was worth a dime, or a second of my time. So this show only proves my point.

  18. David August 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Dr. Phil and Grandstand are synonymous. Were it not for Oprah, he’d still be digging ditches. I’ve never liked him, his advice or his show. Talk about using people!

  19. James August 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Elizabeth, I am a journalist with a national publication. I cover our military and our veterans, and I would very much like to speak with you about your blog about Dr. Phil. How do I contact you, or can you please contact me? Thanks very much. Sincerely,

    • Kay Kardian-Porter August 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

      Hello James, I read your blog about being a journalist witha a natonal publication. I have a story about the treatement that my husband received while he was alive and our story. Please read my blog below if you are interested. Thank you

    • Michael Robinson August 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      The real work the VA does. Is the VA doing some good work? Yes for some veterans. For myself I have received good care over the years from the VA Health Care system regarding my disabilties. It also helped to have a good doctor who was on staff at the Houston VAMC and also at Baylor College of Medicine who also consulted with my wife’s department. Having said that I have witnessed and heard of too many times the Dept of Veterans Affairs dropping the ball. VA public relations folks have a job to do and most of the time its to make the VA look good. Forget the FACT there is no HUD available housing for homeless single vets or if there is housing it is inadequate and below standards. None in Polk County, nor Iowa City, nor Sioux City, Dubuque, Council Bluffs. This is one program that is a JOKE!

      Then there is the issue of veterans receiving timely care. Or when it comes to mental health issues for vets in Iowa, the programs that are available are inadequate and they get shipped off to St. Cloud, MN.

      So for all of the rosy comments above, a bunch of you VA Boosters need to get out into the cities and country and start talking with veterans and you are going to see and hear a different story. First and foremost take off your rose colored glasses.

  20. John Martin August 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I go to the CA Long Beach Hospital in Ca. and must say that the treatment I’ve received has been excellent for PTSD and heart ailments. It’s a first rate facility. The doctor who performed a cardiac ablation on me in La Jolla actually trained with the physician who invented the procedure in France and could be training other doctors for a great deal of money yet he works at the VA.

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