Navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs with Invisible Wounds: How to Overcome the Stigma of “Delay, Deny & Hope You Die”


This policy brief explores how veterans with mental health illnesses navigate the help and support available through the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the problems they can face when trying to do so.


Under the Veterans Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008, Congress increased funding for treatment, research, and services for veterans with PTSD, substance abuse issues, and mental disorders (Public Law 110-387, 2008). While the VA has made strides forward regarding care programs, treatment plans, education, awareness, and support to veterans suffering from these invisible wounds, as well as providing for their dependents and caregivers, some of these veterans are nonetheless falling through the cracks (Mullhall and Williamson, 2009). The problem stems not from a lack of funding, but from an imperfect system to address the needs of veterans and their families. In order to fulfill its mission, the VA must make several significant changes to the way that it manages its bureaucracy and dispenses service and benefits.

Full Reference

Thompson, S., 2012. Navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs with invisible wounds: how to overcome the stigma of "Delay, Deny & Hope You Die." CIR Policy Brief.