Ruben Lee Sims is a vet who has struggled with Lyme/MSIDS for over 3 decades, with most of that time being misdiagnosed. He was punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with two Article 15s and nearly court martialed twice, because doctors said no disease caused all of those symptoms. Secured in psychiatric wards three times as a hopeless hypochondriac, he was told he would stay on the psychiatric ward until he got better.
After congressional investigation, he was finally discharged from the Air Force after 14 years of highly recognized and awarded military service that ended in shame because doctors did not understand Lyme disease. Attorneys laughed and joked as they decided he was no longer fit for duty and discharged him from the Air Force without benefits, pay, or health insurance. He was essentially dumped on the streets homeless, disabled, and unable to work, with a wife and a child to provide for.
Three decades later, the VA still cannot diagnose Lyme disease based upon symptoms. Sims learned about Lyme Disease from a May 2015 Costco magazine article. He learned that the rash he had that started three decades ago was the Acrodermatitis Chronica Atrophicans (ACA) rash that is caused by untreated Lyme disease.
It took six months of constant confrontation with the VA to get them to bring in someone that understood Lyme disease. Sims is seronegative by ELISA and Western Blot. So, doctors’ over reliance on serology test nearly left him blind from severe sensitivity to light. The ACA rash confirmed his Lyme disease 34 years after my infection.
The VA did not recognize Lyme disease until the mid-1990s. That means that veterans who had Lyme disease before then were misdiagnosed and some are perhaps homeless and disabled. According to Sims the government is no wiser today than before they recognized Lyme disease. Veterans are still being misdiagnosed and perhaps dying of other Lyme-related diseases.
https://www.lymedisease.org/vet-suicide-lyme/ In this link, Sims wrote a letter to David Riley, National Commander of the DAV. He states that the problem is NOT about getting “timely and effective mental health services,” as these attempts have failed miserably. The rate of veteran suicides has remained nearly constant for over a decade in spite of VA mental health efforts.
The real problem is: military and VA healthcare systems follow CDC two-tier tests Lyme disease guidelines that capture less than 10% of Lyme disease cases nationwide. Over 90% of Lyme disease cases are diagnosed and treated by a minority of doctors who specialize in Lyme disease and tick-borne disease and understand CDC guidelines are fatally flawed.
He also states that according to many medical experts, the largest cause of death from Lyme disease is suicide. Read about Psychiatric Symptoms of Lyme/MSIDS here: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2015/10/18/psychiatric-lymemsids/
Sims states that troops are exposed to tick bites worldwide in training and in the fields. Military risk assessments often find high risk of Lyme disease at installations all around this country. Yet, the ability to diagnose and treat Lyme disease is nearly nonexistent in the military and VA healthcare systems.
Veterans with Lyme disease find themselves caught up in a devastating perpetual loop of misdiagnoses, failed treatments, and constant rejection that can only be resolved by proper diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease. Lyme disease affects both the mind and body. However, mental health alone cannot cure Lyme disease.
Sims says nothing will change about suicides in veterans until the CDC Lyme disease guidelines are addressed immediately.