A Navy SEAL veteran who came out as a trans woman 10 years ago but has transitioned back to a man warned veterans this week that they need to take charge of their own health care decisions inside the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Chris Beck made waves when he announced his detransition and warned of the dangers the trans movement poses to people, especially children. His Twitter bio now declares, “I am NOT #trans (I healed from mental trauma).”
In an interview with Fox News Digital Monday, Beck discussed how quickly the VA system put him on a path to becoming a trans woman, and how that system could be improved so other veterans are not rushed into a similar decision.
Until the VA system is improved, Beck said veterans need to defend their own interests when using VA.
“For any veteran that’s entering the VA system, it’s a giant machine, the biggest machine you’ll ever enter,” Beck said. “Every VA is different, and every VA doctor is different. If you don’t like where it’s going, then ask questions.”
“If you’re not complaining, you’re leaving the problem for the next veteran,” he added. Beck also stressed that VA should understand that veterans have a real stake in making sure the system is fixed.
“We’re complaining because we want you to be better,” he said when asked about VA.
Beck said the VA’s mental health care system would be much more useful to veterans if it relied less on people in white coats who weren’t in the military and more on those who served their nation in uniform who can more effectively serve as mentors and coaches to veterans in need.
“The problem with VA is they got talked into using CACREP,” Beck said, referring to the Association for Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Beck said VA requires all psychologists to be CACREP accredited, which makes them expensive and therefore much more difficult to see inside the VA system.
Beck said he believes that standard is why he was only seen for about one hour within the VA before it was decided he should be placed on hormones in preparation for a transition.
“I walked into a psychologist’s office, [and] in one day I have a letter in my hand saying I was transgender,” Beck told Starbuck. “I was authorized for hormones. I was authorized all this other stuff.”
“It’s pretty stringent, and it’s ridiculous,” Beck told Fox News Digital of the VA standard. “Not everybody needs a Ph.D. counselor.”
Beck said the accreditation requirement makes these counselors very expensive, and because they can command more money, the VA does not have access to nearly as many as it needs to treat veterans. That creates a shortage that means veterans get only limited time.
“They want to shortcut it,” Beck said. “They don’t have time. If they can get me in and out of there in an hour, that’s what they want to do.”
The VA did not respond to a request for comment on Beck’s assessment of mental health care at the agency.
Beck said a better alternative would be to leave room underneath the CACREP-certified staff for other counselors, including people in the military who saw some of the same things veteran patients saw. Beck said it can be difficult for veterans to take clinical advice from younger psychologists who never saw action and who don’t realize that many of their patients are highly qualified service members who led troops in the field. Beck said many VA staff simply don’t know how to react to the way older veterans process their pain.
Beck acknowledged that he grew frustrated with one encounter with a qualified psychologist who couldn’t understand Beck’s situation because he hadn’t lived it.
“He started talking to me about PTSD, and I was like, ‘Dude, I’m not talking to you anymore, you’re giving me more PTSD,’” Beck said. He hit the table in frustration, which prompted the counselor to sound an alarm and have Beck escorted out of the room.
“They’re so young, so naïve, so inexperienced that they get scared because when we start talking about combat, we get intense,” Beck said. He said many get an incorrect understanding of veterans through popular culture.
“They watch these movies, and they think they know us,” Beck said. “They can’t handle us. What we need is our mentors and coaches.”
“All the people who make decisions are listening to Ph.D.s and GOFOs [general officers and flag officers] when they should be listening to senior NCOs [noncommissioned officers],” Beck said. “The Ph.D.s and GOFOs never did the job. The senior NCOs did the job every day of our lives.”
Beck said the value of talking through problems with other veterans can be seen in a nonprofit he started, Mindful Valor, that lets veterans work together and commiserate over food and companionship. He said the VA needs to push for ways that allow veterans to connect with each other in those ways.
“We can talk about stuff with each other,” he said. “The stories bring out emotions, and the emotions bring out solutions.”
He said that he is not looking to pick on the VA – an agency that has been criticized for years for failing to quickly attend to veterans’ needs – and simply wants to make sure it improves.
“I’m complaining because I really want it to get better.”