Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Army Captain's Mom wins Above and Beyond Award for work in PTSD

Alumna ‘Above and Beyond Award’ finalist 10/31/07
In 2004, Molly VanDuser, AU class of 1999 of Fuquay Varina, NC,had a comfortable life and a thriving practice as a professional counselor in western New York State where she had lived for 45+ years. But she was moved deeply when her son, an Army captain, called from Afghanistan to say, “We need more counselors like you at Fort Bragg -- my guys have seen too much.”

Within two months, Molly rented out her home and moved to be near the base, armed with only three weeks’ of clothes, a computer, and her books on treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Molly worked briefly at Fort Bragg with the Victim’s Advocate Program and began volunteering as a guest speaker on mental health to help veterans and military families deal with PTSD. She then joined Webster University as an adjunct faculty member at the Pope Air Force Base satellite unit, where, today, she teaches graduate-level counseling students who are also military personnel.That began her efforts to train and mentor as many local therapists as she could to treat for trauma/PTSD. Molly presents regularly at regional workshops and at state and national conferences as an expert on combat stress. She has worked with the American Counseling Association as a member of their Governing Council and has chaired the Task Force to study and disseminate information on military family resiliency.In 2007 she formed a corporation, Peace of Mind, Inc., the first trauma treatment specialty clinic in her area to offer best practices in mental health.

Molly VanDuser is a licensed professional counselor who earned a master’s degree in counselor education from Alfred University in 1999 after working for more than 15 years in the area of career counseling, human services and education. Practice areas have included college counseling centers; mental health agency and community settings; school-based counseling; employee assistance programs; private practice; and military installations.

Areas of expertise include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociation; Military Family Adjustment Issues; Childhood Sexual Abuse; Domestic Violence; Crisis and Disaster Counseling; and Stepfamily Dynamics. Molly has completed a 3-year term on the American Counseling Association’s Governing Council; has been published in professional journals; and has presented workshops nationally.

Currently, Ms. VanDuser is an adjunct professor at Webster University’s Pope Air Force Base’s graduate counseling program, teaching Research and Evaluation, and Professional Orientation and Ethics. She is also in private practice near Fort Bragg/Pope AFB.


American Counseling Association (ACA)
American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)
American Red Cross
Chi Sigma Iota International Honor Society for Counselors
International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (IAMFC)
Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina (LPCANC)
Lillington Chamber of Commerce
Mental Health Association of Cumberland County
National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC)
North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors (NCBLPC)
North Carolina Counseling Association (NCCA)
Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society

GFI Sponsors 'Stand Up For Heroes'

GFI Sponsors 'Stand Up For Heroes'

October 31, 2007: 11:30 AM EST

NEW YORK, October 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- GFI Group Inc. has taken 'Medal of Honor' sponsorship at next week's 'Stand Up For Heroes' - a benefit for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund.

The Bob Woodruff Family Fund helps injured members of the United States Armed Forces. Emphasis is placed on traumatic brain injury and combat stress injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.

NBC's Conan O'Brien will host the 'Stand Up For Heroes' benefit, which will feature performances by Lewis Black, Bruce Springsteen and Robin Williams.

"The Bob Woodruff Fund does a marvelous job of helping injured American service men and women and GFI Group is proud to be supporting the Stand Up For Heroes benefit", said Colin Heffron, president of GFI.

The benefit is part of the New York Comedy Festival, which runs from November 6th to 11th.

Go to for more on the Bob Woodruff Family Fund and for more on the New York Comedy Festival.

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Soldier's suicide sparks inquiry in Australia

Captain Andrew Paljakka, an explosives expert with the army, took his own life after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. His death has prompted a military inquiry.
Photo: PA
About 1200 claims from the 16,000 veterans of the East Timor peacekeeping operation have been filed with Veterans Affairs for shell-shock and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Soldier's suicide sparks inquiry in Australia

Les Kennedy
November 1, 2007

HE SERVED in Afghanistan for just six weeks, but it was enough time to see things that would haunt Andrew Paljakka long after his tour of duty ended.

He told of having witnessed a child being raped, and of having to listen to the "gurgling sound" of a man he had shot slowly dying.

After Captain Paljakka, 27, returned to Australia last year, he began drinking heavily and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and severe depression. In February he was admitted to a private hospital in Richmond, NSW, but discharged himself. On February 26, he took his own life. He left a young widow.

His death may prove to be a watershed. Amid growing concern over the psychological impact of modern military service in war zones ranging from Afghanistan to East Timor, a military board of inquiry will sit privately in Sydney to examine whether his suicide may have occurred in the course of his service.

The NSW Coroner will await the outcome of the inquiry before deciding whether to hold an inquest, a spokesman said yesterday.

Captain Paljakka was the youngest army recruit to graduate as an officer from Duntroon Military College in Canberra, and went on to become an expert on major explosives............

..........His suicide follows that of another Afghanistan returnee, former SAS trooper Geffrey Gregg, who took his own life in Perth.

..........In August 2005, two years after being discharged from the Royal Australian Navy after rising to the rank of lieutenant commander, David Buck, 53, a Timor veteran, tried to get NSW police to shoot him dead by staging a robbery at the Umina Bowling Club with a fake bomb.
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Soldiers in Iraq seek help in mental health

Soldiers in Iraq seek help in mental health
Attitudes toward treatment change
October 31, 2007



CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- U.S. troops in Iraq, facing the stress of multiple, extended combat tours, are increasingly willing to seek mental health counseling while in the field, military medical experts say.

Combat-stress experts from the 785th Medical Company, an Army Reserve unit from Ft. Snelling, Minn., that originally deployed to Iraq in 2004 and redeployed in August after two years in the United States, say they've noticed a substantial change in attitudes toward mental health treatment, which has long been stigmatized.

"There hasn't been that challenge of having to go out and kind of sell ourselves to make sure people know that we're here and this is an important part of the combat experience for everybody," said Capt. Troy Fiesel, the company's operations officer.

"Now we've got people walking in and saying, 'Hey, I know I have got this issue,' or 'I had this problem last time and I need to keep working on it.' "

The willingness to seek help comes as the Pentagon pushes mental health care as some troops enter their third or fourth deployments in a war with no front lines and no safe rear areas and as the first tours of duty that were extended to 15 months grind to an end.
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Who is counting PTSD suicides besides families?

A total of 147 troops have killed themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the wars, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center, which tracks casualties for the Pentagon.

Add the number of returning veterans and the finding is that at least 430 of the 1.5 million troops who have fought in the two wars have killed themselves over the past six years. And that doesn't include people like Gallagher's husband who committed suicide after their combat tours and while still in the military — a number the Pentagon says it doesn't track.

That compares with at least 4,227 U.S. military deaths overall since the wars started — 3,840 in Iraq and 387 in and around Afghanistan.

Iraq, Afghan Vets at Risk for Suicides
By KIMBERLY HEFLING – 9 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mary Gallagher did not get a knock at the door from a military chaplain with news of her Marine husband's death in a faraway place. Instead, the Iraq war veteran committed suicide eight months after returning home.

She is left wondering why.

It's a question shared by hundreds of families of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have taken their own lives in a homecoming suicide pattern of a magnitude that is just starting to emerge.

Preliminary Veterans Affairs Department research obtained by The Associated Press reveals for the first time that there were at least 283 suicides among veterans who left the military between the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001 and the end of 2005.

The numbers, while not dramatically different from society as a whole, provide the first quantitative look at the toll on today's combat veterans and are reminiscent of the increased suicide risk among returning soldiers in the Vietnam era.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pot use to treat PTSD

PTSD and Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy -VS- Marijuana
by Dr. Phil Leveque

(MOLALLA, Ore.) - According to almost anyone suffering from PTSD, their pharmaceutical therapists, psychotherapists, psychologists and any of thousands of workers in this field admit if truthful that almost nothing tried thus far has worked.

The first written reference to PTSD was in 1900 B.C. by an Egyptian Army physician who called it "hysterical reaction to trauma."

This was reported nearly 4,000 years later by Veith in 1965. It is probable that it occurred in every war since, and it is also probable that the self-medicating treatment was alcohol, which is still used widely today.

The U.S. Civil War produced "soldiers disease" which was most likely PTSD plus opium addiction, and opiates are still used for PTSD today. The Spanish-American War gave us Cuba Libras (rum & lime juice) and World War I gave us Cognac, lots of French wine and probably lots of opiates.
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One way to find out if it is good at treating PTSD is to go here for a study
Cannabis (drug)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cannabis, also known as marijuana[1] or ganja,[2] is a psychoactive product of the plant Cannabis sativa L. subsp. indica (= C. indica Lam.) and Cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa. The herbal form of the drug consists of dried mature flowers and subtending leaves of pistillate ("female") plants. The resinous form, known as hashish,[3] consists primarily of glandular trichomes collected from the same plant material.

A dried flowered bud of the Cannabis sativa plant.The major biologically active chemical compound in cannabis is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), commonly referred to as THC.

Humans have been consuming cannabis since prehistory,[4] although in the 20th century there was a rise in its use for recreational, religious or spiritual, and medicinal purposes. It is estimated that about four percent of the world's adult population use cannabis annually and 0.6 percent daily.[5] The possession, use, or sale of psychoactive cannabis products became illegal in most parts of the world in the early 20th century. Since then, some countries have intensified the enforcement of cannabis prohibition while others have reduced the priority of enforcement, almost to the point of legalization, as is the case in the Netherlands.

But it looks like the Netherlands has already studied it and use it. It also looks like throughout history, a lot of other nations have used it, including our own.

Veterans' suicide study, not as spun before

Veterans' suicide study yields key findings
Medical Studies/Trials
Published: Tuesday, 30-Oct-2007

The largest and most up-to-date study of suicides among depressed veterans provides important new data that may help guide screening and treatment for all veterans.

Published online (Oct. 30), the study finds that the predictors of suicide among veterans in depression treatment differ from those seen in the general American population, with younger, white, non-Hispanic men having the highest risk among the veterans.

Veterans with substance abuse issues, and those who had been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons in the year before their depression diagnosis, also had a higher suicide risk. Surprisingly, older veterans who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in addition to depression had a lower overall rate of suicide than those without a PTSD diagnosis, perhaps because they were more likely to receive care through Veterans Affairs PTSD programs.

Though the study did not directly compare populations of veterans and non-veterans receiving treatment for depression, the study does confirm that suicide rates were very high among depressed VA patients during the study period of 1999 to 2004, reinforcing the need for the VA's recent initiatives to prevent suicide.

The study, conducted by researchers from the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System and U-M Depression Center, will appear in the December American Journal of Public Health issue focused on veterans' issues.
go here for the rest

When I read this, I thought I lost my mind. I went back to the earlier post to see if maybe I got the other report wrong. I have to admit here and now, as I often do, that I'm personally interested in what gets reported. For me to have taken the original out of context would be very possible. Looks like I didn't. I re-read it and then read this report. This one seems to be the way it was originally reported and not what the New York Times printed it. The question is, why would the Times reported it differently?

Afghanistan veterans not getting needed mental health care in Canada either

Afghanistan veterans not getting needed mental health care, audit finds
Mike Blanchfield , CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2007
OTTAWA - The Canadian Forces are falling short in meeting the mental health needs of soldiers returning from Afghanistan because the demand for care is "outstripping available resources," Auditor General Sheila Fraser said in a report to Parliament Tuesday.

The shortfalls, which came to light as part of a broader audit of the rising cost of military health care, suggest the military has yet to learn some hard lessons of the past decade, when retired general Romeo Dallaire, now a Liberal senator, offered himself as a poster boy for the mental health suffering of many Canadian peacekeepers who served with him in Rwanda or on other operations in the Balkans.

This latest audit suggests that the Defence Department is failing to meet the needs of the new generation of men and women currently serving in Afghanistan as part of the military's most demanding combat mission since the Korean War more than half a century ago.

One disabled veteran of Canada's involvement in the first Persian Gulf War of 1991 questioned how the Forces can justify purchasing $20 billion worth of new planes, helicopters and other hardware, while neglecting the well documented mental health needs of their personnel.
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Study Looks at Suicide in Veterans?

In the study, Kara Zivin, a psychiatric researcher at the University of Michigan and the veterans’ agency, led a research team that evaluated records for 807,694 veterans treated in the system between April 1999 and September 2004. The group included men and women who had served in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan, though the researchers did not do separate analysis for each conflict.

The study did not evaluate the methods used in the suicides, which could also account from some differences between veterans and nonveterans. In the study among veterans living in the community published last summer, which was led by Dr. Kaplan, more than 80 percent of the suicides were committed with a gun. The rate in non-nveterans was 55 percent.
The study, a joint effort between the University of Michigan and the veterans’ agency that included detailed records from more than 800,000 veterans, is the largest and most comprehensive in this group of patients and the first to include troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Study Looks at Suicide in Veterans

Published: October 30, 2007
Veterans receiving treatment for depression are no more likely to take their own lives than civilian patients, according to a large Veterans Affairs study published this afternoon.

So what did they include? Which veterans were tested and studied? First off no one can take this seriously simply because they did not bother to check records from every newspaper across the country to see how many veterans committed suicide. That would have been a great place to start simply because most of them never saw a single VA doctor, either because they didn't know what PTSD was, or because they didn't trust them at all. Given the fact so many claims are still trapped in the system, you also need to look at how many applied for a disability connected to PTSD and were denied, never to darken the door to a VA hospital or clinic again. They need to look at what the DOD has found from veterans within their own files. Those committing suicide back home on bases across the country as well as those committing suicide "in country" under their command.

In cities and towns across this country, there are many veterans in the obituary pages dying at a fairly young age. Some die because of Agent Orange, other chemical exposures, but when you read the words, "suddenly" alarm bells should sound, but not necessarily connected to PTSD and suicide.

Let's put this in terms people like me can understand without having to read reports like this several times before they can understand it. Unless they can manage to take a study seriously, by separating them by branch of service, combat or none combat duty, then none of their studies will add up to the paper they are printed on.

You could have a Marine, never setting foot in Iraq or Afghanistan, included in a study like this. You could end up not taking into consideration someone from the Air Force, who was in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are too many open ends to this. In WWII there were survivors of kamikaze pilots hitting ships. You wouldn't think off hand someone who had never set foot in battle developing PTSD, but a sailor on one of these ships would develop PTSD.

In Vietnam, it was not just the grunts, but the helicopter pilots who were favorite targets of the VC. Today in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are not as many being shot down but they are being shot at.

Did this study include veterans who knew or saw someone blown apart? Did they include veterans who were shot at or even near an IED? Did they include people working in the motor pool who had to retrieve body parts along with burnt out vehicles?

When they look at the suicide rates of civilians, they also need to take into consideration if the person was involved in a traumatic event. When they look at events, like 9-11 and Katrina for examples, the rates of suicide are much higher. They need to look at everything when they are trying to study the aftermath of trauma and all traumas for comparison. These are not random suicides over a broken heart, bad grades or no friends. PTSD suicides are born from trauma. The rest of the population seeking suicide are a blended mix of environment, mental illnesses, support systems, education and faith. Suicide comes with the lack of hope. In PTSD wounded most of the suicides come from the lack of knowledge which offers hope.

This is my opinion but I'm going to wait until experts take a look at this study. It's happened before and the studies in the past have been proven wrong. This one just doesn't seem to have all the dots connected.

Marines in Iraq look to pastor for answers to tough questions

"They don't think their dead comrade should be awarded the honor of a marine killed in action. But asked if the unit should refuse any memorial at all, their heads snap up. "He deserves something," the tall one says adamantly. His mate nods in agreement."

PART 1: US Navy Chaplain Michael Baker ( Read the full series )
Military chaplain: Marines in Iraq look to pastor for answers to tough questions
From a buddy's suicide to a religious ritual, young troops count on Lt. Michael Baker.
By Lee Lawrence Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 30, 2007 edition

Habbaniyah, Iraq - Under a sun-blanched desert sky, Navy Chaplain Michael Baker and Marine Sgt. Bill Hudson Gross bounce in the back of a truck as it rumbles across Camp Habbaniyah. Clad in helmets and body armor in the 110-degree F. June heat, they're on a mission: to baptize Sergeant Gross.

"I am going to try to talk him out of it," confesses Chaplain Baker, a tall, lanky Methodist minister whose formal Mississippi-tinged speech and posture mask an often goofy sense of humor.

It's not the baptism itself; it's just the part where Gross wants Baker to immerse him in the Euphrates, one of four rivers that the Bible describes as flowing from the Garden of Eden. For Gross, an infantry platoon leader who just weeks before saw two of his men wounded by shrapnel, the river has a personal connection. Two years ago he deployed to a small base on the river, where he turned his back on religion after learning of his father's death back home. Now that he has rediscovered his faith, he feels it fitting to be baptized in a river where, he says, "a lot of people gave up hope."

Baker enumerates the problems with Gross's plan: "There is the issue of water pollution and the issue of security," he says. By stepping into the Euphrates, they would technically be leaving the confines of the camp, home to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. Safer to wear their 25-pound body armor and risk drowning, he wonders? Or better to stand in the river without it and risk being shot? His laugh at the predicament is loud and staccato.

For military chaplains in war zones, even very routine requests can prove challenging – as Baker has discovered, it is not always easy to satisfy basic emotional and spiritual needs of individual troops within the hard-edged, mission-oriented goals and guidelines of the command.

go here for the rest

What's it going to take for Marines and the rest of the units with people in combat zones to understand this came from a combat wound? What makes them think it is any less worthy, noble or heroic than being cut down by a bullet from the enemy or a bomb? They all need to understand that although there were other options, this is in fact a war wound that claimed a life. The bullet may have come from the Marine's own finger pulling the trigger, but the wound was caused from combat.

PTSD is an insidious killer.

Main Entry: in·sid·i·ousFunction: adjectivePronunciation: in-'si-de-&sEtymology: Latin insidiosus, from insidiae ambush, from insidere to sit in, sit on, from in- + sedere to sit -- more at SIT 1 a : awaiting a chance to entrap : TREACHEROUS b : harmful but enticing : SEDUCTIVE 2 a : having a gradual and cumulative effect : SUBTLE b of a disease : developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent

It is far more dangerous than a bullet fired at random or a bomb just waiting to claim another life. This one kills slowly with more far reaching victims. It takes buddies. It takes families. It takes friends. With normal combat deaths, the grief is answered with the knowledge of what happened and when. With PTSD and suicides, there are no clear answers. Everyone is left to wonder what they could have done to save the life. Everyone is left to wonder when it got so bad that there was no hope left to want to live. Everyone is left to wonder when it all started.

When they have PTSD, which is a wound from trauma, there is a golden window of opportunity to treat the wound before it infects the casualty. Left alone it eats away more of the character until there is nothing left. This is not something that should ever be treated as less worthy of honoring the life. It should always be more worthy of saving a life than it is. Until we all get it into our brain that this is a wound as surely as a bullet cuts into the skin, we will lose more by their own finger on the trigger, their own hand on a noose, their own hand on a bottle of pills.

These Marines in this article spoke of the code. The code also says never leave anyone behind. If they do not take action helping those wounded by trauma, they are in fact leaving them behind to be taken by the enemy. The enemy they can no longer see, but the one suffering from the ghosts does. kc

'Soldier's Heart' has heartbreaking relevance

'Soldier's Heart' has heartbreaking relevance
By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY
Fresh out of Harvard and Yale, Elizabeth Samet began teaching English at West Point a decade ago, when life there was peaceful — "there's no other word for it," she writes. Then came 9/11.
Samet and her students — future second lieutenants — found new meaning in works such as Tolstoy's War and Peace and Randall Jarrell's poem, The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner.
Samet's account of teaching and learning, Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point, is absolutely fascinating. Never has Tolstoy or Homer seemed more relevant.
Her book explores serious issues — moral questions about courage and obedience — but with graceful writing and flashes of humor.
She is an outsider: a civilian and a woman in a military culture of, in Virginia Woolf's phrase, "unmitigated masculinity."
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Monday, October 29, 2007

No stigma in getting post-combat stress help

Caregivers emphasize: No stigma in getting post-combat stress help
By Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CAMP CASEY, South Korea — A perception that seeking help for post-combat stress could harm a servicemember’s career is preventing many from dealing with problems that could balloon into greater ones.

But care providers throughout the Pacific say that seeking treatment alone will not jeopardize a security clearance — and therefore military jobs.

Most say they can keep treatment confidential and out of service records, with exceptions possible when serious harm to self or others is involved.

Capt. Christopher Perry, Area I support psychiatrist at Camp Casey, South Korea, has managed medications and conducted psychotherapy for several hundred returning vets.

Senior NCOs and junior officers do perceive a stigma with getting treatment, he said. But that stigma doesn’t exist, Perry said: “You don’t lose your clearance because of seeking help [for combat-related stress].”
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Iraqi war veteran heals trauma through pastels at UMSL

Iraqi war veteran heals trauma through pastels at UMSL
By Aisha Sultan
NORMANDY — Randy Johnson remembers standing at the edge of a bridge waiting for a train to pass so he could jump and kill himself. Johnson, 23, waited for hours, but no train came by.The next day, the former Iraq war veteran checked himself into a Veterans Affairs hospital in Sheridan, Wyo. During his four-month stay earlier this year at the facility, he learned that he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder."I thought I was stronger than that," Johnson said. "I thought I could handle it."
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Canadian soldiers suffering mental-health problems after Afghanistan

It's not clear how many serving members are being treated for mental-health issues, but an official with Veterans Affairs said that since the Afghan mission began five years ago, the number of clients receiving care for PTSD at the department's clinics has risen to 6,500 from 1,800.

Cdn soldiers suffering mental-health problems after Afghanistan


HALIFAX - Hundreds of Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan are suffering from a range of mental-health problems linked to their deployment, according to new data.

But even with this latest information, the military admits it still has little understanding of how many troops might be affected by the rigours of war and operational stress over the long haul.

About 28 per cent of the 2,700 Canadian Forces soldiers who were screened after serving in the war-torn country were found to have symptoms of one or more mental-health problems, including depression, panic disorders and suicidal tendencies.
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Linked from

Memories of lost friends follow soldier through therapy

Memories of lost friends follow soldier through therapy
By Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, October 29, 2007

CAMP CASEY, South Korea — “John” didn’t really notice how much he had changed until five months after he watched his first friend die in Iraq.

On Dec. 26, 2005, John and others in the 5th Engineer Battalion were looking for roadside bombs near Baghdad when a rocket-propelled grenade caromed off a Humvee turret and ended Sgt. Dominic Coles’ life.

“I didn’t even know how to react to what I saw,” John said. “But I knew what to do. I stood up on the gun.”

John still sees Coles in his dreams. Sometimes he looks as healthy as when they played spades together in their barracks.

Other times, Coles and two other dead friends look as they did when they died; sometimes they slowly disintegrate in front of him. One dream was so bad John pushed himself off his bed and cracked his ribs on a chair.

The nightmares began in Iraq, before he arrived home in May 2006 for his mid-tour leave. At the airport, most welcomed him and other troops home. But one man began shouting at the servicemembers, calling them baby-killers.

“That didn’t make me feel too happy,” John said during a recent interview at Camp Casey.
go here for the rest

Before you go to the link to read the rest, I still have no clue what gets into people when they say things like "baby killers" as if those things don't happen in combat. In Iraq, babies get killed, kids get killed, so do mothers and fathers and grandparents. Innocent people die. They end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Iraq, it is the civil war causing more innocents to die that even the contractors. It is not as if the troops target innocent people. One the rare times when it does happen, they go on trial. Pig headed people call them "baby killers" just like pig headed people join Westborough Baptist Church and protest at the funerals of the fallen. Taking out anything against the troops does not make sense at all. They are not the ones making the choices. Bush is. The generals are. The congress is.

N.J. center to aid assaulted female vets

N.J. center to aid assaulted female vets
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (UPI) -- A Veterans Administration treatment center is set to open in Bernards Township, N.J., to help female veterans who have been sexually assaulted.

The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger said Sunday that with the number of assault and harassment cases involving female soldiers increasing dramatically, the new center will provide treatment to those suffering from a condition known as military sexual trauma.

The healthcare facility, which opens its doors in December, will be the first residential VA center that focuses on the increasingly prevalent condition.

The center was created following the findings of an ongoing VA screening process that found 20 percent of female soldiers leaving the military encountered a form of sexual trauma during their service, the report said.
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From Africa to America with trauma and after

Double Life: The Public Face and Private Pain of Torture Victims in Minnesota
by: Abdi Aynte
Sat Oct 27, 2007 at 5:44:46 PM

Like many other torture victims, Iftu has a dual identity: In public, she's a happy and hard-working immigrant whose gregarious outlook doesn't give a hint of the horrors she suffered in her native Ethiopia. In private, she's a rape victim and a patient at a local psychological treatment center.

"It's getting harder and harder to keep up with my two identities," said Iftu, who didn't want to give her last name.

She's one of an estimated half million torture victims in the United States. Minnesota has an estimated 30,000. That number is too high for the state because of higher immigration rate per capita, said Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, a senior consulting clinician with The Center for Victims of Torture, or CVT. The Minneapolis-based center is a national leader in the field.

Speaking at an immigrant roundtable Friday, Garcia-Peltoniemi said "the stigma associated with torture is a barrier to treatment," but is common.
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Back from Iraq:Mental scars of war still fresh 2 years later

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is no longer a rare diagnosis for combat veterans, but it is almost never discussed publicly. Why is that? Amputees are commonly seen in the media, as are family members and friends of soldiers who have died. It is hard to imagine that mental scars can be as difficult to deal with as physical ones, but they can be. The biggest difference between the two is that physical injuries are more noticeable, often even obvious. PTSD leaves no marks, nothing that signifies trauma to the naked eye."

Guest Columnist: Mental scars of war still fresh 2 years later
Two incidents with IEDs while vet was in Iraq, have taken a toll on her life, her dreams and her psyche.

Elizabeth Ricci

Last update: October 27, 2007 – 4:19 PM
When people talk about the war in Iraq, discussion almost always focuses on topics related to the physical survival of soldiers. As a veteran of this war, I believe more attention needs to be paid to the mental scars soldiers are suffering.

Homemade bombs called IEDs -- improvised explosive devices -- are what have claimed the most lives in Iraq, by far. These devices can range in force from causing mild annoyance to instantaneous death. Early in my deployment, I had my first of several personal encounters with an IED.
go here for the rest

There is more outrage among veterans right now on the web over the speeches people can give in the flag folding ceremony at a military funeral. You would think there would be more outrage over the veterans like Ricci, but there isn't. They come home as they have done from all other wars, carrying the combat with them and the horrors they see. What causes the outrage? A flag folding ceremony for the fallen.

Yesterday I attended one of the protest marches across the country. It was raining in Orlando but still they came to voice their outrage over Bush's delusion in Iraq. No one protested being in Afghanistan, which has all but been forgotten. Swarms of peace marchers walked in front of a small group of pro-war people. Sitting across the street so that I could get a good film of it, as I waited for them to come, it stuck me that both groups were taking a stand for the same reason. Both groups care deeply about the soldiers in Iraq but they cannot come together on the right way to support them.

How can they? Those who have researched how and why the troops ended up in Iraq blame Bush for what he is doing to the military and the people of Iraq. The other side sees it as their duty to support Bush because he is the Commander-in-Chief. They feel it is a betrayal to the men and women in Iraq to go against Bush. Their commonality is the passion they feel for those serving. Both groups feel outrage. Where is the outrage for the wounded coming back? Bush and those who support him have turned those who support just the troops and not him, into the enemy of pro-war groups. Why can't they see that no one is protesting the action taken in Afghanistan?

Still, as I read what outrages people, when apathy does not have them focusing on trivial nonsense, I can't help but wonder who is behind all of this. The bloggers go nuts when someone on the other side says something they can sharpen their teeth on. I'm guilty of that too. Yet I also sharpen my teeth when I see more outrage over trivial than I do over what matters in the lives of the men and women coming back from what we fight over. I care deeply about how they were sent into Iraq and how no one in Washington has done their job while expecting the military to pull off all of it, but I care more about the state of their lives when they come home to live with what they survived.

Go and read the rest of what Ricci wrote and then ask yourself why you can't be so moved as you were yesterday across the country for the sake of the wounded. They need all of us to help them today, not when the occupation is over. The sooner the better, but until it is over, we will have more wounded needing help today. Can't both groups at least come together on this for them?

Kathie Costos

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

Saturday, October 27, 2007

PTSD no one sees it coming, till it's here

Spouse Calls: PTSD spouses should seek support

Shortly after my husband and I were married, he was deployed for his third tour of Iraq. We had been together going on ten years and had seen two tours, so I didn't expect this to be much different...Stars and Stripes -

This is one example out of hundreds of thousands. No one ever sees it coming, unless they know what they are looking for, but you never really know for sure if it will show up now, or years later. It comes when it comes. They know it, they feel it and they try to deal with it, hiding it from everyone. At least they think they are hiding it. If they come into contact with people who know what PTSD, great, the signs are noticed and help is a hand away. Yet if they don't know what it is, you just don't see what the changes mean.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kerry, veterans blast current state of care

Kerry, veterans blast current state of care
By Jack Dew, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Article Last Updated: 10/27/2007 07:47:22 AM EDT
Saturday, October 27

PITTSFIELD — About 50 veterans — most of them formerly homeless, many of them recovering addicts — sat on folding chairs in a common room of the United Veterans of America facility on West Housatonic Street, waiting for a chance to tell U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry what they need and are not getting from their government.

In a dark blue suit and pastel tie and ringed by TV cameras and reporters, Kerry looked little like his fellow veterans. He told them that the fight for benefits and proper care of the men and women returning from war is a battle that has been waged since the end of Vietnam. There have been some victories, he said, and some defeats.

"Supporting the troops is not just supporting them when they are in another country and they are in harm's way. Supporting the troops means keeping faith with people who wore the uniform when they come home," Kerry said. "That means we have got to make these lessons we have learned mean something.
go here for the rest

VA needs to treat PTSD with what works

VA agrees with study that some PTSD studies are bias

October 27th, 2007
by Richard Brassaw
A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) exposed much of the studies for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as self-serving and biased. The report concluded that exposure-based therapy and cognitive processing therapy were the only proven treatments that were effective for PTSD. The report also concluded that pharmacotherapy requires additional research to prove its effectiveness.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agrees with the IOM findings that exposure-based therapies are effective treatments for PTSD. Prolonged exposure therapy utilizes techniques to promote confrontation with feared objects, situations, memories, and images. It involves use of psycho-education, breathing retraining, prolonged exposure to the memory of the trauma through imaginary reliving, and repeated exposure to safe situations being avoided because of traumatic fear.
click above for the rest

It's time to get this right! I can fight until I'm blue in the face to get them to go for help, but if the help is not working, if it is not the best and if it is not working, then what good will it do? What's the point of still doing what does not work?

If my husband received help when he came back from Vietnam, if he knew what it was in 1971, then all indications are he would have recovered and not turned chronic. Back then there was ignorance as the excuse of the military and of the veterans dealing with PTSD. It was the excuse of the family to not see the signs and expect them to just get over it. We no longer have that excuse. We haven't had that excuse since the 90's! With so many Vietnam veterans coming back from their tours and experience of research providing in detail what PTSD is, it is a disgrace this nation never mobilized to address it. I still can't figure out why they are still emailing me wondering what PTSD is after all these years.

The exposure this has been given by the media is wonderful and things will happen, but what took them so long to put the spotlight on this so that the government was forced to address it?

For a psychotherapist specializing in PTSD, that’s a good thing

Professionals working to destigmatize PTSD
By MARTIN J. KIDSTON - Independent Record - 10/27/07
When Carroll Jenkins looks back over the past six years, he can’t help but credit the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for creating a broader understanding of post traumatic stress disorder.

For a psychotherapist specializing in PTSD, that’s a good thing.

“It seems like our society has to get hit right upside the head, pretty hard, to get it,” Jenkins said Friday. “I think we’ve got it this time. I’ve been battling this sucker for years. To see people sit around talking about PTSD the way they are now — we’re destigmatizing it.”

Jenkins was recently contracted by the Montana National Guard to help train therapists across the state in recognizing and dealing with PTSD.

Now, nearly a month later, he’ll help the Montana Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers in a related conference to be held in Helena next month.

John Wilkinson, executive director of NASW-MT, said the organization will host what’s believed to be the largest conference ever held in the state dedicated entirely to post-combat stress and veteran care.
click post title for the rest

Neglected by DIA and VA PTSD claims another life

Neglected by DIA and VA, defense employee suffered alone after stints in Iraq
By Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, October 28, 2007

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a three-day series about post-traumatic stress disorder. Today’s story looks at one man’s descent into a living hell with PTSD that his family says began as a civilian deployed to Iraq and ended in an Arizona cemetery. Monday’s story visits a group of South Korea-based troops who meet to deal with their issues. On Tuesday, Stripes explores the different types of care available to those suffering from the disorder across the Pacific.

In 2004, William Blair e-mailed his wife Noriko a picture of himself in an Iraqi jail cell.

Noriko knew he wasn’t a prisoner, but she knew little else about his job with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

When he returned from Iraq a year later after a second deployment, Noriko Blair realized that William wasn’t the same witty, calm, peaceful man she had married. But she did not know how badly he had been wounded.

After 38 years of serving his country as a retired active-duty soldier and a Defense Department civilian, Blair died in July 2006.

Death didn’t come from a bullet or a mortar round. It came from the anguish brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder and the heart attack that struck after alcohol abuse broke his body, his family said.

Blair’s death could have been prevented, said his son, his wife and a former colleague who served with him in some of the world’s toughest places.

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Seminar to Be Held to Help Veterans with PTSD

Prosser Soldier Speaks of His Personal Experience with PTSD
Seminar to Be Held to Help Veterans with PTSD

Friday, 10-26-07

Prosser -- The numbers of soldiers and Marines with post traumatic stress are rising. It is now believed that one in five returning from the mideast will be forever changed by PTSD.

Billy Petersen of Prosser is a former Army Medic who has been diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder. This morning, Petersen detailed his experience since returning from his second tour in Iraq.

Petersen finds himself reacting strongly to sounds. When a car backfires, his first response is to duck, and hit the ground. He doesn't like to drive. And he also avoids traffic circles. Petersen says Iraq has hundreds of them, and that is where insurgents hide the bombs (IED, or improvised explosive devices). He said he shakes when he is traveling in a traffic circle.
click post title for the rest

Pro-bono lawyers battle for wounded veterans with PTSD

Advocates for Vets

New York Lawyer
October 26, 2007

By Thomas Adcock
New York Law Journal

The City Bar Justice Center, the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association, launched the Veterans Legal Clinic this week in concert with attorneys from 10 Manhattan firms.

The new program will provide free counsel to low-income men and women returned home to the metropolitan area from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - some of whom are homeless, and many suffering from severe physical and mental health problems.

One of a handful of such clinics around the country, the New York initiative was established in response to the anticipated needs of returnees from the "most sustained combat operations since the Vietnam era," as conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were characterized in a joint statement by two New York state Assembly committees that held fact-finding public hearings in May.

The committees on mental health and veterans affairs said further in their statement that today's military personnel have especially high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder due to "lengthy and multiple tours of duty, decreased mortality rates and traumatic brain injuries."

Left untreated, post-traumatic stress disorder could lead to "devastating ramifications, including unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness or involvement with the criminal justice system," according to the statement.

On Wednesday afternoon, nearly 100 private firm volunteer lawyers gathered at city bar headquarters on West 44th Street for a three-hour training session in the fundamentals of Veterans Benefits Administration law and practical tips on filing for disability benefits.
go here for the rest

“Don't label yourself as crazy" after trauma

Emotional reactions normal, experts say
By R.J. Ignelzi

October 26, 2007

You can't sleep. You scream at your kids. Your heart is racing. And you have no idea what day it is.

You're not losing your mind. You're stressed. And mental health professionals say these reactions are typical.

“Don't label yourself as crazy. You're going through a normal reaction to an abnormal event,” said Arpi Minassian, a psychologist at the University of California San Diego Burn Center.

Even as things calm down, people are bound to experience an array of emotions after the firestorms. And don't be surprised if your reactions are different from your neighbor's or your best friend's.

“Some people will be emotionally numb. Others will be angry or sad or irritable. It's important to know that all of these emotions are OK. It's normal,” said Jerry Gold, a psychologist who is director of Scripps Behavioral Health Services.

Other stress symptoms include anxiety and fear that the disaster will happen again, difficulty focusing and making decisions, hopelessness, spontaneous crying, increased or decreased eating, sleeplessness and nightmares.

Mental health tips
Mental health care professionals offer some coping strategies for the stress we're all feeling.

Talk about the event and your feelings with friends, relatives and colleagues.

Exercise to help relieve stress. Although a strenuous workout isn't recommended while the air quality is poor, try a passive indoor exercise such as meditation, yoga or stretching.

Turn off the television and the radio for a while.

Try to return to a normal schedule. Have meals and sleep at regular times.

Write it down.

Serve others.

Reach out to community groups, religious organizations or neighborhood gatherings for moral support.

Avoid overuse of alcohol or drugs.
click post title for the rest

Hugs For Life raises suicide awareness

Event raises suicide awareness
Hugs for Life aims to get word out about an issue that 'affects everyone'
By Pomera M. Fronce
Close-Up Correspondent
Article Last Updated: 10/25/2007 11:29:53 AM MDT

Sheri Thomas will always remember the phone call.

The news she received was devastating - the kind of news no one should ever have to hear. Her 19-year-old nephew, Jonathan Hickam, had committed suicide.

"It was the worst feeling I have ever felt," Thomas recalls.

She remembers being in shock and adrenaline overdrive at the same time because she was trying to be strong for her sister.

Thomas wanted to turn back the hands of time, but realized she couldn't. Instead, she turned her grief into action and established a suicide prevention and awareness organization called Hugs for Life.

Members of the organization work tirelessly to get the word out that suicide is not an option. They believe that education and communication are key in reducing the number of suicides in Utah each year.

"First, we try to help people understand that suicide knows no boundaries," Thomas says. "It affects everyone regardless of race, religion, gender or economic status. Second, we encourage people to talk about suicide openly and honestly."

In the past, Thomas adds, it was almost deemed unacceptable for anyone to talk about feeling suicidal and to seek help. And when it was too late to intervene, family members may have talked in hushed tones about the suicide, but rarely outside of the home.
go here for the rest

Claims of PTSD being "over-used" avoid reality

"Trauma survivors have a different outlook. There is a new sense of danger and vulnerability," he said. "But it doesn't mean you're not resilient."

Forum looks at storm victims, war veterans
Groups have much in common

War and a hurricane - when it comes to mental trauma, the two aren't so different.
This was one conclusion of a forum Thursday night featuring two mental-health professionals and a Sun Herald staff writer. The seminar was about post-traumatic stress syndrome, the recognized precursor of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mental trauma after the storm fell into two categories, said Steve Barrilleaux, director of Outpatient Services at Gulf Coast Mental Health Center in Gulfport. There were those with no mental-health problems before Katrina, who afterward began feeling anxiety and depression for the first time. Then there were those with pre-existing issues, which the hurricane exacerbated.
go here for the rest

"But these symptoms alone are not enough for a PTSD diagnosis, which he said is overused." Barrilleaux went on to claim.

If anything, it is under diagnosed.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Navy Psychologist Warns of Mental Health Provider, PTSD Training Shortfalls

From USA Today:

From his distant vantage point treating Marines at a base in Iwakuni, Japan, [Navy Cmdr. Mark] Russell, 46, has been speaking out for three years that the U.S. military faces a mental health crisis in the treatment of its combat veterans.

He has fired off memos to higher command and has gone public with his views, an unusual step for many in the military. Russell discussed his concerns in phone and Internet interviews. "We cannot provide the standard of care to treat PTSD via psychotherapy when we can barely keep up with new referrals and have to manage crises while filling in for the staffing gaps and vacancies due to deployment, attrition or no billeting," Russell says. "This is why I have been so outspoken."

How common is PTSD?

Studies suggest that anywhere between 2 percent and 9 percent of the population has had some degree of PTSD. However, the likelihood of developing the disorder is greater when someone is exposed to multiple traumas or traumatic events early in life (or both), especially if the trauma is long term or repeated. More cases of this disorder are found among inner-city youths and people who have recently emigrated from troubled countries. And women seem to develop PTSD more often than men.

Veterans are perhaps the people most often associated with PTSD, or what was once referred to as "shell shock" or "battle fatigue." The Anxiety Disorders Association of America notes that an estimated 15 percent to 30 percent of the 3.5 million men and women who served in Vietnam have suffered from PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?Although the symptoms for individuals with PTSD can vary considerably, they generally fall into three categories:

Re-experience - Individuals with PTSD often experience recurrent and intrusive recollections of and/or nightmares about the stressful event. Some may experience flashbacks, hallucinations, or other vivid feelings of the event happening again. Others experience great psychological or physiological distress when certain things (objects, situations, etc.) remind them of the event.
Avoidance - Many with PTSD will persistently avoid things that remind them of the traumatic event. This can result in avoiding everything from thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the incident to activities, places, or people that cause them to recall the event. In others there may be a general lack of responsiveness signaled by an inability to recall aspects of the trauma, a decreased interest in formerly important activities, a feeling of detachment from others, a limited range of emotion, and/or feelings of hopelessness about the future.

Increased arousal - Symptoms in this area may include difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, becoming very alert or watchful, and/or jumpiness or being easily startled.

It is important to note that those with PTSD often use alcohol or other drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. Individuals with this disorder may also be at an increased risk for suicide.
go here for the rest

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit

It's no surprise that most people who endure a traumatic event suffer from some symptoms of PTSD, but the effects will often subside. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 8 percent of men and 20 percent of women go on to develop PTSD and roughly 20 percent of those people develop a chronic lifelong form of it. The condition is associated with other ailments such as increased risk of heart disease in men.

In terms of children, Stanford researchers found that severe stress can damage a child's brain. They looked at children suffering from PTSD as result of severe abuse and found that they often suffered a decrease in the size of the hippocampus - a part of the brain involved in memory processing and emotion. What's even more startling is that this effect on the brain may make it even harder for them to process normal stress for the rest of their lives. These days, more and more money and attention is being directed towards PTSD research, due in great part to the war. As troops come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, as many as 13 percent are found to have PTSD. There can be thousands more whose conditions go undiagnosed.

Anyone can claim whatever they want if they have a title after their name but if they have no, or little, background dealing with PTSD, they will make claims that are not educated ones. I've read what they've had to say for 25 years. The professionals who write what is lived with and through are the ones I trust. If they come out with claims that PTSD is over used, I don't trust them.

There have been too many cases of someone having PTSD and not being diagnosed with it. Over 22,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were given "personality disorder" markers instead of PTSD. Max Cleland, triple amputee, ex-senator, ex-head of the VA, was diagnosed with depression and treated for that since Vietnam, but it turned out, he too had PTSD.

Bill Richardson Proposes Expansion of PTSD Treatment for Veterans

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Proposes Expansion of PTSD Treatment for Veterans
Fri, 10/26/2007 - 10:08 — newsdesk
October 25, 2007 -- Santa Fe – New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today announced his proposal to expand treatment for veterans and their families suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

At the request of Governor Richardson last fall, a team led by the Governor’s Behavioral Health Czar, Linda Roebuck, has been meeting to improve coordination of behavioral health services for military personnel in New Mexico.
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Fresh off two, back-to-back tours in Iraq, a troubled Marine reservist faced a judge

McKinney later told police that Roberts has issues with civilian society and experiences flashbacks from Iraq. He recently told her he doesn't trust himself. She said he needs professional help for mental health issues but refuses to see anyone.

Iraq Veteran Faces Charges
Threatened Girlfriend, According To Police
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY Courant Staff Writer
October 25, 2007
MANCHESTER - Fresh off two, back-to-back tours in Iraq, a troubled Marine reservist faced a judge Wednesday on charges of pointing a loaded shotgun at his girlfriend and throwing a knife at her.

With "USMC" tattooed on his neck, Riaan Roberts, 25, of Chestnut Street, stood expressionless before the judge during his arraignment in Superior Court in Manchester.

The charges against him, which include first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree unlawful restraint and third-degree assault, stem from a bizarre incident with his girlfriend early Tuesday. According to police, Roberts insulted the woman, threw a knife at her and pointed a loaded shotgun at her in their Manchester apartment where officers found three guns - two shotguns and a rifle - four knives and boxes of ammunition.
click post title for the rest

November 13, Obama and Bond Expect Answers On PTSD

Obama, Bond Demand Pentagon Report on PTSD Cases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) sent the following letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, requesting a full accounting of service members’ psychological injuries, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), since October 2001. The senators also requested a detailed report on how the military monitors other psychological injuries. Recent media accounts indicate that the number of service members seeking care for PTSD from the Veterans Administration (VA) increased 70% over a 12-month period, or an increase of some 20,000 cases. In addition, reports of the total number of cases of PTSD treatment at the VA since 2001 – 50,000 cases – far exceed the number of wounded documented by the Pentagon.

In the letter, Obama and Bond request information including the total number of PTSD among active duty service members; the total number of other reported psychological injuries; the procedures and referral mechanisms for service members to seek counseling while in combat; the number of mental health staff deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan; the number of mental health staff for each major mobilization and demobilization site; the incentives in place to attract additional behavioral health specialists; and the total annual expenditure on mental health care for active duty service members.
go here for the rest

VA To Host PTSD Research Conference

VA To Host PTSD Research Conference
By U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Oct 25, 2007 - 4:41:28 PM

Blackanthem Military News
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon H. Mansfield announced today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will convene a "consensus conference" with the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health to improve the designs and methodologies all three agencies will use in future research studies regarding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

On October 18, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report which concluded exposure-based therapies such as prolonged exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy have proven to be effective treatments for PTSD, while more research is needed on pharmacotherapy to determine its effectiveness.

"IOM's findings have important implications for the future of PTSD treatment for veterans and all Americans," said Mansfield. "We will use their report as a blueprint to guide our future research and treatment efforts."
click post title for the rest

Thursday, October 25, 2007

300,000 veterans may face disorder

300,000 veterans may face disorder

By Tom Corwin
Staff Writer

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan could produce more than 300,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center told an Augusta VA audience Tuesday.

"I think this will be the biggest public mental health issue for the next 30 years," Maj. Scott Moran told the 2007 Warrior Care Coordination Conference at the Augusta Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. "The outlook is not good without adequate resources."

Returning service members are also suffering higher numbers of mild traumatic brain injury from blasts, which also might play into post-traumatic stress disorder. That puts them at greater risk of being homeless, said Cheryl Beversdorf, the president and CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Already, an estimated 1,200 veterans from those conflicts are on the street.
go here for the rest

I do not agree. Just my opinion but from what I've seen, we were looking at numbers like this a couple of years ago. It is based on facts we have already seen. Reader of this blog and Screaming In An Empty Room (Nam Guardian Angel) know the reasons well. For those of you who are not regulars here, this is just part of the reasons I come to this with this opinion.

1978 DAV study placed PTSD diagnosed at 500,000
Another recent report said that in the last 18 months there have been another 148,000 Vietnam veterans seeking help for PTSD. This report came out last month.
We also need to keep in mind most Vietnam veterans had one year and one tour only.
These soldiers and Marines and National Guardsmen are on their 3rd, 4th and 5th tours.
Another factor is the length of deployment increasing the risk along with the re-deployments.


Dear Military Family Member,
You know all to well the meaning of sacrifice. Only a small number of people know what it is like to have a loved one serve a combat tour that can last up to fifteen months. The uncertainty that goes along with overseas deployments is a heavy burden to bear. While most of the American people were told to "go shopping," you've made the real sacrifice.

Now, five years later, the Bush Administration and its neoconservative allies are trying to push a war weary nation into another quagmire. This time they want to attack Iran. They also oppose the Webb-Hagel Bill which would have provided troops with adequate rest and recovery time following a deployment to a combat zone. Their inaction on this measure jeopardizes our national security.

CLICK HERE TO GET MORE MILITARY FAMILY MEMBERS SIGNED UP WITH VOTEVETS.ORG has been at the forefront of these issues and will continue to be as we approach the 2008 election cycle. Our endorsed candidates did not get multiple deferments or have "other priorities" (in the words of Vice President Cheney). When the time came for them to serve, they suited up and put their lives on the line. Along with helping our candidates, we will also continue to hold anti-troop politicians accountable, as we did in 2006.

To this end, is seeking more military family members to join our ranks. And for that, we need your help.


If you can, we would like you to refer five family members to us who you think would be interested in our cause. In this email you are afforded the opportunity to do just that. This will increase our voice in Washington DC and beyond.
Thank you for your support, and the sacrifices you have made.

Peter Granato

Iraq War Veteran

Vice Chair,

Troops arrive home from fighting

Corporal Wara with his sons after his return from Afghanistan
About 150 troops have arrived back in the UK after a tour of duty in southern Afghanistan.

Soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade have arrived back in Colchester, Essex, following six months in the Helmand Province trouble spot.

The level of fighting experienced by the unit had been the most intense since the Korean War, some experts say.

Army commanders added that the troops will undergo a normalisation programme on their return to Essex.
go here for the rest

'Stress risk' for British troops
Long deployments increased the risk of PTSDProlonged periods of service in Iraq and Afghanistan are putting the armed forces at risk of psychological problems, UK research has suggested.
A study of 5,500 regular troops found that about 20% were on tour for longer than recommended.And long deployments were found to be associated with an increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the British Medical Journal reported.
The Ministry of Defence said rates of mental illness among troops were low.
"Harmony guidelines" were introduced by the armed forces to make clear the maximum time service personnel should spend away from their families and how long units should rest between operations.
The recommendations are also used to monitor when troops are overstretched.
Health problems
A team at King's College London looked at the effects of the number and lengths of deployment in a random sample of military personnel sent on operations.
They calculated that those deployed for over the average recommended amount of 13 months or more in a three-year period were 20-50% more likely to have symptoms of PTSD.General health and severe alcohol problems were also associated with long periods in a war zone.
And "overstretched" troops were also more likely to have problems at home during and after active service.
go here for the rest

Yet we have no problem with our troops doing one full tour at 15 months and then have only 12 months home! What is wrong with us? Then we have a problem when they do develop PTSD! 13 months out of three years for the UK and their studies proved it was asking for more cases of PTSD. Yet our Congress and President have allowed this to keep going on when they should have stopped this practice a long time ago! What makes this all worse is that they do nothing to address the problems their bad decisions are creating! Repeat deployments raise the risk of PTSD by 50% according to the US Army study. Fewer of our troops are beating the odds. This is an emergency people and a battle we cannot afford to lose for them.

'The Army ignored my illness' 03 Aug 07 Health
UK troop reserves 'almost gone' 21 Jul 07 UK
Pain link to post-trauma stress 08 Apr 07 Health
Post-traumatic stress drug hope 17 Sep 06 Health
War trauma 'leaves physical mark' 24 Aug 05 Health
'My war injuries were psychological' 23 Mar 05

Shooting witnesses traumatized

Chaplain: Shooting witnesses traumatized - MI,USA
A Saginaw County police and fire chaplain says that's normal, but parents should watch their children for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
Chaplain: Shooting witnesses traumatized
October 25, 2007 07:37AM
The effects could linger for weeks for the 300 people who shared a traumatic experience when a middle school football game erupted into gunfire in Saginaw.
A Saginaw County police and fire chaplain says that's normal, but parents should watch their children for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Some things that parents should watch for and monitor immediately and for about 30 days are sleep disturbances, a fear of returning to school, eating disorders, nausea, nervousness, a lot of extraordinary anxiety, behavior patterns that are not normal for their particular young person," said Richard Popard, a chaplain for Saginaw Township's police and fire departments.
"Parents should reassure children when they have these symptoms that they're not going crazy. Their body is acting normally to an abnormal circumstance. It's not normal for us to see a shooting. It's just not normal."
An Arthur Hill High School student remained in criticial condition this morning at Covenant Medical Center. Bullets struck him and three others -- two parents and another Arthur Hill student -- when a gunman opened fire during a football game at South Middle School, on the city's West Side.
About 300 spectators attended the game; the shots broke out during halftime.
Popard is part of the township's critical incident stress debriefing team, which helps officers and firefighters cope with work-related trauma.

Hannity needs to pay attention to PTSD, his crew is

Soldier Discharges

By SFC(R)L 31 for problems they said resulted not from post-traumatic stress disorder but rather from a personality disorder that pre-dated his military service. Schmidt's mother, Patrice Semtner-Myers, says her son was told that if he agreed to ...

Sean Hannity Discussion -

I admit I don't listen to Hannity on the radio anymore and I don't watch FOX but since I get most of what is on the net about PTSD and have never seen anything from Hannity or even indicating he has been paying attention to this at all, forgive me if I missed it.

I am so relieved to see that so many care about the way our troops and veterans are being treated on both sides. This is wonderful! There are very few in this country denying this is happening now. Maybe on this we can all come together and take a stand for our troops in a way that will really matter to their lives and their families. After all, both sides claim they are not against the troops. Now is the chance for both sides to prove it!

PTSD in Canada Invisible Injuries

Invisible injuries

Thu, October 25, 2007

A clinic in London's Parkwood Hospital is the only place in Ontario where returning soldiers can get treatment for a range of disorders caused by the stress of serving in the world's hot spots.

It can be triggered by something as simple as a price special at the local grocery store.

People start to crowd together, pushing to get to the front. Then there's a sharp voice in the crowd, ordering everyone to move back.

But the veteran who is barking the orders isn't at the local grocery store in his mind. He's back in Rwanda or Somalia or Afghanistan, dealing with a swarming that could be lethal if he misjudges the crowd.

He's a victim of what Canada's military calls "operational stress injury" and their American counterparts call "combat stress injury."

London is home to Ontario's only clinic set up to treat the increasing number of veterans, armed forces members and RCMP officers who have suffered psychological injuries serving in the Canadian military
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Brevard County Vets taking on the wounds of PTSD

Our view: Helping our heroes

Improved federal benefits mixed with state proposal can aid Florida vets

The latest numbers on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans needing help for mental-health problems show how extensive the crisis has become:

Mental illness -- including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and drug and alcohol dependency -- is now the second biggest injury for which new vets seek treatment with the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to USA Today.

Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking treatment for PTSD jumped by 20,000, or almost 70 percent, in the 12 months ending June 30, the VA reported.

Total mental health cases among those war vets rose from 63,767 on June 30, 2006 to 100,580 a year later, a 58 percent jump.

Those figures don't reflect thousands of other new vets treated at storefront VA centers around the country, or active-duty personnel already diagnosed with PTSD.

PTSD sufferers, along with other wounded troops, can require lengthy and costly aid -- more than overwhelmed federal and state agencies can currently provide.
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This piece also said that the Brevard county veterans have teamed up with Massachusetts based Home For Our Troops to help a serverly wounded veteran. This is what is best about our veterans. They continue to serve their brothers and sisters!

Military lags on suicide prevention, report says

Military lags on suicide prevention, report says
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, October 21, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A15

In 2006, 30 soldiers and Marines committed suicide while serving in the war in Iraq, the most in any year since it began in 2003, according to information released by the Defense Manpower Data Center in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Bee.

This year is on track to meet or surpass that number with at least 27 suicides so far in 2007.

Soldiers and Marines are being required to serve on the front lines for longer than any time in U.S. military history, according to a report on mental health by the Army's Office of the Surgeon General.
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The Suicide of Mike Crutchfield, Army soldier

A Soldier's Story: Nowhere to go
Struggling with a sense of rootlessness, a former foster child joins the Army and heads to war
By Gina Kim - Bee Staff Writer
Last Updated 7:28 am PDT Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A1

First of two parts

More service members killed themselves while serving in the Iraq war last year than in any year since the war began, and the suicide count for 2007 is on track to surpass that. The dead are generally junior enlisted soldiers who are single, white and male. They are Mike Crutchfield.

It's two days before Christmas 2006, but it doesn't feel much like the holidays in "The Suck," what soldiers sometimes call Iraq, where the days blend together – broken up only by brilliant sunrises and sunsets.

Michael Crutchfield taps out a final e-mail to his family 7,392 miles away in Stockton. It is a suicide letter – to his mother, brother, sister and nephew. He hits "send" at 12:13 p.m. Then the 21-year-old Army specialist picks up his military-issued M9 Beretta pistol. He presses it to his chest. And he fires.

Two soldiers passing Mike's office in the Balad motor pool hear the gunshot and a shell hit the floor. Then groaning. They kick the door in and there's Mike, sitting in his chair, his arms hanging limp, his head tilted back.
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MONDAY: Mike discovers his greatest enemy in Iraq. Himself.

We hear numbers but very few of their stories. It took a lot longer than it should have to find about a hundred of their stories for the video I did, Death Because They Served. Each one of their stories need to be told, without shame, without judgment, for the sake of those who may be prevented from coming after.

PTSD is impossible to conquer if it remains in the shadow of all the famous slogans of those who serve. The Few And The Proud, are all of them. The combat veterans are rare in this nation and those serving today in both occupations are even more rare. PTSD has nothing to do with bravery, patriotism, approval of the "mission" or anything other than they are humans exposed to the horrors of combat. The duties they have to perform are a necessary evil when they are sent to fight, kill and defeat the enemy dictated by those who sent them. It is brutal, bloody and gruesome. It is chaotic. It is what they live through and with.

Some will be able to overcome what they participated in, yet none will honestly tell you that they were able to forget any of it. Some will relive it for the rest of their lives. As the horrors of combat claim more and more of their minds, the natural defenses take over. Numbing walls are built to protect emotions from further attacks. What manages to make penetrate them, forcing them to feel anything, is killed off by self-medication quickly. Lives are turned from living into existing.

There are more families willing to talk about the loss, about the lives gone, and about the pain left behind. As this happens, more and more of the wounded will become able to speak of their own pain before it is too late for them as well. Families of the veterans who have committed suicide have to deal with self inflicted shame they feel for not being able to stop it, not being able to be worthy of the wounded wanting to live and blaming themselves. They have to manage to find the rational in the emotional. Once they understand what PTSD is, they can deal with the fact it had nothing to do with them at all. It was the invisible enemy. It was the silent killer determined to claim who got away from the battle field. It is a stalker terrorizing until it wins. It wins by silence. It wins by denial. It wins by default. It wins by a false self imposed stigma fed on ignorance.

The only way to defeat PTSD is kill the infection eating away the wounded. Truth will win. Honesty will win. Compassion will win. Knowledge will prevail. All this can happen as soon as silence is ended. The families need to tell their stories while the media still is willing to listen. This needs to be done for the generations before now and after now as well as now. We are loosing too many after the risk to life has ended but the risk of continuing to live begins.

Kathie Costos
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

PTSD and California prove humans suffer from trauma

California Wildfires: Experts, Advice on PTSD, Grieving, and Families Experiencing Sudden Loss
Newswise — In the midst of news stories about the catastrophic wildfires that are destroying southern California homes and businesses, it is easy to downplay both the personal losses inherent to these natural disasters and the profound influence that media can play in the preparation and healing effort. Alliant International University, which has had three of its campuses closed due to fire, announced today that experts from its California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) are ready to assist journalists with pertinent information as to how natural disasters affect people and how they can help educate, inform and inspire those who have lost their homes, as well as potential victims of this wildfire phenomenon.

“Alliant International University has called together leading experts in the field of gentle, post-traumatic stress counseling to assist journalists as to how to reach survivors, witnesses and others in the San Diego area touched by these traumatic events,” said Associate Vice President of Communications Nicolette Toussaint. “The media is where people affected by this natural disaster will go when they need information that helps to make sense of what has happened and how they can move on.”
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We saw it after Katrina. We saw it after 9-11. We saw it over and over again, yet when it comes to the men and women we send into combat, we failed to expect it. PTSD is a human wound, suffered from abnormal events. There is nothing normal about the fires in California, the aftermath of Katrina, the attacks of 9-11 or combat. None of this is part of normal daily life. We ignore this at our own peril. The wounds treated early are wounds healed sooner. Why would anyone have a problem with this?

Dems ask Bush to back wounded warrior bills

Dems ask Bush to back wounded warrior bills

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Oct 23, 2007 17:20:03 EDT

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman is asking President Bush to rally Republicans in support of pending wounded warrior legislation, rather than pushing the White House’s own plan.

Concerned that the administration’s plan unveiled last week could end up delaying work on the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act already approved by the House and Senate, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and other Democrats on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee sent a letter to Bush on Monday seeking his help in building Republican support for the ongoing negotiations to hammer out a compromise wounded warrior bill instead of allowing debate to take on a partisan tinge.

The letter also asks Bush to nominate someone to be the new secretary of veterans’ affairs, saying that having the position filled will make it easier for the administration to negotiate with Congress on details of the wounded warrior legislation and to push through other improvements in programs for disabled combat veterans that do not require congressional action.
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Chaplains replacing therapists in combat

In most cases, I do believe the chaplains have crossed the line when it comes to evangelizing, but in this case I think it's a good idea to fill in the gaps. Normally I agree with Veterans For Common Sense and would take issue with this, but it is something I have been pushing for in the communities when they come back and cannot get into the VA for help.

Veterans For Common Sense reported it this way.
Military Improperly Uses Chaplains as Mental Health Counselors

The reason is a simple one. When trauma strikes, some will thank God they survived but others will feel abandoned by God. (There were two cases in my family alone. You can read about them in my book, For The Love Of Jack for free on the link to the right.) They feel as if God wants nothing to do with them when they go through traumatic events, especially combat and even the police suffer from this. They are not very different from other humans exposed to trauma, but in their case, when trauma strikes, they were also participants in it.

They are forced to kill doing their duty. This leaves a double wound of mind and spirit. Feeling as if God has turned His back on you is one of the most heart wrenching experiences a person of faith can bear.

There have been reports that when the psychological and spiritual wounds are addressed simultaneously the results are remarkable. This should not be a surprising result considering when people go to AA to stop drinking, they recover a lot more than sobriety. We've all heard the expression of "dry drunk" when people stop drinking but become nasty. This happens with the absence of the spiritual healing. Yet when they reconnect with the spiritual they become whole. They do not allow guilt to eat away at them, but use it to remember how much they have changed and healed as they try to rebuild their lives, their families and relationships.

What needs to be honestly addressed is that while the men and women in the military, and to a lesser degree, the police force, have nothing to feel guilty over while doing their duty in order to protect other people, they do in fact feel guilty. They feel guilty they shot someone and wonder what they could have done differently. They feel guilty they survived when a comrade did not. They also feel guilty when an innocent person dies because they feel they did not do enough to save them.

The wounds they carry are not just psychological but spiritual. The combination of healing is the best, however in the absence of psychological, the chaplains in the military and the clergy back home are the next best thing to being healing. With the military unprepared for after trauma wounds, time will be wasted while the soldiers have to wait to talk to someone. As the Veterans Administration was equally unprepared, the clergy in the communities are vital in assisting the wounded veterans to being healing.

I come to this debate as the administrator of Christian Education at a local church and of abundant faith from a lifetime of living it. I am not a casual observer of this. With first hand experience with my own husband, the absence of God, the judgement of God, during traumatic events is the feeder of trauma. It is hell for those who have held the hand of God and even those who have limited faith in God. This is not limited to Christians, but to Muslims, Jewish people along with every other belief base.

Back in the communities, the religious leaders need to step up to address the wounded and begin the healing process as soon as possible. The veteran is not the only one hurting. In most cases there is also a family hurting, trying to understand what is happening. It is a spiritual tug of war in which as time is wasted, the aggressor (PTSD) claims more and more territory. The clergy need to pay attention to this and stop letting their eyes glaze over as PTSD is explained to them. It is not that hard to understand. They need to stop ignoring this if they are truly of the "cloth" and in the business of taking care of the spiritual lives of their congregations and communities.

Kathie Costos
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

This is how Air Force Times reported it.

DoD, services ramp up mental health support

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Oct 22, 2007 6:46:38 EDT

When military chaplains look into the faces of military family members, they are beginning to see “the same 100-mile stare that we’re seeing with soldiers with [post-traumatic stress disorder],” the Army chief of chaplains said at a recent family forum. “This is a tough war, a long war.”

There are resources inside the gate and outside, “but sometimes it’s an issue of an individual who is so tired, we must walk them to the help they need,” said Maj. Gen. Doug Carter.

Military chaplains are a central element in the confidential assistance provided to families. They offer counseling as well as education on issues such as maintaining strong relationships during and after deployments.

But with multiple deployments compounding stress on families, defense and service officials have recently ramped up some other confidential counseling options for military families.

As of Sept. 15, active-duty members, mobilized reservists and their families can get free nonmedical professional consultations over the phone, said Mike Hoskins, special assistant in the Pentagon’s office of military community and family policy.

“We asked Military One Source to expand counseling to include telephonic consultation,” he said. “Some can’t make it to face-to-face sessions.”

The call to Military One Source, at (800) 342-9647, is toll-free. Overseas military and family members can call toll-free (800) 3429-6477, or overseas collect 1-484-530-5908. Phones are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Each person can receive up to six phone consultations per issue, he said. Sessions are confidential and anonymous, unless a counselor has reason to believe the caller could harm himself or others.
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