Friday, May 29, 2009

UK:WWII veteran finally diagnosed with PTSD

Perhaps one of the most troubling things about PTSD is the lack of awareness veterans have. They may not know exactly what is "wrong" with them, the cause of their suffering, but they are acutely aware they are suffering. It is not just that they can remember in detail something that happened years ago, it's that they cannot forget any of it. How can they when nightmares bring it all back? When flashbacks bring it all back triggered by anniversaries of the event, smells, sounds, movies and TV reports?

All you need to do is to go to any of the memorials for the fallen and watch a veteran as he or she spots a name of someone they knew to witness the ravishing pain they carry while they are transported back in time to the days when they lived side by side.

PTSD is not new. It's as ancient as mankind. Throughout the centuries man has gone into combat and survivors have carried the scars within their soul. Read any account of military campaigns from ancient Romans and Greeks and see the wound. Read the Old Testament and the accounts of warriors from Moses, to Judges, Kings and the psalms of David. Read the accounts of Native Americans and see this wound exposed. There is no escaping PTSD unless we can escape being human.

The military is still attempting to train the troops to be "resilient" and toughen their minds to overcome PTSD but in the process they are telling the troops if they are wounded by PTSD, it's their own fault, they were too weak to prepare, they are mentally deficient and not as good as the rest of their company. The basis for this problem is that the military does not seem to have the ability to understand anything about PTSD to know what kind of damage they have been doing with program like Battlemind.

Battlemind begins by telling them they can prevent PTSD as if this is possible. Is it possible to stop being human? To stop being a caring person, sensitive to others? It is no more possible to prevent being wounded by PTSD than it is to repel a bullet headed for exposed body parts. The only thing they can prevent is PTSD claiming so much of the soul of the warrior that it become irreversible. While PTSD comes with different level of cuts, much like an infection eats away until antibiotics are applied, PTSD eats away at the individual until therapy is applied. Between the onslaught of the trauma and the time they begin to talk about it, it is claiming more and more of territory. One traumatic event followed by another cuts deeper into the soul. If the first cut is not treated the open wound allows a pathway for the invader to have free access.

We have to remember that PTSD does not come from within. It comes from an outside force and enters into the soldier. Much like PTSD enters into a police officer, firefighter, victim of crimes, accidents and natural disasters, the difference is the number of strikes received. Warriors are wounded deeper because of the number of times they come into contact with traumatic events. The cuts are more numerous than what a police officer or firefighter encounters but they also suffer from PTSD, yet we are more likely to understand the trauma affecting a civilian following a criminal act than understanding them being exposed to it over and over and over again.

George McMahon's actions 65 years ago were rewarded with the Military Cross and PTSD. He knew there was something wrong but was never treated for the wound he carried away with him. He is a testament to the heart of the warrior, strength to carry on while walking wounded through life and his family is testament to the suffering of families across generations also wounded by the wounded.

McMahon proved courage in battle eliminating any thoughts of the uninformed that PTSD has anything to do with not being courageous enough. He is also an example of it never being too late to seek help. The sooner treatment of this wound begins the better the outcome but even after 65 years there is hope of him healing some of the scars he has carried all these years.

Mr McMahon's son-in-law Bill Tyson, 54, said: "They told us George is likely to be suffering from PTSD.

"Personally, I feel guilty that he has suffered for so many years without us realising it.

WWII vet told he has war illness

A D-DAY hero has been told he is suffering a stress related illness picked up in battle — 65 years AFTER he was the first Brit to storm an enemy beach.

WWII vet George McMahon, who was the first soldier on Sword Beach in Normandy, France, had revealed he is still suffering terrifying flashbacks from June 6, 1944.

And Army docs have told the 89-year-old war hero he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) picked up during WWII.

Mr McMahon's family first sought help from docs when the ex-soldier talked vividly about the war in the lead-up to the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

Mr McMahon of Kirk Ella, Hull, was then visited by the Service Personnel and Veterans' Agency — part of the Ministry of Defence — who said he was displaying PTSD symptoms.

The Scotland-born Army vet who served with The King's Regiment Army was awarded the Military Cross for storming two machine-guns.

He said of his D-day flashbacks: "It is still so fresh in my mind. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning.

"I was the first man to land. I was not going to wait to be shot, so I jumped off the side of the landing craft into the water and ran."

Although not able to discuss Mr McMahon's case MoD officials said: "Anniversaries tend to trigger an increase in people coming forward for help to deal with their trauma.
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WWII vet told he has war illness

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