Thursday, November 22, 2018

In Generals the courage to heal and inspire

Generals refused to surrender to PTSD

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 22, 2018

Ten years ago, I wrote about being thankful for General Carter Ham because he talked openly about his own battle with PTSD, when other generals were shaming their soldiers for having it.

Today, sadly, I just posted about a Command Sgt. Major showing that efforts by leaders such as General Ham, have not educated the people under them.

General Ham was not alone that year. 

Major General David Blackledge showed courage admitting he needed help to heal.
Blackledge got psychiatric counseling to deal with wartime trauma, and now he is defying the military's culture of silence on the subject of mental health problems and treatment.
"It's part of our profession ... nobody wants to admit that they've got a weakness in this area," Blackledge said of mental health problems among troops returning from America's two wars.
"I have dealt with it. I'm dealing with it now," said Blackledge, who came home with post-traumatic stress. "We need to be able to talk about it."
As the nation marks another Veterans Day, thousands of troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with anxiety, depression and other emotional problems.
This is what real leaders do! They show those they lead that PTSD is not from what they lack or any kind of weakness. It comes from where their courage to serve took them, and what they had to do for those they served with.

A year later, this report came out and yet another General had more to say.
Generals share their experience with PTSD 
By Larry Shaughnessy and Barbara Starr 
March 6, 2009

Memory of soldier who died before his eyes stays with one general...Another still questions himself over suicide bomb attack that killed 22...By sharing stories, they hope to ease stigma attached to stress...Military should have different view of post-traumatic stress disorder, they say 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Army generals aren't known for talking about their feelings.
Gen. Carter Ham says PTSD is stigmatized, although "intellectually we all know it's wrong." Brig. Gen. Gary S. Patton says he wants the military to change the way it views post-traumatic stress disorder.
Brig. Gen. Gary S. Patton says he wants the military to change the way it views post-traumatic stress disorder.

But two high-ranking officers are doing just that, hoping that by going public they can remove the stigma that many soldiers say keeps them from getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Brig. General Gary S. Patton and Gen. Carter Ham have both sought counseling for the emotional trauma of their time in the Iraq war.

"One of our soldiers in that unit, Spec. Robert Unruh, took a gunshot wound to the torso, I was involved in medevacing him off the battlefield. And in a short period of time, he died before my eyes," Patton told CNN in an exclusive interview. "That's a memory [that] will stay with me the rest of my life."

Ham was the commander in Mosul when a suicide bomber blew up a mess tent. Twenty-two people died.

"The 21st of December, 2004, worst day of my life. Ever," Ham said. "To this day I still ask myself what should I have done differently, what could I have done as the commander responsible that would have perhaps saved the lives of those soldiers, sailors, civilians."

Both generals have been back from Iraq for years, but still deal with some of the symptoms of the stress they experienced.

"I felt like that what I was doing was not important because I had soldiers who were killed and a mission that had not yet been accomplished," Ham said. "It took a very amazingly supportive wife and in my case a great chaplain to kind of help me work my way through that."

Ham and his wife drove from Washington State to the District of Columbia right after he returned from combat.

"I probably said three words to her the whole way across the country. And it was 'Do you want to stop and get something to eat?' I mean, no discussion, no sharing of what happened," he explained.

Ham still can't talk to his wife about much of what he saw.

For Patton the stress hits him in the middle of the night.

"I've had sleep interruptions from loud noises. Of course there's no IEDs or rockets going off in my bedroom, but the brain has a funny way of remembering those things," Patton said. "Not only recreating the exact sound, but also the smell of the battlefield and the metallic taste you get in your mouth when you have that same incident on the battlefield."

Both acknowledge that in military circles, there is still a stigma attached to admitting mental health problems.
read more here
Can you imagine what it would be like today for all the veterans who needed to keep hearing from Generals like them, but only heard about how many veterans committed suicide?

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