Showing posts with label combat trauma wounds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label combat trauma wounds. Show all posts

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Landstuhl hospital’s trauma status on the line as Afghan War winds down

Landstuhl hospital’s trauma status on the line as Afghan War winds down
by Matt Millham
Stars and Stripes
Published: May 3, 2013

LANDSTUHL, Germany — On returning from his first trip to Afghanistan as defense secretary in March, Chuck Hagel had planned a stopover that is something of a tradition for administration officials conducting America’s longest war — a visit to injured troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

But there was a hitch in the plan that would have seemed nearly impossible a year ago. The day Hagel planned to visit the hospital — the first stop for all injured U.S. personnel evacuated from the war zone — not a single American casualty was laid up there.

Col. Barbara Holcomb, Landstuhl’s commander, cautioned against reading too much into the rare absence of U.S. casualties.

“The following day we had 12.”

But, she said, the number of wounded streaming out of Afghanistan has been trending downward since 2010, when nearly 500 U.S. servicemembers deployed there died. Earlier this year, the entire U.S.-led coalition went more than a month without losing a servicemember in combat — the longest such streak in 10 years, according to an Associated Press casualty database.
read more here

Sunday, March 20, 2011

War is hell even if you survive

We were not asked to sacrifice anything. Not our money. Not our time to pay attention and not even asked to sacrifice our prayers. The general public was told to go shopping and the rich, well, they were told to keep more of their money and do whatever they wanted with it. War was important enough to start but not enough to fund. What kind of a message do you think this sent to the troops?
The deficit is estimated at $1.27 trillion in 2011 -- down from a record $1.56 trillion in the current year.
How much is the war in Iraq costing us? wrote By John W. Schoen Senior Producer for MSNBC answer desk in October 2006.
Pretending Iraq and Afghanistan wars had nothing to do with this, is about as irrational as the politicians can get but then saying the budget for the VA needs to be cut instead of increased is just insane.


Then there are future costs that don’t show up in current appropriations, like the money needed to replace equipment that's wearing out faster that it would if wasn’t being used in combat. And, since the government is running deficits — and borrowing to make up the difference — at least some of the interest on the national debt has to be added to the Iraq war bill.
If you add these costs, and others, to the total tab, the cost of the war has jumped from $4.4 billion to $7.1 billion a month since the 2003 fiscal year, according to a paper co-authored in January by Columbia University professor and Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, an outspoken critic of the war. The paper estimates the total cost could top $1 trillion.

Now they can use the debt to excuse everything they want to do except admit they have no conscience at all. We've heard all their excuses for wanting to cut the debt rich people should be paying at the same time they want to cut everything every other American needs to survive but when they go after the wounded they created, they go too far.

None of them cared about the men and women sent to risk their lives. While Iraq and Afghanistan were important enough to send men and women to risk their lives, up until last year, they were not important enough to put them in the budget. Now politicians want to pretend they give a crap about the debt they contributed to. The President decides to send troops into combat but with the approval of congress and it is up to congress to find the money to pay for wars and wounded.

"Thank goodness at least Congress supports our troops, you say. Remember all those yellow ribbons? Well, some members do and some don’t, depending on their political affiliation. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s report card shows that 91 of the 94 lawmakers getting an “A” for helping vets were Democrats. Of the 154 receiving a “D” or “F,” 142 were Republicans. Public praise on camera doesn’t necessarily correlate with votes for financial support on the House or Senate floors." Bill Collins
Eight years after troops were sent into Iraq for "six days, six weeks, I doubt six months" according to Donald Rumsfeld, they are still there. According to ICasualties.org there have been 4,440 US deaths in Iraq with 10 killed this year. Fast approaching ten years in Afghanistan, there have been 1,505 US troops killed with 59 this year.
03/18/11 WaPo:8 years after invasion , Iraq, US eyeing whether American forces will stay past year’s end
The American invasion of Iraq was supposed to take only a few months: a quick blitz to depose dictator Saddam Hussein, find and dismantle weapons of mass destruction and go home.

No one wanted to pay for Afghanistan or Iraq. We were told that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would pay for itself and that was fine with the American people but it didn't. No one planned on taking care of any of the wounded these two wars would create. Now they act as if they are surprised people were wounded in war. Some politicians have gone so far as to say the VA budget needs to be cut because, after all, we have a deficit and "we shouldn't pass on the debt to our kids" but they are so accomplished at spinning things around to get what they want, they forget we also have a debt to the kids we send to fight our battles in combat. They forget that for all their whining now about the debt, none of them wanted either war in the budget ahead of time. None of them wanted a true accounting on the price tag in terms of dollars, lives or wounded any more than they wanted a true accounting from the defense contractors spending the money in the first place. Anyone in the media asking any of these people about any of this?
read more here
War is hell even if you survive

Friday, August 27, 2010

VA/NIH Award $6 Million for Substance Abuse Research

VA/NIH Award $6 Million for Substance Abuse Research

Studies to Fill Knowledge Gaps about OIF/OEF Service Members

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs is partnering with the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) to award $6 million in grants for
research examining the link between substance abuse and military
deployments and combat-related trauma.

"VA has a commitment to meet the full range of our Veterans' physical
and mental health care needs, and that includes addressing substance
abuse," said Dr. Joel Kupersmith, VA's chief research and development
officer. "This coordinated research effort is one more way we are
turning that commitment into action."

NIH agencies taking part in the initiative are the National Institute on
Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and
the National Cancer Institute.

Several studies will look at treatment seeking patterns -- why and when
Veterans ask for help, and why many don't. Scientists will also explore
treatment strategies, including cognitive behavioral therapy and
Web-based approaches, as well as the most effective therapies for
soldiers who have other disorders, such as depression and substance
abuse.

Researchers will also determine if early intervention can improve
outcomes. Other projects will focus on how Veterans readjust to their
work and families after returning from war.

Institutions receiving the grants include Brandeis University; Dartmouth
College; the Medical University of South Carolina; the National
Development and Research Institutes in New York City; the University of
California, San Francisco; the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; the
University of Missouri in Columbia; and the VA medical centers in West
Haven, Conn.; Philadelphia; Little Rock, Ark.; and Seattle.

"These research projects will give us important information about the
ways that combat stress and substance abuse affect returning military
personnel and their families," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow.
"This knowledge will be used to improve our prevention and treatment
approaches, which we hope will reduce the burden of combat-related
trauma. Working cooperatively with VA and other partners will help in
finding solutions for this shared concern."

VA NIH Award 6 Million for Substance Abuse Research

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lt. Col. Juanita Warman killed at Fort Hood wanted to help female soldiers

FORT HOOD SHOOTINGS

Trauma expert wanted to help female soldiers
Highest-ranking person killed in shootings, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, had husband, two daughters and six grandchildren.
By Patrick George

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Editor's Note: Lt. Col. Juanita Warman was one of 13 people killed Thursday at Fort Hood.

Just a day after Lt. Col. Juanita Warman arrived at Fort Hood, the shooting started.

Warman had arrived in Texas to be processed for her deployment to Iraq at the end of the month. On Thursday, she was at the post's Soldier Readiness Processing Center when a gunman entered and began firing, killing her and a dozen others. She was 55.

Warman is survived by a husband, two daughters and six grandchildren.

"I kept thinking, 'She can't be in the processing center,' " her husband, Philip Warman, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "She had just gotten there; she had more training to undergo. She was not due to leave until the end of November. The base hot line didn't have her on the initial list of casualties."

But a half-hour later, two soldiers arrived in dress uniforms, and Warman immediately knew she had been killed, he told the paper.
read more here
Trauma expert wanted to help female soldiers

Sunday, November 8, 2009

For troubled service members, military therapists are at their sides

The problem is not just there are not enough to take care of the need, nor is it that they are burning out. The biggest problem is that too many of "healers" are clueless when it comes to PTSD. Sounds harsh? Yes, but it is heartbreakingly true.

Ever since the campaign in Afghanistan, there was a great need to play catchup to the veterans we already had needing help. How did they expect to be prepared for any of the troops they knew would need help? Didn't anyone think of stocking the military and the VA with qualified PTSD experts? What did they think would happen when more troops were sent into Iraq on top of the veterans already waiting for care? Remember this was at the same time we were finally getting thru to Vietnam veterans about taking care of their own combat related wound of PTSD.

The people advising the military about mental health were telling them that either they had a tsunami coming or the soldiers claiming PTSD were looking for a lifetime free ride. Commanders were still dealing with their own dismissal of the realities of combat trauma, just as some were using personality disorders as a quick campaign against the soldiers to get them off the books instead of providing them with a lifetime of care for their wounds. Remember, there were over 22,000 dishonorably or "less than honorably" discharged, leaving them absolutely nothing available to them. Service organizations would not help them. They were not able to get any care at all from the government and as for jobs, even if they could work, employers would toss out their applications without consideration. Given the fact the unemployment pool was growing, there was no need at all to even think of what could have been behind the "less than honorable" discharge.

When the kicking out began it also sent a message to the brains of the commanders that PTSD was not really a wound and they were just not tough enough.

As the years went on, it changed to the troops just needed "train their brains" to become "resilient" so they pushed Battlemind telling them that they could just get tough and suck it up, and oh, by the way, PTSD is real but if you get it, it's your fault. Check out the Battlemind program and the way it began. Whatever message they were supposed to get after the first couple of minutes was lost.

The biggest problem is that while most working with the troops may be really bright when it comes to mental health, they are clueless about PTSD, the one thing going on in the minds of the troops they should have been experts on.

The psychologist and psychiatrists along with chaplains, trained by the military, later entering into the VA, never got the real scoop on PTSD but they were expected to treat it. This was happening at the same time colleges were turning out mental health providers with a full range of knowledge regarding PTSD to treat it. One more reason why depending on where a veteran lives, their care can be anywhere from wonderful to abysmal. We tend to assume that if someone has a degree and is on the job, they are experts on what they treat but this was not the case.

It was training them the usual way other psychology students were trained, looking for the usual mental health illnesses instead of Post Traumatic Stress. This was made crystal clear when the misdiagnoses began and the troops were being discharged under every illness other than PTSD. One thing you have to understand about PTSD is if they are looking for any other illness, they will find it even though they may be looking at PTSD. PTSD comes only after trauma but can look like a lot of other illnesses including heart problems and gastrointestinal. Instead of noticing what was happening around the country with training to address people after crisis and traumatic events, the military was performing with their head in the sand. This is not a baseless claim. I've talked to too many veterans over the years telling me they were treated by idiots when it came to what was going on inside of them. They were given bags filled with prescription medications and very little therapy or information on what PTSD was.

What was the military thinking when they trained these mental health experts when they were not addressing the number one cause of mental health crisis with troops deployed into two military campaigns? Some VA doctors were fully trained and knew what they were talking about. The veterans were treated with medications and talk therapy. The problem here is that they were not told what they really needed to hear so they understood exactly where PTSD came from and why it "picked" on them instead of buddies they served with. They also had no clue they were supposed to address all aspects of their being with spiritual healing as well as physical healing on top of mental healing.

This is the most mind boggling aspect of all. When you think about what programs followed from yoga to martial arts, from art and writing for therapy, all the way up to civilian spiritual programs being studied over the years, you'd think the military was paying attention to at least some of this, but they were not. They also never addressed the need for the families to be educated on what PTSD was so they could help with the healing instead of making things worse.

When the military became overwhelmed by suicides going up every year, again, they took no clue from the civilian world. While they were well aware crisis teams responded to the people in New York after 9-11, they would not let that reaction to trauma penetrate into addressing crisis in the units deployed into combat.

Chaplains were not trained to address it. Mental health professionals were not trained properly. All this lead to what we've been seeing and unfortunately, they are nowhere close to being prepared for what is to come. The numbers keep going up for the troops and our veterans committing suicide along with attempted suicides. The numbers keep going up when it comes to families falling apart while commanders look for excuses instead of the basis for the problems the families face. Drug and alcohol abuse is seen as a discipline issue instead of self-medicating. Dangerous driving is the cause for reprimand instead of a clue these are the men and women willing to lay down their lives for the sake of their countrymen and would not so easily change into people with no regard for the lives of others. The same applies with domestic violence when the soldier responds to someone with sudden violence when they had absolutely no history of it in the past.

What happened at Fort Hood needs to be looked at but not the way they are looking at it. The tragedy of the safe zone being invaded by one of their own will end up complicating the traumas of war so severely that no amount of pills will ease it. If they are responding with what they've already been doing addressing PTSD, then we can expect far more tragedies to come.

Shortage of military therapists creates strain
By KIMBERLY HEFLING (AP)

WASHINGTON — Amputations. Combat stress. Divorce. Suicide. For troubled service members, military therapists are at their sides.

But with the U.S. fighting two wars, an acute shortage of trained personnel has left these therapists emotional drained and overworked, with limited time to prepare for their own war deployments.

An Army psychiatrist is suspected in the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and the rampage is raising questions about whether there's enough help for the helpers, even though it's unclear whether that stress or fear of his pending service in Afghanistan might be to blame.

An uncle of Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan said Saturday that Hasan was deeply affected by his work treating soldiers returning from war zones. "I think I saw him with tears in his eyes when he was talking about some of patients, when they came overseas from the battlefield," Rafik Hamad told The Associated Press from his home near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a psychologist in the Navy Reserves, said the toll is sometimes described as "compassion fatigue" or "vicarious trauma."
read more here
Shortage of military therapists creates strain


Right after Fort Hood was traumatized, an ex-employee in Orlando went to kill people he used to work with. He killed one and wounded several others. What came after was that a church was opened up to the survivors and their families and crisis teams were sent in to address this horrific event. These are highly trained people on trauma. They did not send in any people they could get just to have someone there. They knew untrained people would add to the crisis. Who knows who will be sent to help the survivors of the Fort Hood massacre or if anyone will be sent to help the families scattered around the country to cope with their own trauma. Given what we've already seen, it's easy to guess they haven't even thought about this at all.

As for this evil committed by a "healer" we also need to be asking what he was telling the soldiers going to him for help after the traumas they had seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did he fill their heads with facts or did he tell them things that would make their PTSD worse? Was he part of an even bigger problem in the military behind what we've seen?