Saturday, July 12, 2014

Navy Chaplain seeks healing from PTSD

Naval combat chaplain battles PTSD
After tours of duty, Colorado man finds solace in sports, academics
The Denver Post Article
July 11, 2014
Keywords: Religion and belief,

AURORA – After Lt. Rickey Bennett came back from Iraq in 2005, friends and colleagues told him he had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but he denied it. As a military chaplain, he was trained to detect it in others, but he just didn’t see it in himself.

During his service in Iraq, military chaplain Rickey Bennett suffered a traumatic brain injury. When he returned to Colorado, he had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. To cope with his PTSD, he now plays sports with people who have disabilities. But in 2010, he was bombarded with flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks and paranoia. Once responsible for boosting the morale of 3,000 military members in Iraq, he was afraid to leave his bedroom.

“I was going five to seven days without sleep,” said the 52-year-old, who lives with his wife in Aurora, his home base since 1990. “In the daytime, I had flashbacks, and nights were horrible nightmares. I got to the point it was commit suicide or get help.”

The diagnosis was PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Since then, he’s been hospitalized many times, tried a cornucopia of medications and treatments. He couldn’t work, so he retired from his career as a Navy chaplain, which he’d continued after Iraq at places such as the Naval Chaplains School in Rhode Island.
The 300-page report released in June found demand for PTSD treatment is at unprecedented levels, but the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration are not prepared to deal effectively with a caseload expected to dramatically increase as more service members return home.

Both agencies have spent billions of dollars on PTSD, but they “often do not know what treatments patients receive or whether treatments are evidence-based, delivered by trained providers, cost-effective or successful in improving PTSD symptoms,” the report said.

Between 2004 and 2012, the percentage of all active-duty service members with PTSD increased from 1 percent to 5 percent, the report said. In 2012, 13.5 percent of Army service members had PTSD, as did 10 percent of Marines, 4.5 percent of Navy members and 4 percent of Air Force personnel.
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