Saturday, August 9, 2014

How can "experts" be partly right on Combat PTSD?

It is only 7:00 AM and I already have a headache. Too many articles seem all so promising until I finish reading them. How can they be only partly right after PTSD has been researched for decades?

Start with the first one about a group of people doing ministry work to help heal veterans. After reading it I had no other choice but to add my own headline, Moral Injury of Combat PTSD Focus of New on Old because this inner-battle has been reported since the beginning of written documents including the Bible. No one can read Psalms and not see it even though they won't see the term we use.

The article Advocates Push to Get Vets Treatment For Moral Injury will seem new to some unless you know what PTSD is and what it does.

Retired Army Major Maj. Gen. James Mukoyama, a veteran of the U.S. Army and president of Military Outreach USA, said "The time for research is over. It is now time for action," but that is not entirely true. The time of redoing same old research pretending it was never done before needs to end however, the time for new research has been waiting far too long. We need to start researching what works and why it works, then expand it.

Point Man International Ministries has been taking care of the spiritual part of PTSD since 1984 for one simple reason. It works. I am not just part of this group but we are all part of the solution. We don't have time to raise our bank accounts because we're too busy raising veterans out of the valley and away from the shadows of war.
"It isn't about who got a parade! When I came home from Vietnam, my cousin, a WWII Vet invited me to a VFW meeting and I was all but ignored because I was not in a "real" war and so how could I have any kind of problem? All these guys stuck to each other like glue and pretty much ignored the "new" Vets. And you all remember how it felt. I see the same "new guys" 35 years later with the same baloney coming out of their mouths. How in the world can you say you support the troops and then ignore them when they get home?

Seems to me that no matter how many are killed, the survivors have an obligation to each other and to our posterity to insure the "new guys" don't go through the same stuff our dads, grandfathers and ourselves had to endure...

So to all you "NEW GUYS", Welcome Home. Thank you for a job well done. Your sacrifice is deeply appreciated here. We support you regardless of when or where you served; we understand what you've been through and what you're dealing with now. Continue through the site and get connected!"

Dana Morgan President of Point Man International Ministries
PTSD occurs when a person has experienced, witnessed, or has been confronted with a traumatic event, which involved actual or threatened death or serious physical injury to themselves or others. At which point they responded with intense fear, horror or helplessness. (APA, DSM-IV TR, 2000) The most recent primary diagnostic criteria for PTSD falls into three groups and are summarized below:

Re-experiencing the trauma (nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts).

Numbing and avoidance of reminders of the trauma (avoidance of situations, thoughts and feelings, etc.).

Persistent increased arousal (sleep difficulties, irritability, anger outbursts, startle response, etc.).

The passage of time alone usually does not heal the psychological wounds of trauma. The natural desire to withdraw from others and not talk about the experiences or difficulties associated with the traumatic event may actually make matters worse for veterans with PTSD. Painful wounds can remain exposed, open, and raw for decades without the proper help that promotes healing. These wounds go on to fester unless they are properly cared for.

Veterans and society can watch physical wounds heal; however the emotional wounds of trauma may go unrecognized if they are never addressed. To continue to say, “What happened in Iraq or Afghanistan happened…end of story,” is an attempt to cover up issues and most likely indicates a deep inner-craving (cry) for help.

To recognize that you may be experiencing some re-adjustment challenges is the first step to recovery. Finding useful tools to direct you and your family to constructive ways to re-adjust after war is a top priority.

One of the "useful tools" is offering veterans what they need the way they want it. Face to face, one on one or in groups. Online or by email. Over the phone. Whatever works best for the veteran is what they get.

I am a bit odd since I work with veterans and families across the country and occasionally from other countries. Veterans share only what they want me to know. I usually have a first name or an email address, but as for their personal information, I don't need it. It is up to them to tell me more. That is actually perfect considering it gives them a way to open up without giving up their anonymity. The help I give them is all based on what they share. The more they share, the more I can help.

Some people worry that a fake could take up my time but that really isn't an issue since I can't give them anything financial or get their claims approved. I give them something you can't put a pricetag on and it costs me little financially but emotionally draining. Still what I get in return is rewarding tenfold because I get to spend time with these magnificent veterans. The first thing they want to do when they heal is help other veterans.

The other article I came across is one about veterans using computers more than clinicians from Behavioral Healthcare.
According to a study by the University of Southern California (USC), patients are more willing to disclose their depression and PTSD symptoms when talking to computerized virtual humans than when talking to real humans. While the virtual human obviously can’t take the place of a clinician in diagnosis and treatment, it can be a tool to help patients start talking.

Participants in the USC study were interviewed by a virtual human that was able to interpret not just the content of what the subjects said but also their tone of voice and nonverbal cues. In intake interviews, people were more honest about their symptoms, no matter how potentially embarrassing, when they believed that a human observer wasn’t listening. They were asked questions about their sleeping habits, their mood and their mental health.

The study was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army.

“All the research is suggesting that even though the information has to be released to the overseeing physician eventually, when the responses are unobserved in the moment where the person has responded, patients are still willing to share more information than if a human were watching them give the information,” says Gale Lucas, a social psychologist at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, who led the study.

How exactly do they think "not listening" would be healing? It is a repeat of getting veterans to tell their stories over and over again expecting that to heal them. What is "wrong" with them is how they see themselves. PTSD is different due to different causes and it comes in different levels. When it is caused by combat, the psychological wound is harder to treat because the whole veteran must be taken into "treatment" with their minds, bodies learning how to calm down again and spiritually when they are guided to seeing themselves and others in a different way.

Another study done, more money funding something that people already knew worked. All they had to do was ask Vietnam veterans how much their lives have changed with technology. The internet has allowed them to discover they are far from alone. They have been finding and giving support since the 90's as more and more households connected to the rest of the world.

There has been very little "new" when the subject is Combat PTSD. The old still works best but it works even better when we are able to use the old with new technology to reach more people.

If the government wants to spend more money repeating research, maybe it is time for them to research how what is working works and repeat the successes instead of repeating the failures.

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