Showing posts with label moral injury. Show all posts
Showing posts with label moral injury. Show all posts

Monday, January 13, 2020

“I realized I was hearing the story of Achilles over and over again." Dr. Jonathan Shay on PTSD

Open Focus: Shelburne’s Jonathan Shay increased awareness of PTSD, ‘moral injury’

Greenfield Recorder
For the Recorder
Published: 1/12/2020
Shay, who moved to Franklin County from Newton nearly a decade ago, is a Harvard-trained doctor with a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania whose medical work shifted from neuropathology to treating combat veterans at the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Boston. There, he says, “the veterans simply kidnapped me” with their compelling accounts of battle.
Shelburne resident Jonathan Shay holds a copy of his 1994 book, “Achilles in Vietnam.” For the Recorder/Richie Davis

It wasn’t until he was in his 40s that Jonathan Shay began reading ancient Greek author Homer’s landmark classics, “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.”

Just a few years later, as a psychiatrist for the Veterans Administration in Boston, he heard the horrendous Vietnam War experiences of his clients as hauntingly similar to those of Homer’s characters Achilles and Odysseus.

“I realized I was hearing the story of Achilles over and over again,” the 78-year-old retired Shelburne psychiatrist recalls. “The Iliad is about the enduring themes of what really happens to soldiers in war.”

Even though Homer’s Greek tragedies were written 2,700 years ago, they reflect perfectly the moral and social world that today’s soldiers live through, Shay says
An audio version of Shay’s 1994 landmark book, “Achilles in Vietnam,” has been released, narrated by Academy Award nominee (“Good Night and Good Luck”) David Strathairn, while his 2002 sequel, “Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming,” has already been recorded by Strathairn — both of them at Armadillo Audio Group Studio in Pelham.

Shay, who moved to Franklin County from Newton nearly a decade ago, is a Harvard-trained doctor with a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania whose medical work shifted from neuropathology to treating combat veterans at the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Boston. There, he says, “the veterans simply kidnapped me” with their compelling accounts of battle.

The 2010 recipient of the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice, for building acceptance of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a serious, bona fide war injury, the former psychiatrist disputes the label of PTSD as an illness, disease or sickness. Instead, he argues, saying those veterans have suffered a severe injury as serious as any physical wound from the battlefield.
read it here

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Vietnam Veterans Forgotten Warriors Again?

Moral Injury inflicted by ignorant reporters
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 8, 2018

Reading many reports over more than three decades has left me stunned by some reporters failure to do basic research on the topics they write about. We are living with what they failed to do.

Vietnam Veterans have been forgotten over and over again!

Ryan Sanders, "contributor" to the Dallas Morning News, wrote "Some troops come home with wounded souls that need healing" leaving out the very veterans who caused all the wounds of war to be known!

There are so many things wrong with this article on "moral injury" that I am regretting being up this early! Moral Injury is not some new condition penetrating the souls of the veterans of today's wars, yet once again, older veterans have apparently been doing just fine and dandy in the mind of the author.

I got a kick out of this part!
Hyperconnectedness: In previous conflicts, especially in world wars but even as late as the Vietnam War, combatants engaged in battle after a long boat ride. They had limited contact with home, almost exclusively through letters. While no amount of separation can or should make war easy, these factors allowed fighters to sort their battlefield experiences, allowing many to leave that part of their lives "over there." In today's conflicts, an American soldier can be dodging improvised explosive devices in the morning and video chatting with his children in the afternoon. Separation becomes impossible, and the wounds can stick.
A long boat ride? Does he know they did have planes during the Vietnam war? Did he ever consider what it was like being the FNG coming into a unit when everyone wanted you to stay away from them especially the short timers counted down the days for DEROS instead of months?

Does he even understand that the term "moral injury" came from research on Vietnam veterans?

One of the best researchers and writers on the subject won numerous awards including the Genius Award, is Jonathan Shay who wrote about Achilles in Vietnam, among other books. This was all about the "moral injury" and it came out in 1994. It was one of the best things I read at the time while doing research on what was trying to kill my husband...PTSD.

Why do some people think they can eliminate the majority of veterans in this country, living with the same wounds of war, at higher higher numbers?

I have no idea if the subject of Sanders article gave him this wrong information or he figured it out all by himself, either way this is one more reason why the majority of veterans committing suicide remain the highest in veterans over the age of 50! This is pure BS! Wonder if he even had a clue that it was called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder back in 1978!

And yes, that is hanging on the wall behind my desk to remind me of why I do this and why my head explodes when the veterans, who pushed for all the research, keep being the Forgotten Warriors!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Moral Injury "research" not what it seems!

Will this BS ever stop? First if they want to know about "moral injury" then they should ask the smartest guy on the subject. He has been talking about it SINCE HE WORKED WITH VIETNAM VETERANS and wrote a couple of books about what they were going through! That would be Jonathan Shay!

They need to stop pretending that this is the only generation who has suffered and the only generation that matters! If they ignore the older veterans responsible for starting the research, then they do not DESERVE A SINGLE DOLLAR IN GRANT RESEARCH OR DONATIONS!

Local researchers work to understand and treat 'moral injury' in veterans
KWTX 10 News
By Justin Earley
May 14, 2018

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Have you ever heard of something called "moral injury?"
Michael Russell is the director of the Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans.

It's a problem that isn't widely recognized but many veterans are dealing with it.

In fact Central Texas has become a hub for research into the issue.

In this edition of Hearing the Veteran's Voice we hear from one veteran who experienced it and is now working to treat it.

Veterans have a world of emotions and experiences to grapple with after leaving active duty.

Many people have post traumatic stress disorder.

But that's not the diagnosis for everyone.

Michael Russell is the director of the Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans.

He said, "you have to be put in fear of imminent injury and react in fear or horror to that life threatening situation. To get PTSD you have to have that."

Russell explained the idea of moral injury.

"You have guilt over something that you did, or something that you failed to do. So you did some wrong or you failed to do some right in a military situation. And as a result you're suffering trauma from that or problems from that," he said.
read more here

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Combat PTSD Comes With Moral Injury

They Grieve Because They Love
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 15, 2016

I was in a rush to get "Residual War, Something Worth Living For" up on Amazon because the script was already registered and was being read by more people than I was comfortable with. Right now I am doing some editing to fix my infamous typos and work on the past and present tenses. Not as easy as I thought it was since the script part is in the present tense yet the two chapters of the book are in the past tense. 

It is possible to rewrite the story of the lives within the pages of the book/script. I just delete words and replace them with others that make more sense. Add in information that was missing. Put in more substance to help explain how these soldiers ended up where they were. What isn't easy is for them to do the same in real life. 

I said "not easy" but it isn't impossible as long as we get the bullshit out of the way. When folks have based their efforts on bumper sticker slogans with a number, their intentions may be begin with a good heart but do not produce good results. Now it may be easier for some to just jump on the wagon and gain a feel good attitude for themselves, the results have shown the effort did not do anyone any good other than make the doers feel better about themselves.

You'd think something as serious as suicide would require them to actually take the time to discover what the truth is within Tweets and Facebook posts, but they didn't bother. That says something right there. I've gotten to the point where I want to slap someone defending their use of the reported number of suicides as "its just a number" instead of lives lost. They claim to care but they don't even care enough to learn what the truth is.

When asked to explain the results of their time, they have no answers other than "well I'm raising awareness" as if that in itself would do any good for anyone. We've seen the deadly results on this.

Back in 1999 the VA reported veterans were committing suicide at 20 per day. There were about 5 million more veterans in this country back then with WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, along with Gulf War veterans committing suicide, yet most of the folks getting attention believe all this is new just because it is news to them.

For all the efforts, the result is still being reported by the VA at 20 a day taking their own lives over a decade after PTSD hit the news.

Now we have new "experts" running around the country claiming that "moral injury" isn't part of combat PTSD. Yep, stunning!

Aaron Throckmorton was the subject of an article on the Texas Observer, "Combatting Moral Injury" with a subtitle of "For some veterans, guilt and shame can linger years after combat — and it’s not PTSD."

Aaron Throckmorton decided to join the military the day the Twin Towers fell. A standout high school linebacker at Midland Lee (of Friday Night Lights fame), Throckmorton quit his team that very afternoon. He doubled up on his schoolwork so he could finish early and become a Marine. There were military men in his family. His grandfather served during the Korean War, and an uncle was a “river rat” in Vietnam. But Throckmorton didn’t know much about their experiences.
It is easy to figure out the "experts" telling him it isn't PTSD know very little about trauma and even less about the type of PTSD military folks get. It is a whole different type than what civilians get. (But then again, what would I know considering I've read real experts for the last three decades topped off with living with it every day.) Real experts not only discuss different types of PTSD, they talk about the different levels of it.

What is obvious is that this next section of the article is discussing what we know as survivor guilt.
It wasn’t combat that had sparked his troubles, he told me. He had taken part in several firefights and so had naturally worried about his safety, and he described the “gruesome” deaths of several Afghan policemen killed during these fights. What haunted Throckmorton about his time in the military was not what he did, but what he didn’t do. “I should have been there for them,” he said of Marines he trained who later died in Iraq. “I could have trained them better.”

At this part is bullshit too,
Rita Nakashima Brock, director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite, the only program in the United States dedicated to educating the public about moral injury.
"The only program" maybe on the street it is on but far from the only one since the group I belong to has been repairing souls since 1984. Point Man International Ministries has been working with veterans and their families since a veteran/police officer noticed his fellow Vietnam veterans needed help healing from war. 

Is she aware of the fact that people walk away for "it" not as victims but as survivors of it? Is she aware they either walk away believing God spared them or did it to them? The "moral injury" is what follows them and it the number one factor that has to be addressed in order to actually give them something worth living for.

They can edit their own history but not the truth. They can change things around to make it sound as if they are doing something new, but when we see it has hardly improved for all the veterans they take a walk for, do pushups for or raise awareness for, it is time to change the conversation. So when do we talk about what actually works? When do veterans actually hear what they need to know in order to not become a number within those we grieve for but become a member of those we rejoice with?

These are the same men and women who believed there was something worth dying for. They survived everything attached to the horrors they endured in combat yet could not survive with the memories of it? Why? When do we talk about that?

When do we talk about the stupidity of researchers trying to remove memories with drugs instead of helping them find peace to live with those memories and begin to see that they are worthy of keeping? To forget the horrific moments is to forget those they served with. Those they loved enough to risk their lives for. That level of love is worthy of healing not forgetting about.

They are not damaged or broken. They do not deserve what some are willing to settle for but they are worthy of our time and devotion to help them see just how strong they really are. They grieve because they love. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chaplains "Begin" Treating Veterans for Moral Injury?

Chaplains begin treating veterans for newly designated ‘moral injury’
The Post and Courier
Natalie Caula Hauff
Aug 20 2016

Bernard Smith spent 22 days face-to-face with death. The stench surrounded him as bodies of men, both young and old, were carted into a mortuary for him to process in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Smith, 77, of Myrtle Beach, survived the war that took the lives of more than 50,000 Americans, but he is still haunted by hundreds of those souls.

“In the middle of the night, I would scream sometimes,” he said about the nightmares that he still has to this day. “One night, the Grim Reaper appeared in my dream and looked right at me and turned and said, ‘You’re next.’”

With no warning or the proper training to prepare for it, Smith was called on periodically to assist in processing the dead military members over a four-month stretch. He was 23 at the time and serving in the Air Force on the flight line.

The shock of that experience, even 50 years later, has embedded a deep inner turmoil within Smith that officials at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston have been working to treat.

“Military and VA chaplains have understood and worked with moral injury for many years. However, only recently did the broader medical and mental health communities designate a formal definition of the concept,” he said.
read more here

This works and that is why Point Man International Ministries started doing it with veterans and their families WAY BACK IN 1984.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Talk About PTSD This Month And Change Nothing

PTSD Awareness Not For Tourists
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 8, 2016

War Wounds That Time Alone Can’t Heal, New York Times article by Jane Brody missed a lot of what should have been in this. For starters, there are few remaining serious reporters using "22 a day" when discussing suicides tied to military service. 

After all, since they are more than "just a number" to be repeated, their lives actually meant something to the family members and friends they left behind wondering so many questions that will never be answered. Anytime I read that number quoted, I take the rest of the article less seriously.

The problem is, too many may in fact take it as fact. Especially this part.
Father Thomas Keating, a founding member of Contemplative Outreach, says in the film, “Antidepressants don’t reach the depth of what these men are feeling,” that they did something terribly wrong and don’t know if they can be forgiven.
That followed a claim that "moral injury is not yet a recognized psychiatric diagnosis" but is has been for a very long time and Dr. Jonathan Shay put a spotlight on it when he wrote Achilles in Vietnam way back in 1995.
An original and groundbreaking book that examines the psychological devastation of war by comparing the soldiers of Homer’s Iliad with Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder

In this strikingly original and groundbreaking book, Dr. Shay examines the psychological devastation of war by comparing the soldiers of Homer’s Iliad with Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the Iliad was written twenty-seven centuries ago it has much to teach about combat trauma, as do the more recent, compelling voices and experiences of Vietnam vets.
Plus there is the fact that many groups have been dedicated to treating this part of PTSD for almost four decades.

The article went on to point to what veterans did wrong preventing them from seeking help. OK, right and no clue where that came from. They do not seek help because no one told them all the things they need to know beginning with what PTSD and why they have it topped off with the least talked about thing of all and that is they can heal.

There is what they think they did wrong and what they actually may have done wrong.  Amazing how the mind works trying to sort things out when emotions get stuff jumbled up and twisted around so they actually think it was wrong when the truth is, it was all they could actually do at the time.

What was learned over 40 years ago is that the mind, body and spirit have to be treated since every part of the veteran is being slammed by PTSD.  It lives in the emotional part of the brain and spreads out from there so if they miss that crucial part, healing does not happen but medications numb them to the point where they just do not want to feel anything. How is that healing them? 

If they are not treated in the place where PTSD lives, they will not live better lives but they will exist until the day comes when they do not want to spend one more day hoping it will be better than the last day was.

There is so much bullshit out there veterans have no clue where to turn and when they finally reach the point when they figure out they will not just get over it, they turn to the wrong people and end up losing hope.

Too many folks think they can just pluck out some nonsense out of the air and walk away patting themselves on the back as if they actually did something, but for other folks living with this, it is not something we can ever walk away from. We live with it. It is our life on the line along with everyone we care about.

So please go on thinking that you can give a veteran a service dog and everything will be ok even though he may not be able to feed himself.  Go on and take them on a sporting trips so they can spend the day making you feel good about giving them a nice day out and then they go home to be alone with the same problems they had the night before.  Keep complaining about the VA the same way we have been complaining for decades because nothing has changed.  

Get upset and then believe you made a a difference because what you leave behind is more heartache because the politicians you listened to just fed you another load of crap with the same worn out speeches they gave when they first got into office.

Write your stupid articles quoting something that was never true and had you actually read the report you would have known the truth. It is only 59 pages long but too long for anyone playing tourist in our world.

Where are all these folks when families are freaking out because someone they love survived combat but is on the brink of being buried here at home and they do not have a clue what to do or how to help? Where are you when there is a veteran in crisis and they need someone to talk to? What are you going to do? Look up a phone number online they could have found all by themselves? Or will you know what to say or even be able to just listen to them?

We cannot walk away. If we do, then we are walking away from veterans who only want to heal from where we sent them.

So, no, time alone cannot heal this wound especially when it was not time well spent.  Had time been spent actually learning any of this, then maybe there would be more veterans alive this year.  

As for PTSD Awareness Month, that started in 2010 when the problem was so bad congress pushed for it.  The same year that limited data from just 21 states was collected and put into a report in 2012.  Too bad they missed reporting going on all over the country that veterans commit suicide double the civilian rate, most over the age of 50 and that there are over 41,000 Americans a year killing themselves leaving over 70 veterans dying by their own hand everyday. After all, it is just too damn easy to reduce them all down to a number that is easy to remember.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Couples Learn to Heal PTSD Together

Couples leave Virginia retreat armed with tools to alleviate weight of war
Stars and Stripes
By Dianna Cahn
Published: May 19, 2016

Iraq war veteran Lucas Lewis, left, his wife Christine Lewis, fellow veteran Adrian Veseth-Nelson, his wife Diana and retreat staffer Misty Williams gather for a final cheer at the end of the Bridging the Gap retreat in Middleburg, Virginia on Dec. 12, 2015.
“The people attending this retreat through the nature of their traumatic experiences have seen the very worst side of humanity. But these retreats show them the very best side. …. There is one central truth that has never changed for me. And that is, that the only force of nature powerful enough to overcome the moral injuries that are inherent to traumatic experiences is a strong sense of community and human connection.”

— From “Overcoming Moral Injuries,” a digital TEDx talk by retired Army Maj. Josh Mantz, whose injuries nearly led him to suicide. He was a patient of Victoria Bruner as she created her retreat model.

MIDDLEBURG, Va. — And then it was over. They filled out their questionnaires, said their goodbyes and stepped out of the bubble that had formed around them.

Six couples came to this retreat in Virginia because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had wreaked havoc on their lives and relationships. They’d been skeptical: Nothing had worked. What could a long weekend do?
read more here

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Cannot Change Yesterday But You Are In Control of Tomorrow

You Are The Master of Your Fate
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 15, 2016

"I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul" but what does that mean to you? It means that you cannot change what happened yesterday but you can change your future. You are in charge. 

You are the one in control of your soul and while most talk about the "moral injury" part of PTSD, few tell you that you are not destined to suffer but created with the intention of healing.

Do you surrender to what some people think of you or do you know enough about yourself to know that it isn't true? It really shouldn't matter to you what others think but what you think should matter more.

Learning what PTSD really is is the first step toward defeating it.

Under the Rules of Engagement the Marines learn, to "act as a control mechanism for the transition from peacetime to combat operations" but on the flip side, it is also important to transition from combat operations into peacetime as a veteran. Forget about fitting back in with the people you knew in your hometown unless they are part of the veteran community.
"We must review all aspects of the fight, from weaponeering to the understanding of proportionate force. Training needs to be discussion and scenario based, thus forcing Marines to articulate their perceptions of and responses to the situations. 
You may have tried the wrong "weapons" to fight PTSD like self-medicating or just stuffing it until you get over it.  That does not work.  Sure, you can get busy getting your mind off of all of it, but you are not fighting it.  You are giving it time to get stronger instead of making it weaker so you can defeat it. Going from a lower level of PTSD, when it is most reversible pretty much guaranties that you'll be hit by a secondary stressor (another traumatic event) that pushes that mild PTSD into PTSD with massive teeth latching onto any part of your life it can attack. 

In combat, there are many weapons used, not just one. It is the same when battling the war going on inside of you.  

Healing has to involve every part of what makes you, you.  That means it has to be taking care of your mind, your body as well as your soul.

If you think that PTSD is a sign of any kind of weakness, then you don't understand anymore than they do.  If you know that it comes from surviving where you were sent, doing what you had to do, seeing what you saw, enduring all kinds of hardships and came from a strong soul.  That very soul that made you choose a military life no matter the risk to your life.

The truth is that everything you need to heal is already inside of you but you won't be able to find that power until you face what PTSD is. While it sucks to have it, it isn't really as bad as you think because it comes for a place that is still good inside of you. Your perception of it as "bad" causes thousands of veterans a year to give up on themselves but you are reading this so there is still hope inside of you.

Start with the basic facts. Post (after) Traumatic (trauma is Greek for wound) Stress (mind body and spirit ) (cause) Disorder (in survivors) because you survived "it" and it shouldn't be worse living as a survivor. It doesn't have to be if you learn more about yourself.

You may think "I'm weak" but actually you have a very strong emotional core and that strength allowed you to do what you had to do in order to save lives. As an all volunteer force, remember, weak people do not even think of putting their lives on the line for someone else.  As for older veterans, some of them were drafted, forced to go, yet managed to risk their lives while they were deployed. 

They knew the risks and they suffered the same as those who decided to join. No wound created by war is new.  

You may think "I'm evil" but tell me how an evil person can grieve? Would an evil person actually think that much about someone else or feel the pain of loss or suffer in the depth of their soul? No, they'd be off on their merry way to live out the rest of their days perfectly happy focusing on themselves.

So you are not weak and you are not evil.  You are also not meant to suffer but meant to heal so the next part of your life you can use that same soul tugging connection to help others living life as a veteran.

PTSD cannot be cured but the scar inside of you can heal. Find what works for you but remember, it has to be all about every part of you.  Mind, body and spirit can heal when they work together.

Change the way you think about what you survived.  You can be your worst enemy.  Honestly look at what your snap judgment may have you thinking you could have done differently and then honestly put it together.  You'll see what you may think you could have done would be for a movie super hero and not a human in real life.

Apprehension gets in the way of healing.  Think of it this way. In combat you had no problem asking for help as expecting it.  You trusted those you were with and when you needed more help, you were happy to see reinforcements show up.  Same thing when dealing with what came after combat.  Call in as much help as you can get.  Lives mattered then and you life matters just as much now.

For the body, you were trained to be prepared for all the physical hardships you subjected your body to.  You need to retrain to prepare your body to calm down and stop your nervous system from overreacting to daily life.

For the soul, you are in fact captain of, start with these and then explore the territory you have not noticed before.  The thing that makes you what and who you are.

Remember you are not alone and all other generations have had the same wounds within you.  Take comfort in knowing that it all comes from a very wonderful part of you.  The same place where pain comes from is also where love still lives on waiting for the next part of your life when you find peace with yesterday and understand that tomorrow is in your control.  You took the steps to serve, no take the steps to heal.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Australia Looks for New Ways to Help PTSD Veterans

More must be done to help veterans suffering PTSD
The Sydney Morning Herald
David Forbes
April 22, 2016

"Moral injury" is a term used to describe the potential impact of experiences in battle that challenge or transgress a person's deeply-held moral beliefs. The consequences of such an experience may extend beyond PTSD into guilt, shame, anger and aggression, and at times, self-destructive thoughts and behaviour.
Research is being undertaken to find better ways of treating PTSD suffered by service men and women.
This Anzac Day, we salute the contribution and sacrifice of the men and women who have served Australia in the armed forces for the past 100 years.

For some, that sacrifice results in the devastating invisible wounds of poor mental health - posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, anger, aggression, alcohol and drug abuse, and thoughts of suicide.

This Anzac Day, let us make a commitment to those who are currently suffering, a commitment to improve the availability and effectiveness of interventions to help their recovery.

The majority of service men and women come through their military experiences with little or no long-term psychological problems. However, a substantial minority do develop devastating mental health problems which have a profound impact on the individual and their family.

We know that PTSD, the most common mental health disorder in veterans, is a serious and debilitating disorder. Symptoms include frequent flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, being constantly on the alert,and feeling emotionally numb. Other issues often occur alongside it, such as anger, aggression, depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.
read more here

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Danish Soldiers Focus on Oscar Nominated "A War"

‘A War’: Oscar nominee turns on battle in Afghanistan Danish film captures moral dilemma, human drama
Washington Times
By Emery A. Popoloski
February 26, 2016
Author’s note: This review of the Oscar-nominated movie “A War” includes spoilers.
Recently, I had the chance to watch and review an Oscar nominated film titled “A War” written and directed by Tobias Lindholm. What really intrigued me about this film is that it is about Danish soldiers fighting in the current war in Afghanistan. Although the soldiers were not American, many of the issues faced by the Danish soldiers were similar to those faced by American soldiers. Lindholm also included veterans and Afghan refugees in the film as extended cast members.

The film centers on the company commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men who are in Afghanistan. At home Pedersen’s wife, Maria (Tuva Novotny) is managing three young children, who are also affected by their father’s deployment and acting out. Pedersen and his men are ambushed, which leads Pedersen to make a split second decision, who gets to live and who dies. A moral dilemma faced by many combat veterans regardless of their nationality.

Throughout the film Lindholm successfully weaves the story of not only what Pedersen is going through, but also the stories of his family back home, the soldiers, and innocent Afghanistan civilians. Lindholm thankfully does not make any charged political statements in the film. Instead, he explores the lines between what is morally acceptable and what needs to be done to survive when in war, including the unintended consequences.
read more here

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Troops talk of how war assaults conscience

First, it was Vietnam veterans being studied that had researchers looking at the "moral wound" and what PTSD does to the men and women risking their lives in combat. Second, as this article points out the "largest group since Vietnam" it avoids mentioning the fact that Vietnam veterans are the forgotten generation in all of this.

If you want to read one of the best books on "moral injury" then read Achilles in Vietnam by Dr. Jonathan Shay published in 1995.
You can also watch this video
Achilles in Vietnam
from Charles Berkowitz
This documentary, developed as an undergraduate thesis film by director Charles Berkowitz, is based on the groundbreaking book, "Achilles in Vietnam : Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character", by Dr. Jonathan Shay. In it, Shay examines the psychological devastation of war by comparing the soldiers of Homer's Iliad with Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the Iliad was written twenty-seven centuries ago it has much to teach about combat trauma, as do the more recent, compelling voices and experiences of Vietnam veterans.

Achilles in Vietnam from Charles Berkowitz on Vimeo.
They didn't take care of the veterans they already had and that is why things are as bad as they are now. None of this is new but it seems as if social media is rewriting history so that we forget how long they have had to get this all right for all veterans.
Moral injury: Troops talk of how war assaults conscience
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer
November 19, 2015
“The largest group of veterans who have served our country since Vietnam are home," Sherman said. "And we need to help.”
Former Army Reserve Capt. Josh Grenard thought the anguish of losing men in combat would eventually wane in the years after a deployment to Iraq. But when soldiers from his unit began committing suicide, the wounds reopened — fresh, raw and painful.

“It’s almost two sets of injuries — but having your men kill themselves is wholly different,” Grenard said. “Was there something I could have done? Was there a way we could have gotten them help? Should I have seen it?”

He found himself slipping into isolation, going to his law office each day but questioning his very existence. He drank from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily — “very metered, all day.”

“You don’t want to think about anything. You don’t want to answer those questions,” he said.

Grenard was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the psychiatric condition normally associated with combat.

Rather, his feelings, which included crippling helplessness, emotional pain, guilt and frustration, are often described as “moral injury,” a psychological condition related to having done something wrong, being wronged by others or even witnessing a wrongdoing, argues Georgetown University philosophy professor Nancy Sherman.
read more here

Saturday, April 25, 2015

PTSD What Are You Really Aware Of?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 25, 2015

This article got to me this morning.
The deepest war wound may be the anguish of moral injury 
Los Angeles Times
April 25, 2015
Moral injury is distinct from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is generally thought of narrowly as a fear-conditioned syndrome marked by hyper-vigilance and flashbacks. The prevailing treatment for PTSD is therapy to “decondition” the fear response. But guilt, shame, raging resentment and betrayal are different from fear. To overcome them requires relationships that rebuild a soldier's sense of trust in himself and others, no small order given the effects of war.

When the Greek playwright Sophocles came home from war, in the 5th century BC, trust and betrayal must have been on his mind. He wrote “Philoctetes,” about a wounded Greek warrior abandoned by Odysseus on the way to Troy.

The stench of Philoctetes' wound and his wails of distress made him a liability. That is, until Philoctetes' sacred bow, a gift from the god Heracles, turned out to be the Greeks' last hope for defeating the Trojans. Odysseus returned to rescue Philoctetes (or at least his bow), but he dared not show his face to the man he had left behind. Hidden, he coached a young soldier, Neoptolemus, on how to build rapport with Philoctetes in order to exploit it to get the bow.

The twist in the play is that real trust is cultivated instead; and with it, hope that heals.

The ancient Greeks understood Philoctetes' agony and salvation in the context of the Peloponnesian War. Modern Americans can apply it to the longest conflicts in American history: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which 2.7 million troops have served.

Many are bringing home the weight of resentment and betrayal, and often guilt and shame, even if it's masked by a stoic military demeanor. Like Philoctetes, some feel betrayed by commanders or unit members; some by civilians who've been “at the mall while we've been at war”; and some by politicians they think have failed to take full responsibility for the wars they started.
read more here
It seems as if everyone is doing something to help raise awareness on PTSD, and that is a good thing to a point. The trouble is when no one seems aware of what they need to know if they have PTSD.

There is what the general public seems to believe and then there is the reality of what is actually real to the veterans.

First is how they feel about their service with the DOD claiming they are treating soldiers for what comes after their operational battles. The fight to stay alive after combat is the one they are not equipped to win. No matter what the DOD claims about their own "efforts" to help soldiers heal, the end result has been a rise in suicides.
USA Today addressed a huge part of the problem. Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is the biggest reason why suicides went up. It tells soldiers that they can train their brains to be mentally tough, translating they must be weak if they end up with PTSD. In other words, it is their fault. This is not just a theory. It is what the head of the Army actually admitted he believes. During an interview with the Huffington Post Odierno said a mouthful. Army Chief Ray Odierno Warns Military Suicides 'Not Going To End' After War Is Over
Q: Why do I think some people are able to deal with stress differently than others?
A: There are a lot of different factors. Some of it is just personal make-up. Intestinal fortitude. Mental toughness that ensures that people are able to deal with stressful situations.

This wasn't just a slip because as later reports showed, it was spread wider reenforcing the soldiers beliefs they had something to be ashamed of. Blaming soldiers and their families in public was tame compared to what they actually had to endure.

They had to even endure this emotional abuse in the very place they were sent to as a place to heal. Warrior Transition Units treated them as if they were a problem to the military.

The Dallas Morning News and NBC out of Texas did fantastic reporting on this in Injured Heroes Broken Promises however, when the national news stations failed to notice, the general pubic was left without a clue as to what was behind most of the suffering they wanted to raise awareness of.

The military keeps telling reporters they understand and are doing something to help mend them after war but as suicides within the military and in the veterans community increased, they failed to change anything they did wrong.
Army morale low despite 6-year, $287M optimism program
Gregg Zoroya
April 16, 2015
"The Army funds this program because the Army values the lives of soldiers and wants to instill skills and competencies that will enhance their connections, relationships and ability to mitigate stressors and exercise help seeking behaviors through their life," says an Army statement released last month.

More than half of some 770,000 soldiers are pessimistic about their future in the military and nearly as many are unhappy in their jobs, despite a six-year, $287 million campaign to make troops more optimistic and resilient, findings obtained by USA TODAY show.

Twelve months of data through early 2015 show that 403,564 soldiers, or 52%, scored badly in the area of optimism, agreeing with statements such as "I rarely count on good things happening to me." Forty-eight percent have little satisfaction in or commitment to their jobs.

The results stem from resiliency assessments that soldiers are required to take every year. In 2014, for the first time, the Army pulled data from those assessments to help commanders gauge the psychological and physical health of their troops.

The effort produced startlingly negative results. In addition to low optimism and job satisfaction, more than half reported poor nutrition and sleep, and only 14% said they are eating right and getting enough rest.

The Army began a program of positive psychology in 2009 in the midst of two wars and as suicide and mental illness were on the rise. To measure resiliency the Army created a confidential, online questionnaire that all soldiers, including the National Guard and Reserve, must fill out once a year.

Last year, Army scientists applied formulas to gauge service-wide morale based on the assessments. The results demonstrate that positive psychology "has not had much impact in terms of overall health," says David Rudd, president of the University of Memphis who served on a scientific panel critical of the resiliency program.
read more here

The worst part of all of this is none of this should have surprised anyone. Even I predicted pushing this FUBAR research project of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness would increase suicides back in 2009.
If you promote this program the way Battlemind was promoted, count on the numbers of suicides and attempted suicides to go up instead of down. It's just one more deadly mistake after another and just as dangerous as sending them into Iraq without the armor needed to protect them.

Again, there are conversations we have and then there are conversations the general public has. Ours is based on the realities we live with everyday hitting every part of our lives. I didn't got to war, but I was the daughter of an Army veteran and am a wife of an Army veteran. What happens to them hits us and our children.

We become experts on what war does after the fact and the facts don't change just because reporters ignore most of it.

Soldiers have to battle the DOD, struggle with being treated as if they are bad soldiers, enforced by the threat of bad paper discharges, like the Army discharging 11,000 in 2013 alone, and being sent to hell to "heal" and then once they are out of the military, treated to more betrayal because the VA wasn't ready for any of them. Wonder how long it will take to actually give these veterans justice? We have an example of that from what was done to Vietnam veterans as 80,000 out of 250,000 are getting a second chance.

We put blame right where it belongs and that is with members of Congress!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Combat PTSD and the Not So New Moral Injury

Why distinguishing a moral injury from PTSD is important
Moral injury is a nebulous term that few use seriously because it doesn't read well on Veterans Affairs claims. It's a new term but not a new concept. Moral injury is as timeless as war — going back to when Ajax thrust himself upon his sword on the shores of Troy. Unlike post-traumatic stress, which is a result of a fear-conditioned response, moral injury is a feeling of existential disorientation that manifests as intense guilt.
It is a very well written, important article however, it is not a new term. It is what was discovered many years ago and it came from studying Vietnam veterans.
Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character
Paperback – October 1, 1995
by Jonathan Shay (Author)

Then again, there was another book the moral impact of war was reported. It is called the Bible and it is in the Psalms especially with the struggles of King David.
Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

There are many more.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Only Truth of War Is No One Is Left Untouched

Heroes and Monsters: War’s moral injury 
Foreign Police
By Sebastian J. Bae
Marine co-chair, Best Defense Council of the Enlisted
February 27, 2015

Moral injury, the pain resulting from violating one’s moral foundation, has become the hallmark of today’s veterans. Unlike Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, moral injury does not stem from fear, but from struggling to reconcile a state of mind occurring in war, where moral clarity is impossible, and the morality society expects of us. To survive, we become someone we no longer recognize, accepting the inconceivable as the price of survival. So, guilt suffocates our voices, hiding stories we cannot share – society does not, or will not, understand.

The Ramadi sun was relentless above the din of the bustling city streets. Our convoy struggled through the city’s congested streets. My eyes darted from one face to another, scared and nervous, scanning a city of strangers from my M240 machine gun turret. The afternoon’s patrol was quiet.

Then suddenly, my eye caught an Iraqi child, maybe eleven or twelve, arching his arm to throw, an object in his hand. He reminded me of the Bible study students I use to teach. He throws; I hesitate – my finger trembling on the trigger, the barrel aimed at his chest…

A rock smacks against the Humvee. In seconds, the child is gone, our convoy rolling past without a shot fired.

I have relived this moment a thousand times, in my dreams and in every quiet moment. There are days I regret not pulling the trigger, then there are days I am forever grateful I never did.

Yet everyday, I struggle to reconcile the man I was, a Bible study teacher, with the man I had become, a man who almost ventilated a child with a machine gun.

A few weeks before, insurgents attacked another convoy with grenades, setting their vehicle aflame.

The rock could have easily been a grenade. I could have killed my Marines. I undoubtedly endangered their lives. Yet, I was also spared the gruesome weight of a child’s death.

Nevertheless, I find there is no comfort, no right answer.
read more here

Sunday, February 22, 2015

DIfferent View From Eyes of Another American Sniper

I was an American sniper, and Chris Kyle’s war was not my war
Garett Reppenhagen
Feb 21, 2015
As a sniper I was not usually the victim of a traumatic event, but the perpetrator of violence and death. My actions in combat would have been more acceptable to me if I could cloak myself in the belief that the whole mission was for a greater good. Instead, I watched as the purpose of the mission slowly unraveled.

I spent nights in Iraq lying prone and looking through a 12-power sniper scope. You only see a limited view between the reticles. That’s why it’s necessary to keep both eyes open. This way you have some ability to track targets and establish 360 degrees of awareness. I rotated with my spotter and an additional security team member to maintain vigilance and see the whole battlefield. I scrutinized every target in my scope to determine if they were a threat.

In a way, it’s an analogy for keeping the whole Iraq mission in perspective and fully understanding the experiences of the U.S. war fighters during Operation Iraqi Freedom. No single service member has the monopoly on the war narrative. It will change depending on where you serve, when you were there, what your role was, and a few thousand other random elements.

For the past 10 days, “American Sniper” has rallied crowds and broken box office records, but if you want to understand the war, the film is like peering into a sniper scope — it offers a very limited view.

The movie tells the story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, said to have 160 confirmed kills, which would make him the most lethal American military member in history. He first shared his story in a memoir, which became the basis for Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation. Kyle views the occupation of Iraq as necessary to stop terrorists from coming to the mainland and attacking the U.S.; he sees the Iraqis as “savages” and attacks any critical thought about the overall mission and the military’s ability to accomplish it.
Unlike Chris Kyle, who claimed his PTSD came from the inability to save more service members, most of the damage to my mental health was what I call “moral injury,” which is becoming a popular term in many veteran circles. read more here

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reporting on Veterans inconsistent

Reporting on Veterans inconsistent
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 6, 2014

Media focus on ‘moral injury’ masks disregard of civilian war suffering, by Edward Rasserman in the Miami Herald is a very interesting read. Rasserman is right on what he wrote however it is based on a limited ability to discover what has actually been reported.

It is not the media as a whole to blame because reports have been out there for decades writing about the human price being paid by those we send to fight our battles. Sure, some skip over the details, minimize the report down to a certain predetermined word count their editor has space for. They only have a limited time to gather data, research, search and interview. Whatever the reporter is told by those they speak to, the end result comes from those constraints along with their own personal views. In other words, they take the easiest way out to deliver the story they want to.
"I was also impressed, once again, by how serious the news media’s coverage has been of today’s veterans. As early as 2007 conditions in the Army’s flagship Walter Reed Hospital prompted Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage by The Washington Post. The problems of brain injury, suicide rates, prosthetics, unemployment, psychological impairment, and the adequacy of the Veterans Administration’s response, continue to get sustained, compassionate news treatment unlike any that Vietnam-era veterans ever saw."

The reports have been out there all along however the best reporting does not come from the big boys in the press world. They come from cities and towns across the country covering local stories and trying to make a difference in their own communities.

Unlike the press, I don't have to worry about space or word count. I also don't have to worry that something I posted in 2007 will be gone. The link to the post on Wounded Times still works however the link to KCEN does not.
Rising suicide rate among U.S. soldiers hitting close to home
Updated: Aug 22, 2007

The stress of combat is taking its toll on many soldiers.

In fact, according to the U.S. Army, last year there were 99 suicides; 30 of those happened in war zones.

It’s not a new trend, the same happened during wars like Vietnam.

According to the U.S. Army in 2005 there were 12.8 suicides per 100,000 soldiers.

That number increased last year with the army recording 17.3 suicides per 100,000 soldiers.

Staff Sgt. Derrick Degrate said he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress disorder after seeing too much in war.

"[I saw] people getting shot up, people getting blown up," Degrate said.

It took its toll, and while on a tour in Iraq he admits he tried to take his own life.

"So, I attempted suicide and, you know, and I was admitted to the hospital," Degrate added.

He said he was hospitalized for three days and then sent back to duty.

Stars and Stripes was reporting back in 2007 "VHA officials say 36 percent of the 1.5 million veterans enrolled in the VA health system have at least one mental health issue." Yet another article out of McClatchy reported "934,925 Veterans being treated by VA for PTSD" with a chart. Pretty shocking until you know that at the same time two wars were increasing the number of disabled veterans, the VA budget was no where near what it should have been. Staff was not added to take care of the increase and claims processors were not increased to take care of the claims.

There was trouble brewing back in 2006. The 2007 VA budget President Bush submitted sounded like a good thing until you knew what else was going on. "It takes a $13 million bite out of VA research. It also fails to provide sufficient funds for staffing and training in the Veterans Benefits Administration to address a claims backlog fast approaching one million." The budget also cut 1.2 million Priority 7 and 8 veterans along with increasing enrollment fees and payments for medications.

In 2006 the Hartford Courant was reporting on "mentally unfit being forced to fight" as soldiers were being redeployed with medications and no therapy. Later fantastic reporting covered more of this with Potent Mixture: Zoloft and A Rifle

As you can see, it isn't that the reporters are not doing their jobs.

The reports on Drone Pilots and PTSD have been out there and you can find more about drone pilots here. Reports on the suffering of servicemen and women suffering because of the civilian casualties have been out there along with suffering for their own brothers. There have been reports on healing as well but until the national news media actually exams their reluctance to pay attention to these reports, actually do research into how we ended up where we are, there will continue to be people unaware of what has been done all across the country.

As stated, links to news reports die as stories move them out of the way. The history however remains a factor in where we are and what we did not not know.

If you read something out of a known politically connected "news" source, then you will find the information they want to provide. It does not matter which side they are on. If you read major news reports you need to check out what else has been reported on the topic, no matter what that topic is, or you will be limited to what they want you to know as well. Consider the limitations the press has because it is important in all of this but then consider their lack of knowledge on the topics they are assigned. Most of the time they have little knowledge but are expected to get the story from interviewing people while lacking the ability to ask questions or challenge what they have just been told.

That is how we got here with reports making us believe that the backlog of claims are new, suicides are new along with everything else. Nothing is new but when news becomes history, it make it easier to think now is all that matters.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Going beyond PTSD to help soldiers who have suffered a 'moral injury'

The military is going beyond PTSD to help soldiers who have suffered a 'moral injury'
PRI's The World
Reporter Susan Kaplan
December 27, 2013

The trailer for the new Peter Berg movie “Lone Survivor” says it all: for soldiers, there are decisions that truly change your life.

In one scene, the small Navy SEAL team assigned to kill an al-Qaeda leader is surrounding a young Afghan goat-herder in the middle of the Hindu-Kush Mountains. Taylor Kitsch’s character says, “The way I see it, we got two options: one, let 'em go, roll the dice. The second that they run down there, we've got 200 on our backs. Two, we terminate the compromise.”

Mark Wahlberg’s character cuts in: “…Not killing kids, not feeling it. This is not a vote, we're gonna cut them loose and we're going home.”

Those choices often haunt veterans for the rest of their lives. Today, officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs say psychological damage from particularly egregious war violence — like killing children or seeing friends killed — can create an affliction of the soul. And they call it moral injury.

Serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, Army Sergeant First Class Robin Johnson's platoon was running a routine checkpoint, hoping to nab people carrying car bombs or explosives in their vehicles. Suddenly, Johnson says, a car comes out of a side street and speeds up, heading straight towards them.

“The window [of time] of signaling shooting for a warning shot, shooting to disable and then engaging can be milliseconds,” he says. “You have to make that judgment call of ‘Is this a threat?’”

Johnson's platoon engages. He's one of the first to fire.

“Once it was done … it was just a family. You know, a mother, father and infant, in the mother's lap, and then two little girls in the back seat,” he says.

Johnson re-lives that day over and over again in his mind, and often finds himself angry at the father driving the car.

“You know, 'why didn't you just stop, like, why didn't you stop?'” he asks. “What was his logic? Was he trying to get down the next side street? Did we scare him? What was going on in his head at that moment? Now, this whole family is gone — they got up that morning and they ate breakfast together, they talked and they laughed and they planned out their day, and now, they're gone.”

Retired Navy psychiatrist William Nash says, “What makes a warrior a warrior is taking personal responsibility. And when they fail to live up to that enormously high ideal, that's moral injury.”
read more here

Sounds all too familiar. Almost the same thing happened to a young Iraq veteran I was helping a few years back. He was a member of the National Guards. All he could remember were the kids in the back seat of the car. He forgot what he tried to do to prevent it from happening. It took about 5 phone calls before he opened up on what was destroying him emotionally. Every time he looked at his own kids, he saw their haunting, lifeless faces.

Once he was able to remember everything that happened that horrible night, forgive the Dad for causing it to happen and forgive himself for having to make the choice of pulling the trigger, he began to heal.

This isn't magic. It isn't about pills as the answer to all. It isn't about fame or money or anything other than understanding human nature and what makes servicemen and women so different from the rest of us.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Suicide Prevention starts with what works

Suicide Prevention starts with what works
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 1, 2013

Suicide Prevention month begins today but as we've seen in the past, it has done little good before. We need to start with a fresh look at something we just don't talk enough about. What works to prevent suicides instead of what doesn't. As you read the numbers below keep in mind there are hundreds of attempted suicides and many of them trying more than once. This also comes after the crisis hotline has taken in thousands of call.

"The Army, by far the largest of the military services, had the highest number of suicides among active-duty troops last year at 182, but the Marine Corps, whose suicide numbers had declined for two years, had the largest percentage increase – a 50 percent jump to 48. The Marines' worst year was 2009's 52 suicides. The Air Force recorded 59 suicides, up 16 percent from the previous year, and the Navy had 60, up 15 percent." At least that is what all the major news publications were reporting however, they left out the National Guards and Reservists.

The latest report from the DOD on Army suicides says "CY 2012: 185 169 have been confirmed as suicides and 16 remain under investigation but the report also includes "CY 2012: 140 93 Army National Guard and 47 Army Reserve." When you add the totals together there were 492 military suicides along with over 8,000 veterans.

We need to begin with honesty. If we ignore what the truth is, then we will repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Today is a good time to also focus on what the military got right since I am alway slamming what they got wrong producing more suicides after all these years. This isn't a hopeless situation unless they admit the have been mislead on the programs they have been pushing. There is no way to spin the results no matter how hard they try. Telling reporters that most had not been deployed doesn't work because that would mean their mental health evaluations on recruits are useless as well as their training because if they cannot keep non-combat forces from committing suicide they have zero chance of preventing suicides among combat forces. For what else they got wrong you can read it in The Warrior Saw because when it comes to PTSD, it is not just what they see with their eyes during combat, it is how they see themselves afterwards as well.

What works comes with three parts and the military has what they need already in place. Experts agree that the mind, body and spirit must be treated in order to heal as much as possible.

The military has mental health professionals trained to evaluate and treat servicemen and women. What they lack is specialized training on trauma. Without this training they do the same thing other psychiatrists and psychologist do, misdiagnose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as something else. The only way to get PTSD is after trauma but it includes so many different things that if they are not looking for PTSD, they will find another illness instead. The answer is to train them on trauma. The best Psychologists and Psychiatrists are not only trained, they are veterans as well so they are able to not just understand but share common experiences.

Some of the best training for me was between 2008 and 2010 when I went to just about every class within traveling distance for Crisis Intervention focusing on the responders to traumatic events because as they care for the survivors, they need even more care due to how many times they are exposed to events as part of their jobs.

They also need to have sexual trauma experts to treat the men and women victimized by criminal acts against them. It has been proven that PTSD occurs after this assault but when you add in the fact the perpetrators are one of their own, one they would have trusted with their lives in combat, this is harder to heal from.

Then the military needs to utilize physical trainers to focus on teaching the troops to help their bodies calm down again when no longer in danger. After all, they taught the troops how to use muscles they didn't even know they had in training, they also need to help them adapt back again.

The military has in place Chaplains. These Chaplains need to be trained as well in the basics of trauma intervention. Once this is done they have a tool to help them focus more on healing and less on judging. Too often a soldier has turned to the Chaplains for the moral injury only to be told they are going to hell. Chaplains are just as vital in all of this as any of the other experts.

If the military uses the best they have in the right way, you'll see less suicides and whole lot more healing.

Here are some resources to help you understand what I am talking about.

The International Fellowship of Chaplains. I had this training in 2008 with Dr. David Vorce. "Chaplain Vorce is a proud father of six (6) children, a former U.S. Marine, a psychiatric nurse, and a retired Lieutenant with the Saginaw County Sheriffs Department where he served in the Special Operations Division. He also has 20 years as a Police Chaplain and nearly 36 years as a martial arts instructor. Doctor Vorce has a Doctor of Education Degree, a Masters Degree in Counseling, a Bachelors Degree in Biblical Studies, and is FBI certified in the areas of Critical Incident Stress (CIS), Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CIDS), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), Grief and Loss and Chaplaincy."

Another training in 2009 was with Center for Disaster and Extreme Event Preparedness. "The Center for Disaster & Extreme Event Preparedness (DEEP Center) conducts train­ing, research, and service in the areas of disaster behavioral health, special populations preparedness, and disaster epidemiology.

DEEP Center is a leading provider of disaster behavioral health training worldwide. Since 2003, DEEP Center has conducted more than 500 full-day, live lecture training programs to a cumulative audience of more than 20,000 participants across the United States, Canada and Latin America.

DEEP Center Mission
Applying disaster science and training to maximize well-being and resilience for disaster responders and survivors.

DEEP Center is home to the Miami Center for Public Health Preparedness (Miami CPHP) which focuses on special populations in disasters, with specific emphasis on disaster training for Hispanic populations.

Miami CPHP Mission
Disaster preparedness for all cultures. Cultural competence for all responders."

Spiritually there is none better than Point Man International Ministries. I am proud to be part of this group especially when they have been working on the spiritual part of healing since 1984.
Seattle Police Officer and Vietnam Veteran Bill Landreth noticed he was arresting the same people each night, he discovered most were Vietnam vets like himself that just never seemed to have quite made it home. He began to meet with them in coffee shops and on a regular basis for fellowship and prayer. Soon, Point Man Ministries was conceived and became a staple of the Seattle area. Bills untimely death soon after put the future of Point Man in jeopardy.

However, Chuck Dean, publisher of a Veterans self help newspaper, Reveille, had a vision for the ministry and developed it into a system of small groups across the USA for the purpose of mutual support and fellowship. These groups are known as Outposts. Worldwide there are hundreds of Outposts and Homefront groups serving the families of veterans.

PMIM is run by veterans from all conflicts, nationalities and backgrounds. Although, the primary focus of Point Man has always been to offer spiritual healing from PTSD, Point Man today is involved in group meetings, publishing, hospital visits, conferences, supplying speakers for churches and veteran groups, welcome home projects and community support. Just about any where there are Vets there is a Point Man presence. All services offered by Point Man are free of charge.

We talk a lot about Peer support but when done wrong, it can do more harm than good. When done right, wow, it works. Talking to someone you trust in a safe place who isn't going to say the wrong thing or try to fix you on the spot helps when there is not a professional available. Some are too reluctant to seek professional help because it has been reported that others in the unit have no clue what PTSD is all about and pass judgment. Imagine having to talk to someone you heard belittle what you are going through when talking about someone else. They are the last person you'd want to open up to.

If the military trains someone in each unit with a basic understanding of what PTSD is, they can fill in the gaps. This will eliminate others from having the wrong idea of what PTSD is.

The Pentagon has spent over $4 billion on mental health between 2007 and 2012 but as we've seen already the numbers are not good. Part of the problem has been experts like this.
"Tania Glenn, who has a doctorate in psychology and is a licensed clinical social worker, delivered a feelings-free, scientific analysis of the human body's physiological response to high-stress situations during a briefing Aug. 5, to help Airmen here understand their biological processes downrange.
Though based out of Austin, Texas, Glenn travels cross-country providing respite to service men and women who bear the physical and emotional scars that accompany more than a decade of war. Though she is an accomplished psychologist, Glenn is clear on one point: the "F-word:" Feelings. Feelings shall be referred to most sparingly and only when completely necessary, she said."

"I'm a boots-on-the-ground kind of person and we don't use the F-word," she joked. "I talk about the brain and the body and what happens during trauma and stress. These reactions have nothing to do with feelings, they're about survival. I work every day to help men and women recover from trauma and PTSD because if there's one thing I can't stand, it's seeing warriors suffer."
Reading this caused me to leave this comment.
Not part of the answer but part of the problem. Just as doing a study in rats to "prevent PTSD" when emotions are left out of it when we're talking about military folks, that is a huge mistake. Being willing to die for someone else is tied to the emotional part of the brain, not the animal part they always seem to talk about.
She replied.
Thank you so much for your comments. I think something was lost in translation from my presentation to the article. In no way do I ever discount the very strong emotions that come with trauma. My point was that clinicians must know how to navigate this area very carefully, especially with military members. The fall back questions like "How do you feel?" or "How did that make you feel?" really anger hard charging, high functioning warriors.

People have the wrong idea about feelings when it comes to the military folks and responders. If they didn't care, they wouldn't be doing the jobs they do. If they didn't care, they wouldn't be willing to die for one another or for us.

Back home in the states, we need to repeat what works and stop pushing what has failed. It isn't as if this stuff is new as you can see from above, but too few are working on what has succeeded and that includes congress.

Congress needs to start holding hearings and listening to veterans along with family members talking about what worked instead of only listening to the problems we face. The answers are out there but if they do not look for them, we'll repeat burials that didn't need to happen.