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My father honorably served his country during the Vietnam War.  

Unfortunately, his country did not honorably serve him back.

Dad lived a somewhat crazy life as a youth.  I know only bits and pieces.  He ran away to New Orleans with a friend when he was just an adolescent.  He got into some trouble "rolling queers."  He would be solicited by older men, and he and his friend would assault them.  When I learned about this, I was shocked.  I always thought of my dad as the least prejudiced person I knew.  I asked him why he did it.  He responded with a shrug, and said "I needed the money."  He never left them injured (physically), and didn't give a damn about their sexual orientation.  They made easy marks.  While I'm not proud of Dad's actions (neither is he), I did take some solace in the knowledge that he was not motivated by hate or bigotry.  He was eventually caught, and spent some time in Biloxi, Mississippi in a roadside work gang.

Like I said, Dad had a somewhat crazy youth.

He was only seventeen when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He was a grunt, an infantry man.  Cannon fodder.  He went to Vietnam early in the war, before there was any substantive discussion about the morality of the war, and whether the United States had any business being there.  He says that he went in "Believing in America, the Fourth of July, apple pie that mom used to make, and all that other horseshit."  Clearly, he did not come back with quite the same mentality.  In fact, he sometimes feels that he is left with very little mentality at all.  He has post-traumatic stress disorder.

I don't know much about Dad's experiences in the war.  Later in his life, when he was attempting to apply for various services and benefits, I would have to type his handwritten letters so they could be sent the appropriate agencies.  I was probably around fourteen years old.  I've blocked quite a bit of the information I'm sure, but I do remember that he received several decorations.  I once asked him what for and he said, "I survived when a lot of other people didn't.  Someone thought that was bravery."  He also had to deal with various bouts of malaria, which left him traumatized.  Sometimes it wasn't battle experience that left him scarred.  Dad's a native Detroiter, and was in Vietnam during the riots.  He spent some time wondering if anyone in his family was injured or dead.

When he came back to the U.S., anti-war sentiment had picked up.  He soon came to realize that he had been misused.  He married a woman a few years his senior shortly after he came home.  He couldn't vote.  He couldn't buy a house.  He couldn't believe he wasn't considered a man.  He once mused to me, about men, "How big do they make them?"  When he came home, he couldn't understand why he would have to do more to be considered an adult.

Dad had two kids with his first wife.  My older sisters.  His wife suffered an ectopic pregnancy that developed and burst her fallopian tube.  She bled to death internally in my father's arms.  Dad had quit his job shortly before, so he could get his college education on the G.I. bill.  They had no medical insurance.  My understanding is that the ambulance would not originally come because my father couldn't pay for it.  My grandfather, who lived nearby, was notified and immediately came to their home to pay.  It didn't matter.  My dad was dressing his wife to take her to the hospital when she died.  He blamed himself.

By now it was the mid-70s.  My father's in-laws never particularly cared for him.  They didn't like that he was younger than his wife.  Now he was a single father.  This was rather unheard of at the time.  His in-laws didn't want him to raise his children.  After all, how could a man raise two little girls?  There was no support system for Vietnam veteran widowers.  He was very much on his own, but he would not let anyone take his children.

Eventually, he met my mother.  She began helping him raise his daughters, and they married.  They had two children together, my brother and I.

Dad had a lot of medical problems shortly before and early in my lifetime.  He was in and out of the V.A. hospital numerous times.  He was so sick he couldn't work, and my family nearly lost our house.  V.A. hospitals were horrendous at the time (some still are, I'm sure).  My father often languished in his own filth, and my mother had to take it upon herself to change his sheets.  When she could find a doctor to talk to her, she was told to say her good-byes.  More often than not, she couldn't get anybody to tell her anything about her husband's condition.  Once, my whirling dervish of a mother found a chair and sat all four feet, ten inches of herself in front of a nurses' station and told them, in no uncertain terms, that she was not fucking moving until a doctor saw her husband that day.  Dad has survived over eight major surgeries, often in disgusting conditions.  In the past, he found it difficult to talk to his kids about his PTSD and his time in Vietnam.  He would read fictional novels about vets, and highlight the parts that best explained how he was feeling.  He once came to me with a book that had a description of a V.A. hospital.  I don't remember the book or the exact passage, but I'll always remember the point.  The hospital in the novel had a fence surrounding it.  The author said the fence wasn't there to keep the crazed veterans inside.  It was there to keep the populace away from the horrors within.

Dealing with my father's mental illness was especially difficult as I grew up.  

Living with someone who has PTSD means you know he doesn't mean it when he calls you a "cunt," but it hurts anyway.

Living with someone who has PTSD means family reminisces involve the time Dad nearly threw a man through the windshield of Dad's car- with my sister in the front seat.

Living with someone who has PTSD means you have to laugh or cry at Dad's stories that start with "I was heading back into the bar with a brick in one hand, and a bat in the other..."

Living with someone who has PTSD means that you know he can't hold down a job, but it's embarrassing when you have to borrow five dollars from a friend, so you can go on the sophomore field trip.

Living with someone who has PTSD means that you know he retreats into his own little world because he thinks that all of his friends will die, but it's hard when he's not there for you.

Living with someone who has PTSD means you have to explain to your friends why your father nearly got into a fist fight with someone in the theatre parking lot, as he was dropping you off at the movies.

Living with someone who has PTSD means you have to watch as your mother slips farther into her own mental problems.

Living with someone who has PTSD means you have to be strong when your father's joblessness causes you to lose your childhood home, and requires you to move into a new house.

Living with someone who has PTSD means you watch as your mother becomes crazier and your parents' marriage dissolves.

Living with someone who has PTSD means you come home to find your father has overdosed on medication prescribed to him by the psychiatrist at the V.A.

Living with someone who has PTSD means you become the only person you know who has ever watched their sister call 911, and watched emergency services pull up and take your incoherent father out the door.

My dad attempted to commit suicide.  He, to my eternal thanks, was unsuccessful.  My dad couldn't cope with losing another wife, and tried to kill himself after my mother left him.  

He spent a week in the hospital.  See, dad's suicide attempt meant that he couldn't leave the hospital until he passed a psychiatric hold.  He was considered a "danger to himself."  The hospital that he was sent to did not have the facilities to evaluate him.  He couldn't leave, but he couldn't get treated there.  A few years ago, Dad received disability status from both the V.A. and social security.  Because the suicide attempt was deemed "combat related," social security would not cover the transfer to a hospital where he could be treated.  He would have to go to the V.A.

All of the beds, at all of the V.A. hospitals in Michigan, were full.  It seems that we are making mentally ill veterans faster than we are equipped to handle them.  My family and I were trapped in some weird Kafkaesque nightmare.  He couldn't leave ("danger to himself"), but couldn't get treatment (no room at the V.A. hospitals).  My oldest sister stayed with him in the hospital as I spent days on the phone in my dorm room.  I talked to people in the Governor's office.  I talked to patient advocates.  I talked to nurse managers.  I talked to people in our senators' offices.  I called probate court, trying to find a way to get my sister appointed Dad's guardian.  Probate court was particularly fun.  I tried to explain the situation to the woman in charge, and she couldn't quite understand the problem.  She couldn't understand why my Dad didn't leave the hospital.  After all, she said, the hospital "Isn't a hotel room."  I (somewhat) politely informed her that she was clearly incompetent, could go to hell, and her superiors would be hearing from me later.  All the while, my ill father was decaying in bed.  He got so frustrated that he threw his bed tray across the room, needed to be sedated several times, and once was strapped to the bed.  

Eventually, a bed opened up in the V.A.  Patients are required to stay for three days.  There is no significant contact between the patient and the outside world.  Dad went in on a Friday.  He saw a doctor once.  The doctors apparently don't work on the weekends.  He was released at the beginning of the following week.

He wasn't really happy to be alive, but he was no longer suicidal.  My sister and I, stubborn as two ornery mules, told Dad that he was going to the outpatient therapy he learned about during his forced inpatient stay.  He knew better to cross us when we got like that; we learned that technique from him, of course.  It became obvious that the outpatient therapy was not designed for him.  It's there for veterans who literally need something to occupy their time.  When he spent a day making moccasins, we told him he could stop going.  We learned of another type of therapy.  There is a group session for veterans dealing with PTSD.  He was also able to see a psychologist who specialized in PTSD.  When Dad asked his V.A. psychiatrist why he wasn't told about the PTSD therapy years ago, the doctor responded with "It wasn't my job to tell you."

Dad is doing better now.  We have a much better relationship, and don't fight like we used to.  He lived through divorcing my mother, but has specific trouble during Christmastime.  His first wife died right before Christmas, and this season has been that much more difficult for him.

My Dad attempted to commit suicide.  He attempted to commit suicide because of trauma that he experienced over thirty years ago in foreign war.  A war that he never should have been sent to fight.  My dad was so scarred and disgusted with his country that he never voted.  He didn't have the heart.  Despite his mental illness and his shortcomings, he managed to raise some pretty good kids.  All of us skew liberal, but my oldest sister and I (twins separated by fifteen years and mothers) are particularly staunchly Democratic.  

My parents managed to teach my siblings and I moral lessons about the world and people in it that never felt like lessons.  We were monetarily poor, but were rich in family.  We didn't have much, but I'll be damned if we weren't educated.  My father read to me every story he could get his hands on.  We were taught that there were people who had less than we did, and that we were damn fortunate to have what we had.  We were taught that having empathy for others costs us nothing and enriches our lives.  We were taught that everyone was equal, no matter what the color of their skin.  We were taught to speak our minds, and stand up for ourselves and for others who needed someone to stand up for them.  We were taught that women are equal partners in this world, and trust me, no one can tell my father's daughters any differently.  

My Dad attempted to commit suicide.  He is just now getting help for his problems.  How long will Iraq war veterans have to wait to get help for their problems? UPDATE: I just want to thank everyone for sharing thier stories and thier compliments and well wishes. Clearly, my diary (which was fueled by insomnia-induced bravery) wasn't as sucky as I thought. I just want to say two more things. I've lurked at dKos for over a year. I've witnessed the powerful nature of this community and it helped me educate others, commiserate in the horrible post-election period, and share some first rate snark. When my Dad was stuck in the hospital, and nothing was being done to help him, I finally registered here. I was at the end of my rope, and approximately five seconds away from spamming every open thread I saw, begging for suggestions and help. I was fully prepared to email every member of this site to ask them to write a diary on my behalf (Carnacki will fill his with wit and wisdom! Georgia10 will include links to help other veterans and simultaneously inform and motivate! Maryscott will swear!). He was transferred to the V.A. hospital before I needed to do this. I just wanted to let you kossacks know, in case you hadn't noticed, that you are making a difference. Second, I was born in 1984. I came into this world long after the war was supposed to be over. I know that everybody on dKos is aware that Iraq is going to effect generations, no only because of our crushed national reputation, our staggering debt, but also because people (Americans and Iraqis) will bear this burden for a long, long time. I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, and my friends couldn't understand that our nation was going to be paying a higher cost than money. I guess I just wanted to remind everone that fifteen, twenty, thirty years from now, a child will be born who will still be fighting the Iraq war, in one way or another.

Originally posted to Sinister Rae on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 11:52 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm wrung out! (4.00)
    What a great great diary.  Highly recommended.
  •  Oh my... (4.00)
    Did the Bob Johnson recommend my diary?  I think I feel faint. :)
    •  This topic is often... (4.00)
      swept under the MSM rug because neither parties want to talk about it which is horrible...I don't understand why we have money for tax-breaks for our wealthiest citizens yet can't dole out the money to help people like your father and now the hundred of thousands returning from Iraq...and I'd be willing to bet neither do our wealthiest citizens.

      Not even the best unread diaries on this site.

      by therightlies on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:36:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rightly deserved... (4.00)
      I'm glad I didn't miss this diary, Sinister Rae. And I'm even happier it made it the the Recommended List. It's a worthy spot for your writing and the exploration of your family's experiences with PTSD.

      My mother suffered from undiagnosed PTSD most of her life (she worked in one of Budapest's hospitals during the Hungarian Revolution in '56 and saw things she still does not speak of while on duty and while walking the streets of the city; she was forced to flee the country with her first husband and came to a new one (USA) leaving the rest of her family behind; she never saw her parents again as they died a few years later in a tragic accident; and she lost her first husband in a car accident shortly after having her first child, my half-sister only four years after coming to this country).

      My mother was dragged down by all of this by the time she reached 40, and attempted suicide a number of times. Fortunately, she was able to receive treatment, and pulled herself through. My father wasn't perfect at helping her at the time -- made lots of human mistakes --  but he did what he could and stayed with the family. They're still together today...and thankfully she's one of the happiest people I know right now. Thank God for those miracles in life.

      I was the youngest of my sisters and angriest with my Mom for her suicide attempts growing up. That anger stayed with me into my 20's. Had finally forgiven her as I grew older and 'wiser' and worked through those demons in our family...we reached a place of absolute peace and positive relationships and drenched ourselves in that for about 5 years. Then, unbelievably, my half-sister successfully committed suicided 5 years ago. Pressure from a lawsuit finally got to her; and although she was in treatment and counseling, she chose the wrong way out. That opened up a lot of old scabbed over scars for me...ironically, it was my Mom's strength that helped me get through that period. I don't know how she managed to get through it; but, she was very strong and helped everyone of us to wade through that depth of the darkest of emotion and bitterness.

      We've found peace again. I'm so glad that you've found that as well with your Dad. I know it's been a long road for you guys, I know.

      Awesome, important essay, Sinister Rae. I'm sorry I rambled on here. I guess when one person opens themselves up, it makes it easier for others to do the same. I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts, and hoping each day gets better and better for all of you, too.

      Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

      by ilona on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 08:18:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your kind words (4.00)
        That anger is something I can identify with.  I was angry at my dad long before he tried to kill himself.  I was angry because he couldn't seem to hold down a job, I was angry because he seemed distant, I was angry because he wasn't in treatment.  Worst of all, I was angry at myself because I knew he was ill and I couldn't control my anger toward him.  Rationally, I knew that much of what he did (not all, but a lot) was because of his mental illness, but emotionally I really didn't give a shit what his excuse was.

        Over the years I've come to realize that his illness isn't an excuse but a contributing factor for some of his behavior, and that with treatment his mental state and behavior could begin to change.  I'm not really that angry anymore.

        I can identify with that strength too.  My father is the strongest person I know.  I'm not at all surprised that your Mom helped you get through your sister's suicide.  I'm glad you were able to find peace again.  

        •  well, you were just a child (4.00)
          You are two years younger than my youngest son. But when you were gowing through all that anger you were doing the best you could and you are entitled to your feelings.
          Now that you know better, you will do better and every year older you get will come with a bit more new wisdom.
          Thank you for sharing your story with us.

          My best friend, SO, roomate died of lung cancer about 18 months ago.  He was a Navy vet, having spend four tours in Viet Nam and another 8 years elsewhere.
          He wasn't in the jungle.  He never had to watch a budy die from enemy fire or shoot someone at close range. But he was on the NJ, a battle ship and the daily round of firing missiles and having them fired back and fall in the water all around them, hearing the alarms go off in the middle of the night and trying to sleep through it, took it's toll on him.  

          I never knew he had PTSD until just before he died.  He never said anything and I just thought he was jumpy and couldn't control his temper because he would jump up and scream at me or the cats and accuse us of trying to give him a heart attack for making any kind of sudden or loud noise.  

          The VA never did a freaking thing for him even though his two bouts of cancer might have had something to do with the agent orange that wafted off the shore engulfing his ship on a regular basis.

          Eventually he was able to get SSD because of the first cancer and some other related health problems. But I swear, someone who served his country for 12 years, 4 of them in VN, deserved better.  

    •  I'll be very surprised... (4.00)
      if MOST of the usual suspects don't recommend this superb offering, Rae.

      I am an orphan of Vietnam thrice-over. Lost my father before my birth, then my mother to the shock and despair of it all, then my stepfather to PTSD from three tours with the Marines, among other things.

      Your story touches, saddens and enrages me on so many levels...

      Thank you for posting it.

       -- another Michigander

      •  Sadness and rage (4.00)
        My sister (Army) is still on her second tour in Iraq.  And my nephew (Air Force) finished his second tour in October.  One month after he was due back.  I have not allowed myself to think about how they will handle being home after this corrupt admin., and their war, is finally through with them.  

        I hadn't felt sadness or rage for months because, frankly, I had felt it for so long towards this war that I had just gone numb.  Thank goodness for this diary.  It's help rekindle the "fightin' spirit" within me.  Our vets deserve so much better.  And that's a serious understatement.  

        Some people may say I'm wrong to feel this way, but I hate these people who keep spouting off about "don't let our troops down, so support the war" and "support our troops or you're a traitor"--and then they turn around and cut every benefit for them.  Damned Hypocrites!  They are the ones who've betrayed our country and sold-out our troops!  I still don't understand how our vets get so little respect.  I really, really don't.  Especially from so-called "good" and "supportive" people.    

        "I don't think there are any Russians, And there ain't no Yanks, Just corporate criminals, Playing with tanks!" And The Walls Came Down--The Call

        by trinityX127 on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 07:15:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just WHAT people around here, exactly... (none)
          do you think will say you're wrong for expressing your disgust with the hypocritical sanctimonious fucks who mouth platitudes in support of "our troops" while casting every important vote AGAINST "our troops?"

          'cos I don't think you'll find many 'round these here parts, missy.

          : )

        •  I would advise you as quickly as possible (none)
          to have some experience that feels like being dragged through the gates of hell. Your own personal hell, whatever that is.

          If you do that, you will be able to look your relatives in the eye, and relate to them straight across. There's a certain kind of well of sadness, or "I came through craziness and survived by the skin of my teeth" vibe that you'll be able to give them so they'll know they can open up to you.

          Now for all I know, you already have had that personal hell experience -- but I'm guessing you're young as your sister's in Iraq -- and that you haven't had it yet.

          So if you haven't, I'd advise you to do what you can to put them in contact with other people who have lived thru hell and back, perhaps preferably (?) combat experience. So they can talk to those people, and not be so alone with it.

          Here's my short and sweet version. It took me 7 years to begin to recover from my own personal hell gig. I would briefly describe the process as this:
          --At first, the PTSD part is that the experience is chasing you down the street, and you're running screaming in front of it. (That's internal, not literal.)

          --Otherwise put, the horrible memories are driving you, you are NOT driving them, you are not in control of them.

          --Later, when you get it under control, it's like that part of your life is... one circle inside a larger circle which is your life. It was a crucible of fire, those minutes or months or years, and it is part of what made you who you are now. It formed part of you. But it is no longer driving you.

          --IOW, you can look back on your life as a whole, and see the whole thing, and see those PTSD events as just part of it, but inside the whole, not overwhelming the whole.

          --That took me somewhere between 7-10 years of HARD work to accomplish, getting to the "not driving me" stage. And man, was it worth it, was victory sweet! (Yeah, still rocky in spots, but what the hey.)

          --Part of what cured me was talking about it, over and over, till it lost its hold.

          I hope that made sense. In the meantime, some of the most articulate, most incredible, practical tips on handling emotional/mental trauma are on this guy's website:
          http://www.drjoecarver.com/
          Click on articles. The last article, "Emotional Memory: Dealing with Trauma Memory" is great re PTSD and depression.

          In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

          by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:51:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I wish we could tell them before they go in.. (4.00)
    Good diary...I am seeing kids come back and It scares me that our own govt. made them pay for food in the hospital ,and is closing walter reed hospital and many other hospitals to stop them from going...Also hospitals are not saying they have ptsd at all to avoid paying them...Vietnam had agent orange, and these kids and gulf war have depleted urananum sickness and our govt knows it....Many will die quick that was the purpose of DU..56 per cent of kids coming back are sick either mentally because of the things they had to do, or in body, and their kids are having deformed limbs ..all from DU....I wish we could tell them before they go into service .. our
    •  They made Iraq vets (none)
      pay for their food in the hospital?
      Words fail me.

      I'm not black, but there are times when I wish I could say I'm not white. --Frank Zappa

      by Bob Quixote on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 04:50:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think that Rae's dad (none)
      and many of these kids who go into the military aren't in the best shape to begin with and sometimes they look to the army as a place where they can grow.

      That is really Ok unless politicians decide to risk their lives and the lives of their families on unnecessary wars.

      Let's not forget that not only do they risk their lives, their sanity and the mental health of the family they leave behind, those families often lose their primary wage earner and the keeper of medical insurance, something John Kerry was unable to get out of his mouth in the last election.

      Letting them know before hand is important but so is a better educational system to prepare them for life so they can make these decisions without any underlying compulsions.

      War is horrible but sometimes necessary.  This war and the war in Vietnam were both horrible but neither were unnecessary.  

      Unfortunately, too many people in this country look towards their religious leaders for guidance and they are the last group that anyone should consult.  The fundamentalists were charged up for Vietnam, with Billy Graham kissing Nixon's ass and you all know what is going on now with the scum that allegedly talk to God.

      Rae, your Diary was important and gave information on so many levels and about so many things.  I hope your father is enjoying his life now and I hope he can push some of what he went through behind him.  He's very lucky to have such wonderful daughters!

  •  Thanks so much (4.00)
    for sharing this heart wrenching story. My local paper (Sarasota Herald-Tribune) has a front page article today about PTSD and how we are not prepared to handle the returning Iraq/Afghan war vets who are suffering. Timely diary!
  •  Another PTSD Child (4.00)
    My father didn't get help - yet he managed to function in society well enough to raise a family and have somewhat steady jobs, though he had to start and run his own businesses because he couldn't work well with other people as he would get easily frustrated with them and eventually get violent with them. At home, he was physically and mentally abusive to his kids and wife, he was a substance abuser (alcohol and drugs - I suspect he was self-medicating), he thought about suicide often and threatened on more than one occasion right in front of me to blow his head off with his gun but never carried through with it, he was paranoid about losing all of us to the point where he glued all of our windows shut in every house we lived in and triple dead bolted all the doors inside and outside the house including bedroom doors so he could lock us inside our rooms so he would know exactly where we were at all times (this happened in middle class suburbia).  While he was in the Navy during vietnam, he watched one friend die on deck in a freak accident and another disappeared MIA.  I suspect that is where some of his paranoia and obsession about keeping track of us came from.

    As adults, my brother and I have bad health problems and our father has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer linked to Agent Orange exposure, though I'm not sure how he could have been exposed while in the Navy.  My mother is a complete basket case (think about the Colonel's wife in "American Beauty"), my father won't speak to my brother and I because we're tired of the verbal and physical abuse - he took that very personally, and now that he is dying, he's even worse about it.  He's probably going to die with only my mother by his side because he has decided that we don't love him anymore because we won't let him beat up on us anymore - that is, if she decides not to divorce him before then.  There is only so much abuse a human being can tolerate.  Every time I've ever brought up getting psych help for him, it was met with a violent reaction from him and tears from her.

    He has never wanted a single dime in government VA benifits or VA health care - he believes it should be reserved for men who were in the front lines.  After reading this, I have to wonder if he was better off without VA care.

    It still doesn't change the fact that Vietnam has claimed another victim slowly with the passage of time, and that if these men who answered the call of their country, voluntarily or involuntarily, were treated with the respect and dignity they deserved given the job they were asked to perform in the conditions they were asked to perform them under, stories like these would be the exception and not the rule.

    Sinister Rae, my heart goes out to you and your family.

    •  I'm sorry to hear... (4.00)
      ... that you seem to have had an even worse experience than I did.  My heart goes out to you and yours.  My father was never, ever physically abusive to his family.  I can't imagine living in that environment.  Thank you for sharing your story.
    •  Agent Orange (none)
      My friend Jack was on the New Jersey and they sat off shore, sailing in to fire off some rounds and trying to hightail it back out to sea before being hit with enemy fire.
      They were exposed to agent orange because the wind blew across the country and blew the Agent Orange out to sea where the ships were sitting.  
  •  Impending cuts in VA's PTSD treatment programs (4.00)
    Thank you for sharing your heartrending experiences with us!

    You will be appalled to know - it was diaried by murrayewv yesterday -  that the VA is considering ways to cut down on the spiraling expenses of PTSD treatment. The VA's apparent spokesman for the process is Dr. B. Christopher Frueh of Charleston, SC. Here is a very short list, culled from Professor Frueh's home page of some of his publications on PTSD.

        * 2006: Psychiatric symptom patterns and service use among African Americans and Caucasians in Veterans Affairs primary care clinics
        * 2005: Documented combat exposure of U.S. veterans seeking treatment for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder
        * 2004: _Discriminating malingered from genuine civilian posttraumatic stress disorder: A validation of three MMPI-2 infrequency scales (F, Fp, and Fptsd)

        * 2003: Disability compensation seeking among veterans evaluated for posttraumatic stress disorder
        * 2001: Hostility and hope in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder: A look back at combat as compared to today
        * 2000: Apparent symptom overreporting in combat veterans evaluated for PTSD
        * 1999: Compensation-seeking and extreme exaggeration of psychopathology among combat veterans evaluated for PTSD
        * 1997: Combat guilt and its relationship to PTSD symptoms
        * 1996: _Compensation seeking, comorbidity, and apparent exaggeration of PTSD symptoms among Vietnam combat veterans

        * 1994: Frueh BC, Kinder BN. The susceptibility of the Rorschach Inkblot Test to malingering of combat-related PTSD

    As you can see, Professor Frueh has been interested in PTSD for some time. I am afraid we will be seeing more from him in the future.

    Drink to me, drink to my health:
    You know I can't drink any more!

    by gp39m on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 05:59:35 AM PST

  •  EMDR (4.00)
    Have you heard of a type of psychotherapy called "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing?"  After 9/11 I was diagnosed with PTSD and finally went to a therapist through my work's Employee Assistance Program.  EMDR wiped out my PTSD.  Granted, mine couldn't have been as severe as that experienced by returning troops, but I highly recommend looking into it.  
    •  yeah... (none)
      I hear that works for a lot of minor things.  My cousin who was kinda going crazy for whatever reasons, he's been diagnosed with borderline schizophrenia, had this done to him and it really helped for about two weeks...maybe if it were repeated every so often.

      Not even the best unread diaries on this site.

      by therightlies on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:40:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, (none)
      I have read about that, and I think Dad has had some dabblings with that type of therapy.  I don't know how well it worked for him, but I'll find out.  Thank you for the suggestion.  
      •  This therapy (4.00)
        in combination with the drug Prazosin can be incredibly effective for patients suffering from PTSD.

        Prazosin is NOT a psychiatric drug, infact, it is used to treat hypertension by reducing vasoconstriction.  It effects blood vessels in the body, allowing for increased blood flow, but remarkably has also proven very effective in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

        It is well worth looking into for anyone suffering from PTSD.

        "Be the change that you want to see in the world."- Gandhi

        by hopefulcanadian on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 09:32:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  EMDR Is Effective (4.00)
      My ex partner had severe PTSD to the point of being on disability from work for 18 months. Medicaton and dosage changes and talk therapy were useless. Nothing helped until she started getting EMDR therapy regularly - not just once a month but once a week.

      It may not work for everyone but thankfully it got her back on her feet. Her treatment was not through the VA since her PTSD was caused by employement as a civilian for the Army. I'd imagine patients and their faimilies have to be really proactive and pushy to get the proper frequency of treatment from the VA.

      "This president believes government should be limited not in size but in effectiveness."
      --The Daily Show

      by bramish on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:30:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your openness........... (4.00)
    I know that it is very hard to discuss something so gut wrenchingly personal!  Many of us are reminded daily of things that happened in the past..some good and some not so good.  What really pains me is that nothing seems to have been learned from past occurrences.......Viet Nam for me.  I wrote my Jim every damn day that he was in the service...sent packages and so did his family.  The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was to kiss someone goodbye going off to war...  Back in the early 70's many young women lost their husbands, fiances, brothers....it was horrible..many families, young lives shattered and some broken forever.  And yes the VA was really really bad then...I remember seeing pictures of naked vets in wheelchairs waiting for showers all alone.  

    When my Jim returned from Viet Nam, it took him about 1 year to really come back to life...he had places to go and things to do..somehow I understood that.  He refuses to vote......and he talks little about the war unless we look at pics.
    I made an album with all pics and letters, maps, dogtags for posterity...I did this due to John Kerry reminding us all.  I hated how Swift Boat Vets trashed him, hated how the repubs made fun of his Purple Heart.... And this is the crux of the problem.......denial, intimidation, and machismo behavior......I don't know where honor has gone.
    But menfolk better damn well get their shit together or quit rattling them sabers...enough!

  •  A dissenting view (2.18)
    This will probably not be popular here, but I think too many liberals are having the stereotypical kneejerk reaction to the PTSD story.

    The WaPo article was quite right on several issues.  I know for a fact that there are networks of VN vets helping each other get PTSD disability ratings: how to do the interviews, how to answer the questions, what facilities are easiest to manipulate, etc.  Too many VN vets, now in middle age, want to blame whatever problem they have on service 35 years ago, and there's a lot of fellow veterans to urge them on.

    Bullshit.  These guys are taking us for a ride.

    Yes, a few VN vets suffered, but I believe that the majority now getting on the bandwagon are just gaming the system.  Just because you serve in the military does not mean you should get special treatment and handouts years later.

    I am a hardcore liberal through and through, and it bothers me when the supposed rational left just accepts some sob story like this without examining it and thinking about it.  And by the way, I am a VN vet; I was an Army helicopter pilot there in 68-69.  And this pisses me off.

    •  Different reactions to trauma (4.00)
      Not everyone who survives a traumatic event gets PTSD. Traumatic events can make a person stronger. But for those whose get PTSD and their families, life becomes disfunctional. Family members walk on eggshells afraid of something that will set off the PTSD. Many who get PTSD, turn to alcohol and illegal drugs to self medicate.

      The moral values crowd is a bunch of lazy people who deep down in their hearts want the government to do their job as parents.

      by phinky on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:54:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, so... (2.00)
        I understand that PTSD has different effects in different people, and not everyone who goes through a traumatic event gets PTSD.  That is not the issue.

        The problem, as pointed out in the WaPo article, is that thousands and thousands of VN vets are hopping on the PTSD gravy train, $2300/month or more, 35 years after the war.

        As I said, I personally know many of these guys who are being coached on how to get benefits. It's wrong.

    •  Thanks for the input, UncaMikey (4.00)
      I don't doubt a thing you report; I know all too well there are people in all walks of life who get by on gaming the system. But I still think it's wrong to assume that the veterans are malingering, especially when the assumptions are being made by people whose sole experience of combat comes from other people's books.

      My ex-brother in law came back from Vietnam with a prosthetic left elbow, courtesy of the Viet Cong; if you met him, you might well never guess he had been to war at all because he'd be talking your ear off about his grandkids or his new house or what's wrong with the Tennessee Titans. Yes, he gets a fairly big disability payment, but he has also busted his ass all his working life as a steamfitter to make a good living.

      I have another buddy on the West Coast who came back from Vietnam without a scratch, at least physically. He makes a good living working for a railroad and is one of the best at what he does. To talk with him, you might never guess he had been to war either, because he'd be talking your ear off about politics or motorcycles or the Seattle Mariners. But from time to time, for no apparent reason, he just plain loses control. For more than 30 years he has fought going to the VA because that's just not how he handles things. Finally, he has sought out the help he needs to make himself whole again, and it would distress the hell out of me to see him jobbed out of this by some smug little twit in Charleston SC.

      Just my two cents' worth. Wasn't there, didn't do that, but want only the best for those who were and those who did.

      Drink to me, drink to my health:
      You know I can't drink any more!

      by gp39m on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 07:19:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, but... (2.66)
        I am not "assuming" that some vets are malingering.  I know for a fact that there are networks of VN vets coaching each other on how to get benefits.  I participated in some of these informal online discussion groups, and finally left in disgust.

        I cannot tell you the number of times one guy would say something like, "I got so mad in traffic today" and 10 others would chime in, "You obviously have PTSD, go to the VA!"  As the WaPo article points out, once the vet is declared PTSD disabled, they get a check for life -- there's no review for improvement or rehabilitation.  It's a pension.

        There is no doubt that PTSD can be real.  But why in the world should we assume that whatever problems pop up 35 years later should be blamed on the war?  Middle aged men have been getting cranky, losing control, and acting contrary for thousands of years, LOL.

        •  Believe me, I know (4.00)
          I know that you're not assuming. You've been in combat, you're more intimately familiar with the condition because your experiences have given you a good sense of who is malingering and who is not. I would be far happier to take your word for it than that of a professor who spent the Vietnam War years in elementary school.

          Come to think of it, I'm a professor who spent the Vietnam War years in elementary school myself. This also qualifies me as a middle aged guy; My beard has turned gray, and when I let it grow out I even get offered senior citizen discounts. As my wife could tell you, I do get cranky from time to time: I stalk around, snarl at the dogs, scream at the top of my lungs at inanimate objects, shit like that. But I have never lost control - never dropped my tools and walked out of the shop in the middle of the night to nowhere in particular, never went practically without sleep for nights on end, never had the same nightmares for years on end.

          I've had my share of mid-life issues, but I've always been able to handle them by buying yet another new car, or acquiring another hobby, or something like that. I'll be okay. Still, when I see the Bushites pushing to the forefront of the discussion of PTSD and its treatment costs some smug little twit who wrote a dissertation on malingering veterans back in the day, I just have to yell "BULLSHIT."

          Drink to me, drink to my health:
          You know I can't drink any more!

          by gp39m on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 07:52:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes and no (4.00)
          Of course my first reaction to your posting was a loud 'fuck you.'

          BUT, I have met people like you describe. Gaming the system. Getting the free hand out. Working, illegally, to get a disability pension. I have met them, listened to them, and quite literally told them 'fuck you' to their faces.

          I am sure the system can't weed out all of these, but it does a pretty good job in my estimation. It weeds out most if not all.

          Look PTSD is not an easy diagnosis. Combat related PTSD is both investigated and the psychiatrists I met were not foolable. People who lie are transparent if you know what to look for and these docs did. One of the complications for them is that people with PTSD can lie chronicly. Their hippocampus is fucking damaged and their amydala is working overtime. So thequestion becomes are the patients lying, in context, believeably. Difficult but no impossible to determine.

          I would estimate that 5% or less of the people I know who have actually gotten a disability are questionable. I would estimate that 30% of those appying have no basis for their application. This is just from my own experience.

          Question is do we eliminate the programs in place, which are declining in number and potency, because of this 5%? How about the 95% who have made verified, investigated, legitimate claims?

          Another thing--delayed onset PTSD is every bit as real, and maybe even more believeable, than PTSD experienced right after a traumatic event. People have all sorts of compensation techniques to deal internally with trauma.

          But as the author of this diary expounds on her experience. You must see that PTSD has a cascading effect that muddies the life of people around the primary person of concern. This is indicative, unfortunately, of this diagnosis.

          Yes, some people just get grumpy with old age. But a PTSD survivor leaves a trail of violence, damaged homes, unexplanable behaviors, and massive confusion in its his/er wake.

          I would like you to consider reading Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay, a psychiatrist from Harvard. Or his first book Achilles in Vietnam. You will see that PTSD is nothing new. That the effects and affects of war's experience have been around a long time, and will not easily go away.

          "Oblivious! In Denial! Dangerous!"--Nancy Pelosi on GWB. IMHO, excellent summation.

          by oofer on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:28:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You assumed Sinister Rae's story was a fake (none)
          you called it a sob story

          "We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers..." -- Bayard Rustin

          by Kire on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:53:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Sure, any system can be gamed (none)
      and as long as people are people, there are going to be some who game the system.  But that does not negate the importance of this topic nor the need for a mental health infrastructure to deal with people who truly have PTSD.  Kind of like saying that because Enron featured corporate managers who abused the corporate model, all states should dispense with allowing companies to incorporate.
      •  One last time (none)
        OK, one more comment and I'll desist.

        Of course there should be PTSD treatment.  But the point of the WaPo article and the related discussions is the very recent and dramatic rise in VN vets claiming PTSD and getting hefty checks.  There is no doubt in my mind, none, that this sudden growth is primarily due to networks of vets urging each other on and sharing tips on how to game the system.

        When they apply, they may have been convinced by their peer networks that they are suffering from PTSD, but I don't believe it.  

        •  PTSD (4.00)
          Hi, it sounds like you don't believe it because you haven't experienced it, and therefore, it's not really that big of a deal.

          I've been raped and had my face slashed (separate incidents) and I can tell you that PTSD is real. I received no "help" and it's been a long road to work through.

          A lot of people looked at me and said, "you look fine, why are you so upset?" (over the face slashing). Some people are more sensitive than others when it comes to experiencing a traumatic incident. You kind of sound like my aunt who told me to "get over it" (wasn't as easy as that, I can assure you)

          Also, is 2300 a month really a "lot" of money? I don't think so.

          Some people need to be coached because they have such low self-esteem that they wouldn't be able to deal with the bureaucratic paperwork necessary to receive help.

          Compassion towards others who might not be as strong as you goes a long way.

          Peace.

          •  Huh? (1.50)
            Did you not read my comments?  Please try reading them again.  I have no doubt that PTSD exists, and can be triggered by different types of violence (war, assault, rape, etc.)  I never questioned that, nor did I say we should not treat PTSD.

            The issue is the very recent and dramatic rise in VN vets claiming PTSD disability.  I believe, no, I know that it is the result of "underground networks" (WaPo phrase) of vets helping each other take advantage of the system.  I know this because I participated in the networks, and finally left in disgust when I saw what they were doing.  I am talking about hundreds of vets here, in my own experience.

            I have known several vets who had PTSD, and my heart goes out to them.  You have no right to question my compassion towards those in need.  But what we are seeing here is a kneejerk liberal response, generalizing without looking into the facts.

            •  But you know what the problem is? (4.00)
              You decided to comment on a diary where the diarist was telling a personal experience about PTSD and you doubted that story.  Then you decided to continue to insist on pushing your point of view.
              I have no doubt that you have seen a couple of guys scam the system.  But you are like a dog with a bone here.  You made your point and I am guessing that you are all bent out of shape way out of proportion to the actual scamming going on.
              For every guy scamming the system there are probably 10 who never got the benefits they deserve not just from PTSD, but also from the healt problems caused by Agent Orange.
        •  How many tours of Iraq do you think...... (4.00)
          these men have gone thru?  Geez, wake the hell up!
          This damn war on terror has gone on for how long??? And the same damn units keep getting called, recalled, terms extended, etc. due to the fact that there is an all volunteer Army, National Guard...Reserve....... And be God, if this keeps up you are going to see chaos........or bless their ever loving hearts, very old veterans being  called up to put on their damn old uniforms, dog tags etc. to come fight.........NO!  Something is very very wrong!
        •  Mr. Mikey (none)
          Come on over to my place and meet my ptsd!
        •  Define "hefty" (4.00)
          Is it anything like the $82 million bonus Halliburton got AFTER it was disclosed that couldn't account for BILLIONS of dollars we had paid them?

          There's gaming the system, and then there's gaming the system.

    •  I can handle dissenting views (4.00)
      I'm not sure why you're so surprised that 35 years later people pop up to claim disablility.  My understanding is that PTSD can have trigger events.  My father was reasonably functional before his first wife died, but when she died he went "right back to the bush."  Eventually, he would work himself back to being reasonably functional, only to be set back by another trigger event.  

      Furthermore, believe it or not, some veterans don't know about the benefits or have the knowledge or energy to apply for them.  Sometimes it takes years to get approved.  

      Finally, part of the problem is that people don't want to seek treatment.  They're told to tough it out, and all that other manly crap.

      Do people game the system?  I'm sure, but please don't assume that they're gaming because they apply for benefits years after they come home.

      And, if you're refering to my story as a sob story, I don't need it.  I haven't cried over this in a long, long time.  

      •  Middle age PTSD (4.00)
        In 1972 I and 5 other Vietnam vets opened one of the 8 original chapters of the "Veterans Outreach Project." The mission was straightforward: neither the VA nor the traditional veteran organizations were providing adequate assistance and guidance for returning vets, so we did it ourselves - jobs counseling, assistance with education benefits, disability compensation, legal problems, etc.  

        We thought we had planned for everything, because we had all been running into the brick walls ourselves for years in some cases.  The one thing we never planned for was the tidal wave of veterans from Vietnam, Korea, and all the way back to WWII who came through the door just looking for someone to talk to, someone who would listen, someone who had had common experiences.  We all knew of "post Vietnam Syndrome" (PTSD as a diagnosis was 8 years in the future, VA Vet Centers were more than a decade off) but we never dreamed that the problem would be so widespread, nor that it would occur in guys who had left combat behind three decades before.  They had come home, put their troubles in the closet with the medals and other mementos, and we saw them when it caught up with them and they could not continue to function.

        Our mission changed in a hurry.  We got folks out of jail, we talked people off the bridges and the rooftops, we got them to put down their weapons, but mostly we just listened, and let them know that they were not crazy.

        The saddest part? That center still operates today, more than three decades later, and there has never been a slightest letup in the flow of individuals looking for help.

        I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man ..Steve Mason, 1940-2005

        by Wayward Wind on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 01:10:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your posting (4.00)
          Wayward Wind, I have been thinking about your posting for several hours now. I wanted to respond, but I felt incapable of expression my admiration and respect for what you and your cohort have done. Fact is I don't think words can express the gratitude felt by those whom you have helped.

          You offered what was not available at the time, and still isn't in many cases. I can remember even after the Vet Centers opened, I would go out of my way to avoid going even close to them. Yet when I needed help, the vet center on Howard Street in Chicago was the only place I could find. And they set me on a path the succeeded.

          Let me ask. Is there a way I could donate to the 'Veterans Outreach Project"?

          Anyway, thank you for what you do. Thank you very much.

          "Oblivious! In Denial! Dangerous!"--Nancy Pelosi on GWB. IMHO, excellent summation.

          by oofer on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:00:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  PTSD Vets from WWII (none)
          My Dad is a WWII vet.  He came back, married my Mom, went to college on the GI Bill, got a little ticky-tacky-box house in the new suburbs, had kids, and sucked it all up like a man without breaking stride once and gave us a good middle-class life as he was raised by his father to grow up to do.

          But I never knew him, not really.  He was like a cardboard cutout of a person to me.  None of my siblings or me have any memory of being hugged or held by him.  I just accepted him as part of the stable landscape of my life, the provider, the Dad.

          But to our astonished amazement, on the day of the start of Gulf War I, at the moment it was announced that Bush Sr. had launched the missles at Iraq, my father started to weep, with deep anguished sobs.  And so the icy PTSD frozen stoically within him from his youthful WWII experiences began a process of melting, that continues to this day.

          Dad finally began to talk about what he had experienced, what he saw and how he felt about what happened to him.  How he watched his best friend deliberately commit suicide by ditching his fighter plane into the ocean rather than make the carrier deck landing.  (This memory was very poignant to watch and hear Dad tell, because his sobs and anguish were so obviously wrenchingly deep over this...)

          I had never seen my father cry in my life before that moment.  None of us had.  Maybe not even my mother.  Now he weeps easily, especially over news of The War (yet another Gulf War) but it has helped him a lot that we made efforts on his behalf to contact surviving members of his original service unit.  He seemed to need the closure to spend some time talking with them in person or on the phone.

          On Pearl Harbor Day this month, my dad was honored by some state/local officials for his WWII vet status.  He was one of the few vets present who could still stride up to the podium to receive his commendation.  His picture was in the local newspaper.  He was so happy.  Some peace at last, it seems.

          But the realization of how stoically my father staggered under the crushing weight of his PTSD, but was so unable to show any evidence of it, really brought a lot of puzzle pieces into place for me as his child, growing up with him.   A lot of blank places were filled in, and my anger with him for what seemed like LACK and oversight in him has yielded to a compassionate understanding of how it must've felt from his perspective.  He was so brittle with the pain and anguish of the war, and our society post-war gave the returning vets no place or space to grieve or de-stress from what they had so valiantly endured to save our freedoms.

          As for my own life, I had a severely traumatic event occur at a young age, about age 20, and I, too, just sucked it up and moved on, not realizing the underlying effects of the suppressed PTSD.  It wasn't until a Vietnam Vet (helicopter gunner), on disability for his disabling PTSD (loud noises caused him to go catatonic) became my close friend, did I realize we were speaking the same language (PTSD).  Consequently I got the objective perspective (distance from my affects) I needed to seek help.  (I still have a hyper-startle response.  Ah well.   The relentless nightmares were finally alleviated by taking regular doses of SAM-E (continuing).  I learned a lot of biofeedback techniques, too.  My friend was significantly helped, as well, by the advent of the Prozac-type drugs.  He became socially functional again, as a result.)

          I'm very glad to see this diary thread at dKos.  And Sinister is very brave to come forward and speak so forthrightly.  I'm sure many lives are being touched by her post.

    •  Gaming the system (4.00)
      You may know many who have attempted to game the system, but I have to say that most (if not all) Nam vets I have known in my life are fucked up in some way from the war.  Many beyond repair.  Many live on the streets and are homeless.  Many never get the help they need and deserve.

      I think it is unfair to label all Nam Vets this way.

      Suspicion is a Virtue if it is in the interests of the good of the people.

      by givmeliberty on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 07:56:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Uninformed (4.00)
      I spent years treating vets with PTSD in psychiatric inpatient and outpatient facilities.  I have also treated civilians so afflicted.  Your attempts to discredit vets with PTSD is part of a long history of society's unwillingness to confront its responsibilities to our hurt, sick, poor members.  They have been called "malingerers", "phonies", "slackers";they have been treated as lepers; they have been drowned as witches or burned at the stake; they have been marginalized to the edges of society to keep the streets clean in suburbia.  And you can deny their reality with your charges of "stereotypical kneejerk reaction" but you cannot change reality with your Happy Chocolate mindset.
       Thank you for your service to our country and I am relieved for you that you do not suffer from this horrible malady. But, believe it or not, everybody is not just like you with an identical set of experiences.  Shall I blame YOU for being culpable when you come down with heart failure and I do not?  Or do I reach out and give you CPR, to try to relieve your suffering? You are no liberal if you choose the former over the latter.
         Please do not confuse the veracity of the complaints with the unwillingness of the dominant society to pay for that which they have wrought by sending our people off to war. That groups of vets help other vets get treatment and identify treatment facilities that are vet friendly is no crime.  It is hard to get treatment in this country-it is hard to pay for it- hard to find a professional who knows squat about the disorder and its victims.
         People avert their eyes from those who are damaged from the rigors of war as much as they like to wave their Jonnie Jingo flags and display their auto magnets. Few want to truly face the raw reality of the Costs of War. When Jonnie comes marching home again ,it is all yellow ribbons, marching bands, huzzahs and balloons. The rage, the panic, the primitive stiking out at the world that has screwed him out of his sweetness, his high hopes, his All American optimism is relegated to the contemptuous prison of our  Disneydream of what superhuman beings soldiers should be.
        This effort to discredit PTSD and its sufferers does not have science at the base of its challenge-it is about MONEY.  It is not about morality or scientific certitude or duty or responsibility for, as we see daily in the news, those lofty concepts quickly step aside when money and privilege enter the room.
      •  Please read again (2.33)
        OK, really the last comment, LOL.  You guys are not reading what I wrote, or I am not being clear enough.

        I KNOW ABOUT THESE "UNDERGROUND NETWORKS" (WaPo phrase) of vets helping each other claim PTSD disability because I was in several of the networks, email discussion groups.  I read emails every day of guys telling other guys which VA center to go to, which doctor to see, how to answer questions, how to fill out the forms.  Then I would read about these guys bragging how much percentage disability they got.  I am not talking a handful here, but hundreds of guys.

        I have also known a few guys who really had PTSD.  They are all dead now, either by their own hand or others.  Real PTSD is not pretty.

        I feel sorry for anyone who lets their feelings of indignation and moral righteousness cloud their reason.  If the Bushies question the recent PTSD claims, then the claims must be OK, eh?

        •  You know... (4.00)
          Given my druthers as a taxpayer in the USofA with a job that pays me enough that I pay fairly high taxes (but not enough to really "benefit" from Bush's tax cuts, as if they were a good thing anyway...) -

          I would much, much, MUCH prefer that we err on the side of belief, and pay the PTSD benefit. I mean, really - who's gaming the system here? Some grunt who joined the military, went to Iraq for a tour or two, and is trying to get compensation for being taken for a ride? Or is it Halliburton et. al who are on that same ride, stealing orders of magnitude more money?

          The WaPo article about vets who may or may not be gaming the system to get benefits to which they are questionably entitled is a red herring. The whole argument reminds me of the post-Katrina reports of "looting" where one guy stealing a TV was slathered all over the media, and those who were trying to get food and water were labeled looters as well. The real problem? Why were any of them there to begin with? The city should've been safely evacuated.

          And why were those vets in Iraq to begin with? That's the issue. Don't get caught up in the noise about who's entitled to what PTSD benefits.

          •  Agreed (4.00)
            On one side, we have a group of veterans who may or may not have PTSD and are looking for some compensation.

            On the other side, we have a group of scumbags who weaseled out of their own service and have sent other people off to fight while they make ungodly profits.

            Which group is really gaming the system?

            I'm not black, but there are times when I wish I could say I'm not white. --Frank Zappa

            by Bob Quixote on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 05:30:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Proof time (4.00)
          You say you know for certain. At this point, since you're so adamant, it's on you to provide some proof.

          You see, I suffered from PTSD onset several years after certain childhood events, and it increased after rescuing my daughter from a near-fatal drowning. Didn't get a thing for it, aside from unwanted side effects. While everyone is different, our brains aren't made to see and experience things that are hugely traumatic without some sort of negative after-effect.

          "As a woman, I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world."

          by MissAnneThrope on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 01:17:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the reminder (none)
          I used to post on dkos a lot, trusted user and all that, and enjoyed the discussions, but as the moral righteousness got a bit much I posted less and less.  Instead, I lurked on dkos to occasionally pick up some news.

          Today, I broke my own rule and posted some comments in this thread.  I called no one any names, and spoke of my own experience in an effort to bring reason to the discussion.

          In response, I got some zero and one ratings (me, a troll on dkos? LOL) and knee jerk responses by people who didn't even bother to read my posts.  If your indignation is so loud and insistent that you can drive away me, a hardcore socialist liberal for 40+ years, think of the effect on the average non-liberal non-blogger.  How dare anyone be skeptical of the received wisdom!  

          So, thanks for the reminder.  I will go back to occasional lurking, and we'll all be better off.

        •  I Read It (4.00)
          And I am here to tell you that it is NOT easy to game a seasoned mental health professional unless they are also members of the Something For Nothing Club, of which no one group has a monopoly on membership.  I can smell a drug seeker or a doctor shopper or a big fat faker from 100 paces- and I am not the exception.  I don't care if you have a psychic hotline to 200,000 potential gamers of the system.  None of them have Academy Award potential as actors.  Just because you and your buds get swept up in your endless bravado about how they are 'gaming' the system, doesn't mean it can all be believed.  I would rather get my teeth pulled than to undergo the rigors of having to fake it endlessly, just for a check.  There's always hustling on streetcorners. Did it ever occur to you that some of the "gaming" talk was a cover for the real need that is unacceptable in the world of "cubscout GI Joe Action Figure mania" (to quote Commander Huber)?  It is infinitely more "manly" to say you are gaming the system than to admit to being shattered in the testosterone soaked world of military bravado.  And honey, wake up and smell the coffee of parsimoney when it comes to mental health benefits-the entire world of corporate business has been saying "no" to mental healthcare costs. The message? Suck it up.
    •  Helicopter pilot huh? (4.00)
      I guess that gives me some context on yours smug angle.

      few VN vets suffered Just a few huh?

      The war did a fucking job on my crew chief uncle and   1st cav. ranger dad ( and that's not mentioning the damage inflicted on our families).  It's funny how people actually think that PTSD can be "fixed" like every other ailment in america.  Pop a pill, talk to a therapist, Presto!  back to new again.  Bullshit.

      Anyhow, I guess they were just pussies and not man enough like you to handle PTSD like you did.  I wish they would've been helicopter pilots.    

      so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

      by MetaProphet on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 09:04:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Killing, WWII vs. Vietnam & Iraq (4.00)
      Just so you know, killing someone is an important cause of PTSD. Ilona has posted many diaries and links to articles about this. Soldiers back from Iraq will readily tell how they lost their leg but then be quiet when asked about killing. I don't know what it is, the finality of death, but even without that, many soldiers return to this life and can't make sense of the word. They try to make sense of the things they've seen, and they can't.

      One of the important things I picked up (maybe from Ilona's diaries or a related article, maybe from a book someone mentioned in the comments about the act of killing in war as a trigger for PTSD) is that WWII soldiers were given meaning for what they had seen and done when they arrived at the concentration camps. There's no such "grand" justification for this war. This war seems meaningless, like Vietnam was, and that has a profound impact. Society will be ambivalent toward Iraq war vets, sadly, and that will alienate them all the more. It's all Bush's fault, but that fucker will be riding his bike somewhere other than his ranch, because by then he won't need it to craft his image of a tough guy.

      What I suggest is that there are so many stories about vets and PTSD, that so many were not only untreated but mistreated, is that you should perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt.

      Peace.

      •  Maybe (4.00)
        after you read many of the dissenting opinions, you don't have to wonder anymore why many sick veterans have kept their mouths shut for over 35 years. If I am still afflicted even after serving as far back as Korea, would I be malingering if I still have symptoms today and sought government help?
    •  You don't know what you are talking about! (4.00)
      PTSD in Vietnam vets has become more troubling because of this misbegotten war.  The constant reminders of their experience is really troubling. During the first gulf war I had a terrible time.
      I had no idea what the problem was.  I got help.
    •  I don't disrespect your personal experience (4.00)
      Did you ever see the statistics on Reagan's Welfare Queens after he won the election?  Turns out there aren't a whole lot of poor people driving Cadillacs and living high on the hog on the public dime.  I would venture to guess the same is true for vets who want benefits for PTSD.
    •  I'd bet that for every one-hundred (none)
      abused children, being abused will have actually made nine of them them stronger (in the sense that what doesn't "kill" you, can only make you stronger). The other 91, however, may have to fight the rest of their lives to get over it.  In the same sense, someone may get their hand chopped off; then meet this awesome girl in the hospital and say "Wow, if my hand hadn't gotten chopped off, I wouldn't have met this girl." But that doesn't give the person the right to go to someone who also had his hand chopped off and say "See, it's not so bad..."

      Your story sounds like this to me: "I saw this helicopter crash on telivision and it dindn't make me want to cry." But surely it made some people want to cry.

      Unfortunately, I feel one way people learn to cope with PTSD is by losing their ability to put themselves in someone else' shoes.

      You may know "for a fact" veterans in your inner circle who abused the system. That proves absolutely nothing about the system as a whole.  

  •  Poignant, beautifully written (4.00)
    I pray your dad finds peace in a still violent world. Unfortunately, I too know what a family goes through having to deal with someone so close attempting suicide, though in my case, I did have to bury my closest sibling. It does not matter if it's Vietnam or Iraq, the result is the same to those of us left alive to mourn.
  •  PTSD goes way back (4.00)
    Back in WWI and WWII it was called battle fatigue. My grandfather suffered from PTSD from the Battle of Okinawa. VA couldn't help him either. He was in constant physical pain from his wounds, he woke up in a morgue instead of a hospital after being wounded. He took narcotics and tranquilizers for the physical pain. He drank to self-medicate the mental and emotional pain. He died a premature death at the age of 53, thirty years ago. I still don't know if it was suicide or a bad reaction to washing down percoset and valium with alcohol.

    His PTSD left a mark on my mother. My mother makes excuses for people who do horrible things to her or her family. She also has a fear of losing control over what happens to her family.

    The moral values crowd is a bunch of lazy people who deep down in their hearts want the government to do their job as parents.

    by phinky on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:49:11 AM PST

    •  the term "shell shock" (4.00)
      was coined in WWI. I may be mistaken, but I think the phrase "battle fatigue" dates from WWII or afterwards.

      "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

      by QuickSilver on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 07:33:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  George Carlin or someone (none)
        does a bit on how the words have been getting more complicated, with more syllables -- but it's the same darned BS.

        Thus first: shell shock, then battle fatigue, then Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

        Sigh.

        In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

        by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:08:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  my grandpap (4.00)
      was at normandy. he was a cook and got pressed into service as a medic.  he had "shell shock" and became an alcoholic and a rage-aholic.  He was seriously messed up.  We walked on eggshells all through my childhood.  My mother suffers second generation PTSD and I guess I do too since I was raised in my grandparents' home.  Pap never got any treatment, he just medicated himself to death with beer and old grand-dad.

      The Global Struggle against Violent Extremism begins at home!

      by JLongs on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 04:50:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks (4.00)
    this is important for people to read about

    I re-did my website! See how pretty DailyGranola.com is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:55:37 AM PST

  •  Don't take excuses for poor behavior (4.00)
    I am a 100% disabled veteran from the Vietnam war. I was disabled from wounds, PTSD and loss of hearing. I enlisted in the Army at age 17 to be  a paratrooper--when I was honorably discharged 3 years later I still wasn't old enough to vote or buy a beer in my home state (CA) (You can see pictures of me in the warr at: http://www.hackworth.com/...)
    But I asked for what I got, just like your dad, I wasn't the victim. I made the choices that set that event into motion--just like your dad. I wanted to see combat and I did--how can I blame my country for that?
    Living with someone with PTSD does not necessarily mean all the things you say. Ive never hit a woman or child in my life, never threatened, pushed, shoved, shook or grabbed one either and I'm not particularly stoked that you lump all veterans with PTSD into that sort category. Maybe your dad made poor choices but that doesn't mean we all did.
    I'm on my 3d marriage now but so are 2 of my brothers who didn't join the military.I started my own business not because I couldn't work with anyone but because I wanted to be the boss and run the show. And I did; I made a profit in every year, kept as many as  10 people employed (I have since sold the business--a real estate development firm) to my son)Ive never been arrested for ANYTHING, have only had minor traffic tickets my whole life.
    Ive been a Democratic liberal activist all my life, a volunteer fireman, Scout leader, a member of the ArchitecturalReview Board, former member of the Chamber of Commerce
    I had a good role model: my dad, who is also a combat veteran of WWII. He never did all the tnings you relate either although I know the experience affected him deeply--as mine did to me. Yeah Ive wanted to punch people out for a variety of reasons but hey!- there's that left brain side that says "Wait a minute, that aint going to help."
    Someone who has been successful in combat knows how to control himself--its not all about running amok.
    Living with someone who has PTSD doesn't necessarily mean all the things you say it does. Thats doesn't mean it didn't happen to you but that your experiences aren't necesarily the defining ones for everyone.
    The bottom line is personal responsibility for your actions and the amount of crap you'll put up with from other people. Youve taken a trememdous amount of crap from your dad over the years but you need to live your own life--solve your own problems instead of his.
    I'm going to be honest here: PTSD may have affected your dad but there's more to it than that. The Vietnam war has been over for America for  almost 40 years. I don't think  much of people who victimize their families, and others, with their own  problems that they choose not to even try to control.
    I think Alanon might offer some answers to your own need to parent your dad. Your dad should have taken care of you and your family all these years but the situations reversed--youve taken care of him. Thats not right--for YOU!
    Perhaps you shoulod not try to run his life, let him work his own problems out. he's a grownup too. If he continues to choose a problematic life, at least you can have a good one. Of course you want to see his problems solved but the way your doing it does not seem to be making it better all these years.
    Good Luck God Bless

    INVESTIGATE THE CBS PAPERS!!! THEY ARE FEDERAL DOCUMENTS!! Don't let Bush win WITHOUT PROVING A THING!

    by exlrrp on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:59:17 AM PST

    •  It is really good that vets weigh in on....... (4.00)
      this topic.  I went into your site and saw pics.  My Jim was raised hunting, fishing etc. up in Ohio. He was at least 21 when he was sent to Viet Nam.  I think age, education, and maturity has a lot to do with how you handle yourself in difficult situations.  Don't forget, there were boatloads of drugs, sex, etc. available to these young men over in Viet Nam......and expectations very different world from home.  Iraq is no different...... My point is, please let the veterans speak up and speak up loudly.  There is something to be said for letting it all hang out.......getting it all off of your chest!  This BS of victory at all costs takes us down an endless road of destruction.......  Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush.......rose colored glasses in the name of "we know what is best for America".  Here we go again killing off, maiming, and traumatizing the best and brightest!  Enough!
    •  Believe me, I don't take excuses (4.00)
      My father has never hit a woman or child in his life either, and I don't see where I wrote that.  (Maybe somewhere my grammar wasn't clear and you could point that out for me?)

      I don't pretend that everybody goes through the same thing when dealing with PTSD; this is just my story.  I certainly didn't mean lump all veterans into any category.  I'm sorry.

      I also didn't mean to imply that my dad didn't take care of me, and that I now take care of him.  He took damn fine care of me, and all I've done is help him find the therapy he needed.  And it is, in fact, working better now than before.  Furthermore, he has always taken responsibility for his actions, good or bad.

      As for wishing me a happy life, thanks! :)  I actually am living a pretty good life.  I graduated this semester and start grad school in January.  

      •  Your pain is your own (none)
        No you did not even imply your father ever hit you. I would have been surprised if I did not read comments like the previous one. Your story had nothing to do with the disabled veteran's comments, and his comments should reflect only about his life and his experiences, which as a disabled vet myself, I applaud him for his fortitude and success. My experiences as a veteran are different. Not everyone who served had a granade blow up 2 feet behind them, not every vet killed someone, or even saw who they were killing, not everyone who was drafted back then should have served because of something the AFEES doctor could not diagnose when he told you to bend over. Not everyone came back either, which haunts me to this day and probably for the rest of my life. Not everyone who reads a testimonial like what you wrote, understand it was only your story, and sometimes there is no point to make but to say, good luck.
    •  ah, (none)
      so everybody's like you huh?

      We should just clone you and send your clones off to go fight since your such a man's man when it comes to dealing with PTSD.

      Your dad should have taken care of you and your family all these years but the situations reversed--youve taken care of him. Thats not right--for YOU!

      uh, duh.  life in disneyland is nice if you can get it.

      The bottom line is personal responsibility for your actions and the amount of crap you'll put up with from other people.

      uh, ok.  So PTSD'd veterans are that way because they want to be that way.  I got it.  Kinda like why poor black, brown and white people stay poor.  They want to be that way.  I see the beauty in your logic.  Environment has nothing to do with anything.  Brilliant.

      Perhaps you shoulod not try to run his life, let him work his own problems out. he's a grownup too

      uh, yeah.  Grownups who's minds are still back at the scene of their firefights.

      Look, apparently you were damn fortunate.  No need to piss in the face of other vets and families of vets who had to go through a whole shitload of drama to keep anybody from whacking themselves and keep the family from self-destructing.  You may be a die hard liberal but you sure as hell sound like a "it's your own fault if you don't pick yourself  by the bootstraps" republican.  I guess you forgot that some guys got their bootstraps blown off, figuratively speaking.

      so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

      by MetaProphet on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 09:16:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" (none)
        I used to be fond of that line until I found out that it came from a Baron Munchausen story.

        I'm not black, but there are times when I wish I could say I'm not white. --Frank Zappa

        by Bob Quixote on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 05:08:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  please stop (4.00)
      the diarist never said all vets experience the same thing.  You are being incredibly judgmental.
  •  And they have the nerve to say... (4.00)
    ...that the high rate of PTSD among returning Iraq veterans might be because the soldiers are faking it.

    No kidding, I just read this in my  morning newspaper (Austin American Statesman, preaching red to Bluetown). And how it's a partisan issue, because if war's that bad, it's an argument against going to war. The bottom line: how are we going to pay for all these folks, coming in for treatment at 7 times the last war? (I may have that stat wrong--it's 7 times something--what they expected, what they can handle)

    I was already mad, and now my heart is wrung.  Blessings and healing to your family, and may your father know peace before he dies.

  •  I wonder (4.00)
    how we might have the cart in front of the horse in many cases such as this.

    In our rush to support the troops, regardless of our position on the war, does the elephant in the room become that sometimes the disorder caused the enlistment, rather than the other way around?

    I don't mean to over-generalize, I just wonder how much we might ignore this aspect.

  •  Pre-PTSD (2.50)
    PTSD is the result of service in America's Imperial Military. One could conclude that not joining our "voluntary" military would be an effective prophylactic. Our military IS grossly oversized--let's pay existing benefits in full, and deny all future claims to those who volunteer to kill.
    •  This is a little harsh (none)
      considering that most 18 year olds don't have the critical thinking or "big picture" skills to really understand what their participation in war means.  The ones who play a lot of video games and imagine their own glory; the ones who are hard up and see it as a way to pay for college; the ones whose heart strings are tugged by the administration's calculated appeal to patriotism -- all of them deserve a bit of a break for not realizing at a tender age that they are being used as cannon fodder for old white men's imperial ambitions.

      That being said, I think we should all take our duty to educate them very, very seriously, as the other side has the advertising budget of a giant corporation and uses their imagery very skillfully.  We need to fight fire with history, economics, love, and skill.

      •  Not only that (none)
        The government isn't about to tell them about the realities of war. Instead, they are taught that the military is nothing more than a really cool place to get job experience.

        I'm not black, but there are times when I wish I could say I'm not white. --Frank Zappa

        by Bob Quixote on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 05:11:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I can understand some of the pain (4.00)
    I have never been in a war, or even in the military, but I have a very minor case of PTSD due to things that happened in my childhood.  It has ripped my life apart and almost destroyed my marriage.  I can't imagine what you must have gone through with your father, whose case is much more severe.  My heart goes out to you and your father and I am happy he is getting the help he needs.

    I promote fear of me because I am a coward; I promote equality because I know there's nothing to fear.

    by bristlecone77 on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 08:19:34 AM PST

  •  Several comments (4.00)
    1.  RE EMDR - yes, it can help with PTSD - one of the few diagnoses that seems to have good efficacy studies behind the use of EMDR.
    2.  Yes - systems can be "gamed" - and as a psychiatrist who has done a number of PTSD evals, I have seen the "gamers" and the "non-gamers" - and hope that most of the time I have put them in the correct categories.  As I said on the earlier PTSD thread - the key is to make sure that "Criterion A" has been met - and that is the being the victim of, or having witnessed severe bodily harm or realistic threat of such (or actual death, if that of others).  I think the biggest problem with old Vietnam claims is ascertaining whether Criterion A was ever actually met.  You could have been in Vietnam and not experienced actual combat.  The way that war played out it is really hard to put the pieces together so many years later.  In a war without a front (sound familiar??) just because you weren't in a combat unit didn't mean you didn't experience combat or combat related events.
    3.  Touched on briefly in one of the comments was the issue of age.  Although PTSD (by earlier names) has always existed for vets, it is thought to have been worse in Vietnam than WW II for several reasons - one of them being that we were sending children into combat in Vietnam, whereas the average age of troops in WW II was closer to the mid 20s (I think I recall reading 26 someplace or other).  The more formed and solid your personality and character is, the better able you are to cope with the uncopeable.
    4.  Finally - one of the other things we know about PTSD is that previously traumatized but non-PTSD suffering individuals are more likely to develop PTSD upon subsequent trauma, than those without that background.  This plays out both in the situation where a soldier has repeated traumatic events in the service but doesn't develop PTSD until after one of the later traumas, as well as explaining how some folks are more vulnerable upon entering the service (childhood trauma) or develop a civilian incident based PTSD from an incident that would not have resulted in PTSD but for the pre-existing combat trauma.

    This is a very complex topic - multiple texts and articles have been written, esp. since Vietnam and various civilian traumas (school bus kidnappings, airline accidents, man-made floods from ruptured dams, etc.) have provided unwanted and unintended "laboratories" to study the disease.

    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot

    by gbussey on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 08:50:51 AM PST

    •  Point 4 (none)
      Interesting you should say that, because I know a woman whose mother developed PTSD after 9/11.

      She grew up in Germany and was there during WW2, but didn't exhibit signs after that....but 9/11, watch out. Her daughter has to take care of her now.

      War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

      by Margot on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:09:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Old wounds ... (none)
        ... don't always heal, but just scar over.  Similar experience with a woman in her seventies now - grew up in Germany during WWII.  She had great difficulty just listening to one of our psychiatrists talk about PTSD as a generic topic, with a "walk-through" of the symptomatology.  Just talking about traumatic events in general reawakened childhoood memories for her - nothing "repressed" or anything like that - just stuff she thought she had "put away for good" that came back to the surface.

        We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot

        by gbussey on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 06:55:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I had a bad experience (none)
          When I was about 14.  I remembered it but didn't think it affected me. Then I read the book "Reading Lolita in Tehran."  Jeez...opened the floodgates.  Kind of freaked me out.  Odd how something can trigger it.

          War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

          by Margot on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 09:05:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  lkjhlkhj (4.00)
    As a son of a combat vet who did 2 tours in nam with a body count of 49 and did 2 years as a drill instructor,

    I feel you.

    Living with someone who has PTSD means being trained to hand to hand combat, which includes how to break someone's neck, when your six years old so the next time you get into a fight, you don't lose lest you get the worst ass whipping of your life.

    Living with someone who has PTSD means developing the ability to sense mood changes so slight, you can feel when the flowers inside your house are pissed off.

    Living with someone who has PTSD means developing the ability to walk on eggshells like a ninja on a minefield.

    Living with somone who has PTSD means developing your own kind of PTSD that fills you full of rage and fatalism without having anything like a war to pin it on.

    Living with soneone who has PTSD means feeling marginilized when the rest of society wonders what exactly is your family's fucking problem.

    Ahh, gotta love being in a family with a combat veteran.

    so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

    by MetaProphet on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 08:51:51 AM PST

    •  Secondary-PTSD (4.00)
      Living with someone who has PTSD means developing the ability to walk on eggshells like a ninja on a minefield.

      All of your list is good (bad? fitting?), but that could be the most insightful thing I've read about PTSD yet.  

      I've read some information from the VA saying that people who have lived with others who suffer from PTSD can develop secondary-PTSD.  It results from dealing with the constant stress.  There was a list of symptoms and I had quite a few.  I sort of shrugged and said, "Well, that makes my mental quirks a little more understandable.  Go figure."

      And yay!  I made the blockquote thingy!

      •  secondary PTSD (4.00)
        I've never heard this term but I have suspected I've got something like this, stemming from living with my Vietnam vet dad. I have a crazy startle response, lots of anxiety, could never sleep well...

        Thank you for sharing your story. To some extent, I know how you feel.

    •  egad (4.00)
      sounds like you grew up in my grandfather's house.

      I know how it feels.

      The Global Struggle against Violent Extremism begins at home!

      by JLongs on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 05:03:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  unbelievable. stellar. fantastic. outstanding. wow (4.00)
    You can't tell but this diary left me speechless. Here's what I want to know: how on earth can you still be so sane? I mean, you might be able to fake it a bit, but not to the point where you're coherent enough to write this diary. You must be incredibly resilient.

    Mental illness is contagious. If one family member is mentally ill, his or her irrationality affects the entire family. I know from too much experience that the cost is immense. We will pay dearly for this war and for the administration's reluctance to face facts.

    •  Is there a diagnosis for a family member (4.00)
      of someone suffering from PTSD? My own PTSD deals with nightmares and flashbacks only from my own experiences. I think I have been able to control all the other manifestations of the disease. However, for the rest of my family who had to bury my sibling, there are bouts of depression and other symptoms that directly relate to the suicide which happened a long time ago. Is there are a diagnosis other than depression, or is there an actual disease that defines their condition? Should the military treat their neuroses since back in the Nam war, there was a draft and you did not have a choice but to send your child?
      •  Excellent question, vague answer (4.00)
        I would be willing to bet that there is a diagnosis for a depression or something related that arises as a repercussion of the mental illness of a family member, in part because I assume that's it sadly all too common. I don't know what it would be called: contact depression? collateral depression? depression-induced depression? You know where you could find this? DSM. I've flipped through it once in a while even though I'm not a clinician.

        > Should the military treat their neuroses since back in the Nam war, there was a draft and you did not have a choice but to send your child?

        In my humble opinion, yes. It's the Pentagon's decision, therefore it's the country's responsibility to deal with the repercussions. We're not talking about isolated cases, so if the govt wants to look, it would find. They do try very hard not to look, though, because it's so much easier to sweep under the rug. Bastards.

  •  Survivor guilt (4.00)
    Is another aspect of PTSD. Sometimes I think I have a touch of it myself. After doing this diary, Our Forgotten Wounded, it took me about 2 weeks to recover. PTSD is a very complicated subject.


    "The truth is a noble cause".
    -BOHICA

    by BOHICA on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 09:34:35 AM PST

  •  Very moving. Thank you. (4.00)
    -

    ...and the mainstream media wonders why more and more of us turn to blogs.  This is Exhibit A.

    Judge me on the content of my character, not the diaper on my head.

    by Bill in Portland Maine on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:20:59 AM PST

  •  A lot to think about (4.00)
    Wonderful diary.

    War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

    by Margot on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:48:55 AM PST

  •  My best friend has PTSD (4.00)
    I've spent the whole day avoiding reading this diary.  I gave in to it at long last and had tears in my eyes as I read through.

    My best friend since university has PTSD.  He's a complete jerk, unreliable, drunk, stoned, can't hold a job, has anger management problems, and I'll never have a better friend.  If I'm ever in a Turkish prison and get one phone call, it will be to his number.  He'll get me out.  No doubts about it.

    He went to Vietnam with 120 in his unit.  He came back with 11.  He was a medic.  The unit protected him as essential to their own survival.  He's never gotten over it.  He was all those places Nixon swore we weren't, doing all those things Nixon swore Americans don't do.

    And the best thing he's done with his life is to be a father.  He's got a great kid.  Every grade report since kindergarten is addressed to my friend - not the mom - because he's devoted everything he is to making his son wonderful.

    His son was here in May - over Memorial Day.  His dad called and woke me up at 3:00 am to talk to me.  He didn't want to talk to his son.  He wanted to drunkenly reminesce about the time I drove him from New York to Washington DC to sit at 2:00 am at the Vietnam Memorial as he traced familiar names in the stone.

    When I told his son the next day that his father had called, I learned that his son didn't even know that his dad had been in Vietnam.  (Sigh!)

    "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing - after they have exhausted all other possibilities." Winston Churchill

    by LondonYank on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:25:30 AM PST

  •  Wow. (4.00)
    What an incredibly insightful, accurate, poignant, head-on diary, including some great comments as well.  

    As a therapist, I've seen PTSD countless times--mostly with rape and sex abuse victims. But I also have a couple of friends who served in Viet Nam, and they and their families have suffered enormously for decades.  

    The issue that I have regarding PTSD is not only the lack of services and resources for victims and families, but the overall lack of knowledge, understanding, and willingness to learn, by the general population.

    My heart goes out to anyone who suffers directly or vicariously from this disorder, because they are, very likely, going to be misunderstood, mischaracterized, discounted, and disenfranchised by their own friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

    You write this so well, I have copied it to take to work and share with others. Bless your heart, and thanks for writing this.

    •  It was hard to know what to say (4.00)
      until I read this post.  I, too, am a therapist, now retired.  I worked for many years with women who had/have PTSD.  Susceptibility does, indeed, depend on the presence or absence of a certain inborn resilience in someone exposed to trauma. Nancelot, I could not improve on what you wrote, I can only echo it and add that reading this diary and its comments has been a very moving experience.  Almost everyone posted with compassion and deep understanding and I feel privileged to be even a small new part of this community.

      Democracy is not meant to be efficient, it is meant to be fair. Mario Cuomo. My blog: South by Southwest

      by Carol Gee on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 08:04:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow (4.00)
      I'm not sure how I missed this comment earlier, but I'm honored that you feel my writing is good enough to share.  Thank you.  
  •  Recommended (4.00)
    This is a highly profound, highly personal, and highly appreciated diary.

    My father, to a lesser extent, had his share of PTSD, and it contributed to much family distress. And don't let anyone tell you that if they were in the Navy, and "just" on the deck of an aircraft carrier, that they didn't see anything beyond human experience, which is one of the primary criteria of PTSD.

    I've also seen my share of vets, at least back in school and residency, who had their own stories of trauma. And they weren't just Viet Nam vets. I heard my share of those who saw a lot in the Korean Conflict and WWII. The people getting post-traumatic stress from Desert Storm hadn't declared themselves yet.

    Thank you.

    Ari Mistral

    "Jesus saves...and takes half-damage."

    by Ari Mistral on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:43:00 AM PST

  •  Ya know, (none)
    I feel like a bit of an idiot, but I can't seem to update my diary.  I click the edit diary button, and then update, but the changes aren't saved.  Can anyone help me figure out what I'm doing wrong?
  •  Thank you (4.00)
    Thank you for your understanding of your father, and your powerful actions on his behalf. Thank you for portraying your mother. Thank you for your obvious empathy, tolerance and strength to endure and overcome.

    Not all vets are lucky enough to have family help them. I was, many weren't/aren't. I have to say my family's strength is one big factor in my own progress.

    Your last sentence is just exactly the right question.

    Powerful diary. It is not all balck and white, is it? You have done an excellent job here. Thank you.

    "Oblivious! In Denial! Dangerous!"--Nancy Pelosi on GWB. IMHO, excellent summation.

    by oofer on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 12:19:20 PM PST

  •  Al-Anon (4.00)
    very moving diary, Sinister Rae.

    fifteen, twenty, thirty years from now, a child will be born who will still be fighting the Iraq war, in one way or another

    that's such a profound quote.  since the red team doesnt give a damn, it's left to us Democrats: we must take care of the vets and prevent their benefits from getting slashed any further (to give tax cuts to Bush cronies), and we must plan now for ways we can help the next generation.  sooner or later these vets will come home having seen and done unspeakable things in the name of an unnecessary war and a dishonorable president, and some of them will be deeply scarred in ways that will affect their families for decades.  their children, some of whom have not even been conceived yet, will be paying the price 50 years from now.  this is one of the main reasons we need to effect structural change in the political system so that any war we fight is worth this tremendous human cost in the lives of soldiers and the people who love them.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 01:22:17 PM PST

    •  I didn't explain my Al-Anon subject line (4.00)
      I feel moved to plug Al-Anon every now and then because some people think it is only for people whose friends/lovers/family members have a problem with alcohol, but it can actually be a source of community support in a wide variety of personal circumstances.

      Even if you never attend any meetings, Al-Anon's "Seven Cs" can be a comforting philosophy when living with someone who is struggling to cope with physical/mental/emotional forces beyond his/her control:

      The Al-Anon Seven Cs

      You didn't *C*ause it.
      You can't *C*ure it.
      You can't *C*ontrol it.
      But you can help take *C*are of your own needs by
      *C*ommunicating your feelings,
      making healthy *C*hoices, and
      by *C*elebrating yourself.

      note--"communicating your feelings" does not mean fruitlessly beating your head against the wall by talking directly to the struggling family member if communication there is difficult or inconsistent.  it means communicating your feelings in Al-Anon meetings, to other sympathetic friends, to counselors and therapists, and wherever you may find supportive listening ears, including (anonymous) public forums, like we have here at dKos.

      Al-Anon is pretty much everywhere, and is free (they do ask for a token donation), and can be secular or religious as you need it to be.

      Just a thought if anyone is interested.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 01:49:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm going to try to go to one of those. (none)
        I go to AA and NA, but I have family members (Mom) who are way more fucked up than me (and not on the drugs), and that is the dominant theme whenever I talk about what I'm dealing with. I even went six months this year without a meeting because all I ever hear is how I've got to change my behavior as if I'm doing something wrong.

        Also, I got physically assaulted at my job last April and I haven't felt safe enough to look for work. I'm on SSD and the past month has been a little better, but every time I have met with a doctor, they leave the agency and I am currently waiting for a new appointment on January 5th. I had a private psychoanalyst for seven years, but she's not covered by Medicare (also, I reported her to the state board of psychological examiners because she was talking to my Mom about stuff I didn't want her to talk about - but, I did give her permission, after she insisted, so the grounds I have to complain about are ambiguous at best).

        Also, I know about those day programs where you make moccasins that Sinister Rae is talking about in the OP, so now I just sit at home and blog on the computer and wait for my appointment on January 5th. All the talk about malingering above has gotten me terrified. I'm not a veteran, but I need these benefits and I say now that I will never swipe a time card again. I was so traumatized by that assault last April. My official diagnosis is Schizo-affective (because my initial presentation was drug induced psychosis, with supernatural delusions (I thought I saw my ex girlfriend's dead brother's ghost and she didn't like that) and recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse eight years ago. But I think I have PTSD, even though they won't officially diagnose me with it. This past year, I had my first confirmed auditory hallucinations and lately I've been having nightmares, vertigo and panic attacks.

        My mom has got me caught in a vise. I make $1002 a month from Social Security and she is charging me $600 our of the inheritance I am supposed to receive from the sale of my father's house (she is the executrix). Last year, when I moved into her house, she was charging me that much out of my savings and it made me nauseous and I was always vomiting and I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  My mom is my primary tormentor and I think that Al Anon meetings will help. That's what I'm trying to say. Thanks for listening.

        "We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers..." -- Bayard Rustin

        by Kire on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 01:19:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dude! (none)
          That stuff about changing yourself doesn't mean that it's your fault about anything in particular.  It's trying to say that you can't change anyone else, just you.  That doesn't mean you should be punished; it means you have control over how you live your life.  Just think about it.  Your attitude is your own.  The choices you make are your own.  Got a bad set of choices?  How can you get a better set?  There's no such thing as "you can't get there from here."  You can get just about anywhere, and you are always "here," if you know what I mean.

          I ain't no Happytime Harry sprouting flowers out my ass.  I've been out of work for 3.5 years, savings gone, survived a pulmonary embolism (big blood clot in chest), and my right hand is going numb.  Oh yeah, my brother was murdered.  That set me back for a while.  But the thing about these 12-step meetings is that there's always someone way, WAY worse off than you.  And that's the truth.

          I found out today we're going wrong/We're going wrong... Jack Bruce

          by moltar on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 03:37:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good god (4.00)
    Your dad is incredibly lucky to have you in his life. You're quite an example of composure in the face of difficulty. You seem wise well beyond your years, hope you don't mind my pointing that out. Your outlook at your age reminds me of myself, though I was never faced with such challenges within my own family.

    I really appreciate your diary, and all I want to add is that you remember to take care of yourself as well. It sounds as if you have lived through a maelstrom. Be good to yourself, and allow others to be good to you as well.

  •  ACRONYMS SUCK (3.00)
    NO WHERE in the article or title does the acronym PTSD get expanded to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sure, the article is great but it was only curiousity that made me come here to see what PTSD was.  We live in a world now where acronyms abound and meaning is lost.  

    How can you expect to reach as many people as possible when assumptions are made that everyone knows the costs of war.

    •  Acronym (none)
      Clearly, he did not come back with quite the same mentality.  In fact, he sometimes feels that he is left with very little mentality at all.  He has post-traumatic stress disorder.

      I didn't explain what post-traumatic stress disorder was, so you have a fair criticism  there.  I did however, expand the acronym before I reverted to "PTSD."

    •  yeah, that's why Carlin prefers... (none)
      Shell Shock

      And so do I.  Not clean, not nice, but clearly describes the situation.

      "Botched? What is that? The word of the Day?."

      by seronimous on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:43:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What the fuck? (none)
        "Shell shock" was the term used in World War I and maybe earlier for all I know.  The theory was that men's "nerves" were made tense by the anticipation of shells landing as well as by the seemingly random area of hits.  No one considered that watching your buddy's head split open or having to step or crawl on dead bodies at the bottom of a trench might just fuck your head over.

        Post = after.  the trauma hits after the causative event
        Traumatic = invasive, ripping, overwhelming trauma of the mind similar to bodily trauma
        Stress = what symptoms will look like: edginess, jumpiness, reliving the trauma, never settled
        Disorder = the thing that makes this a DSM certified entity that will be studied, graphed, and treated, with any luck becoming more and more treatable over time.

        PTSD has been used to describe similar situations, as in my brother's murder, but some want to take it even further, to include ar crashes.  Then there's tsunami PTSD, just now coined.

        Clearly, "shell shock" does not describe the situation today.

        I found out today we're going wrong/We're going wrong... Jack Bruce

        by moltar on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 03:48:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You missed the entire point... (none)
          I don't think there is anyone around the US today who doesn't know what PTSD stands for, but given the recent state of the education system, I wonder.

          The entire point is that the drift of language smothers the entire "gut feeling" of the "germanic" impact of the anglo-saxon vernacular.  By slowly evolving more and more "exact" but less emotionally laden words, the verbal evocation of the "meaning" of the words becomes dilute and lost.

          I think if you took a minute and compared the emotional impact of "shell-shock" compared to "PTSD" I think most reasonable people would agree with the complete difference of the emotional impact.

          I think it's just reasonable, and the "ultra-literal" reading of the meaning of words is a waste of time and energy.

          Get over it....

          "Botched? What is that? The word of the Day?."

          by seronimous on Sun Jan 01, 2006 at 04:42:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  My best friend (4.00)
     died 2 years ago from 28 years of torture at the hands of VA doctors- He had his hip sockets replaced because of detereoration due to experimental drugs to cure an infection he contracted in Viet Nam. 40+ operations later he died from "septis"from his latest operation.
       Our veterans deserve much more than we have allotted to them through the VA. When Bush cut vets benefits to fund tax cuts, he loses his military vote, but the vets lose their future.

    "I ain't no physicist, but I knows what matters"-Popeye

    by keefer55 on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 04:51:26 PM PST

    •  reminds me (none)
      of when my grandmother was dying in the VA hospital.  (she was a WAC).  Place stunk, was filthy, people were obviously overwhelmed and way overworked, and this was in 1976.  I can't imagine how much worse it is now.  The family was working to get her moved to a better hospital when she had a second heart attack and died there.

      The Global Struggle against Violent Extremism begins at home!

      by JLongs on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 05:06:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My brother (none)
        Had a stroke on his way to the VA clinic and was hospitalized there for a couple of months.  He said the care was good, the food wasn't bad.  I've talked to others who said the same, so I hope to God it is true.

        War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

        by Margot on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:25:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  very good diary (none)
    and the comments are almost as good... most of them, anyway.

    Not everyone has the same experience with trauma... some of us are more resistant to it than others, like colds or food poisoning.  I've been at dinners where everyone got sick but me because something was bad.  One person's life-changing encounter with death is someone else's mild scare.  Everyone's wired differently.

    And of course, men being MEN means that so many of them don't seek help for something that's going on in their heads.  That's been changing a lot lately, but many men who were in vietnam have been trying to "suck it up" and "be a man", some with more success than others.  Lots with less...

    Thank you for sharing this.  I wish you and your family peace and healing.

    The Global Struggle against Violent Extremism begins at home!

    by JLongs on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 05:09:49 PM PST

  •  Along With WarTime PTSD (4.00)
    Sinister Rae writes:
    "but also because people (Americans and Iraqis) will bear this burden for a long, long time."

    And oh how Very True, and Thanks For Your Diary!!

    One More Long Lingering Result, we had Agent Orange from Vietnam, with Tens of Thousands of Suffering/Dying Vietnamesse and Untold Numbers of U.S. Military Suffering/Dying from the Effects!!!

    This Conflict and others using Modern Artillery:

    Project Censored Award Winner
    Heads roll at Veterans Administration

    Mushrooming depleted uranium (DU) scandal blamed

    by Bob Nichols


     

  •  Wow, hard times... (none)
    I remember that my family was glad when I got my driver's license, since that meant I could drive my Dad downtown to the VA Hospital.  What a depressing place... at least Hell's got better Muzak.

    There ARE some good VA hospitals, but few and far between.

    We're going to be having a lot of problems in the next few years as these guys start getting out of service/hospital.

    All the more reason to cut veteran's benefits.... bastards.

    "Botched? What is that? The word of the Day?."

    by seronimous on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:41:03 PM PST

  •  Just read your diary... (4.00)
    EXCELLENT, I can't believe you could put all of this into words.

    The VA and ultimately the government killed my father...a decorated WWII vet.  Much of your story mirrored my own...it is still painful for me to reflect on the way my father was treated for close to 50 years...sadly he was always medicated with 'new' drugs...the surgeries that were done were botched...his life was unbearable for years, the pain and suffering, the drug addiction thanks to the VA..

    Again, thank you for this diary, it will remain close to my own heart.

    The best to you in 2006.

  •  I also come late (none)
    to this diary.  I'm sorry that I did not come sooner.  My father avoided Vietnam PTSD by dying from unknown causes six months after he returned from Vietnam.  He was 43 at the time and had gone to work for the State Deptment following his retirement from the Los Angels Police Department.  Prior to my dad going to Vietnam he was a very conservative, staid, moral person.  After he returned from Vietman he was a wild man.  I will never forget the night I was in a bar with a girl friend of mine and he showed up and sat down and drank with us.  I later found out that he had acquired a girlfriend and was about to leave my mother shortly before he died.  

    "Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious" - 1984 - George Orwell

    by elveta on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 07:38:18 PM PST

  •  My brother died three years ago (4.00)
    I didn't know he earned two purple hearts and a bronze star in Nam until his funeral.  He was in the Special Forces, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne.  I knew he was a little crazy when he enlisted but he certainly needed help when he came back to the world. His PTSD raged until his death of cancer caused by Agent Orange. It became natural to see him dive under the dining room table when a car backfired outside or hustle us into a corner of the room to 'protect' us.  His wife couldn't take it and left with his son who is now grown and a wonderful man.
    The VA did what they could with the funding they had but sometimes just a little common sense works wonders.  When my brother finally agreed to get some psychiatric help, who did they have him talk to but a Vietnamese-American doctor! He didn't go back.
    I applaud your courage for writing about your dad. It moved me to comment for the first time after lurking for 18 months.
    I wish you all the best.
    •  Welcome (4.00)
      Dealing with someone with those intense reactions you describe coudln't have been a picnic.

      That bit about the doc is just unbelievable.

      Again, welcome, and hope you comment again.

      In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

      by AllisonInSeattle on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 12:11:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I mean (none)
        the doc is believable, it's just horrifyingly insensitive and innapropriate.

        In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

        by AllisonInSeattle on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 11:04:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (none)
          for your kind words and warm welcome.
          SinisterRae's courageous diary brought all those feelings back and dredged up some new ones. Like all others who have had a relationship with a vet or anyone with PTSD, I could go on and on with stories so stange it would make your hair curl.  And yet, when you get right down to it, my brother was a good, decent, sensitive and very bright guy. I will forever regret my early inability to look past the symptoms of his disease and celebrate the terrific human being he was.
          And to your comment about the VA doc, I clearly remember the day he told me about that.  He said he couldn't get past the ethnicity thing. Even though he became tight buddies with his montagnyard (indigineous mountain people)friends, he just couldn't get past suspecting every other Vietnamese of wanting to kill him.
          I try not to condemn the VA because they are so underfunded and the VA hospital he died in was so warm and professional. (It was not the one he saw the psychiatrist in)
  •  Your diary is important (4.00)
    because you will shed a great deal of needed light on a subject that sometimes gets a bad rap. Because it is so complicated and hard to understand, unless you have experienced living with the effects of it, you will give the gift of teaching others just by telling your story.  I know this is true because I worked for many years as a therapist dealing with women who had PTSD.  Thank you for your courage and candor.  The truth has such power.  Your dad did raise a good kid!
    You are a very good writer, by the way. And just think, you learned the gray box in the process.  Kidding.  Here's hoping that 2006 brings good things for you.  Your diary will get a tremendous amount of appreciation.  It will be recognized by those who've lived within it or close by it, and also we who have only had the privilege of walking beside people as they were doing their healing work.

    Democracy is not meant to be efficient, it is meant to be fair. Mario Cuomo. My blog: South by Southwest

    by Carol Gee on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 08:24:43 PM PST

  •  Touching diary (4.00)
     You've done a good job of explaining to those who may not know what PTSD is. Because I know several VVAW members and my brother was in Vietnam, I know about PTSD.

    There is a streaming video about ptsd treatment on http://www.vetspeak.com if you are interested. Thanks for your very touching diary.

  •  As I read (none)
    you post, I was noding my head in agreement throughout. Thanks.
  •  Yes, affeting for generations (none)
    " know that everybody on dKos is aware that Iraq is going to effect generations,"

    Up close and personal: A kid I went to grade school with died in Vietnam.

    His first day there.

    He was drafted.

    He was drafted out of high school because his dad had died of a heart attack, and his mom couldn't earn enough on his own to send him to college.

    Maybe he might have liked to have a life of his own. To grow up. To marry. To have kids. To have a career. A  house.

    But he didn't.

    I know, up close and personal, that the war is still vivid decades later, because not a month goes by when I don't think of that boy. He was the  nicest kid in the world, nice to everyone. He was a talented gymnast. He wasn't macho a day in his life. No doubt he died after all the politicians knew they were lying about the war, that it was pointless.

    I have a friend who went to his grave and cried for years. It's a nice grave, in a row of 3 kids from his high school class who died in 'Nam, buried in a row courtesy of one dad who bought three graves so they could be together.

    In troubling times, it's good to read true stories about real people doing good things. HeroicStories, free

    by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:10:51 PM PST

  •  PTSD wife (4.00)
    Thank you for sharing your story!

    My husband is a highly decorated Viet Nam vet who is rated at 100% for PTSD. It took me 12 years of constant & I do mean constant fighting with the VA to get him his benefits. There was a final showdown at American Lake (just outside of Tacoma, WA) I simply refused to leave until they either wrote me a letter saying he was unemployable or giving me a date when he could go to work. After 6 hours, the doctors did write the letter & within 3 months we finally had a rating. Finally we could get some benefits! What an insane struggle & all the while trying to deal with him & the PTSD as well as raise my son on next to nothing.

    I totally sympathize with anyone who is dealing with PTSD. It wears you out & the caregiver usually ends up with some kind of metal problems - at the least just sheer exhaustion. But I am probably depressed.

    Sinister Rae - thank you.

    Morague

  •  Your powerful, touching, insightful diary (4.00)
    brought rare tears to my eyes.

    I too have PTSD, not from a war with bullets, but from surviving the war zone of my childhood.   The hypervigilance, the nightmares, the inexplicable rages, the emotional withdrawal, the suicide attempts, the bouts of irrationality, the self-medication -- they are all so familiar.

    As ghastly as it is to live with PTSD from the inside, living with it from the outside -- having a parent with the disorder -- must be even more nightmarish.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for describing your world so beautifully and so effectively.

    Your dad can rightfully be proud of you.  You have strength, courage, compassion and eloquence -- wonderful gifts, so needed today.

    My middle daughter became a therapist and actually gave me my original diagnosis (since confirmed by several psychiatrists).  That was about 15 years ago.  I've been in treatment and therapy ever since and am grateful for every morsel of recovery and insight.

    I've never been exactly dysfunctional -- always worked, earned very well (especially for a woman), supported my children and the series of men in my life.  But there's always been something off.  Away from home, I covered up & passed well enough.  But it must have been hell for my children to have grown up with a mother like me.

    Blessings to you --
    Burnet

    PS  Four or five sessions of EMDR relieved me of a phobia of driving over bridges & overpasses.  My dad's death 5 years ago cured my larger phobia of driving on freeways.  These were phobias which came on suddenly ~20 years ago after I returned from a 3-year European assignment.

    Visualize impeachment
    (-7.38, -6.51) at politicalcompass.org

    by BurnetO on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:15:47 PM PST

  •  A beautiful, tragic diary. (4.00)
    Thank you for your courage in writing it.

    I wish we could reach across cyberspace and offer you a warm healing hand --for both of you, and for all the pain this story describes for so many of us.

    Blessings from Ithaca...

    "It is a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety." Woodrow Wilson

    by Percheronwoman on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 10:23:17 PM PST

  •  I read this diary this morning... (4.00)
    I intended to comment then, but couldn't find the words. I thank you for your eloquence, and your apt descriptions of emotions that have long frustrated myown family. You gave me such insight into my brother's life.

    My adopted brother was born my first cousin. His father was a Vietnam vet, an alcoholic who commited suicide in 1984, leaving behind an abused wife and two children. The oldest was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, an extreme type which includes seizures, paralysis, and severe retadation. He is now 26, and lives with his grandparents. The youngest, however, was fully aware of what was going on, of his father's death and his mother's reaction to it. He was also aware that they lived in the direst poverty, and his mother turned to drugs and prostitution to help her get by. Both children witnessed years of this behavior, in a house frequented by other Vietnam vets. Abuse of several types was inflicted upon both of my cousins.

    They were declared wards of the state when the youngest was seven. He moved in with us, and his brother was sent to a state-run mental facility, as we could not afford to care for his extraordinary needs. When he was nine, little brother was callously informed that his mother had been murdered. We officialy adopted him shortly afterward.

    He was, understandably, very withdrawn. When he was twelve, he surprised us all by commiting a felony. He was sent to juvie, still detached. The facility he was sent to has since been closed due to abuse, among other scandals. When he reached his majority, he became a drug abuser. Eventually, he began to steal money to buy drugs. He was caught, and now sits in jail, serving his sentence.

    My brother has been diagnosed with PTSD. His father apparantly suffered this as well, albeit for different reasons. My brother's diagnosis has been confirmed many times as he has made his way through the system, but there has been no support, no treatment, no therapy. He doesn't know that he has to ask. Even if he did know, he would never make the request - he is as proud and stubborn as we all can be. He is strong. He can do fine without any help from anyone. Or so he believes.

    Having spent so much time away from him, I missed significant insights into his motivations that your diary has made me rethink. I think I may go see my little brother sometime soon, although the jail is far away. Maybe I can get to know him a bit better.

  •  Parallels (none)
    Rae - Sorry to hear about your experiences.  Most people don't get that PTSD upsets the whole family dynamic.  I have PTSD, but I'm getting better after 10 years.  You might want to read my diary or not; it's about my brother's murder, and the first paragraph or two are graphic.  I couldn't do it any other way.  You will get better.  You will.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    I found out today we're going wrong/We're going wrong... Jack Bruce

    by moltar on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 03:18:54 AM PST

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