Skip to main content

The 3rd anniversary of the Iraq invasion finds an interesting situation brewing: returning veterans coping with posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] are no longer being hidden away from our view. Rather, the media is beginning ever-so-slightly to lift the veil on this nerve disorder affecting at least 16,000+ of our troops who've served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq.

Since we have so very little else to celebrate as another year moves forward with no end in sight to war and its victims, I'm going to focus on the good reporting on this issue that is finally, finally, seeing the light of day. And I celebrate the fact today that rather than using this anniversary to glamorize and glorify the war, the media seem to have decided to use it to introduce this balooning problem at last to the public. This gives me soooo much hope...

Spanning an enormous 12 online pages, one explanatory editorial, and an introduction by the author, Julie Sullivan (assisted by Torsten Kjellstrand), the Oregonian delivers its readers a grand public service this morning. Through the experiences of the Stout family (who were extremely gracious in allowing reporters into their lives to record their story), America receives a detailed view of the struggle some of our veterans -- and their families -- are facing as they cope with posttraumatic stress disorder.

This important article is so exhaustive and detailed, that it is impossible to do it justice in any way here; please just take the time to read it. And after you've finished, please contact The Oregonian and commend them for devoting resources and taking great care in presenting this topic to their readership. You might also wish to contact the reporters, Julie Sullivan and Torsten Kjellstrand, to offer your personal thanks.

New England Cable News (NECN) is set to air a new documentary, Hidden Wounds, detailing the struggle of three local soldiers who've returned from Iraq with posttraumatic stress. If you're in the viewing area, you can catch it today at 10:00AM and 7:00PM. NECN will re-broadcast the special throughout the week [times/dates - scroll down]. For those not in the viewing area, the Boston Globe has an article out today and online clips are available.

The pop of a firecracker in a parking lot was all it took to send Nate Fick back to Iraq. That sound had him ducking behind the nearest car, grabbing for the pistol holstered on his thigh. Except his gun wasn't there. The former Marine was in Maryland with his sister and it was July Fourth, about a month after his return from Iraq. "I stood up a few seconds later, and said, 'Man, I'm out of my mind,'" Fick said in an interview this week. ...

"Hidden Wounds," which debuts Sunday at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., tells the stories of Fick, currently a Harvard graduate student, Sgt. Russell Anderson, a longtime military man from Norton, and Jeff Lucey, a Marine who killed himself several months after returning to Belchertown. "These are three very different men," said Iris Adler, the film's producer and writer. "In spite of their differences, they all come home with post-traumatic stress disorder."

About one in six soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, according to studies cited in the documentary. The soldiers in the film believe that the percentage is much higher, but a stigma prevents others from admitting the struggle. "There's a lot more people out there than you think like me," Anderson, 55, said this week.

Anderson's and Lucey's experiences are briefly outlined before returning to Fick's story:

Fick, a Dartmouth graduate, joined the military to test himself and because he believed members of the privileged class should serve. In Iraq, he led a reconnaissance unit to Baghdad. Carnage became commonplace, and the pressure of making life and death decisions was relentless. When he returned home, Fick fell into deep depression. He found relief writing about his experiences, an exercise that became the book, "One Bullet Away."

Fick said he hoped telling his story makes post-traumatic stress disorder real to people who don't know a soldier. People returning from Iraq are going to have serious problems, he said, and society needs ensure they get proper care, unlike so many Vietnam veterans. "Their problems have endured the 30-40 years since they came back," Fick said. "I don't want to see that repeated."

Don't forget to view the online clips if you're outside of the viewing area; and take a moment to thank NECN for their efforts at getting more to understand the plight of those troops coping with PTSD.

The New York Daily News presents an op-ed piece written by Dr. Gene Bolles, "chief of neurosurgery from November 2001 to February 2004 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, America's tertiary hospital serving our troops." As we arrive at 20,000+ wounded and 2,600 killed in action, the physician remembers those he's crossed paths with these past three years.

With the third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom upon us, I am reminded of war's horrors, but also of the unparalleled sacrifice and loyalty of the men and women who serve this nation. During my time at Landstuhl, I evaluated hundreds of men and women. As a civilian not in their chain of command, the servicemen and women often confided to me that they were living in constant fear as witnesses to the agony of war -- the smell and sounds of death; seeing their buddies mutilated, along with Iraqi men, women and children.

Most of those who are killed or wounded are under the age of 22. Those who are seriously injured (some with only one extremity remaining, some blinded and severely disfigured) frequently express a strong desire to go back to their units to complete their tour of duty and protect their buddies.

He tells the story of a 19-year old woman who came to him with severe back injuries; and he remembers the 21-year old man who'd lost two limbs, yet was still more worried about his buddies.

They are, every one of them, true heroes. And it is these heroes who pay the many human costs of war. In addition to post-traumatic stress disorder (it is estimated that 35% are afflicted), there is traumatic brain injury (often disabling, unrecognized and untreated), chronic pain and spinal damage, blindness and the questionable effects of undepleted uranium. Instances of amputation in the Iraq War are reportedly double previous rates, and while the military medical care is the best in the world, there are still long-term problems with disability and chronic pain often requiring multiple surgeries.

I have the highest regard for the medical care offered by the Veterans Administration and our military. But there are many problems associated with the bureaucracy, which often stymies the efficiency of the delivery of care, which is paramount. After soldiers are discharged, they are dependent on our Veterans Administration, an overloaded and underfunded system. This system designates only 30 minutes per month for treatment of post-traumatic stress, and can take from six months to a year to provide treatment in various specialty clinics.

Unfortunately, our global war on terror is only going to add to the number of veterans suffering from war-related injuries. Our esteemed athletes in the NBA, NFL and NCAA receive medical care and appropriate testing almost immediately upon being injured. Our soldiers and their families deserve no less. If we can spend $7 billion to $10 billion dollars a month on a war, we must also afford to help rebuild lives impacted by this war.

Something to consider, isn't it?


The Chicago Tribune presents an interview with Ed Klama, a social worker and PTSD program director at Hines VA Hospital at Maywood, IL. From WWII veterans dealing with late-stage PTSD to recently returned troops from OEF and OIF, the discussion deals with war's consequences and the role good counseling plays in Quelling War's Aftershocks. To accompany the print piece, they have the full interview audio available online. If you'd like to thank the Chicago Tribune for their PTSD coverage, please do.


Also Appearing Today

Originally posted to Ilona's Ramblings on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 03:48 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  Lunaville (7+ / 0-)

      Says that with the rates of vets asking for help that eventually 400,000 will seek treatment for mental disorders.

      For the love of christ 400,000?  Where are they going to find enough competent doctors to treat them all?

      God help them if they get admitted to a VA mental health facility.  Those places mess up their patients really bad even more half the time, treatment is no garauntee of recovery.

      [sigh] I just don't get why the President and the Republicans don't care.  I mean, these people are supposed to be the Greatest Americans to them, yet they're just disposable trash.  One would think they would never dare ignore our vets this way, but they do.

      It's only 2006.  Bush will kill and maim another 100,000 of ours before he leaves--he'll never let anyone call him a quitter.  All those lives smashed forever, just for that lying felon.

      •  Vonnegut quote: (10+ / 0-)

        Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

                                                                  --Kurt Vonnegut, 2004

        I love that quote, and have repeated the last line often to my VFW father. It really struck him--he was a poor kid once, remembers the pangs of wanting for things. He always takes good care of everything he owns and mistrusts those who treat their belongings sloppily. (His 40 year old cameras and binoculars are always dusted and wiped clean, put carefully back on their shelf.) Putting that image onto our young soldiers and the care they receive at the hands of the current administration hit him hard.

        Dad was conservative once, is no longer, and he takes comments like this with him (written down in his little pocket notebook) when he goes to VFW meetings, where some of the other old guys are unrepentent hawks. If my Dad feels guilty about his past views and choices, maybe the tide is spreading and turning.

        Keep talking, Dad.

        •  Your dad is courageous... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cathy b, epcraig

          ...off and on the battlefield. It takes a real man (or woman) to radically change their mind about issues of life and death. I'm glad he's talking with others, too. He's doing more good to help the veterans of today than he might even know. Tell him thanks for his service. And thanks for sharing this with us.

          It brought a smile on my face, cathy! Vonnegut quote is a definite keeper...

          •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ilona, epcraig

            I am proud of him.

            He was never on a battlefield, though--he was one of the Cold War soldiers, encamped around Europe in the late 40s and early 50s, watching the Soviet borders during the time of the Korean war. It was a scary place, because bad things were expected to happen there at any time, but lucky for him and the rest of his troopmates, they never did.

      •  You raise such an important issue... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Peanut, exiledfromTN, epcraig

        I've come across this problem being debated as well; thank you for the link to this article. I share your frustration with the administration's behavior towards our returning veterans. It's as if they're only important if they're part of a faceless collective called 'the troops' -- but once they're individuals who need our attention and help, they dont' deserve to be heard from.

        Well, the American people are greater than that. That's why PTSD education is so important; once people hear the stories and see the faces of the veterans and their families, they will push for better treatment. That's why today is a small glimmer of hope -- rather than using the anniversary to glamorize and glorify the war, they seem to have decided to use it to introduce this balooning problem at last to the public.

        That give me soooo much hope...

    •  In memory of chigirl8's brother (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilona

      and a kid from Polo

      "Time to clean out the crap in Congress" - Jesus (D) Nazareth

      by llbear on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:36:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Casualty counts mean nothing. (12+ / 0-)

    I mean of course we don't want to see high casualty counts, but those only tell the smallest part of the story.  It breaks my heart to see how many brave men and women are coming home with PTSD and other permanent disabilities. Just under 3000 deaths is bad enough, but how many other thousands are coming home with broken bodies, broken minds, and broken homes?

    Yet through all of this you won't hear them complain.  They knew what they were getting into and they are proud to have served their country.  

    The bravery of these soldiers can never be underestimated.

    They also stand in stark contrast to our elected officials.  While these brave folks go out and risk their lives every day, we can't even get our elected representatives to show enough bravery to simply sign a piece of paper to show support for a colleague.  Are they actually going to try and argue that their political demise is somehow worse than what these soldiers are going through?  I'd like to see someone ask them that.  Just once.  A real question to put things in perspective: "Do you believe your political future is more important than the constitution, the lives lost defending it over the last few centuries, or the lives eternally damaged or destroyed protecting the freedoms that you are now spitting upon?"

    Truly, is there no deceny left?

    •  For every death, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilona

      How many witnesses of a buddy blown apart?
      Each of those is a potential case of PTSD.
      PTSD rate is probably = to the death count multiplied by 10 or more.

    •  Through all of this you won't hear them complain (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig

      Well said. That's what we're for, isn't it? I kind of took on this issue knowing that veterans and their families can't be asked to do the work on this; they're just too overloaded as it is with trying to get their lives back together again.

      This issue demand people out here who aren't so personally and deeply attached to the issue to be shackled by it. I'm going to keep advocating for them until there's nothing left to complain about. And I'm so glad that so many others are doing the same.

      I'm really proud of us; we're really making a difference on this, guys.

  •  Hey ilona! (17+ / 0-)

    Great diary as usual.

    My spouse is a "readjustment counselor" with the Vets Center system, as you know.  He is out at two meetings this weekend with National Guard units in the area.  They give out a 20 question self-test and talk about the services provided at the Vet's Center.  There is a check mark, so a vet can be contacted later for another discussion anonymously.

    This outreach is important, because the person who walks in for help is sometimes not the only person who needs help.

    The local Vets Center is extra sensistive because of a returning veteran suicide that won't make any lists because of privacy concerns by the family.  What this means is the cases you are diligently reporting are definitely an undercount.  

    The Vets Center is filled with compassionate people, like my husband, with real combat experience and training in PTSD counseling.  He even runs support groups for families.

    True PTSD story:
    He had some construction in his building last week during a group session.  The workers on the floor above used a nailgun, and everyone hit the floor.  He left to tell them to knock it off!

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 04:33:17 AM PST

    •  No Joke... (8+ / 0-)

      True PTSD story:
      He had some construction in his building last week during a group session.  The workers on the floor above used a nailgun, and everyone hit the floor.  He left to tell them to knock it off!

      One of my aunts has been married twice, both to Vietnam vets (first uncle died 8 years ago). You didn't want to be around either one of them when a car backfired. The first uncle was with several family members one night when a car backfired, he hit the deck screaming "Don't you see it!  Incoming!"

      I fear for my grandnephew (who enlisted in the Army despite warnings to the contrary and got sent directly to Iraq, do not pass go) and my cousins over there because of this.

      Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. --Malcolm X Speaks, 1965

      by Deacon G on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 06:10:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keeping your grandnephew and cousins... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv

        ...in my thoughts. I have no immediate family members serving, but have distant friends and a few extended family members who are serving. In the end, it doesn't matter how distant the ties are to them; we're all in this together. They're Americans, and they deserve to be taken care of when they come back home to us.

        I hope your family members are going to be ok...thanks for sharing this, Deacon G.

    •  So true... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig

      This outreach is important, because the person who walks in for help is sometimes not the only person who needs help.

      I think nothing bears that out more than the PTSD Timeline. This is not a solitary problem; it is not just a military family problem; it is not just a community problem -- it's our whole society's problem.

      I hear that time and time again, that the Vet Centers have really dedicated, professional people working there under difficult cash-strapped conditions. Tell your husband that he is doing a great service to the whole country. He's worth his weight in gold -- and even more. Take care of him, and each other.

      We need you guys more than you know...

      •  He is getting concerned.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilona

        Some screening programs send their results to the DOD in some states (he serves our tro-state area.)  

        Kentucky does this but WV doesn't.   KY is using independent service providers not expert in PTSD and are sending the results up through the command structure.  This means that your medical diagnosis of PTSD (or even a back injury) will end up in your permanant military record and could affect your service (where you are posted, training offered, retention) and promotions.  I know people think of these folks as weekend warriors, but there are salary and stature involved here.

        This is bad on multiple levels, but especially in terms of giving people services- the returning soldiers won't be as candid in filling out the information if they think others in the command structure will hear this.  

        DOD has recommended this plan and KY is just buying into their model.  WV made their own plan and is better and more private.  

        He came home upset yesterday when he found this out- so I am hoping you pick up on this message and can look into this issue.  

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 04:34:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I will, thanks for pointing this out. (0+ / 0-)

          My understanding was that going to the VA was confidential; now they've taken that away, too? I can see how this could inhibit a lot of troops from being candid or reaching out for help in the first place, just like you point out.

          This really burns me up; I'll look into it and promise to write about it in the future. It may take me a bit to get to (oh, if this work could be my full time job!); but, I'll definitely find out what I can and pass it along in a diary.

          THANK you...have a good week.

  •  That's why I like Hackett's take (12+ / 0-)

    that most of the people in congress have never served, 'went out of their way not to serve'.  They have no idea what war IS, what its like to have your life be on the line on a daily basis.

    The chickenhawks have roosted in DC and they know not what they do.  Despite the warnings of Iraq potentially becoming a new Viet-nam, where there was no clear enemy or objective nor a planned exit strategy---Bushco was determined to send kids off to die, get legs blown off, lose their hearing or sight, and to kill.  Now we will have a whole new crop of PTSD soldiers returning home to an underfunded VA system that Bush brags about supporting but guts at every turn.

    Stop the World I Want to Get Off.

    mixology 101: one part flag + one part religion + one part dumb = wingnut asshole

    by Bill O Rights on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 05:00:20 AM PST

    •  this is why (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilona, epcraig

      we have to work so hard to get those 50++ Dem Vets elected this year.  Dan Davis 2nd CD Oregon Vietnam Vet is running.  Go Dan!!

    •  Stop the World I Want to Get Off. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig

      I know how you feel, sometimes. Their hypocrisy on every issue is what's finally catching up with this administration. It's about time. They deserve every bit of the backlash the American public give them.

      It won't ever make up for the decades-long suffering they've unleashed upon us all -- most especially those directly affected by the war. But, it at least makes it easier to live in this world knowing that this is not acceptable to the majority any more.

  •  PTSD (7+ / 0-)

    Ilona,
     Thank you for your continuing work on ptsd and our vets. You're a jewel,

  •  War (9+ / 0-)

    is a life altering experience. If it is not, you are not human. Cancer is a life altering experience, but sometimes, for the better. I doubt that the same can be said for war, The casualties ripple from the victim to his or her family and friends to colleagues and neighbors, to all of society. Noone is immune. Except Bush, who is the perpetrator. It should be mandatory that Bush spend his goddamned brush clearing downtime volunteering at a VA Hospital.

    •  Couldn't have said it better... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig

      The lack of our War President's attention to our troops (other than when he needs them to sell whatever he wants us to buy) and in LEADING the rest of us to roll up our sleaves together to take care of every single troop as they return to our communities is one of the most shameful -- and clear -- reflections of what this administration is all about. Pure self-centeredness.

      They appeal to the most base of human instincts; we all have that in us -- that desire to only feed our own ego, to only care about our pet causes, about our little corner of the world -- but most of our parents taught us to rise above those instincts and do what's right. Even if it's the more difficult thing to do.

  •  Did you see this? - sending back to Iraq (10+ / 0-)

    Some troops headed back to Iraq are mentally ill

    Besides bringing antibiotics and painkillers, military personnel nationwide are heading back to Iraq with a cache of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

    The psychotropic drugs are a bow to a little-discussed truth fraught with implications: Mentally ill service mem-bers are being returned to combat.

    The redeployments are legal, and the service members are often eager to go. But veterans groups, lawmakers and mental-health professionals fear that the practice lacks adequate civilian oversight. They also worry that such redeployments are becoming more frequent as multiple combat tours become the norm and traumatized service members are retained out of loyalty or wartime pressures to maintain troop numbers.

    Sen. Barbara Boxer hopes to address the controversy through the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, which is expected to start work next month. The California Democrat wrote the legislation that created the panel. She wants the task force to examine deployment policies and the quality and availability of mental-health care for the military.

    We've also heard reports that doctors are being encouraged not to identify mental-health illness in our troops. I am asking for a lot of answers,” Boxer said during a March 8 telephone interview. “If people are suffering from mental-health problems, they should not be sent on the battlefield.”

    Geez...the immorality of the people running this show is just beyond comprehension.

    •  What the hell are they thinking? (5+ / 0-)

      Cases of suicide and domestic violence among returning vets are already happening at an alarming rate. Considering the dangerous problems that abruptly coming off these meds or combining them with alcohol can cause, these folks will be coming home to an unfathomable mess. How can we do this to them?? By all means, treat them for the anxiety, PTSD, Panic, with whatever does the job,  but DO NOT SEND THEM BACK TO ACTION!!!
      'Immorality' doesn't even begin to cover it!

      "A lot of people are waiting for MLK, Gandhi to come back. They are gone. We are it. It's up to us. It's up to you." Edelman

      by ZaphodsSister on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 07:37:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Probably hoping they'll get killed (5+ / 0-)
        There's probably some dark calculus taking place besides just getting the (live) bodies they need. They're probably thinking that the best therapy is to bring them back among their brothers, or heck, who needs therapy: now they're numb killing machines who won't flinch. And if their numbness leads them into the line of fire, hey, one less vet to take care of.

        Bastards.

      •  A lot of them return... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        epcraig

        ...because they can't reintegrate effectively once they return home. They're used to the 'adreneline rush' of combat. They come back and are suffocated by the relatively vanilla pace of American life. I've also seen some families in news reports say that they thought their troop was on a death wish and that's why they rushed to re-enlist; they just didn't seem to place the same value on living anymore and so they choose to place themselves back in the jaws of hell in the combat zone.

    •  Thank you...I'd not seen it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MH in PA

      I've added it to the list in the diary, MH. This is unbelievable. I've seen other articles on this issue, but this one's pretty stark and doesn't run around the problem. Big sigh. And thanks for passing it on -- I'll post it on the blog a little later, too.

      Appreciate the help I always get from all of you.

  •  Here's another story on PTSD (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Peanut, cotterperson, ilona, epcraig

    It appeared in the Booth Newspapers, a chain that serves most of Michigan's cities outside metro Detroit. Here's a link to the February 19, 2006, Kalamazoo Gazette.

    "Humanity has made astounding progress in every other field of human endeavor except politics."--G. Mennen Williams, Governor of Michigan, 1949-61.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 08:06:30 AM PST

  •  Some hard choices (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Peanut, ilona, epcraig, DrReason, murrayewv

    For their welfare and ours returning combat vets should be debriefed, and prove they are okay before we throw them out on the streets. World War II shell shock victims were hospitalized, see John Huston's excellent documentary, "Let There Be Light", before they were allowed to come home. The single largest domestic terrorist attack, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by a Gulf War 1 veteran. You can multiply that ratio by double figures probably, considering the length of time these guys have served, and the brutal nature of this war against civilians.

    "...in the future everything is chrome. Sponge Bob Square Pants

    by agent double o soul on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 08:58:24 AM PST

    •  They need more than debriefing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilona, epcraig, murrayewv

      I think their troubles don't start to show immediately. They need long-term "observation", even if they think they're OK. Ilona recently posted a number of stories about returning vets who snapped after a while.

      But debriefing is a must, I agree. A start, but a must. Thanks for the tip re: the documentary. Will try to check it out. And I'd forgotten that connection with OK City.

      •  Let There Be Light (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilona, epcraig, DrReason

        Evidently the Army kept the Huston documentary under wraps until 1980. I saw Huston interviewed and all three of the documentaries were played on PBS while he was still alive. Not sure if a record of that program exists or not.
        Martin Scorcese made reference to the PTSD in his film Taxi Driver, he named his character Travis Bickel. Travis is also Travis Air Force Base, where the guys leaving Vietnam were dropped, usually within 24 hours of being in country, and sometimes in combat. Many of them also found out they were addicted on the flight, the locals would lace the marijuana with opium, and they started coming down. Travis became synonomous with a hellish descent  into society.  

        "...in the future everything is chrome. Sponge Bob Square Pants

        by agent double o soul on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 09:27:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Travis is why I love DKos (0+ / 0-)

          Travis is also Travis Air Force Base ... Travis became synonomous with a hellish descent  into society.

          That's a fascinating anecdote in itself, but it strikes a chord here. Combat Rock by The Clash is one of my absolute favorite albums. The song Red Angel Dragnet mentions a Travis, and although I've never seen Taxi Driver (I know, I know, sad, just too damn busy), I think the song features some dialog from the movie, when he's driving around at night and cursing society. The Clash has many songs about war, many of them cryptic. I'll listen to this one differently from now on. Thanks.

        •  There are other PTSD films, too... (0+ / 0-)
          Including:

              * Taxi Driver (1976)
              * Coming Home (1978)
              * Apocalypse Now (1979)
              * The Deer Hunter (1979)
              * Return of the Soldier (1982)
              * Birdy (1984)
              * Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
              * Heaven and Earth (1993)

      •  Some Vietnam Vets (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Peanut, ilona, epcraig, DrReason

        are just realizing now 40 years later that their 4 marriages and frequent job changes might have something to do with PTSD. This just 3 years into the conflict is the tip of the iceberg.

  •  Great stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilona, epcraig

    So glad to hear that the major media is starting to give full attention to this issue. I still feel that congratulations are in order for you as well, for keeping this issue in our minds for so long, while nobody else was talking about it.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 08:59:35 AM PST

  •  ilona (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilona, anotherCt Dem, epcraig

    Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. This issue hits close to home. My brother a Vietnam Vet who has suffered from PTSD for over 30 years recently had to leave his job and go on disability because of his condition. He lives in Oregon and reads to Oregonian so I know he will see this article. I don't know what his reaction will be but I will call him this afternoon to see how he is doing. For those wondering he is receiving good care from the VA in Oregon.

    GWB will pry my 20 and 18 year old sons from my cold dead fingers.

    by Momagainstthedraft on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 09:05:23 AM PST

    •  From another 'momagainstthe draft' (5+ / 0-)

      I have a 21 year old. They will draft him over my....you know the rest. With the buzz about Iran, my 80's mother who worships her grandson, called me up to offer free relocation money to Canada, should they come after him.

      I am not disparaging those who serve, btw, - this is about me, my son and the despot in charge.

      •  I think most sensible people understand this... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        epcraig

        You're at least honest about it; and you have the support of War Horse John Murtha, too, btw. It's one thing to refuse to send your children into a war that you don't support; it's another thing entirely when you don't wish to send them yet you support it vocally and at the ballot box.

        I recently had a long conversation with a family friend on this issue; and he didn't see the hypocrisy of his advocating strongly for the war, yet also saying that he didn't want to see his young boys have to go fight in it. "It would just rip me apart." You think?

    •  Oh, this makes this diary all worth it, then.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig

      Tell your brother thanks for his service; and I'm glad you're going to call him later this afternoon. I can only imagine that the article will probably open up even more wounds that had been scabbed over for him.

      Have read a lot of stories that explain how difficult it is for our Vietnam vets to have to witness this going down with another generation. Many find their surpressed PTSD symptoms resurfacing. What a great loss this has been for our country across all generations -- even WWII vets have shown an increase in their symptoms from what I've been reading lately.

      Tell your brother we're trying our best to make things right this time.

  •  I went out with my dad yesterday (5+ / 0-)

    It wasn't one of his better days.  He was just kinda grumpy and a bit depressed.  I don't know if he'll ever reach a point in his life when he doesn't constantly have to deal with his PTSD.  By extention, I don't think we'll ever reach a point in our relationship when it's not there.

    It punches me in the gut in unexpected ways, ya know?  Like when I get to the restaurant first and have to make sure that he gets a seat where his back is to the wall.  Or when the waitress comes up behind him, outside his peripheral vision, places a hand on his shoulder, and he jumps a mile.  Once, when he was driving me back to the dorms, there was plastic bag (I think) floating above us.  He saw it and jerked pretty hard-although he never lost control of the car.  He apologized and said he thought it was a mortar.  

    Stupid fucking war.    

    •  I'm so sorry (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Peanut, ilona, epcraig, Sinister Rae

      I'm so sorry what you and he have lost, and even if our Veterans get the best we have to give....this often can only be treated and not repaired.  We can buffer the intensity and we can slow down the fight or flight response a bit.  We can up their neurotransmitters hoping to make up for what their brains gobble up by the handfuls......but the rest of this for some people can never be fixed and is only endured for the rest of their lives.

    •  Oh, man...what a difficult reality. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig, Sinister Rae

      Thank you for adding these personal experiences; I learn more from them than any other forms of information I come across.

      You're a good daughter, SR -- can only imagine how lost he'd be lost without your understanding. None of us are perfect, we all have feelings. You must have days you proabaly want to take out your frustrations at having a 'damaged by war' father. That's the hard thing about PTSD, isn't it? Their behavior is often selfish or dangerous or aggressive or arrogant or scary or sad; but, behind it all is the consequence of their having gone to war, not entirely the person they were when they left. They might fight back any attempt to say they're victims; but, I think they are certainly victims of the war machine, and deserve our attempt to understand and help vs. convict and condemn them.

      Thanks, SR. You guys know more than me the real cost of war.

      •  I somehow missed this yesterday... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilona

        ...so I don't know if you'll see my reply today.

        Thank you for saying such nice things about me.  I try to be a good daughter, but for most of my high school years the relationship between my father and I was strained at best and dissolved into screaming fits at worst.  

        As I got older, I was more capable of dealing with the complexities of mental illness, excusing his behavior versus understanding his behavior, holding him accountable for his actions, forgiving him, etc.

        The sadest part for me is the knowledge that I had it relatively easy growing up, and there are people all over (even some here on dKos) who had much more terrifying or violent experiences.  

        Besides ilona, as you are the daughter of a Hungarian Freedom Fighter, I know this is personal for you too.  :)

        •  Nodding in agreement... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sinister Rae

          Oh, my relationship with my father was rocky to say the least when I was a teen. Mostly verbal abuse, but a few incidents of more dangerous altercations. Just one or two (my family tells me; I've actually blacked them out). So, I know what you mean, Sinister Rae. But, we've really grown up -- both my father and me -- and we've had a really wonderful relationship for the past 15 years. I'm blessed any way you look at it.

          I feel really bad for those families struggling right now, trying to get beyond the pain and blame and anger and fear. I know you feel that same empathy, too.

          Thanks...and have a great week.

          •  Ilona, are you around? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ilona

            Finally did it, posted a diary "Watching Mom Die, a PTSD Chronology."

            Thanks for the inspiration.

            Sorry for this non-sequitor.

            nostalgia isn't what it used to be

            by stonemason on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 02:53:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah, I saw it even before I saw this in here... (0+ / 0-)

              I just got online about 45 minutes ago; spotted your diary on the Rec List. Oh, I am sooooooooooooo proud of you, stonemason. And so glad that you're getting some love from the community. And I'm deeply thankful that you're helping out in this enormous way on the PTSD education front, too.

              I can't even imagine how hard your deeply personal experiences must have been to put down into words; you do realize how much you're helping others, don't you by doing it? If you don't know, then let me reassure you -- you are doing a great deed, a great kindness. Those of you who've lived with it up close and personal are in a better position to get others to empathize and understand the enormity of what PTSD is than anything anyone else can do. So, thanks, for doing this. Thanks for writing your diary -- and thanks for making sure I wouldn't miss it. You're my hero today. Heck, you'll be my hero tomorrow, too. :o)

              I admire you and I'd give you a big kiss and hug if you were here right now. In the absence of that:

              You got it goin' on, stonemason!

  •  I'm glad you mentioned. . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilona, epcraig

    . . .the traumatic brain injuries, and that they are often undiagnosed.

    I've known a few people who were in car accidents, and had personality shifts afterward - a good indicator of damage to the brain. A near-miss from an IED or RPG could have the same effect. (Not to mention that there have been lots of vehicle accidents in Iraq, some caused by fleeing hostile fire, or trying to get through known ambush-territory quickly)

    Many diagnosed with "PTSD" may actually have a brain injury, either alone or in combination with PTSD.

    Here's a story about one sufferer, from the Seattle Times (free reg required, I thnk) last year.

    When only the government lacks virtue, there remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is already lost.

    by Robespierrette on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 11:01:04 AM PST

    •  The brain injuries are a real problem... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig

      On the one hand, fully 80% of our wounded survive. That's due to the combat vests (as controversial as they might have been this past year, they're saving a lot of lives that would have been lost in earlier wars). So, more survive; but, they're surviving with more serious injuries.

      Some 5,000 or so soldiers are now permamently disabled and will require 24/7 care until the day they pass on. Yet another cost of the war that gets very little attention, but will effect our nation for decades to come. For those who suffer less noticable brain injuries, most of these veterans are finding they're also dealing with PTSD. Studies have shown that there's an increase in PTSD frequency and strength in those who've suffered even mild brain injury.

      We won't know fully what will become of all of these veterans dealing with this form of PTSD for decades to come.

  •  an ongoing circle of suffering... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilona, epcraig

    This is my first post on kos.

    I just finished reading the story in the Oregonian.  As the grown daughter of a Korean war vet, I can tell you that the story portrays the situation accurately.  My father finally received the help he needed in the 1980s.  Us children all are proud of him for doing his best to take care of all of us while battling his own demons and we are all thrilled to finally be getting to know our father after many years.

    We all had to make our own peace with the way we grew up, and the things we saw and heard, and experienced when my father when he was drinking.  At 17, I spent a tense 30 minutes one afternoon talking my Dad into putting down his gun and not shooting himself. At one point, he turned the gun on me and said he could shoot us both- he had shot people in Korea and he could shoot us too. I had my own demons to battle when I left home- nightmares, anger, flashbacks and fear of what would happen to my parents without me there and to my younger sister.  I am ao thankful that I was able to move beyond this and I have a good relationship with my family now.

    Dad spent three weeks in a detox center after a violent incident with a local sherrif a few years after I left home.  It was the beginning of his recovery, and our recovery as a family as well.

    I think that the Orgonian article not only is helpful for the vets' problems to be understood, and it also to sheds light on how this affects their loved ones.  There needs to be outreach for the entire family so that the circle of damage does not continue.  

    When I think of the number of wounded soldiers - physically and mentally injured -and all of their families' pain, I feel we have not even begun to realize the cost.  And we will be paying it for years to come.

    •  Great points, and great first post. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epcraig

      I'm honored that it was in my diary. Thank you for relating your personal story of your father -- and your family -- coping with combat-related PTSD. I'm glad you guys are moving towards recovery.

      Tell your dad thanks for his service to our country. And thanks for taking good care of him, as difficult as it may be sometimes to separate the painful actions from the pained man producing them.

      Peace to you and all other families who are doing their best to take care of our nation's vets. The road you're on cannot be easy. You're all heroes in my book...

      •  thanks (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilona, epcraig

        Thank you for posting this diary! These are the kind of things that really need to be understood when war is chosen.  The loss is so much more than the numbers.

        My father still flies his flag, but for a while he flew it half mast to protest the invasion of Iraq.  He is adamently against this war and Mr. Bush as am I.

        Oh no, not again

  •  Bush is 'pro'-troops but slashes Vets' benefits (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilona, epcraig

    This is something that has appalled me through this whole sorry adventure. It should NOT be allowed to continue unchallenged.
    .
    The default acceptance of the Bush administration as being "pro-troops", or that staying the WRONG course in Iraq in any way respects or serves the troops there now should be forcefully challenged wherever it's encountered.
    .
    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld -- the whole administration -- have abused and exploited the military and their families in a shocking way.
    .
    I hope everyone counters the empty, self-serving admin bullshit whenever they see it -- with letters to their local papers and demands for fact-checks and corrections from the media source reporting it indiscriminately.
    .

    napoli: To brutalize, rape, sodomize a young, religious virgin

    by Peanut on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 12:46:59 PM PST

  •  Hi ilona (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilona

    I just saw this come up on technorati. Consider the source, because it's Drudge. I just love how that conveniently sounds like sludge.

    Anywho New Democrat Strategy Document Leaked on Drudge The pdf contains a bunch of stuff about PTSD and other Vet issues. We'll see if it's true or not soon enough.

    •  I haven't gone over yet to see it... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair

      ...but it would not surprise me; I've been hearing a lot more public discussion of PTSD lately by our leaders. Dick Durbin a week or two ago and Harry Reid somewhere or another during that same time. Today I heard  Barbara Boxer on Ed Schultz discussing the issue in great detail. All I can say is, BRING IT ON -- it's about time they're going to bring this issue out forcefully into the public's consiousness.

      We already know the Republican's are too busy saying they 'Support the Troops' to take the time to actually do it. THANK you for this link, mbair.

    •  Just got back from checking it out.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mbair

      Don't you just love the way Drudge places quotation marks around Iraq veteran "health care crisis" as if the Dem strategy paper lists it as such but they're full of bull?

      Too rich. Thanks again. I'm glad the Dems will be talking about these issues -- no matter what Sludge has to say about it.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site