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In a "rescued diary, Broken Skull, aka  Brian McGough explains his life and how he has dealt with his PTSD and how it has affected him, his parents, his relationship with his daugther, and his relationship with his new wife who he met in the Army, who also happens to have PTSD but refuses to seek help with it.

It's a choice she has to make, it's not anything anyone can force her to do, no more than they could force me or any other veteran. Max Cleland was disabled during the Vietnam war when he lost three limbs from a grenade, he did not seek help for PTSD until August 26, 2006 more than 40 years after he was injured. For that matter there are now WW2 seeking treatment after living with PTSD symptoms since 1945 or before. It can affect anyone.

It is hard for anyone to "admit" to themselves they are having "mental health issues" for one thing in the military culture it is seen as a sign of weakness, you are taught to "suck it up", "drive on" or the favorite "just deal with it, on your own time".

I know I was one of the squad leaders/Platoon Sergeants that told it to hundreds of soldiers over my career. I did them no favors, nor myself. I had a long line of military family members to live up to, my stepfather flew in the 8th Army Air Corp they bombed Germany in WW2, my own  father was older and he was in D Troop of the 7th Calvary in the period 1914-1916, he and my Uncle Gideon served together at Douglas, Arizona, just before their enlistment was up they went on the march into Mexico with General "Blackjack" Pershing after Panco Villa.

In other words stress was part of our "normal" family life, they drank to forget, my step fathers birthday was shared in one of the greatest days in military history  June 6, every year he woke up that day and started drinking from the time he woke up until he passed out, other days he never drank before 3pm. But on June 6 the memories of the men he flew with and the horror he saw on the beaches of Normandy tore him apart annually, which I can understand, he never talked about the war, except on June 6 he kept his medals in the bottom drawer of his desk, he was not proud enough of them to display them on the wall and he had some impressive ones. One was the DFC for landing a B17 after the pilot and co-pilot had been killed, the plane had 154 holes from flak and bullets in it when he landed it in England saving the gun crewmen and Navigator and others on the plane, he was a radio operator. He tried to watch the movie the "Memphis Belle" he knew the men of the plane in England, they were in the same squadron, he watched until the first scene where they showed flak and he ripped the arms off his easy chair.
Tell me he didn't have PTSD? He never tried to watch the movie again.

Myself, I don't do crowds, I shop at Walmart at 3 am, when and if my wife can even get me to leave my home. I sleep when I can, a few hours here and there, some days it may be in the morning, maybe the afternoon, occasionaly even at night, but usually not more than 2-3 hours at a time. Flashbacks come and go, there are periods where they interrupt my days and nights more often than others, but most days they are there, the intrusive thoughts. I go to the VA now every 3 months, it use to be monthly, then every 2 months, then 3 months then they tried every 4 months, and things got worse, so my wife talked them back to every 3 months. I think my Doctor listens to her more than he does me. Probably a good thing, she remembers stuff better than I do. Short term memory problems suck, I can remember what I did when I was 8 but I have lost pretty much most short term memories. Could be from the stroke I suffered in 1992, or the dementia I have also been diagnosed with.

I keep busy most days now active in veterans issues, on Gulf War Vets and Hadit.com a veterans helping veterans site that has been online for over 10 years now. I write my own Blog, Military & Veterans: Politics for the deserving trying to help other veterans and or their families.

I keep up to date on veterans new thruVA Watchdog so I know when I need to write Congressmen or Senators about laws that will affect our wallets, or other issues that affect our and our families lives.

There is a lot of help available now for PTSD  that was not around 20-30 years ago and the military is starting to explain to Commanders that PTSD needs early treatment and not ridicule, it is not a problem to be stigmatized but rather treated. However, the NPR stories about PDO discharges for combat veterans, that come back to the states and suffer from PTSD symptoms and cause command problems are being sent to mental health and the shrinks get the soldier to say they had problems with their parents, in school, or with the police as teenagers and within a month they are disgnosed with Personality Disorders (PDO) thrown out of the Army and denied veterans benefits and even medical/mental health treatment. The last count I saw was 22,000 men and women have been discharged since the start of the Iraq War under these circumstances. The Army and Marines should be ashamed of themselves.

This story in todays Watchdog shows that the VA Colonels statements that PTSD is curable is now being taken literally despite none of the previous 30 years of research shows it's curable, just treatable.

We have another report on PTSD from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The report is titled Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An Assessment of the Evidence.

The full report is available here... http://www.nap
.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11955

In short form, the study says that there is not enough evidence to prove efficacy of drug therapies and group therapy.

There is, however, evidence to suggest that exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy do have value.

It should be noted that a certain type of cognitive therapy has been touted by former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson as a "cure" for PTSD.  That audio here... http://www.you
tube.com/watch?v=WkPXT9FOIgc

In the above clip, Nicholson refers to a program in Cincinnati with a 70% "cure" rate.  That story here... http://www.va
watchdog.org/07/nf07/nfAUG07/nf081907-2.htm

The VA's rapid embrace of this report raises many questions.

But, the biggest question is:  Will they use this report to push a "cure" for PTSD on veterans?

Again, a report, presented in a positive light, could be the tool the VA uses to radically change the way it treats PTSD and compensates veterans.

For more about PTSD, use the VA Watchdog search engine...click here...
http://www.yourvabenefits.org/...
search.php?q=ptsd&op=and

We have three reports.  First from the AP.  Second is the IOM press release.  And, third is the VA press release.

News story here... http://ap.google.com
articleALeqM5gNJVFOFf5t43iZy41D
an-NDnbGDQD8SBTHSG0

The lack of evidence for other therapies doesn't mean patients should give them up — they still should get whatever care their personal doctors deem most promising, stressed Thursday's report from the Institute of Medicine.

"The take-home message for patients should be that they seek care," said Dr. David Matchar of Duke University, who co-authored the report, which was requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs as it struggles with an influx of patients.

"That is the way medicine is practiced — we do the best we can with what we've got," Matchar added. But, "we need better."

While PTSD was first recognized in Vietnam veterans, war is far from its only trigger. Crime, accidents and other trauma can cause it in civilians, too. Sufferers experience nightmares, flashbacks and physical symptoms that make them feel as if they are reliving the trauma, even many years later.

Our own Ilona has written extensively on PTSD issues here on
Daily Kos and on her own blog she has also written a well received book titled: Move A Nation To Care  May 2007

It has taken me decades to admit I needed help, I blamed everyone but me for my problems. I applaud Brian and the thousands of other Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans that are seeking help for their PTSD symptoms now, maybe they can get a handle on them and get the symptoms under better control than those of us who denied or refused to admit we had mental health issues, hell most of us now have lifetime subscriptions.

Whatever you do do NOT let the VA medicate you into zombie land, that does not help you or your family. They will try it, been there done that and won't do it again.

Originally posted to testvet6778 on Fri Oct 19, 2007 at 01:13 AM PDT.

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