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I just finished reading this in-depth article by Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran activist. If you recall, Tom Cruise acted his story in the film, “Born on the Fourth of July”, one of Tom’s best acting jobs, I might add.  Ron’s article is graphic and heart wrenching in his description of what it’s like to be wounded and abandoned by the country that caused this loss, the story that no one hears about, and sorely needs to.

I think it’s time we all knew about the day to day suffering of those who were sent to war and how they’ve all been ignored when they return with whatever they’ve sacrificed. Unconscionable!

http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/143-143/16548-the-forgotten-wounded-of-iraq

Please read and share with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lies and cover-up by higher-ups in the government! The worst is that none of those in the higher echelon were held accountable, including Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush.

Pat Tillman was an NFL football star who turned down millions of dollars to join the military and fight for his country. When he was killed, the story that was given to his family was that he was shot by the Taliban and that he held off the enemies and, therefore, saved American lives.

Not true!

Somehow, the family found out that he was, in fact, killed by friendly fire. Not only were the family lied to,  the government took advantage of Pat’s celebrity status and made him a hero. When the family starting to look into this, they were blocked at every step. And, even when they found documents that supported the truth and it went before  Congress, everyone that had a hand in this situation was exonerated except Pat’s superior officer. He became the scapegoat.

The purpose of this blog is to look at the impact of trauma, not a political commentary on the government. Read the rest of this entry »

While I continue to read some articles that “The Hurt Locker” wasn’t true to form as demolition unit, I for one, am very excited that it won 6 awards, including best film and best director.

However Hollywood might not have authentically depicted military protocol, I still think that the film does show the psychological impact of war on our veterans.  I am glad that the public gets to see what our soldiers have to go through to fight these wars! To see what I wrote about post-traumatic stress disorder and the undeserved social stigma put on veterans, go to the posting of Feb. 8, 2010.

Congratulations also goes to the director, Katharine Bigelow, THE FIRST WOMAN DIRECTOR to ever win the Oscar! I think she did a fantastic job in portraying what happens to our men at war.

One of my friends, whom I didn’t even know was a Vietnam war veteran, sent this comment after reading my blogs on trauma and war veterans.  It matches so much of what I have read and  heard from other veterans that I am quoting it below before I post my thoughts:

“In reading all of your recent posts about veterans and the traumatic experience of war, I am struck by the huge difference in treatment of veterans of the Vietnam War and those of the present set of debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. Psychological services to veterans have improved greatly since the Vietnam era and it is fortunate that the military is starting to look at the many damages produced as a result of deployment in impossible situations and unrealistic tactical schemes.

It is sad to notice that while our society’s treatment of veterans of the Vietnam War and the current wars is different, certainly improved in our present time, it can never be adequate. Always it is with one sort of stigma or another attached to being the survivor of the national service demanded by a nation such as ours where military service is more about ‘national interests’ than our homeland.

Some who have gone to such wars eventually come to the realization that their post deployment life will ultimately be of their own making. They realize that the national system that sent them to the realms of impossibility, although now more sensitive to the issues of Post Traumatic Stress today than in the past, cannot possibly be completely sensitive to their needs in the aftermath. They must, if they can, ultimately elect to be healthy on their own and choose to be independently at peace.

This understanding and self affirmation is the basis of a very great healing process available to all who have a feeling of being a part of a much greater good; one that transcends war and the sometimes negative results of national service. Such individuals are fortunate and their stories of survival should be told as well to serve as guidance for the others who will inevitably follow.”

M.S.M.

One of the best books I read on the trauma that afflicts returning war veterans is written by Edward Tick, PhD, War & the Soul: Healing Our Nations Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

O.k., I’m back to Belleruth Naparstek’s Keynote Address, the second part re the latest treatment for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are some marked differences between Vietnam war veterans and our most recent ones.

Read the rest of this entry »

“The Hurt Locker”, directed by Kathy Bigelow is nominated for nine academy awards and rightly so. In Hollywood, war films are usually shown after the U.S. has left the war zone.  It is out of character for the producers to show this one while we are still fighting in Iraq.

I, for one, am glad they did. It brings the harsh realities of war right to our doorstep.

Reviewing this film in terms of the psychological impact of trauma for our war veterans, several questions come to mind:

  • Is this film romanticized?
  • Does it give a fully accurate portrayal of what our soldiers face on a day-to-day basis?
  • Is the scene of war accurately portrayed, or was it dramatized for viewer effect?
  • Are the costumes true to form for military personnel?

My response to all of that is that I really don’t  know. If you watch this film, and I highly recommend that you do, please keep in mind that this is FICTION. It is NOT a documentary.

However, as a practitioner, I believe it accurately characterizes the psychological impact that a war on terror has on returning soldiers. So, rather than report on Belleruth Naparstek’s  keynote on the latest treatment of our war veterans, I thought it would be relevant to address some of the circumstances and actions in the film that could lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd).

In that respect, I do believe the emotional portrayals are raw. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m finally back to posting on the keynote speakers and  workshops I attended at the NICABM Conference- National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. With the earthquake in Haiti, I felt it was important to discuss the trauma that was affecting the world.

Belleruth Naparstek was the main reason I decided to attend this conference. Before I write about her keynote on veterans of war, I want to first tell you how her work helped me.

She first identified for me one of the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that I had lived with my whole life. I would freeze when triggered. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t speak. I was always told it was because I was stupid, so each time this occurred, my face would turn red-hot with shame.

Belleruth called this  paralysis the freeze (immobility) response. This was the first time I let myself really know that I wasn’t stupid.  It was a response based on earlier trauma. I was so relieved. It’s like finally finding a doctor that can name your illness, and not tell you that nothing is wrong with you, that it’s all in your head. Now that I understand what is happening to me, I have hope that I can change this behavior.

As I continued to read Invisible Heroes, Belleruth stipulated that conventional talk therapy works only to a certain extent with trauma survivors. In fact, she found that frequent retelling of the trauma could be even more harmful to the client. She discovered that complementary healing modalities work with this population – guided imagery, tapping, energy work, etc. 

Qigong is one such complementary modality, and I had intuitively used it  to help my clients become calmer. In this calming state, I discovered that they were able to release repressed memories and heal.

I instinctively knew that I was to return to this work almost thirty (30) years later.  I feel like I have come home! Read the rest of this entry »

So soon after the first one, a second earthquake shook whatever was left of Haiti! We can hardly absorb the devastation of the first, and now we must also contend with a second.

It was hard enough learning that 200,000 were found dead, and how many were injured? That’s not even counting the destruction of property, the lack of food and shelter, the insufficient medical supplies, and dealing with riots and violence. This does not even take into account the exhaustion of those who are working day and night to help in any way they can. Nor, does it take away the frustration felt the world over, let alone the starving Haitian survivors,  at supplies being turned away from the ports in Haiti.

The world was barely beginning to find organized ways to get relief to the survivors. For the survivors themselves, there has been NO time to begin to recover.

How much trauma can people endure? How do we respond to multiple and almost simultaneous natural disasters over which none of us can control?  And, the question that looms large, “Why us”? Read the rest of this entry »

Child sexual abuse, or incest, is one of the most insidious types of violence perpetrated on innocent children:

  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18. (96)
  • 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. (96)
  • 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet. (30, 87)
  • Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under. (76)
  • An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today.

While we are teaching children to be wary of strangers, no one wants to believe that many are abused by family members and friends:

  • 30-40% of victims are abused by a family member. (2, 44, 76)
  • Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
  • Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know. (1, 44)
  • Therefore, only 10% are abused by strangers.

More shocking, children are violated when young:

  • The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old. (64)
  • More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8. (76)
  • Nearly 50% of all victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are children under 12. (74, 76)

(Above statistics in Darkness2light.org).

Sometimes, so young that they have no way to defend themselves, let alone understand what is happening to them.

Sometimes, so young that they have no memory of  it.  Yet, abuse affects everything in their life – sex, relationships, work, physical and mental health – and they don’t know why!

This is what happened to me. I blocked out all memory of this abuse.  While it is personal, my story starts with my professional life. Read the rest of this entry »

Announcement!

I will be attending this conference at Hilton Head Island, sponsored by The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM).

This is my first time at this conference, and I am so excited! I’ve also never been to Hilton Head Island, so will take a little time after the conference to see the island and, you guessed it, do some holiday shopping.

Ruth Buczynski, Director of NICABM and her staff are doing an excellent job in keeping us updated on conference materials, registration, etc. Most of all, after listening to the free teleseminars on health and alternative healing, I knew I had to participate.

Thank you, Ruth! Read the rest of this entry »

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