Monday, August 21, 2017

Australia Commander Opens Up About PTSD

Going public: How PTSD broke AFP commander and Australia’s strongest man
Debbie Schipp
August 21, 2017

AS Australia’s strongest man, former Australian Federal Police Commander Grant Edwards’ physical strength was pure, brutish, inarguable, indisputable power.
So he was as astounded as anyone when he splintered apart mentally.
The unravelling, when it came, left him sobbing uncontrollably. And once the tears started, the flood would not stop. The stone man broke.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was the toll on a man who had been at the forefront of child exploitation and trafficking investigations.
It was 2003, the early days of the spread of internet, and it was grim, sickening, gut-wrenching work.
You didn’t talk about it, he told ABC’s Australian Story in a report on Monday night.
You hardened up. Maybe had a few drinks. And then a lot more. The hangover would mask it.
As AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin concedes: “You didn’t talk about your weaknesses, you didn’t talk about your vulnerabilities, because that was a sign you weren’t doing your job, you weren’t strong enough or cut out to be a police officer,” Commissioner Colvin said.
Earlier this year, the suicide of an officer at the AFP’s Melbourne headquarters led to a flood of complaints from former and existing AFP officers, chronicled by’s Megan Palin.
read more here

VA Says Veterans Sneak Drugs into VA?

Veterans can be ‘diabolical’ while sneaking drugs into VA facilities, official says

The Enterprise
Tom Relihan
August 21, 2017

Following the overdose death of a Saucier, Mississippi, Marine Corps veteran at the Brockton Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in March, U.S. Congressman Stephen Lynch said hospital administrators have assured him they’ve taken steps to improve security at the Belmont Street facility.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. Carolyn Kaster AP File
But, the drug that caused the incident, fentanyl, is so potent that lethal doses can be difficult to detect, he said.
Hank Brandon Lee, a retired lance corporal and mortarman in the Marine Corps, traveled from his home in Mississippi to Boston during a black-out period brought on by severe post-traumatic stress disorder in February, according to VA records obtained by The Enterprise. 
He was admitted to the Brockton campus’s psychiatric ward to undergo treatment, but was found unresponsive in early March. He was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Medical Center, and his autopsy report later revealed the cause of death as acute fentanyl intoxication. 
Exactly how Lee was able to acquire and consume the drug inside the ward is still more here

And Then There Were 15 MIssing

Search Expanded for Missing Black Hawk Crew

Big Island Now
August 20, 2017

Responders searched throughout the night Saturday and are continuing the search Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, for the five Army aviators who went missing Tuesday night approximately two miles west of Ka‘ena Point.

Search and rescue planners have also reached out to the residents of Ni’ihau Island to conduct searches along their shoreline.
Ten sailors missing after U.S. warship, tanker collide near Singapore

SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ten U.S. sailors were missing after a collision between a destroyer and a tanker near Singapore on Monday, the second involving a U.S. warship and a merchant ship in Asia in about two months, triggering a fleet-wide probe of operations and training.

The guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided while the warship was heading to Singapore for a routine port call. The collision tore a hole in the warship's waterline, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping area, the U.S. Navy said.

"Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft," it said in a statement. "There are currently 10 sailors missing and five injured."

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson would conduct a broad investigation into U.S. naval operations after the collision.
read more here

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Marine Vietnam Veteran Built A Memorial--In His Yard

A special ceremony for Vietnam veterans: Area man built his own museum, war memorial

Bismark Tribune
Nathan Bowe
Forum News Service
August 19, 2017

Howard Maninga stands beside the veterans memorial he built on his property in rural Ponsford. All new flags will be raised at a ceremony open to all Vietnam veterans on Aug. 26. Nathan Bowe, Forum News Service

PONSFORD, Minn. — Fifty years ago, Howard Maninga of rural Ponsford went to fight in Vietnam as a young Marine. He came back, but he brought Vietnam with him.
“I went into Vietnam in ‘67,” says Maninga, now age 69. “When I got home, I couldn’t get married unless my dad signed off on it — I was too young.”
He fought in the battle of Guay, and spent 10½ months in Vietnam, fighting the Viet Cong, North Vietnamese, and at times, the Chinese, he said. Most of the time, he carried the “The Law,” an M79 shoulder-fired grenade launcher.
“We were sent there to kill people, and that’s what we did,” said Maninga, who grew up near the small southeastern Becker County community of Midway and joined the Marines because he “wanted to be a grunt,” he said.

The war was 50 years ago, but he said it has never left him. “You can’t put nothing aside — it keeps coming back, like yesterday,” said Maninga. If not for strong family support, especially from his wife, Trudy, he said he would have been dead long ago.
A member of the Marine Corps League North Star Detachment, Maninga also spends a lot of time performing honor guard duties at the funerals of veterans. “We’ve done 370-some funerals,” he said.
read more here

Vietnam Veteran Memorial “Moving Wall” Reminder of Different Nation

All Vietnam veterans and their families honored at Moving Wall

Wareham Wicked Local
Mary McKenzie
August 20, 2017

“I left Vietnam, but truth be told, it hasn’t left me. A seemingly unrelated sight or sound will bring me right back and then you remember the unexpected explosions, the screams of pain ...” Brig. Gen. James Carpenter

WAREHAM - As Pastor Colon Wright of Emmanuel Assembly of God Church thanked the audience for “honoring our fallen brothers and sisters” by visiting the Vietnam Wall, he asked them to remember those who returned home as well.
That sentiment, honoring the dead but recognizing the sacrifices of those who returned from the war, was echoed several times at Saturday night’s ceremonies at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial “Moving Wall.”
“I still find it difficult to talk about my time in Vietnam,” said Henry Mello, who served in the United States Army during the war and is now secretary of the Taunton Vietnam Veterans Association. “It took me about 50 years to ask for help.”
Brig. Gen. James Carpenter, the former commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard, with his voice breaking, reminded the audience that the night was dedicated to all Vietnam Veterans - those that returned, those that returned with disabling physical or psychological damage, those that returned to a hostile community - everyone.

Change Comes After Courageous Gain Wisdom

Change The Things You Actually Can Change
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 20, 2017

Accept the things you cannot change does not mean that you have to surrender to them. It just means you cannot undo what has already been done. You cannot change what was done to you anymore than you can change what you have done in your life.

You cannot change the thing that caused you to have PTSD.

You cannot change thoughts you had about PTSD, what it is, what it does and why it controls every part of you.

Change the things you can begins with you taking control of this moment on. It means taking back your life instead of letting PTSD control your days.

Learn from others who have managed to gain the wisdom to know there is something worth, not just living for, but worthy of ever effort you can give to the rest of your life.

Stop thinking that you are a victim of anything. Remember what you survived and know that you were stronger than "it" was. Remember, you are still here, therefor, you are a survivor. No one is unchanged afterwards. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Do you allow it to continue to be a threat to your life or do you take your life back into your own control?

There is no cure for PTSD but there are ways to put it out of your misery. 

Stop thinking you are stuck suffering. Decades of research and others successfully undoing the harm PTSD inflicts have offered proof of better things to come.

Understand that there is no earthly reason you survived and there is nothing within you that has changed. The "you" you always knew is still there but it is trapped behind the pain "it" caused you. All the good feelings you used to have are still there but your mind has built a wall between you and those emotions.

You have the ability to breakdown that wall, let the sting of bad memories out so there is room for good feelings to awaken within you.

If you believe you should have done something differently, look at it logically. Often people believe they would have, should have done something differently, but never manage to honestly look at the question "could have" they have done it.

Often we believe we could have done something about what happened. The truth is, we are not super-human, nor do we the power to be clairvoyant. Most of the veterans haunted by things they would have done differently, caused the greatest harm to them. It allowed guilt to take over where hope should have lived.

When recounting the stories, they are asked what they would have done differently, but when they actually think of the possibility of being actually able to do it, they discover it was just what they wish they could have done, not what they could have change.

Stop thinking that you are weak. The truth is actually the opposite. PTSD lives within your emotional core. The stronger that core is, the more you feel. Good feelings, compassion, love, the ability to forgive and the courage to act on those emotions, caused you to put your life in danger for the sake of others. Bad feelings live in the same place and there is a constant war going on inside of you between the two sides of you.

It is easier to be angry and react with it than it is to take the time to take control of the situation. It is easier to hate than it is to forgive. It is easier to push people out of your life than it is to do the work to make them want to stay.

I believe most of the time, what is wrong with you, is all caused by what is right within you.

Stop lying to yourself. Stop telling yourself you deserve to suffer. Don't forget that for some reason, you lived through "it" and there is a second chance to live this extra time using the gifts you have within you. 

The "Serenity Prayer" is one I grew up with after my Dad, a Korean War veteran, joined AA. 
The prayer has appeared in many versions. Niebuhr's versions of the prayer were always printed as a single prose sentence; printings that set out the prayer as three lines of verse modify the author's original version. The most well-known form is a late version, as it includes a reference to grace not found before 1951:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

What others think of you does not do as much harm as what you think about yourself. Change how you see yourself, focus on what is good and let that guide you.

You are not a burden to those who love you but you can make their lives difficult, just as healing can make their lives better. That I know because my Dad tried to make our lives better and my Husband has made my life so much better with him in it. We've been married for 33 years and he continues to do whatever it takes to make me glad I stayed.

He cannot undo the harm caused but has spent the rest of his days doing what he can to undo the outcome. You can gain the wisdom to know the difference and "live a reasonably happy life" from this moment on too.

Fort Campbell Solider Saved Drowning Autistic Teenager

Fort Campbell Soldier Saves Autistic Teen From Drowning

News Channel 5
Jonquil Newland 
August 18, 2017

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Recalling the events that happened still bring Martie Weeks to tears. Her family was tubing down the Red River in Clarksville on Sunday when she and her autistic son, Ronnie Harris, became separated.
"The current had taken me about 20 feet from him," Weeks said. 
It had rained the day before and the water was a bit higher than normal. The current wedged Ronnie under a tree.
"I was just holding on to the tree branch," said Ronnie. 
"He was struggling for a little bit and then he stopped struggling, there was no more struggle, and I'm screaming for him stand up," recalled Martie. 
Martie's screams could be heard up the river where U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Timothy Hansen and his family were enjoying the day.

"My mother, she's the one that heard it, and I turned over and I could see her face shriek. I was like, 'What's going on?' She said, 'Go save that baby,'" Hansen said. 
With that, Hansen was in a sprint down the river. He grabbed Ronnie and spent several minutes getting him to shore; however, for a moment, Ronnie wasn't breathing.

North Dakota Police Officer Fights For PTSD Benefits and Justice

“I’m going to tell my story”: Williston officer fights for benefits after traumatic call results in PTSD
Williston Herald
Elizabeth Hackeburg
August 19, 2017

“There is no mechanism in North Dakota Century Code that allows WSI to pay for mental injury such as PTSD or any other health services without a physical injury on the job. The last time the North Dakota legislature looked at this issue was during the 2015 session, and the bill was defeated.”

Williston police officer Bill Holler was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in June after effectively witnessing a gruesome suicide. He is on unpaid leave and fighting for financial assistance from North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance, despite his claim's denial based on state law. Elizabeth Hackenburg • Williston Herald

A Williston police officer who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder several months ago after responding to a horrifying call is fighting for financial assistance from a state agency that helps workers who are injured on the job.

Officer Bill Holler says he is paying for medical treatment, including psychiatric visits and medication, with his own money, and has appealed to North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance three times to help cover the costs after his claim was denied. 
The agency told Holler that under the state’s Century Code, physical injuries, as well as mental harm that is accompanied by a physical injury, are eligible for compensation, but “a mental injury arising from mental stimulus” is not covered. 
read more here

PTSD in UK Veterans Families Shows Crisis Spreads

Who will care for the carers? Hundreds of Army families also suffer from PTSD after 'knock-on effect'

Mirror UK
Alan Selby
August 19, 2017

At least 905 partners and children of forces veterans sought treatment for mental health issues during a 12-week period last year, NHS data shows

Bridget Cresswell says husband Stacey's PTSD had a "massive knock-on effect" for their family
Partners and children of forces veterans are being struck down by mental health problems – with hundreds seeking help each month.
At least 905 sought treatment during a 12-week period last year, NHS data shows.
But experts warn this could be just the tip of an iceberg, as stigma around mental health stops sufferers seeking support.
It comes as a separate poll by veterans’ charity Combat Stress showed 45 per cent of partners were problem drinkers, 38 per cent had depression and 17 per cent had post traumatic stress disorder themselves.
Brigette Cresswell, 41, said the PTSD suffered by her veteran husband Lance Bombardier Stacey Cresswell, 45, had a “massive knock-on effect” for the family.
She said: “I always felt with Stacey being the one suffering with PTSD he got all the help, all the respite care.
“We were pushed to one side. It was like we didn’t matter. Even though I know there are things out there available to me, I’m not aware of how to access them.”

Police Officer Fights to Heal PTSD--And Justice After Being Fired

Fired cop sues N. Platte, says city didn't accommodate his PTSD after fatal shooting

Lincoln Journal Star
Lori Pilger
August 20, 2017

Pelster said after Harms lost his job he went to the Nebraska Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found reasonable cause to believe the city had discriminated against Harms on the basis of disability.
A former North Platte police officer has sued the city, alleging he was wrongfully terminated after he sought disability benefits for PTSD, which he developed after taking the life of an armed man.
Rick Harms is asking a federal judge to reinstate his job and award him back pay and benefits, according to the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Omaha.
The city has not yet responded to the suit.
According to the lawsuit, Harms had worked as a patrolman with the North Platte Police Department for nearly 10 years when, early March 25, 2011, he shot and killed Marlon Johnson, a 60-year-old man who had pulled two knives on officers in the station's lobby.
A grand jury later cleared Harms and another officer involved of any wrongdoing.
But Harms developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of having to take the life of the armed assailant in the course of his duties as a police officer, his attorney, Glenn Pelster, said in the complaint.
 Man shot and killed at police station