Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Round Earth and Strength Fueling PTSD

Deadly Ignorance on PTSD
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 24, 2016

While national media reporters have been interested in are easy stories to report on, the truth on combat and PTSD is still true but they prefer to sit back and let veterans fall off the face of the earth instead of telling them what they need to hear.

When the earth was still round, some folks thought it was flat. It didn't matter that others knew our planet was round and the masses were wrong. It was what it was while most just believed what they wanted to.

Wounded Times has been up and running since August of 2007. 26,246 post later I was reading a headline from Canada about how we fail our service members and veterans. "U.S. ignores trauma of returning soldiers at its peril, warns PTSD specialist" and it sounded familiar. The words "warn" and "peril" smacked me in the head, so I started to search for had been posted. I found it within the list of posts from the first month Wounded Times published.

Ignoring increased risk of PTSD in redeployed at our peril
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 20, 2007

Repeat Iraq Tours Raise Risk of PTSD, Army Finds
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006; Page A19
U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health........

Searching for quotes for a new video, I kept finding the report of the increased risk associated with redeployments missing in action. Why? How could a report like this drop off the reports on PTSD when so many of them are coming out? Is this no longer important to the media considering some are on their fifth tour right now? How could they just drop this from their attention?

Easy. It does not fit in with the illusion of the "all volunteer" Army, the Marines, the Air Force or the National Guard. Think about it. Bush keeps saying "well their all volunteers" and this paints a picture in our minds that these men and women have no issues about going back over and over again. It paints a picture of everyone happily carrying out his orders.

We are sending back seriously wounded people. We need to remember they are people. Humans not machines of war. What do you see when you look into their eyes? If they have PTSD, you see a person haunted. It is deeper than being tired. Deeper than being homesick. Deeper than personal issues back home. All of these things are insignificant to what is behind those eyes. It is not something to mess around with. It is not something to ignore any more than it is something to treat with some pills, pat them on the head and send them back to be traumatized all over again.

They may have walked away from the first deployment without PTSD. They may have walked away from the second. Perhaps even the third but the odds are a lot greater they brought the combat back home with them as surely as they did their duffel bag. They are being forced to play a game of Russian roulette with their minds and their lives. Every time they go back, the risk of PTSD is 50% greater to them. Yet as the media have been reluctant to report on this crisis, the report drops off to the distant memories of the people getting the air time on cable news. You certainly won't hear any of the people supporting Bush's delusion discussing it.

The next time you hear any more figures, usually low balled, remember why the numbers are going up and then keep in mind, sometimes they won't show signs of PTSD until years later. Where will the reporters be then? Remember when they came home from Vietnam and the media ignored their problems. Less than ten years later, local newspapers were reporting on them in the obituary pages and the crime logs. Twenty years later they were reporting still in these sections but then occasionally finding the compassion to report on the homelessness of Vietnam Veterans. If we do nothing right now, if we do not keep the attention of the media right where it needs to be so that they are taken care of, how many of them will they be reporting on in the obituary pages and the crime logs ten years from now? Five years from now? Later on this year? How many families will pay the price as they watch someone they love helplessly fall apart and die a slow death? How many of them will come home one day and find they were actually a fatality of combat long after they stopped wearing their uniform?

Kathie Costos
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

***I'm posting this on both blogs since the media stopped reporting on this someone has to.***
The national press is still doing a lousy job of reporting.  They allow the DOD to make any claim they want to instead of asking them questions to prove what they say is true. Failure to know the facts before reporters conduct interviews has perpetuated the anguished outcomes of millions of veterans. 

What makes all of this worse is the simple fact that as the number of civilians committing suicide in the US has gone up, the "efforts" to prevent them among service members has failed. These same people were were willing to die for someone else yet cannot find the one single reason to survive as a veteran after surviving combat.

U.S. suicides have soared since 1999, CDC report says was the headline on LA Times. There are two parts of this that need to be considered.
All told, some 42,773 Americans died of suicide in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That made suicide the 10th leading cause of death for all ages.
And then there was this part.
Among all women younger than 75, suicide rates grew across the age spectrum. But in the age of greatest vulnerability--women between the ages of 45 and 64--the rate of suicide in 2014 vaulted 80% higher over 1999's rates.
Some are already pointing out that civilian suicides have gone up so suicides tied to military service going up is just a reflection of society in general. Simple logic however far from an informed conclusion.

Since 2007 the military has been claiming they have been training service members in preventing suicides. After spending billions, suicides have increased yet when asked to explain, they never seem to mention how their "efforts" have failed. They simply point out the civilian rates, totally ignoring their own mental health failures.

Breaking it down, we have pre-enlistment evaluations.  Recruits have to be physically fit as well as mentally fit. When you read the DOD saying that most suicides occurred without deployments, that actually translates to a massive failure in the testing. If the testing isn't good enough to spot mental illness, then how good can their psychological treatments be?

With all the training all the recruits get on "prevention" if it has not worked to prevent them from committing suicide, then how did the DOD expect that training to prevent service members with multiple deployments from ending their own lives after surviving combat?

We see what happens when they leave the military but the DOD has not had to answer for anything that happens to veterans.  Not that they would be prepared to even acknowledge the fact they were trained to live by them.  The VA gets all the blame but no one is looking at the original source of the suffering within the DOD.

The CDC report also stated that suicides are more tied to depression.  

You can't get more depressed than to have risked your life in the military, then end up being told you are mentally weak if you are suffering for it.

U.S. suicide rates up, especially among women, but down for black males CNN
Middle-aged women, between 45 and 64, had the highest suicide rate among women in both 1999 and 2014. This age group also had the largest increase in suicide rate: 63%, from 6 to 9.8 per 100,000. The 45-64 age group also had the largest increase in suicide rate among men: 43%, from 20.8 to 29.7 per 100,000.

Men 75 and older had the highest overall suicide rate, even though it decreased from 42.4 to 38.8 per 100,000 between 1999 and 2014. The total number of suicide deaths was much greater in middle-aged men than this older group because the population of middle-aged men is so much larger, Curtin said.
Young veterans, trained to stay alive ended up becoming the focus of efforts
The rates are highest among young veterans, the VA found in new research compiling 11 years of data. For women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans.
Then we have that simple fact all the "awareness" folks avoid mentioning. Most of the civilian suicides are among seniors and that includes veterans. Almost every state is reporting veteran suicides are double the civilian rate, so when you read the staggering numbers, consider that simple fact, especially when you hear the number "22" reported as if they have a single clue because they have failed to read the report from the VA to begin to understand that number made a great headline but left out far too many suffering.

That report was up to 2010 with limited data from just 21 states.

With all that out of the way, here is the article that stared all that this morning. Not a good way to walk up but shows it is past time for this country to wake up. The report came out of Canada.

U.S. ignores trauma of returning soldiers at its peril, warns PTSD specialist
Veterans have higher rates of suicide and PTSD and few employment prospects, says Bessel van der Kolk
CBC News
Posted: Apr 24, 2016

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk shakes his head when he hears U.S. presidential candidates trying to out-pledge each other in hunting down ISIS militants. His response is as simple as it is heartfelt: "Oh, no. There's going to be more war and more trauma."
U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan and other conflict zones return home with significant mental and physical trauma, which often goes untreated. Psychiatrist says the U.S. has not faced up to the damaging toll this trauma takes on the nation. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist and the medical director of the Trauma Center in Boston, and the bestselling author of The Body Keeps the Score. He believes there's a growing crisis in the United States that warrants a broad public debate, but he knows it won't happen.

"It's very painful to hear what's not being talked about," he said. "You need truth in packaging before you send people off to war."

Van der Kolk says the prospects for Americans coming home after serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or other conflict zones are grim.

A large proportion of them are unable to work, and rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide among veterans are worrying. Many returning service members end up drawing their families into their own trauma, but the military has little in the way of support for those relatives, so the cycle of trauma continues.

Van der Kolk calls it a national crisis that the U.S. is not willing to face.

"It has certain implications of taking care of hurt and wounded people that would involve some societal transformations which America is not ready for — yet," he said in a three-part series on CBC's Ideas.
read more here.
The truth is, they can heal but first they need to know a few things, much like the earth is round. Many veterans know healing first requires an understanding of what PTSD is and why they have it. Then they need to know it begins in their emotional core.  The stronger that is, they more they feel. The very thing that allows them to risk their lives for others is where PTSD strikes.  The more they are able to feel, the more they are feeling a deeper level of pain.

Yet with all we've known over the last 40 years, far too many still believe PTSD is a sign of some sort of weakness instead of the strength within them. That simple fact is just about as important as telling the truth the earth is round when faced with foolishness.  


  1. Excellent article. I have read van der Kolk's book "the body keep the score" great book. Soldiers lives matter. Military families matter. It is about time people took notice.


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