Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Gravity of PTSD

When Does Suicide Become An Unacceptable Outcome of War?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 24, 2016

They call PTSD an "invisible wound" assuming it cannot be seen.  After all, it is not a wound of the flesh. Well, you cannot see gravity either, but you can see what it does.

Gravity keeps everything grounded so nothing is up in their air.
the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth.
In the same way, you cannot see this wound if you look at a veteran but you can see it if you know the veteran.

Cry for help goes unanswered, suicide follows, a report about Brandon Ketchum on Quad City Times, tells the story of a Marine with two deployments between 2004 and 2008 and then another one after he was diagnosed with PTSD.
He "posted to Facebook a 148-word account of his previous day's visit to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City. The 33-year-old Davenport man had hoped his "emergency appointment" would result in an admission to the psychiatric unit, where he'd found help before."
The thing is, no one saw it until it was too late. He sent the message at 2:11 am when most people were sleeping. Most of the country is still sleeping when it involves veterans in crisis.  When do we actually find suicide an unacceptable outcome of war?

Ketchum was in the Marines until 2013, long after all the "PTSD prevention" Power Point slides missed the power of the point that this is a wound not caused by any type of weakness but caused by the strength of their emotional core. Long after "suicide prevention" was supposed to keep more alive after combat and over four decades of efforts to help remove the stigma of this, yet he was still carrying it on his shoulders being crushed by the weight of his burden.
"Asking for help has only clouded my life with such a stigma that I have carried the 'crazy' or 'broken' labels, forcing me to have to fight for custody of my little girl that I love more than the world."
Some veterans have their families turning their backs on them and they end up alone, on the streets and still suffering. Ketchum had family and friends there for him.

There are some who never seek help, but Ketchum did. 
Brandon said he already had been diagnosed with PTSD by the time he left Iowa for his third deployment. He was taking antidepressants while serving in Afghanistan. By the end of that abbreviated tour, he was also prescribed narcotic pain pills.
He wanted to heal and wanted to start the next part of his life but was trapped because none of the help he received was enough to heal his soul.

The gravity of this wound is strengthened because the simple truth of it is not something they have been shown.  It attacks "serious or dignified behavior; dignity; solemnity" because they are left feeling ashamed of it instead of understanding it.

The same strength of their core that allowed them to carry that burden while others were in danger comes from the same place where it ravages them when the only ones in danger are themselves.

So when do we change the conversation? When do we stop using "invisible" as if that is an excuse for us leaving so many abandoned? If we do not see it, then it is easy to swallow the "raising awareness" crap when talking about the problem has nothing to do with the solution.

Are we finally ready to actually look at the "efforts" the DOD has been doing for over a decade and demand accountability considering evidence proves it does in fact to more harm than good? Are we ready to demand accountability from the thousands of folks running around the country getting plenty of press coverage for what they want to talk about without ever once having to answer for what they know nothing about?

How many more times do we actually have to read about veterans like Ketchum before we have reached the "one too many" suicides we find acceptable?