Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Still think you have to suffer in silence?

I was looking for something buried in one of my flash drives. I came across this from my old site.  Shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has stayed with me all these years, that I'm not saying anything new. Wait until the end and then think of commercials you've been hearing lately.

January 30, 2009
From NamGuardiangel.com 

PTSD:Tough Talk

by Chaplain Kathie

TOUGH adjective, -er, -est, adverb, noun, verb -adjective

strong and durable; not easily broken or cut.
capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy: tough troops.
not easily influenced, as a person; unyielding;
Slang. remarkably excellent; first-rate; great.

When it comes to PTSD, the tough talk about it. It takes a lot of courage to talk about something very few understand but it helps when youíre talking to others that do. There comes a time in your life when you say that you donít care what other people say. You know where you were and you know what you lived thru. You finally understand that not many others can claim the same.

Let's put it this way. We are a nation of over 300,000,000 people. There are less than 24,000,000 veterans and even less combat veterans.

Veteran's CensusAmerican Veterans By the Numbers
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
When They Served
23.6 million The number of military veterans in the United States in 2007.
Female Vets
1.8 million The number of female veterans in 2007.
16% Percentage of Persian Gulf War veterans in 2007 who were women.
9.3 million The number of veterans age 65 or older in 2007. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.9 million were younger than 35.
7.9 million Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2007. Thirty-three percent of all living veterans served during this time (1964-1975). In addition, 5 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present); 2.9 million in World War II (1941-1945); 3 million in the Korean War (1950-1953); and 6.1 million in peacetime.
358,000 In 2007, number of living veterans who served during both the Vietnam era and in the Gulf War.
Other living veterans in 2007 who served in two or more wars:
315,000 served during both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
69,000 served during three periods: World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War.
263,000 served in World War II and the Korean War.
6 million Number of veterans with a disability. More than half this number (3.5 million) were 65 and older.click link above for more

Congratulations, you've are officially a minority and you would think that the rest of the people in this country would make sure they not only took care of you when you were wounded, but tried really hard to understand you.

After all that is the least they could do. Some want to settle for a magnet on the back of their cars. Most of them are faded since they bought those magnets when the first troops were sent into Afghanistan in 2001. They just never thought about replacing the magnet because the memory of having troops deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan has faded the same way the magnet did. Too many people with too many of their own problems to take on someone else's I guess.

Some say we're a nation at war but in reality we are not. We're not even paying for it. It's borrowed money that our kids and grandchildren will have to pay for. We don't buy war bonds. We don't write letters to congress to make sure the wounded are taken care of and it takes TV shows like the one Dr. Phil just did and MTV to show any kind of interest in what wounded veterans are still going through, not that its that big of a news story to any of you. You already knew.

When you think that you were brave enough to enlist, it was inside of you. You were brave enough to train. Brave enough to get on the plane and head into the unknown of Afghanistan and Iraq. You were certainly brave enough to do your duty, no matter how afraid you were deeply inside because you knew the lives of your buddies depended on you holding it all together. You went without food at times, without showers and clean clothes, without beds at times and without much sleep at all, but you still got up and did what you were expected to do. Don't you see the courage in that? You did your time and came home, but you noticed something was different about you. It was like this invader sneaking in to take over.

Little by little parts of you were changing and you didn't know how to take control. You couldn't shoot it. You knew you had to fight it but you just didn't know how. Then more and more of you came under its control. This time the enemy was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When you think of what that name means instead of thinking there is something wrong with you, you begin to understand that it is exactly what the title implies. "Post"means after. Trauma actually means "wound" in Greek. Stress, well we all know what that means because you deal with stress everyday of your life. The "disorder" part comes from when everything in your life if out of order.

Nothing makes sense anymore especially when you are freaking out after a flashback, shaking and sweating from a nightmare that the best Hollywood minds couldn't have imagined and feeling angry all the time. Once you see that its all a normal reaction to abnormal events, you begin to understand theres nothing wrong with you, but you were wounded. It's not a mental illness in the way most people think mental illness is. It begins with an outside force that hits you right in your gut and pounds away at you until the chemicals in your brain change. It's playing a movie over and over again with the least bit of influence from things that remind you of horror.

I really think that anyone living through the kinds of traumatic events created by combat saying they were not touched by it, are either lying or never really felt anything before. Very few can walk away from combat the same way they were before it. Most of the people you know in your civilian life canít do it either. Events become a part of the person no matter how much they try to deny it.

So, there you are, sitting in your chair, wondering why no one in your family wants to talk to you and why you don't want to talk to them. You wonder why everything your wife says bothers you and why your kids try to stay away from you, thinking that in a way, you're glad they do. You wonder why there are some days when you want to be around them and you can't understand why they seem so angry at you because you forgot about what happened the day before and the day before that. It all becomes a blur.

But with all of this, you think that if you tell someone what's going on with you, they will think you're crazy. What is happening to you, to the people you love and your relationship with them is passed off with "I'll make it up to them" or "I'll snap out of this and everything will be wonderful." but you know that is not true. You can see the damage being done. Some days reality sinks and you wonder why they even bother with you at all. You ask yourself if you would bother with someone like you.

Then the day comes when you've had enough of excusing it all away. Common sense takes over. You understand that it all has to do with where you were and what you saw. All the flashbacks are about being deployed. All the nightmares are about being in danger and seeing your friends in danger. None of it has anything to do with the way you were before the trauma. Its all tied into being there! Eureka! Its not you! Its trauma.

Being wounded by a bullet is taken as some kind of badge of honor, but being wounded by PTSD is all about being where you were and what you lived through. You actually have strong emotions and feel for other people, stronger than others that could "come home normal." You felt things more deeply than they did and there is nothing weak about that at all. While this emotional strength enabled you to feel life more deeply, it also allowed you to feel tragedy more deeply.

When PTSD takes over, the need to trap out those bad feelings ends up having your own mind build a wall around your soul. It builds it brick by brick until the pain is trapped behind it and good feelings are prevented from entering. You self medicate so you don't have to feel for as long as you can and drink too much or being to use drugs. You drive too fast. Too often you also drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Pretending the drug of choice is a shield to protect you from being you, you put other peoples lives in danger along with your own.

Its all falling apart until a friend gives you the support you need to see the truth. You actually managed somehow to express what is going on with you and they actually listened. What you do not notice is in that exact moment, PTSD stopped getting worse. As soon as you begin to talk about it honestly, the wall PTSD built beings to have bricks removed one by one. As they come down, all the emotions trapped behind the wall begin to come out. You begin to feel again. You cry more often. Its the awakening of emotions that have been in a coma.

You know that as you seek help, there will be people supporting you but there will also be people judging you. The more people you meet with the same wound you have, the less of a punch the others are able to hit you with. You understand that the doubters are the ones with the problem because the symptoms of PTSD have been documented since the beginning of time and its only human to be changed by traumatic events. It only means you are thinking, feeling human and not a weak one.

As you found strength in numbers as part of the unit you were with while deployed, you also find the same strength in numbers understanding that there are a lot of you living with PTSD. As a matter of fact, since PTSD is a human wounding caused by trauma, there are over 7 million other Americans with this wound. This is not even beginning to count the numbers worldwide.

So, you can see, you are not so odd at all. When you look at other veterans from other generations, you notice how similar they are to you. Talk to a Vietnam veteran and you'll hear the same things happened to them. Read reports about wars of the past and you know that even though technology has changed, being human has not.

While generations before Vietnam returned in silent suffering, the Vietnam veterans turned to each other. The war stories were replaced with the war stories of what was being fought inside of them. They said it was because they served the nation. They said they should be treated and compensated for this wounding. They used the courage they had to fight to get it done. They are the reason we know as much as we do about PTSD and why the VA is paying for the lost incomes because you can no longer work and because your lives have been changed.

If you think about all the combat veterans you've met in your life, none of them appear to be anything but tuff. Most of them would go back if asked to. Most of them also turn around and fight for other veterans. None of them walked away from their duty. They did their duty for as long as they were able to. Then, out of danger from the enemy, back home, the enemy that hitched a ride inside their skin attacked them. They sought treatment when most of the country was telling them they were crazy because they knew better. They knew what they lived through and what they were living with. They were not about to let idiots try to stop them from healing. They knew there was no way possible a civilian could ever understand what it was like for them.

Then a miracle happened. We began to see bumper stickers and hats with the words "Proud Vietnam Vet" and we were reminded they have no shame in them because their service was honorable. They served when asked to step up or were drafted when their number came up. Once there, nothing else mattered than doing their duty, watching the backs of their brothers and facing the enemy they were sent to fight. They didn't get to decide what nation they would go to, or who they would try to kill. They were told by their commanders and once there, they knew the chosen enemy was just as determined to kill them. Thats what happens in war and has happened since the beginning of time. Someone in charge says they need to fight someone on the other side and bingo you have a war with humans against humans.

The Vietnam veterans understood this. Because they did, the rest of the country understood a lot more about them than they ever would have discovered on their own. In turn, they understand a lot more about you.

When you realize within the detached population there are thousands of people involved and stepping up to help, you know you do matter. Stop looking at the people without a clue and start to look at the people taking an active interest in you. The others will not support you but they will. The others don't care but they do. They see the courage you had within you the day you were born and they appreciate the fact you used it for the greater good of the nation. Supporting you means far more than a faded bumper sticker while ignorant of the fact what the really is supposed to mean. Supporting you should always begin with respecting you as a member of the finest minority this nation has ever seen. The courage of your character is still there and you show it when you stand up and say you need help no matter what others may think.

The best thing to come out of all the coverage on PTSD is that three generals admitted in public, they are healing from it too.

I am thankful for all of the men and women serving this country and those who served coming forward to talk about PTSD. All these years later after the first studies were done, there are now so many that soon no one will ever wonder again what PTSD is. There are literally hundreds of their stories on my Wounded Times blog, but the most magnificent thing about all of them is that they were willing to talk about it no matter how much others wanted to stigmatize them. Their courage is a testament of the human spirit.

When commanding officers are willing to say they have PTSD because of their service, it sets and example for all others to follow.

General Carter Ham, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo and Maj. Gen. David Blackledge just made it impossible for other commanders to ignore PTSD. As you read Their stories think of all the others coming forward and know we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

General Carter Ham

PTSD:General's story highlights combat stress

Gen. Carter Ham, to call him a hero would be putting it mildly. He's a hero to the troops not just because he's a high ranking officer, but because he is willing to speak out on having PTSD. That is a kind of courage very few in his position are willing to do. When men like my husband came home from Vietnam, they knew something had changed inside of them but they didn't know what it was. They suffered in silence just as generations before them suffered. When PTSD was first used in 1976 with a study commissioned by the DAV, news was slowly reaching the veterans. While they fought to have it recognized as wound caused by their service, it was very difficult to talk about. The perception that there was something wrong with them kept too many from even seeking help to heal.
General's story puts focus on stress stemming from combatBy Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
Gen. Carter Ham was among the best of the best ó tough, smart and strong ó an elite soldier in a battle-hardened Army. At the Pentagon, his star was rising.
In Iraq, he was in command in the north during the early part of the war, when the insurgency became more aggressive. Shortly before he was to return home, on Dec. 21, 2004, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mess hall at a U.S. military base near Mosul and killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. troops. Ham arrived at the scene 20 minutes later to find the devastation.
When Ham returned from Mosul to Fort Lewis, Wash., in February 2005, something in the affable officer was missing. Loud noises startled him. Sleep didn't come easily.
"When he came back, all of him didn't come back. Pieces of him the way he used to be were perhaps left back there," says his wife, Christi. "I didn't get the whole guy I'd sent away."
Today, Ham, 56, is one of only 12 four-star generals in the Army. He commands all U.S. soldiers in Europe. The stress of his combat service could have derailed his career, but Ham says he realized that he needed help transitioning from life on the battlefields of Iraq to the halls of power at the Pentagon. So he sought screening for post-traumatic stress and got counseling from a chaplain. That helped him "get realigned," he says.
"You need somebody to assure you that it's not abnormal," Ham says. "It's not abnormal to have difficulty sleeping. It's not abnormal to be jumpy at loud sounds. It's not abnormal to find yourself with mood swings at seemingly trivial matters. More than anything else, just to be able to say that out loud."
The willingness of Ham, one of the military's top officers, to speak candidly with USA TODAY for the first time about post-traumatic stress represents a tectonic shift for a military system in which seeking such help has long been seen as a sign of weakness.

Maj. Gen. Tony CucoloPTSD News: Another Army General Fights Stigma by Announcing He Sought PTSD RecoveryPamela Walck
Savannah Morning News (Georgia)
Dec 21, 2008
December 21, 2008, Fort Stewart, Georgia - War changes a person. It's a truth Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo knows all too well from his 29 years of service - and counting - in the U.S. Army.
And it's a truth he tries to share with each new man and woman arriving at Fort Stewart to serve in the 3rd Infantry Division he guides.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews and I try to speak to each newcomers' group," said the commanding general of the 3rd ID. "We get all ranks - from private to colonel - and in part, we try to impress upon them ... it is a point of moral courage to step forward and say you need help."
Cucolo then points to a few examples of soldiers he knows who recognized the classic signs of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury in their own behavior - then sought help for it.
"I applaud that behavior," Cucolo said Friday, moments after participating in a groundbreaking at Winn Army Hospital for a new PTSD and TBI clinic.
Cucolo said he then tells his soldiers they are looking at an officer who sought counseling and got help.
"A lot of people think it is a career-ender," Cucolo said in an exclusive interview.
But he's living proof to the contrary.
Cucolo took command of the 3rd ID in July, after serving a two-year tour at the Pentagon as the Army's chief of public affairs.
During a career that spans nearly three decades, he has served 16 of those years in infantry and armor divisions.
"Soldiers return (from war) a slightly different person," Cucolo said. "It's understood ... we all deal with it different."
The general contends that details over when, why or where he personally sought help are not important.
The fact that he sought help, however, is.
click link above for more

Maj. Gen. David BlackledgePTSD News: After Two Iraq War Deployments, Army Major General Steps Forward, Breaks Culture of Silence on Mental HealthPauline Jelinek
Associated Press
Nov 08, 2008
November 8, 2008, Washington, DC (AP) ó It takes a brave soldier to do what Army Maj. Gen. David Blackledge did in Iraq.
It takes as much bravery to do what he did when he got home.
Blackledge got psychiatric counseling to deal with wartime trauma, and now he is defying the military's culture of silence on the subject of mental health problems and treatment.
"It's part of our profession, nobody wants to admit that they've got a weakness in this area," Blackledge said of mental health problems among troops returning from America's two wars.
"I have dealt with it. I'm dealing with it now," said Blackledge, who came home with post-traumatic stress. "We need to be able to talk about it."
As the nation marks another Veterans Day, thousands of troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with anxiety, depression and other emotional problems.
Up to 20 percent of the more than 1.7 million who've served in the wars are estimated to have symptoms. In a sign of how tough it may be to change attitudes, roughly half of those who need help aren't seeking it, studies have found.
click link above for more

Do you think they have anything to feel ashamed of? Think of where they are and the position they have. Do you still think you have any kind of a reason to stay suffering in silence? Ran out of excuses yet? I bet you just did.

Yep! I've been using "suffering in silence" all this time!