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Veterans PTSD
PTSD AND POST-WAR STRESSORS Note from PF 2020/05/09: the info provided on this page is not meant to advertise any one company or organization, but to provide a variety of informative pieces to help people.  Police Factor does not receive credits, endorsements or otherwise any benefits when you click links.  No one company is endorsed over another.  Although many people basically know what PTSD is, there are different slants on the subject.  Since I have personally experienced a disabled Iraqi OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) veteran with PTSD, some of the material I have added here matches my experiences with him, so I felt it might be helpful for others, too.  Several of the symptoms mentioned on this page were exhibited by the veteran I knew briefly in 2019-2020; we are at least currently no longer in contact at this time, but I was greatly impacted by the brief encounter. PTSD = Post Traumatic Stress Disorder A disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.  Symptoms may include nightmares or unwanted memories of the trauma, avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma, heightened reactions, anxiety, or depressed mood. Treatment includes different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy as well as medications to manage symptoms. Sources: Mayo Clinic and others. [Extracted from the Internet 2020/05/09] Make The Connection dot net A wide variety of symptoms may be signs that you are experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder. The following are some of the most common symptoms of PTSD that you or those around you may have noticed: Feeling upset by things that remind you of what happened Having nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event that make you feel like it’s happening all over again Feeling emotionally cut off from others Feeling numb or losing interest in things you used to care about Feeling constantly on guard Feeling irritated or having angry outbursts Having difficulty sleeping Having trouble concentrating Being jumpy or easily startled https://maketheconnection.net/conditions/ptsd?gclid=CjwKCAjwqdn1BRBREiwAEbZcR8L5Wir42pij6Wjn9OXidM9Ul9DTV DUxTI0I4MysNHeQsf_OdhC2CRoCqZEQAvD_BwE [Extracted from the Internet 2020/05/09] See also TBI Traumatic Brain Injury Afghanistan versus Iraq  Iraq Stressors, PTSD Washington Post  (2014/04/030 Why the Iraq War has produced more PTSD than the conflict in Afghanistan https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/04/03/why-the-iraq-war-has-produced-more-ptsd-than- the-conflict-in-afghanistan/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e8691776bcce Excerpt:  Combat in Iraq, however, is not entirely like combat in Afghanistan….We often talk about veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same breath, as if American soldiers fighting in the 21st century were engaged in largely interchangeable experiences wherever they've been "over there." Researchers often combine veterans of the two wars into the same suicide and depression statistics. They're compared in a single class to veterans of earlier wars in the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, Korea or World War II.  And it's true that they deploy from America under comparable circumstances, as members of a U.S. military that's fighting longer wars and is more isolated at home from the U.S. public than ever…. And research consistently concludes that veterans are returning from Iraq, where the troubled shooter in Wednesday's Fort Hood tragedy served, with what appears to be greater exposure to stressors and higher levels of PTSD. The Fort Hood shooter, an Army truck driver named Ivan Lopez, was reportedly undergoing evaluation for PTSD. Some numbers from the Department of Veterans Affairs estimate that PTSD affects about 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, but 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/04/03/why-the-iraq-war-has-produced-more-ptsd-than- the-conflict-in-afghanistan/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e8691776bcce Some people associated with Fallujah with PTSD James Blake Miller (Marine Corporal) CNN: (2013/03/19) Iraq War Contractors/Sub-Topic Marine haunted by Fallujah  a Marine from Fallujah with PTSD- Luis Sinco-look on page for video link called Marine Haunted by Fallujah. The Marlboro Marine is photographer Luis Sinco's portrait of Marine Corporal James Blake Miller, whom he met in Iraq. For Miller, coming home has been its own battle. https://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/business/iraq-war-contractors/index.html Tan Mai (Marine Sergeant) Desert Sun: (2014/03/24) As the first battle for Fallujah raged, Sgt. Tan Mai camped in a dump on the city's northern edge, where the wafting stench of bodies mixed with garbage, diesel and human waste. Gunfire blasted from buildings and alleyways. Flies were relentless. Emaciated dogs circled, waiting to make a meal out of anyone killed by a sniper. Sleep came in two-hour shifts or not at all.  Mai and 26 other Marines spent three weeks in this landfill, hiding by berms built from garbage, living out of Humvees, ducking from the constant threat of insurgent fire. These were the "worst three weeks" of Mai's life, and although he survived the fight for Fallujah, he did not leave the war zone unscathed https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2014/03/24/marine-ptsd-twentynine-palms-shock-war/6698933/ Albin, Cameron (Marine Captain, Charlie Company executive officer) “There was a sense of importance, and clarity of purpose, that doesn’t seem to exist in civilian society,” says Capt. Cameron Albin, the former company executive officer, who has suffered heavily from PTSD since Fallujah and is now turning his life around in Austin, Texas. “Reinventing oneself is not easy.... At one point, I was competent, capable, respected, and felt as though I could accomplish anything. Then it all evaporated, and I felt utterly useless, worthless. Regaining even a fraction of my previous confidence is a daily challenge.” https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2014/1107/Fallujah-anniversary-Tracking-down-the-US-Marine-Death- Dealers 2020/01/29-30  (moved from Current Commentary Notes section on this day) PTSD - Combat Veteran Note from RG: I will add that we need to remember combat veterans with PTSD likely know the scoop; it is important not to project or assume.  Also they might be lured by suggestion, popular opinion or what articles and experts say about “don’t’ trust”, “suicide”, “volatility: and such.  It’s important to take these symptoms seriously and at face value, but also to realize any of us could be lured into acting a certain way out of expectation or common beliefs, or just by suspecting someone expects this of us.  One article on combat veteran PTSD said to remember that many veterans have a complex skill set and can handle difficult topics better than we might think - that is, better than evasion and light talk.  I would concur; the emotional connectivity and ability to communicate complex themes has been proven to me by at least two combat veterans from Iraq one with known PTSD, the other suspected with it.  There can be a tendency to want to withdraw from the world, to be something of a hermit and to yearn to live in the wilderness away from people.  Later realization indicates to me don’t talk about suicide because it can trigger things, like even the feeling that people are talking and expect veterans with PTSD to maybe do that.  It’s not that we want to play false on this subject, but we don’t want to open a can of worms.  I do not expect a combat veteran with PTSD to commit suicide; there is no preconception that they would; there is the hope they would not, but even discussing that to try to prevent such things might open a can of worms.  Every human is unique and this large post-Iraq/Afghanistan military group tendency for PTSD might make our veterans feel like they are being lumped together and that there are certain expectations from family, friends and the general public.  I think we should take one step at a time and also try to encourage them to realize that although we understand the tendencies, concerns and past issues with others, we don’t instantly assume this veteran, this time, will act like that or do that.  It should not be something that is bandied about lightly, this subject of PTSD. One side note: there is the possibility that if a veteran has spent some time training on biofeedback machines and learning how to project his mind to a computerized device of some kind, certain kinds of astral projection, telepathy and other psychic ability might also have been heightened.  I do not know this for a fact, but suspect it.  In addition, I am leaning toward a “strands of consciousness” theme on certain kinds of trauma, particularly excessive violence or near death experiences.  If a person is doing any form of drugs, whether legitimately or not, it might be heightened during certain periods.  I suspect a victimized, traumatized, injured person might leave a portion of his consciousness back at the time of the event and that this aspect could have kept him alive but also might still be directing the show from back at that moment in this time and space in some way.  An ongoing communication and energy portal, in other words.  I have tried talking it out but I am not sure how effective this is, as it can increase fears and stress if the person does not feel comfortable with “woo woo’ topics or tells you he does not want weirdness. Also it can backfire if it makes you come across as non-trustworthy, weird or uncertain.  It can break down communication.   However I suspect their subconscious mind is processing the material anyway.  Spies/Interference, etc: I will also caution veterans and families against any possible post-combat “watchers” - something that comes up as a possibility but I do not have facts.  Some groups would be those linked to Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc who knew of the soldier while he/she was on active duty or got the name from a data file or list later.  Players might be part of a complex and long network across the United States who are sent in around veterans who were particuarly strong in Iraq or Afghanistan.  I do not know this for a fact, I suspect it is possible, and I ask people to be on alert to the possibilities.  Hispanic gangs or cartels linked to Islamic mafias could be some of the players, but they would not be the only ones.  I realize it is a concern that could play into already existing paranoia and lack of trust, but since it keeps coming up as a possibility to me, I feel I need to mention it. Nationswell dot com (2014/04/06) When Vets Come Home: 5 Things You Should Say (and 5 Things You Shouldn’t): Veterans and experts share personal advice on how to talk to those back from the front lines. By Feifei Sun https://nationswell.com/vets-come-home-5-things-say-5-things-shouldnt/ Excerpt: 2. Don’t tread too gently around vets because you assume everyone has experienced trauma. “There’s no need to coddle vets,” says Amber Barno, a former OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “There’s this stigma that people need to watch what they say, and frankly, veterans get annoyed at over concern. Veterans come out with priceless skill sets, as well as experience — ask about that experience, what it was like to serve their country.” Daniel Gade, 39, an active lieutenant colonel in the Army and a professor at the United States Military Academy, West Point, says it’s important not to assume that all returning service members have PTSD or emotional problems just because they’ve served, even if they’ve served in direct fire combat. “One of the problems in society is our mentality of extremes — that veterans are maimed and need to be treated with kid gloves or that they’re all heroes,” he says. “Most of them are neither heroes nor victims, so treating them as normal human beings would be very useful.” Huffington Post Care About a Veteran with PTSD? Here Is How to Help 01/27/2016 01:56 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2017.  Rita Nakashima Brock, Contributor, Dr. William Gibson and I co-authored this article. He is a psychologist and neuropsychologist at the VA Medical Center in Canandaigua, NY. Senior Vice President for Moral Injury Programs at Volunteers of America, Theologian and Lifelong Activist for Peace https://www.huffpost.com/entry/care-about-a-veteran-with-ptsd_b_9073122 Post and Courier  2020/01/29 After successful trials in sc fda expands access to ecstasy https://www.postandcourier.com/news/after-successful-trials-in-sc-fda-expands-access-to- ecstasy/article_3714dfd4-3ebc-11ea-aeb3-3b15025406bf.html Excerpt: Veterans battling severe post-traumatic stress disorder could soon have access to ecstasy-guided therapy because of successful medical trials done in Mount Pleasant. Ecstasy, scientifically called MDMA, is an illegal psychoactive drug culturally associated with rave culture, dance parties and music festivals. But last week, after years of successful trials in South Carolina, the Food and Drug Administration announced the expansion of the study to help firefighters, police officers and soldiers trying to combat long-standing trauma. “The resurgence of research into using drugs such as MDMA to catalyze psychotherapy is the most promising and exciting development I’ve seen in my psychiatric career,” said Michael Mithoefer, a Mount Pleasant therapist who has conducted trials at his office since 2004. The research has already helped dozens of veterans, including Army Sgt. C.J. Hardin. The West Ashley resident served in Iraq and Afghanistan for eight years. The stress of war paired with memories from his childhood haunted him. He said he turned to heavy drinking and intense self-medicating with marijuana to feel “numb.” He shut himself off from human contact and felt like he was becoming a hermit. “It was a culmination of events in my life but it got more intense during my deployment,” Hardin said. “There was this general feeling of not feeling safe at anytime. The sounds of rockets and mortars and knowing that at any moment a bomb could come in on you.” How to treat PTSD naturally? www.ourmilitary.com/treating-ptsd-naturally/ Treat PTSD Naturally – 3 Effective Ways Meditation and Yoga. Working with Animals. Massage Therapy. Treat PTSD Naturally - 3 Effective Ways - OurMilitary.com www.ourmilitary.com/treating-ptsd-naturally/ Family of a Vet dot com Understanding combat ptsd from the inside out http://www.familyofavet.com/understanding_combat_ptsd.html Excerpt: Combat-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or Combat PTSD) is not just something that happens to a soldier when they have to kill someone (though that can play a part).  It’s about what happens, physically and psychologically, inside of a soldier’s brain when they are faced with weeks, months, and years of constant fear, death, adrenaline, and danger.  This enormous, prolonged stress literally changes the way their brain looks and functions.   Physical Changes HIPPOCAMPUS - The hippocampus is a section of our brain that plays an important part in short-term memory and the regulation of our emotions.  Researchers, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI’s), have been able to determine that the hippocampus of veterans with PTSD has actually suffered damage.  They believe this damage may be under stress. PREFRONTAL CORTEX – Our Prefrontal Cortex helps us decide how we experience and react to an emotion and resolve conflicts.  It also tells our brain when a threat has passed.  People with PTSD have altered blood flow to this area of their brain (the more change in flow, the more severe the symptoms of PTSD).  This decrease in function causes their brain to sort of be stuck in a permanent fear mode, because it doesn’t relay the “all clear” message. ADRENALINE RESPONSE – When we’re in danger, our brain flips into “fight or flight” mode, a place where it is primed to decide whether or not we should run or engage a threat.  Our bodies make two handy hormones that cause this response: noradrenaline that handles fight, and adrenaline which is responsible flight.  In “normal” brains, these hormones are released by a current threat (i.e., when someone is standing face to face with a bear).  But, in a brain affected by PTSD, these hormones are triggered not by actual threats but by reminders of threats that occurred months or years before. GRAY MATTER – The gray matter section of our brain is responsible for processing information from our body (sensory neurons) and sending information to our body (motor neurons).  Veterans have 5% - 10% less gray matter after developing PTSD.  This means their neurons (their communication signals) have been damaged. Psychological / Mental Changes HOSTILITY / AGGRESSION – Veterans with PTSD exhibit significantly higher levels of hostility and aggression than the general public, or even than other soldiers who have experienced combat.  Since they have lived for a long period of time where they needed to aggressively react at a moment’s notice in order to stay alive, this way of acting has become an ingrained habit.  Spouses often joke that it is not safe to wake a sleeping veteran from anywhere close by.  This is because, when startled awake, the vet can react with an unbelievably strong amount of aggression because he believes he is responding to an unknown threat.  On a wider scale, it is very common for individuals with PTSD to get into fights, drive aggressively, become angry at insignificant things, and drastically overreact to any sort of challenge. UILT – The guilt associated with post traumatic stress disorder is often called survivor’s guilt.  The veteran feels a great deal of guilt because he survived an attack when a comrade did not.  He feels guilty  because a friend lost his legs in an explosion while he remained mostly untouched.  He feels guilty that he is at home in safe surrounding while others he fought with are in harm’s way. DEPRESSION / SUICIDE – People with post traumatic stress disorder are seven times more likely to be depressed than someone in the general population.  It is one of the most complaints associated with PTSD.  And, unfortunately, this depression goes hand in hand with high rates of suicide among our nation’s returning heroes.  As of April, 2010 (the last time data was published), eighteen of our nation’s heroes were committing suicide each day.  PARANOIA – In Iraq, a paranoid soldier is a soldier who stays alive.  Every item in his environment, from a pothole to a child carrying a backpack, must be regarded as a potential threat.  When that same soldier, whose mind has been changed by PTSD, returns home, he is often unable to shut off his vigilant behavior.  Veterans will often almost constantly “patrol” their homes to check for intruders, insist that they sit with their backs to a wall and facing the door so that they can analyze every person who enters a room, or even drive off the road in order to avoid discarded trash (because this often indicated an Improvised Explosive Device or IED in combat). LACK OF TRUST – This change in a veteran with PTSD is also caused by his time in combat.  While in Iraq or Afghanistan he had to assume that everyone he met, even those who were called allies, were possible enemies.  The only people he knew he could rely on in order to stay alive were himself and those in his immediate group - people who had proven themselves to each other in combat.  After that same Veteran returns home, he feels alone and without the protection of his battle-tested counterparts.  He doesn’t trust anyone else (even people he’s known for his entire life) to be able to watch out for him.  He feels that he, alone, is the only one he can count on or trust.     POOR COPING SKILLS - Due to the physical and mental changes Veteran with PTSD has, they are often unable to cope in what most people would consider “normal” circumstances.  They are easily overwhelmed by too much noise, too many people, too many changes, or too much stimuli of any sort.  Dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and all of its symptoms takes most of their energy and concentration.  Anything else, especially something that is unexpected, can cause a violent reaction or simply cause the Veteran to shut down. Understanding these changes helps many people understand for the first time just how “real” post traumatic stress disorder is.  Unfortunately, hidden wounds (like PTSD), are often hard for people to grasp and empathize with.  Hopefully, after learning more about the “mechanics” behind PTSD, you will be better able to talk about PTSD and the real impact it can have on the life of a Veteran and on those who love and care for him or her. This article was written by Brannan Vines, the proud wife of an OIF Veteran with TBI and PTSD and founder of FamilyOfaVet.com, an organization devoted to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat by providing real world education and resources about PTSD, TBI, and other post-combat issues.  You can contact Brannan by e- mail at brannan -at- familyofavet.com or through Facebook at facebook.com/familyofavet. http://www.familyofavet.com/understanding_combat_ptsd.html Updates:  2020/05/09 added material on PTSD-Make the Connection and Mayo Clinic/Other.  2020/05/07 this page was transferred from River Gold to Police Factor.
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