Veterans with PTSD – Insights by Dr. Henry Grayson

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Dr. Henry Grayson, one of SFTT’s distinguished members of its medical task force always points that there are no two identical cases of Post Traumatic Stress.   In effect, each individual brings a set of prior conscious and unconscious experiences – dare I call it “baggage” – that is often triggered in totally unpredictable ways during periods of great stress.  Many veterans have suffered traumatic events in combat and this battlefield stress is almost impossible to overcome when these brave warriors return home.

Dr. Grayson touches on many aspects of this in this lengthy but informative video which discusses his book “Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind.” Dr. Henry Grayson is a scientific and spiritual psychologist who founded and directed the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in New York City. He is the author of Mindful Loving, The New Physics of Love, as well as co-author of three professional books. Dr. Grayson integrates diverse psychotherapies with neuroscience, quantum physics, subtle energies with Eastern and Western spiritual mindfulness. He practices in New York City and Connecticut. SFTT is indeed fortunate to count on Dr. Grayson in our efforts to support our brave Veterans.

Retired Veterans Seek Help

While many focus on Post-traumatic stress disorder for Veterans returning from our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sadly, many traumatized Veterans from Vietnam were largely ignored and many still suffer from the invisible wounds of that war.  Found below is an excerpt from an article which describes how these Veterans cope with these recurring “nightmares.”

This is a common story among older combat veterans, who have contended with both the stigma of appearing weak and the lack of knowledge about the mental effects of combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — characterized by hyper-vigilance, intrusive thoughts, nightmares and avoidance — wasn’t a formal diagnosis until 1980, and effective treatments weren’t widely available until the 1990s.

“They came home, stayed quiet and tried to muddle on as best they could,” says Steven Thorp, a San Diego psychologist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “They worked really hard as a distraction, 70, 80 hours a week, so PTSD didn’t really hit them full force until they retired, or the kids left the house, or they’re reminded of loss through the deaths of their friends.”

Dillard didn’t know how to right himself, but he knew exactly what had changed him: one long, terrible night in the jungles north of Saigon during his first tour, when Delta Company, his unit from the 101st Airborne Division, was nearly overrun by hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers. That night he witnessed heroics by his captain, Paul Bucha, and waited with Delta Company buddies like Calvin Heath and Bill Heaney for a dawn they feared would never come.

“That night marked all of us,” says Dillard, 66, who now lives on a ranch in Livingston, Texas, and assists other veterans with their disability claims. “It’s been the source of lots of nightmares.” via: PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Retired Veterans Seek Help – AARP

Military Suicides and PTSD

Our military leadership is rightly concerned about the rate of suicide among military veterans.  SFTT has been reported on this growing problem for some time, but little substantive change has occurred over the last several years.  Sure, the government has announced many measures to deal with the problem such as the “Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act for American Veterans,” but suicide rates continue to be high.  Found below are some of the recent government initiatives, but the even more compelling arguments why these token actions are not enough to stem this epidemic problem.

Suicides by active-duty troops and veterans are at levels that would have been unthinkable a generation ago. Each day, on average, a current service member dies by suicide, and each hour a veteran does the same.

In response, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act in February. The act aims to make information on suicide prevention more easily available to veterans; it offers financial incentives to mental health professionals who work with vets; and it requires an annual evaluation of the military’s mental health programs by an independent source.

The law is commendable, but it won’t come close to ending military suicides. That would require radical changes in the policies, procedures, attitudes and culture in two of our biggest bureaucracies: the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Fifteen years ago, the suicide rate among patients in a large HMO in Detroit was seven times the national average. Its leaders decided to try to end suicides — not just reduce them but end them. In four years, the incidence of suicide at the HMO was reduced 75%; with more tinkering, the rate went down to zero, and has stayed there, at last count, for 2 1/2 years. The difference was an all-out commitment to the cause.

The HMO also implemented measures to provide timely care by enabling patients to get immediate help through email with physicians, to make same-day medical appointments and to get prescriptions filled the same day too.

A similar commitment by the military could achieve dramatic results, at least among active-duty troops. These troops are in the system now, their activities are being monitored regularly, so there are plenty of opportunities for assessment and treatment.

Then there is the matter of stigma. It’s not the military’s responsibility alone to destigmatize psychological problems, but there are steps the military can take.  Service members with PTSD who are able to manage it should be strongly considered for promotions just as though they had recovered from physical wounds. Their ability to overcome mental injury should be recognized, so it inspires others.

To keep its troops mentally healthy, the Defense Department must reduce the number and duration of combat deployments and do more to prepare troops for assymetrical warfare. It must help them adjust to life when they come home — with jobs, housing, loans and legal assistance. It must enforce, not just approve, a policy of zero tolerance related to sexual harassment and assault.

Each element has a price, and collectively the cost will be astronomical. We must be prepared to pay it if we are sincere in our commitment to support our troops.

John Bateson was executive director of a nationally certified suicide prevention center in the San Francisco Bay Area for 16 years. His latest book is “The Last and Greatest Battle: Finding the Will, Commitment, and Strategy to End Military Suicides.”  via: Support our troops? Dealing with PTSD requires commitment

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SFTT and PTS

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For several months SFTT, its medical task force and its Board have been thoroughly analyzing the battlefield of brave warriors suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and examining the resources and procedures currently available to treat this crippling disability. We have purposely dropped the “D” from PTSD since most scientific research indicates that PTS is far more serious than simply a “disorder”.

There are countless stories of brave young men and women suffering from PTS, some of which have been chronicled in SFTT. The social consequences of this growing problem are enormous and, sadly, there is no magic bullet on the horizon to deal with this problem in the numbers required to stem its insidious growth. Substance and alcohol abuse, joblessness, homelessness, alienation, low self-esteem and even suicide are just a few of the manifestations of PTS faced by returning veterans and their loved ones.

Sadly, the VA has been unable to stem the near epidemic growth of veterans suffering from the conditions of PTS and TBI (“traumatic brain injury”). Fortunately, a number of public and private institutions have emerged which are beginning to address some of the necessary conditions that must be in place to provide a lifeline to our veterans and promote a path to “wellness.”

Over the next couple of weeks, SFTT will be sharing some of these “new” treatment procedures and existing programs where our brave Veterans can receive the treatment they merit. Our ultimate objective to share these resources with Veterans and their loved-ones by re-positioning SFTT to become the go-to resource for those afflicted by PTS.

There is much information on PTS available to Veterans, but it is hard to identify actionable resources that have proven to be reliable to Veterans. SFTT – with the support of its medical task force – intends to become that “do-to” resource by partnering with other organizations that have the same goal: Help our brave Veterans reclaim their lives.

Join SFTT by becoming a Member and help provide our brave Veterans the Lifeline they deserve.

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Veteran Treatment Courts and PTSD

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It is pleasing to see that CBS decided to feature one of the 120 or so Veteran Treatment Courts in the United States on one of its most popular investigative programs: 60 Minutes. Found below is a brief summary of this very moving and disturbing report:

Two and a half million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan; many of them, more than once. The VA tells us about 20 percent come home with post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD. So, that comes to about 500,000. For some, returning is harder than they imagined. The suicide rate for the Army is up 15 percent over last year. For the Marines its up 28 percent. A few of our troops return to become something they never thought they could be: criminals, for the first time in their lives.

Around Houston, in Harris County, Texas, 400 veterans are locked up every month. We met a judge there who saw them coming before the bench, fresh out of the warzone and he thought a lot of them were worth saving. Judge for yourself once you meet some of our troops, coming home.

A byproduct of the 1995 Crime Bill, the Veterans Treatment Court (Vets Court for short) is a way for Veterans facing jail time to avoid incarceration. If they accept, they are assigned to a mentoring Veteran and must remain drug-free for two years, obtain a high school diploma and have a steady job at the end  of the probation period. This may seem like a good deal, but the path to recover their lives is difficult and fraught with temptation, particularly for those Veterans with PTSD.

SFTT applauds those in law enforcement and the judicial system and supporting Veterans organization for developing such an effective and common sense approach to help Veterans reintegrate into society. 60 Minutes paints a very sympathetic picture of the Veterans Administration in this rehabilitation process, but Vets that we have talked to who have participated in Vet Court programs paint a somewhat different picture.

It is evident that there is a high incidence of dependency on drugs, potent painkillers, antidepressants and alcohol among those with PTSD. One graduate of the Veterans Court Program who now is a substance abuse counselor told me that close to 90% of Vets with PTSD have substance abuse issues.

Now, the VA has very strict rules on issuing prescription medication to Veterans with documented substance abuse problems. In other words, it may be difficult for Veterans to receive proper treatment for PTSD if substance abuse and PTSD are treated as mutually exclusive problems. This clearly introduces a level of difficulty for the VA in providing the type of comprehensive rehabilitation treatment these Vets deserve. Some may call it Catch 22, but I am sure our Vets find it no laughing matter.

In any event, SFTT applauds the Veteran Treatment Courts and is committed to help them expand across the United States.

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PTS is much better than PTSD

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As psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Shay says below “I really don’t like the term ‘PTSD.”   SFTT doesn’t like the term either and internally we prefer “PTS” or Post Traumatic Stress.  Clearly, there is a stigma attached to the term “disorder” but it also suggests – erroneously – that this debilitating problem of great personal and social significance is simply a “disorder” that can be medicated or treated and that the individual afflicted with PTS will soon

lead a normal and healthy life.

VA studies suggest (see below) that there is no “silver bullet” and as SFTT’s Medical Advisory Board has recommended, one needs to experiment with a number of treatment modalities to determine which one(s) are best suited for a Vet’s particular situation.   Certainly, it is more than medication and may involve extended job retraining and the acquisition of other practical life-skills to help returning vets on the path to a richer life.  Just because there is no easy solution, doesn’t mean that we need to turn our backs on these brave heroes.

Public Insight Network | Beyond PTSD to “moral injury”

“I really don’t like the term ‘PTSD,’” Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Shay told PBS’ “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly” in 2010. “He says the diagnostic definition of “post-traumatic stress disorder” is a fine 

PTSD: The Futile Search for the “Quick Fix” | Guest Blog, Scientific

Short-term TFTs are regularly prescribed by the VA, and yet, VA studies indicate that the majority of veterans treated for PTSD are still in treatment four years later (see Fig. 2). The military and VA want a quick fix, but that’s not

The Truth About PTSD and America’s Military Veterans | Video

There are few people who inspire more respect and admiration than our brave servicemen and women — those willing to selflessly serve their country and at times, even face death for the sake of others. While it is always a

Families: Vets’ PTSD ‘like living in hell’ – NavyTimes.com

Families: Vets’ PTSD ‘like living in hell’NavyTimes.comUntil the day she wrestled a gun from the mouth of her drunken husband, the 37-year-old wife of a Tennessee Army National Guard sergeant thought she was holding it together. But then the flashbac …

If you want to help, please consider becoming a Member of SFTT and add your voice to a growing chorus of concerned citizens.  Our brave warriors need more than lip service.

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PTSD Research: A Glimmer of Hope

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As research into PTSD continues to grow, researchers are beginning to get a better handle on what works and what doesn’t. Sadly, there are far too many situations where Vets have been over-medicated, but other alternative forms of treatment such as the Hyperbaric Treatment developed by Dr. Paul Harch seem to offer great hope in treating PTSD.  SFTT salutes those who give of their time and money to support the needs of our men and women in uniform.

Pre-War Vulnerabilities Impact Veterans’ PTSD | Psych Central News

Researchers are learning that pre-war psychological characteristics are as important as the actual combat-related trauma for predicting the course of.

Gene Linked to PTSD Risk in Soldiers | Psych Central News

A particular gene variation may play an important role in determining whether or not a soldier develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new.

The Truth About PTSD and America’s Military Veterans | Video

There are few people who inspire more respect and admiration than our brave servicemen and women — those willing to selflessly serve their country and at times, even face death for the sake of others. While it is always a

Mindfulness and meditation training could ease PTSD symptoms, researchers say – Washington Post

Mindfulness and meditation training could ease PTSD symptoms, researchers say.  PTSD is usually treated with drugs, behavioral therapy and other approaches. But for many, these methods don’t work. Now, researchers are looking at a new met …

War zone killing leaves troops with ‘moral injury,’ may rival PTSD cases – Newser

War zone killing leaves troops with ‘moral injury,’ may rival PTSD cases.  Though there may be some overlap in symptoms, moral injuries aren’t what most people think of as PTSD, the nightmares and flashbacks of terrifying, life-threatening combat …

SFTT’s medical advisory board continues to track promising PTSD treatments to help our brave warriors reclaim their lives.

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PTSD: Identical Twin Research Study

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“ARE YOU AN IDENTICAL TWIN?

If so, have you or your twin served in a war zone?

Lisa Shin, PhD and colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are conducting a study to examine brain activity in individuals with and without post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They seek participants who are identical twins in which one co-twin experienced combat and the other did not. You do not have to have PTSD to participate.

The study takes place in Boston. Travel expenses are covered by the study and participants are paid $500 for their time. Participation is completely voluntary and confidential.

For more information about this important research opportunity, please visit http://www.martinos.org/shinlab and/or call Lindsay Staples at 617-726-8120 or email TwinStudy@nmr.mgh.harvard.edu.

Editor’s Note:  The announcement above was posted on behalf of the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).  If you know of anyone with the characteristics described above who might be willing to participate in this study, please contact Lindsay Staples.

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PTSD update for Feb 2, 2013

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New material surfaces daily on the internet and in user discussion forums dealing with the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). Regrettably, most of this advice is not supported by good clinical scientific studies or trustworthy explanation. The road to health and wellness is a long process and treatment procedures will be different based on the particular individual, the extent of the stress and his or her current social and financial circumstances.

SFTT or “Stand For The Troops” has put together an eminent circle of physicians, clinical psychologists and therapists to evaluate these promising treatments. While some of these emerging new techniques will appear on a regular basis on SFTT, visitors are firmly counseled to refer to their physician or primary care giver before altering treatment.

Found below are highlights of recurring themes as we mobilize forces to deal with the ravages of PTSD.

Cincinnati State, Cincinnati VA Medical Center to offer PTSD classes

Cincinnati State, in conjunction with the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, will offer two free classes this month on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The classes are geared toward the Emergency Medical Services community and other first responders.

See all stories on this topic »

PTSD taking a toll on returning veterans

He spoke last week, a day before attending Massachusetts funeral services for his friend, who had PTSD and served at Iraq’s Abu Graib prison during one of two deployments. “I don’t think he’d ever say, ‘Hey, I want to kill myself,’ but … certainly …

See all stories on this topic »

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Thanksgiving Update from Maj. Ben Richards

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Eilhys England, Chairperson of Stand For The Troops received the following Thanksgiving note from Maj. Ben Richards.

QUOTE

I would like to thank Stand for the Troops and the many individuals and organizations who have contributed to help my family and me. We have been truly fortunate. Last week I returned home to my family in Iowa after a two-month course of pro bono hyperbaric treatment arranged by SFTT and conducted by Dr. Paul Harch in New Orleans. The treatment has been very beneficial. I will share more details about the treatment in a future post.

Dr. Harch is uncomfortable being spotlighted for his work, but I would like to recommend him to you as a man of extraordinary character, compassion and patriotism. All of us in the military community should be grateful to know there are men and women like Dr. Harch who are dedicated to healing the wounds we have incurred in our service at great personal cost to themselves.  Dr. Harch has provided care to dozens of veterans like me who are suffering from the invisible injuries of war with great success and at his own expense. I would like to point out that Dr. Harch provides hyperbaric care for a number of other conditions at his clinic for less than a quarter of the cost of the same treatment at nearby hospitals. He has traded personal wealth to heal many who otherwise would not be able to afford healing care. It has been my privilege to get to know him.

Next week I will travel to Bethesda, Maryland, for two months of different type of treatment for TBI. The treatment is called Flexyx Neurotherapy. It uses small electrical pulses to improve brain activity. I will be undergoing treatment at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. The cost of treatment has been covered by a research grant. Travel and living expenses have been covered by generous donations.

I am more optimistic about my future than I have been in years and I am truly grateful for the blessings and support my family and I have received.

 

Thank you,

Ben

UNQUOTE

Editors Note:  We too are delighted at the tremendous progress shown by Maj. Ben Richards.  As chronicled in previous entries, the noticeable improvement after the hyperbaric treatment conducted by Dr. Paul Harch in New Orleans is little short of remarkable.  We are hopeful of seeing similar results with the Flexyx Neurotherapy in Maryland. A special word of thanks to all those who have made contributions to support Maj. Richards on his road to wellness.

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Brain Images May Reveal PTSD Risks and More

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According to studies quoted by Fox News, brain images may reveal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”)risk before problems begin to materialize.  Previous studies have proven the brains of individuals with Post traumatic stress disorder vary from individuals with no condition. For example, certain brain areas are more compact in individuals with Post traumatic stress disorder, in comparison with individuals who experienced distressing occasions, but who didn’t develop unusual behavioral reactions.

Each day new guidance appears on the Internet and in forums dealing with the treatment of PTSD similar to the Fox News reports on Brain scans. Unfortunately, the majority of this help and advice is not supported by solid clinical scientific tests or highly regarded explanation. Though there are quite

Stand For The Troops has constructed a prestigious circle of physicians, clinical psychologists and therapists to examine these promising treatments. While some of these emerging new techniques will appear regularly on SFTT, readers are seriously counseled to see their physician or primary care giver before switching treatment.
See all tales about this subject »

Veterans administration Clinic seeks female veterans for brand new Post traumatic stress disorder study

Cortisol is called the “fight or flight” hormone. Studies have proven greater amounts of cortisol may really hurt the mind and become associated with Post traumatic stress disorder signs and symptoms. Through the years, scientists have analyzed Post traumatic stress disorder to try and comprehend the underlying brain processes.
See all tales about this subject »

Programs helps Veterans adapt to existence home

Doan not just provides extensive experience like a dog trainer, but is another adding author of the greatest Practices Paper on training Post traumatic stress disorder Service Dogs for help Worldwide. Last November., Doan stated she in the privilege to talk at Harvard …
See all tales about this subject »

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General Peter Chiarelli Speaks Out About PTSD

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To his credit, former Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli has always been at the forefront of focusing the public’s attention on the “unintended consequences of war” facing our brave men and women when they return home from repeated deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. His moving and pointed introduction to the 2010 report seeking to understand the increasing rates of suicides among military personnel demonstrates his resolve in supporting our men and women in uniform. The 350 page report entitled “Health Promotion Risk Reduction Suicide Prevention,” painted a rather disturbing picture of the terrible and ongoing “mental” costs faced by our military veterans and their families.  Sadly, two years later, the problems are compounding rather than diminishing.

General Chiarelli is currently CEO of One Mind For Research, a new-model non-profit dedicated to delivering accelerated new treatments and cures for all brain illness and injury within ten years time.

SFTT concurs with General Chiarelli grim assessment of the situation and has realigned its energies to focus on PTS (“Post Traumatic Stress”).  In fact, SFTT has formed a Medical Task Force to evaluate current and emerging treatment methodologies to provide long term treatment to veterans who suffer from this debilitating injury.

While General Chiarelli and others have raised public awareness of the ravages of these debilitating injuries, we have been lax as a society to accept the consequences of sending young men and women to war.   Make no mistake, PTS and TBI have terrifying social consequences that extend well beyond the individual who suffers these debilitating injuries.  Thanks to the generous support of   approach to dealing with trauma and many other concerned individuals, we are now beginning to mobilize the necessary resources to attack this problem head on.

SFTT welcomes General Chiarelli’s call to action to provide our military personnel with the best available treatment to help return them to wellness.

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