Too many people out there are ignorantly expressing opinions about Veterans and PTSD, with no understanding of either. The PTSD situation is severe and it isn’t getting better.
A big component to this is a Soldier’s sense of value, or Self Worth. Because of their negative treatment by a large population of this country and the media, and then they hear things pop up by A-Holes like Ted Turner, they are questioning their sacrifices, and time spent over in the war zones. They are weighing that against their own internal moral, ethical, and spiritual standards. Depression, Mark of Cain Syndrome, Survivor’s Guilt, Shame of a secret failure that may or may not be real. (that they let their team down)
PTSD is a deeply complicated issue. And to make the matters worse, those that seek help are made out to be villains… they lose rights… they are shunned. Sometimes police are called, guns are confiscated, houses searched, One Vet was actually raided. I’ve had contact with some Vets who have sought help who then were denied gun purchase by BCI. (Not Utah) This is not right. This isn’t how we do this. A Vet that talks to a Doc about nightmares is not a Monster about to burst his chains.
At best our Vets are treated by mental health professionals who have no understanding of Combat PTSD, because they can’t relate, being liberal minded cake eaters with no understanding of the military. I know first hand because when I was pursuing a Psychology Degree, I had to argue with students and professors that being a Rape Victim, while horrible, is not the same thing as a Veteran who put his rifle sights on another human being and pulled the trigger. It’s different. The scars inside are different. The girl that got raped didn’t volunteer for it, didn’t chose to get raped. Our Vets volunteered, they went into harms way and they chose to fight and these choices are now conflicting with their beliefs, be it Moral or Spiritual… and they come home and are then filled with more doubt about their sacrifices and self worth and no one is helping them. The Mental Health Profession isn’t geared to help Combat Veterans or Police Officers who suffer from Combat Related PTSD. There are only a very small handful of Psychologists who understand Combat PTSD. Because they have been there themselves. Others just Empathize and say they do, but they really and truly don’t and treat all PTSD the same. It isn’t. The scars are different… the layers and depths are different.
Some Vets come home to good communities and good support from friends and family and these guys are okay. They may have some nightmares but they eventually pass. These guys have that safety net of people who love and respect them.
But others don’t. They come home to people who hate them for their service. Who question them. Treat them differently. And these people really have no where to turn for just simple understanding. These guys are the ones that are most vulnerable and need the most help, and they are the ones more often than not, not getting it.
These are Good Men and Good Women. These are people who put it all on the line for us and more often than not they just need to be treated like they are normal Guys and Gals again. Even if they have a disability, physical scars… They are still our Nation’s Finest.
And then Ted Turner goes and says they should commit suicide. My anger at Ted Turner is vibrant. Therw should be repercussions to what he said.
25 thoughts on “PTSD”
Recently Daniel Shaw did a podcast where he talked about his experience in combat and the ways it changed him. He also discussed the the differences between his experiences and those that a LEO might face. (My father for example who took a life as a police officer)
One of the things he discussed was the possibility of there being “good” PTSD and, although a wholly different kind of stress, I feel that was my experience as a cancer survivor.
I have written about it in the past… http://www.balloongoesup.com/blog/2012/08/the-power-of-thought-and-getting-super-better/
I’d like to know what you think about this concept and if you think that knowing there is a positive potential could help keep it from developing?
I don’t think there is a Good Type of PTSD, but there are those that have overcome it and been strengthened by overcoming it. Not that it was a positive thing to endure – but that it was a positive thing that it was overcome.
I can go with that… It is the what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger claim and it is exactly what cancer did for me. However, I like the idea of providing a positive option of what can occur.
I got a nice case of insomnia from my paid vacation to Iraq.
I can tell you that the VA treats the vets no better. They even put a time limit on when the vet will be better…I suspect only as an excuse to reduce benefits. The VA classifies PTSD as a TEMPORARY disability. I read about it every week on the Wounded Warrior Connect forum and I hear about it first hand at every Wounded Warrior event that I attend. The vets suffering are treated like shit all around and the only good support that they receive is from each other…NOT from the VA or civilian medical professionals.
I know precious little about PTSD and so do not opine on the subject except I hope our troops get the help they need.
I will say that if you are ever in a discussion / debate and rape is a topic in any context, and you are male – you have just lost the argument, thanks for playing.
My PTSD didn’t even surface until almost 20 yrs after being “in country”. Guess what, no benifits or treatments. I got luckey with a wife that listenes and understands and helps when “the dinks are in the wire”.
I think it was PTSD ultimately that took my father’s life. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who has served, and even more for those who carry scars from their service. Not all scars are worn on the skin.
I’m fortunate to only know about PTSD from reading about it.
Lt Col Dave Grossman’s books and “Bulletproof Mind” presentation are good resources for learning about and dealing with PTSD issues. There are a number of factors that affect whether someone is likely to get *some symptoms of* PTSD and how severe it would be. That statement alone is one of the things Grossman harps on – having some symptoms of PTSD isn’t the same as having PTSD, and even if it was, it’s not the end of the world if you understand it what it means and how to deal with it.
I’ve read “On Killing” and “On Combat”, and seen his presentation, and feel much more informed about PTSD than I did before. Even for us regular people, there are important things to know about the psych aftermath of a deadly force encounter. If nothing else, if you might ever have to defend yourself or your family and perhaps take an attacker’s life, it’s important to know what you might experience psychologically and what are mentally healthy ways to deal with it.
My symptom is picking at my arms until they bleed, then picking the scabs so they never heal. I look like adamn heroin addict. Now that im realizing what it is, im finally taking steps to fight it. It sucks but its a small price to pay for serving my country, and i pay it gladly. Others have paid alot more.
I think the term PTSD, or even “Shell Shock”, it’s encompassing enough to describe what this problem can actually entail.
I spoke with a Vietnam vet once who said that for him, PTSD wasn’t what they show in the movies. He wasn’t damaged at all by the war per se. He was, in his words, “a stone killer… King fucking Kong” while serving over there. In more modern terminology, he was high speed, low drag, and damn good at it.
Then he came home. All those skills were of no use. Everything he was utterly awesome at… no use for that here.
He became a cop when he got back, eventual rising to be a chief before he retired. But when he first started out, he was, in his words, “a total shit cop”. He kept trying to be that cock of the walk he was in Vietnam. And as you might guess, the civi world doesn’t react well to that kind of thing. After many years he finally evened out and got himself on track, but it was a tough road.
So it wasn’t that the war broke him and he came back a shattered man. It was just the opposite. The war built him up, put him at the top of his game, made him a god. It was only being back that broke him, because there was no longer a place for him. Know what I mean?
I’m reminded of a remark in the movie Full Metal Jacket where EightBall says, “Now you might not believe it, but under fire Animal Mother is one of the finest human beings in the world. All he needs is somebody to throw hand grenades at him the rest of his life.”
Kind of a sobering comment if you think on it, eh?
That was… “isn’t encompassing enough”.
T, a big part of that was my father.
He became the best man hunter he could be… every waking second.
He told me that one of the hardest things for him was that as he went thru life, was that he instantly determined the best way to remove a person the moment he saw them.
He stopped hunting for a couple of reasons, he would “time travel” while hunting.. and worried for other hunters.
And because there was no enjoyment or exhilaration from hunting animals.
He had the nightmares, bad reactions to loud sudden noises, extreme mood swings, insomnia, and survivors guilt.
He was a great and amazing man to me… but he lived most of his life “broken”.
My reply to Ted Turner: “You first…”
T., know excatly where he was xoming from. Mine didn’t hit until I was no longer LEO. mThen it slammed me. Sounds like he’s got a pretty good family, like me, to back him up.
Musashi, Brother hang in there. You can handle this little stuff.
I have had some stress that manifested post stress, but I would not call it a disorder. Not really anyway. I have known plenty of folks that did however and the system is aboslutely horrible at dealing with it.
As bad as the regular military and VA system is, it seems that there is a real problem when soldiers are on detached assignments away from installations. Recruiting, ROTC instructors and National Guard/Reserve personnel will have their care paid for by the military, but they have to use local treatment facilities that have no idea what PTSD is or how to deal with it. Additionally they have minimal military personnel there to be supportive and help them feel they are not alone.
That’s why I filled out my PDHRAs to sound as non-threatening as possible…and still got command directed. With the possible exception of getting (some) green-suiter professionals, I really don’t think there’s any difference between the level of support you get from civilian contracted counselors at the TMC on-post and what you get back in a major metro area or demilitarized suburbia. they still start out from the assumption that you are damaged goods, which might not be a bad thing since it preps you for how respectable suburbanites/aging yuppies/ will view you.
But you are not damaged goods. That bullshit right there is the problem. You might have some issues, but you are not Damaged Goods. Very few cases I’ve seen – and Combat PTSD was my specialization – out of 200 that I studied – the Soldier is not that bad… But made to think and treated as he was. Out of those 200 – Only 2 cases were where there was something really wrong with them. And in those cases, evidence suggested that they had prior conditions before going into the service.
PTSD Does NOT mean you are Damaged Goods.
Thanks. I did, however, successfully “evade” diagnosis. People’s irrational reactions to OIF/OEF veterans in general is what gets me. A few months ago, I was at a BBQ at a late-middle aged couple’s nice house in Colorado. When the subject of so and so’s college-aged Guardsman daughter came up, there was universal disapproval. Everyone regarded this girl, who all I know about is that she evidently is a 68W and recently redeployed, as if she was in drug rehab or getting out of jail. My wife glared at me expecting me to “say something” (she still thinks the comments were passive-aggresively directed at me). But honestly, it would have been easier to defend her if she was a crack addict
I was unemployed for a long spell… no call backs on my resume… just dead in the water. Until I removed all traces of Military Service off my Resume. I had call backs within a week and a Job later the next.
And this was in CONSERVATIVE UTAH. People in General just do not trust Veterans of any sort.
Fuck Ted Turner. The fact that he even said this shows how detached he has become.
At least there isn’t the hollywood overkill of “psyco-killer-combat-vet” movies and televison crap like there was when we came home from VN, and for years afterward. I think those shaped a lot of the feelings and attitudes then and now. It seems most of the portrails today are fairly positive. Or maybe I just don’t watch the other stuff anymore.
And Turner has always been a douchebag. Look who he “married”.
Great post. Thank you very much.
This is the first time I’ve visited your site, but I like it – esp. this post.
Train. Win. Recover.
Thank you, Sir.