Every day in Afghanistan in 2011, Spike the black Labrador retriever had the important job of detecting explosives and clearing daily patrol routes. But Spike did more than just find improvised explosive devices before they could kill and maim U.S. troops; he also served as a loyal best friend and morale booster for his handler, Lance Cpl. Jared Heine. Read more
byTasbeeh Herwees Turns out, the only thing that’s sci-fi about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is its insistence that true love is real (kidding, kidding). Last summer, researchers at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital of Harvard Medical School, published a study in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE about the use of xenon gas for “erasing” emotional memories. In a recent interview with VICE, Dr. Edward G. Meloni, an assistant psychologist at McLean Hospital who authored the study, says that their research could help treat sufferers of Post-Traumautic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“Research shows that xenon gas can remove the emotional charge of a traumatic memory, but not the memory itself. The chance that memories disappear completely is pretty slim,” said Meloni to VICE.
Meloni’s tests on rats revealed that the xenon gas was capable of muting or erasing the emotions associated with certain memories. The rats were conditioned with a fear response when confronted with certain images. After being exposed to the xenon gas, the rats no longer experienced fear when shown those same images. For PTSD patients, this means that the trauma or fear associated with certain memories that trigger PTSD could be removed. Apparently, doctors in Serbia already use xenon gas treatment to help addicts “forget” their addictions.
If you’re concerned with the unethical implications of this kind of treatment, your worries are not totally unfounded. VICE spoke with a professor at the University of Groningen who researchs human memory, Douwe Draaisma, who said a forgetting gas could make prosecuting crimes difficult.
“In ethical literature you often get the example of the ‘forgetting pill’—a pill that erases your last memory. Suppose a rape victim takes one of those pills, then the consequences for the perpetrator could be less severe,” Draaisma told VICE. “Or even worse: the rapist could force the victim to take the pill. That is one of the dilemmas that treatments like these bring up.” Read more here
At least 8,030 veterans committed suicide in 2014 due to complications associated with PTSD. According to government figures, those numbers didn’t include suicide among the active duty troops.
If something isn’t done, we can expect that number to tragically surge with the return of thousands of veterans. This is when We the People need to make some noise and after that, we need to make more.
An estimated 22 veterans commit suicide a day, (That’s one an hour!) a shocking and disturbing number. Even more alarming, this statistic does not include active-duty members, 75 of which have committed suicide between January and March of this year (2014) according to the Pentagon’s quarterly Suicide Event Report.
For more information on PTSD please follow these links.
Family and friends who may need help understanding PTSD, recognizing triggers and how you can be the most beneficial to them, check out this site.
For veterans seeking resources for PTSD, I have MANY! I’ll leave the link to a non invasive, non DRUG COCKTAIL method developed by retired US Navy SEAL Mikal A. Vega @ Vital Warrior. For more listings of resources, please see the links in the footer, the top menu under my resource page. I also have links for our British andCanadiancomrades, everything can be found in the places mentioned. Pass this information to anyone who may need it. Thank you…
IF YOU OR YOUR VETERAN ARE HAVING A CRISIS, PLEASE SEEK HELP! Here are two emergency links, but if you need 911, PLEASE call.
Foreign Policy’s managing editor, Yochi Dreazen, has had an accomplished career as a conflict journalist and spent five years reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. But his first book, “The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War,” spends relatively little time on the battlefield. Read more
URGENT!! PLEASE WATCH! THIS GOES UP FOR A VOTE TOMORROW! PLEASE HELP FREE OUR MARINE!
Please watch this 6 minute video and pass it on. We don’t have much time left. Andrew needs to get home, he suffers from PTSD and has been in Mexican custody since March 31. End his role as a political pawn.
How a country treats it war veterans says a lot about its values. Not the values it purports to cherish, but those it actually holds. Whether one comes from a family where fathers, son, mothers and daughters have always served, or from one that hasn’t seen a member in uniform for generations, most of us believe that when a nation sends its young people off to war, they deserve recognition and, more importantly, help—psychological, medical, financial, whatever it takes to make sure they’re whole—when they come home.Read more
September is #Suicidepreventionmonth and I thought I would re-post this article featuring Mikal Vega retired US Navy Seal and his approach to battling PTSD and the prevention of suicide without the use of psychiatric drugs.
Mikal Vega, retired US Navy Seal (22 years of Service) who is now the CEO of Vital Warriors. VitalWarrior.org is a non profit organization and a system of non-pharmaceutical re-balancing designed by retired Navy SEAL Mikal A. Vega to alleviate the detrimental effects of acute stress in its clients. Visit his web site to get started, everything you need he has provided there. You can also vist to his sight through the link [first one] on my side barRead more
With September being Suicide prevention month I thought I’d share one of the first stories I researched when I started blogging. (It was soon after I lost a friend to the “8,000 mile sniper shot”). I became so wrapped up with this epidemic our troops veterans are in that I started a blog that focused directly on suicide amount service members–nothing else. Needless to say it was short lived, not because I didn’t care, but because it’s a very hard topic to think about every day; I shut the blog down and didn’t start with Maiden here until last year. (as a matter of fact, her one year anniversary is coming up soon). Read more
A cold refreshing wind penetrates my bones–what a strange place this be. I hear familiar voices that have long passed from existence–I see faces–faces of friends long since dead. I realize now what has happened and where I am, yet I am happy with those whose names are carved in stone amidst the grass of a place called Arlington.
THE CATALYSTS OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDERS FOR VIETNAM COMBAT VETERANS (con’t)
Many Vietnam veterans describe themselves as very vigilant human beings; their autonomic senses are tuned to anything out of the ordinary. A loud discharge will cause many of them to start. A few will actually take such evasive action as falling to their knees or to the ground. Many veterans become very uncomfortable when people walk closely behind them. One veteran described his discomfort when people drive directly behind him. He would pull off the road, letting others pass, when they got within a few car lengths of him. Read more
The veterans’ rage is frightening to them and to others around them. For no apparent reason, many will strike out at whomever is near. Frequently, this includes their wives and children. Some of these veterans can be quite violent. This behavior generally frightens the veterans, apparently leading many to question their sanity; they are horrified at their behavior. However, regardless of their afterthoughts, the rage reactions occur with frightening frequency. Read more
When Jim Satcher was first deployed to Vietnam in 1965, the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) didn’t exist. But he came home with it, nonetheless. Satcher, who did three tours during the war, was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in 1968 when the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces attacked the airbase in one of the first strikes of the infamously brutal Tet Offensive.Now medically retired from the military and a retired business owner, Satcher said he has lived a full and productive life. This despite his decades-long battle with PTSD, which he originally wrote off as typical war-related stress, hoping it would just fade away. It didn’t. Satcher didn’t get treatment for his PTSD at the Department of Veterans Affairs until 1993, 18 years after leaving Vietnam. Read more
More than 8.5 million individuals served in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam era, 1964-1973. Approximately 2.8 million served in Southeast Asia. Of the latter number, almost one million saw active combat or were exposed to hostile, life- threatening situations (President’s Commission on Mental Health, 1978). It is this writer’s opinion that the vast majority of Vietnam era veterans have had a much more problematic readjustment to civilian life than did their World War II and Korean War counterparts. This was due to the issues already discussed in this chapter, as well as to the state of the economy and the inadequacy of the GI Bill in the early 1970s. In addition, the combat veterans of Vietnam, many of whom immediately tried to become assimilated back into the peacetime culture, discovered that their outlook and feelings about their relationships and future life experiences had changed immensely. According to the fantasy, all was to be well again when they returned from Vietnam. The reality for many was quite different.
A number of studies point out that those veterans subjected to more extensive combat show more problematic symptoms during the period of readjustment (Wilson, 1978; Strayer & Ellenhorn, 1975; Kormos, 1978; Shatan, 1978; Figley, 1978b). The usual pattern has been that of a combat veteran in Vietnam who held on until his DEROS date. He was largely asymptomatic at the point of his rotation back to the U.S. for the reasons previously discussed; on his return home, the joy of surviving continued to suppress any problematic symptoms. However, after a year or more, the veteran would begin to notice some changes in his outlook (Shatan, 1978). But, because there was a time limit of one year after which the Veterans Administration would not recognize neuropsychiatric problems as service-connected, the veteran was unable to get service-connected disability compensation. Treatment from the VA was very difficult to obtain. The veteran began to feel depressed, mistrustful, cynical and restless. He experienced problems with sleep and with his temper. Strangely, he became somewhat obsessed with his combat experiences in Vietnam. He would also begin to question why he survived when others did not.
For approximately 500,000 veterans (Wilson, 1978) of the combat in Southeast Asia, this problematic outlook has become a chronic lifestyle affecting not only the veterans but countless millions of persons who are in contact with these veterans. The symptoms described below are experienced by all Vietnam combat veterans to varying degrees. However, for some with the most extensive combat histories and other variables which have yet to be enumerated, Vietnam-related problems have persisted in disrupting all areas of life experience. According to Wilson (1978), the number of veterans experiencing these symptoms will climb until 1985, based on his belief of Erickson’s psychosocial developmental stages and how far along in these stages most combat veterans will be by 1985. Furthermore, without any intervention, what was once a reaction to a traumatic episode may for many become an almost unchangeable personality characteristic.
The vast majority of the Vietnam combat veterans I have interviewed are depressed. Many have been continually depressed since their experiences in Vietnam. They have the classic symptoms (DSM III, 1980) of sleep disturbance, psychomotor retardation, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty in concentrating, etc. Many of these veterans have weapons in their possession, and they are no strangers to death. In treatment, it is especially important to find out if the veteran keeps a weapon in close proximity, because the possibility of suicide is always present.
When recalling various combat episodes during an interview, the veteran with a post-traumatic stress disorder almost invariably cries. He usually has had one or more episodes in which one of his buddies was killed. When asked how he handled these death when in Vietnam, he will often answer, “in the shortest amount of time possible” (Howard, 1975). Due to circumstances of war, extended grieving on the battlefield is very unproductive and could become a liability. Hence, grief was handled as quickly as possible, allowing little or no time for the grieving process. Many men reported feeling numb when this happened. When asked how they are now dealing with the deaths of their buddies in Vietnam, they invariable answer that they are not. They feel depressed; “How can I tell my wife, she’d never understand?” they ask. “How can anyone who hasn’t been there understand?” (Howard, 1975).
Accompanying the depression is a very well developed sense of helplessness about one’s condition. Vietnam-style combat held no final resolution of conflict for anyone. Regardless of how one might respond,t he overall outcome seemed to be just an endless production of casualties with no perceivable goals attained. Regardless of how well one worked, sweated, bled and even died, the outcome was the same. Our GIs gained no ground; they were constantly rocketed or mortared. They found little support from their “friends and neighbors” back home, the people in whose name so many were drafted into military service. They felt helpless. They returned to the United States, trying to put together some positive resolution of this episode in their lives, but the atmosphere at home was hopeless. They were still helpless. Why even bother anymore?
Many veterans report becoming extremely isolated when they are especially depressed. Substance abuse is often exaggerated during depressive periods. Self medication was an easily learned coping response in Vietnam; alcohol appears to be the drug of choice.
Combat veterans have few friends. Many veterans who witnessed traumatic experiences complain of feeling like old men in young men’s bodies. They feel isolated and distant from their peers. The veterans feel that most of their non-veteran peers would rather not hear what the combat experience was like; therefore, they feel rejected. Much of what many of these veterans had done during the war would seem like horrible crimes to their civilian peers. But, in the reality faced by Vietnam combatants, such actions were frequently the only means of survival.
Many veterans find it difficult to forget the lack of positive support they received from the American public during the war. This was especially brought home to them on the return from the combat zone to the United States. Many were met by screaming crowds and the media calling them “depraved fiends” and “psychopathic killers” (DeFazio, 1978). Many personally confronted hostility from friends and family, as well as strangers. After their return home, some veterans found that the only defense was to search for a safe place. These veterans found themselves crisscrossing the continent, always searching for that place where they might feel accepted. Many veterans cling to the hope that they can move away from their problems. It is not unusual to interview a veteran who, either alone or with his family, has effectively isolated himself from others by repeatedly moving from one geographical location to another. The stress on his family is immense.
The fantasy of living the life of a hermit plays a central role in many veterans’ daydreams. Many admit to extended periods of isolation in the mountains, on the road, or just behind a closed door in the city. Some veterans have actually taken a weapon and attempted to live off the land.
It is not rare to find a combat veteran who has not had a social contact with a woman for years — other than with a prostitute, which is an accepted military procedure in the combat setting. If the veteran does marry, his wife will often complain about the isolation he imposes on the marital situation. The veteran will often stay in the house and avoid any interactions with others. He also resents any interactions that his spouse may initiate. Many times, the wife is the source of financial stability.
HOW THE VIETNAM EXPERIENCE DIFFERED FROM PREVIOUS WARS AND SUBSEQUENTLY PREDISPOSED THE COMBATANT TO THE POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER: DELAYED AND/OR CHRONIC TYPE.
When direct American troop involvement in Vietnam became a reality, military planners looked to previous war experiences to help alleviate the problem of psychological disorder in combat. By then it was an understood fact that those combatants with the most combat exposure suffered the highest incidence of breakdown. In Korea this knowledge resulted in use, to some extent, of a “point system.” After accumulating so many points, an individual was rotated home, regardless of the progress of the war. This was further refined in Vietnam, the outcome being the DEROS (date of expected return from overseas) system. Every individual serving in Vietnam, except general officers, knew before leaving the United States when he or she was scheduled to return. The tour lasted 12 months for everyone except the Marines who, known for their one-upmanship, did a 13-month tour. DEROS promised the combatant a way out of the war other than as a physical or psychological casualty (Kormos, 1978).Read more