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August 12, 2014

A Veteran Father Struggles With Family Court and Child Support

When a person walks through the doors of a Military Entrance Processing Station, they know they are signing a contract that gives their mind and body to the military. Most believe it is for a set period of time. For many, the contract is lifelong as the effects of being in the military follow them the rest of their lives.

When a soldier, sailor, marine, or airman is deployed, more is lost than the every day mundainness of life in the United States. Military personnel leave behind home, friends, and family. Often times this loss is permanent but not because the soldier is killed in combat. Most often, losses are because of the strain of being in the military and the effects the soldier carries with them.

The media is quick to jump on stories about military suicides, combat deaths, and active and veteran military members going on a homicidal rampage fueled by PTSD. This is what gets headlines and ratings. This is what people click on when looking for news on the internet. This is what people post and repost to social media. The bloodier and gorier, the more the story is shared, commented on, and used for political issues like gun control.

What happens when a veteran with PTSD is faced with the loss of their home and family? Where is the media then? There are no ratings or headlines for veterans who fight for their rights as parents. A father who is fleeced of his disability pay because courts use past employment to calculate child support is not newsworthy. A man with a bonified disability is discriminated in our countries courts is not a headline when the disability is PTSD. False accusations are believed because the father was labeled with four simple letters.

Where is the outcry? Where is the balance of justice? Courts have spent decades ensuring father's get equal treatment in custody and child support cases. But because lawyers do not understand PTSD, and judges base their opinions on sensationalized headlines of an extreme minority of cases involving violence, a disabled father risks losing his children after already losing his home because he cannot afford child support that was erroneously calculated.

We are not talking about deadbeat dads. We are talking about disabled military veterans who are also parents. Cecil Ranne is one of those fathers struggling for his rights as a parent, and rights to support himself and his children in spite of a disability as a result of his military service. Years after his divorce, Ranne is still fighting a miscalculated child support order while supporting three children with another on the way. Now, he faces jail time for lack of payment for one child in the custody of his ex-spouse.
The amount awarded is in excess of $1300 per month. Shortly after filing for a divorce in 2012, Ranne lost his job and has supported himself and his three other children on his military disability. Despite dozens of attempts to work within the system to get the order modified, Ranne is caught in the child support vortex many parents face who live in one state while the ex-spouse lives in another. Instead of child support services working for the good of the family, child support services in several states are passing the buck amongst themselves causing Ranne to overpay, double pay, and have little to no chance of getting the erroneous order modified and avoid jail.

Each state claims Ranne's issue is the problem of another state because there is an open file in that other state. Oregon where Ranne lives, has decided to harass him for back due child support instead of helping the disabled veteran get things straightened out. Montana, Colorado, and New Mexico pass Ranne off as not being their problem. In addition to passing the buck, each of these state's child support office and family court have apparently forgotten their obligation to assist Ranne through this process per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

According to the ADA, courts and agencies are required to assist persons with disabilities in completing paperwork and making sure the disabled individual understands everything that is part of the court process. To date, Oregon Child Support Services and Family Court has refused to abide by the ADA in Ranne's case.

Cecil Ranne has PTSD from his two deployments into combat for the United States military. He is not violent. He is a caring and diligent father. He is trying to support his family despite his disabilities. But because of sensationalized media headlines about "crazy" and violent veterans, Ranne has been stereotyped and resultingly discriminated against by a system that purports to act in the best interests of the family.

Where is the media? Where are the headlines? Where is the ACLU when a war veteran carrying the burden of his service to the United States becomes a victim of the United States court system? Where is the justice for a disabled veteran who is also a devoted father?

People enter the military knowing that they are potentially signing away their lives to their country. They did not sign away their civil rights. They did not sign away the lives of their children. Veterans carry the burdens of war. They did not sign away their humanity.

July 9, 2014

Profiling Veterans with PTSD

Profiling Veterans with PTSD

After serving our country and defending the freedom of this nation, Veterans are faced with PTSD profiling. The stigma accompanying service-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a difficult obstacle for our Vets.  Inaccurate and demeaning images of veterans in the media are casting an undeserved shadow over our nation’s heroes.  Veterans need our utmost respect and care, instead of chastising them for injuries received while fighting our country’s battles.

Earlier this year Kevin Bowlus’ case was dismissed in Illinois after his testimony on being treated for PTSD.

“When she found out I was fighting for my stepson and was being seen at the PTSD clinic she dropped representation the day before a court hearing.”
-Kevin Bowles

Veterans often have their diagnosis used against them in court violating their rights.

Kevin, a Navy Veteran is fighting for custody of his son and his stepson due to an alleged unsafe environment caused by the children’s mother. Absent till now, the biological father of the child has come forward.  The child has been under Kevin’s primary care since he was eight from infancy, till now.

In May, Kevin decided to end his alleged abusive r In May, Kevin decided to end his alleged abusive relationship with his wife and the children’s biological mother.  Despite the marriage ending, he still wants to continue as primary caretaker for the children.  He filed for a protective order against the children’s mother and it's proving difficult for the courts to see beyond the stigma and misunderstanding of his diagnosis.  Not his actions, if it were for that he would have his children.

                                                Photo courtesy of- www.umkc.edu


“The police didn't believe I was a victim”
-Kevin says

After appearing before the judge, Kevin was awarded an order of protection.  When the police
attempted to serve her with the order of protection they discovered she took the children.  They found
her in Kentucky with the biological father.  The mother signed over her rights to the biological father 10 days after the order of protection. Kevin’s estranged wife was then severed the order of protection and Kevin was able to retrieve the children. Kevin adds, “Thankfully the police here blocked their attempt to recover my stepson citing the protection order.”

“I have been attempting like hell to get help for these kids from all avenues of government but here in Illinois stepparents have no rights.”
Kevin states

                                                                         Image courtesy of stopsoldiersuicide.org

Kevin is awaiting a hearing for the order of protection in Illinois on July 8, 2014.  Both children are in Kevin’s custody pending the results of the court appearance.  He expresses deep concern about the upcoming court date stating, “It is boiling down that I may have to let this child go with a person with a violent history, and no one willing to protect him.”

As of Friday, June 27th Kevin was still in search of an attorney to help with his upcoming case in Indiana. “I am still scrambling to find another one and with no funds that is kinda hard,” Kevin explained.  Thankfully a caring team at the Veterans’ PTSD Project and an anonymous donor has come together and to help cover the cost of Kevin’s legal fees. This act of kindness from fellow Veterans and the donor allows Kevin to have the proper legal representation in his pending case to secure the custody of his son and stepson.

We are still awaiting the outcome of Kevin’s Bowlus’ upcoming court appearance.  The fight for this Veteran’s children could potentially boil down to the stigma of his service-related injury overshadowing his ability to parent and care for his children.  As Americans we need to band together and follow the lead of the Veterans’ PTSD Project and anonymous donor and take a stand to help veterans in need.  It’s time to stop profiling veterans and start supporting America’s heroes.



Written by Rebecca Monahan
Blogger & USMC Wife     









June 9, 2014

Satisfied With My Best Effort (Syndrome of Survival)


This last Saturday I failed to finish my second attempt at a 100 mile race.

As I winded through the repeated switchbacks on the TARC 100 from mile twenty five to thirty I became increasingly aware that I was more and more disoriented. After three years of ultra running I had manage the first 85 degree day of the year as well as any central Maine resident could. Because of the heat I started cramping at ten miles, and I troubleshooted it with extra water, electrolyte pills and more calories than I could stand in the heat. I was strong physically but every time I ran I would heat up and cramp, but after I hit the marathon mark I started getting disoriented. Heat cramps were rapidly turning into heat exhaustion, but if I could only make it to the night I might have a chance...

My Ranger brain was on point, I was outside myself worrying about my weakening cognition. My limbic system in was kicking ass despite my cortex being massacred by the heat. I was both dizzy, less aware of my location on a map, as well as outside of myself and increasingly aware that failing to make it to the next aid station might be dangerous. In other situations I might have tried to take a more direct course towards support,  but I knew that I was not reliable enough to do my own navigation. I was paradoxically disoriented and present at the same time. In my miserable state I had enough composure to know that I could no longer trust myself to do anything but keep moving on the course. Despite being delirious at thirty miles they were able to drop my core temp, by spraying me with a hose, and after sitting for five minutes drinking all I could and being offered ice (which was only available for medical issues). I ran some more.

I had trained hard, and instantly picked up my pace passing several runners that transitioned better in the aid station. However, I drank my water bottles so fast that I was out of water more than a mile away from the next aid station. I kept saying to myself "when are the fifty miler runners going to pass me" but everyone was crippled by the same heat. This mile and a quarter took thirty minutes, and the dizziness returned. Dehydrated I tried to rally again, but I couldn't seem to cool down. When a medic cooled me down I nearly went into hypothermia, and was advised to call it a day. I obliged without regrets.

In  the days that have followed I have not been disappointed because, when you give your best effort and fail, there is nothing to be unsatisfied about. My Fitbit sensor recorded 4690 ft of elevation gain and 35 miles of running. My worst day was ten hours of running, and was still something to be proud of. Subsequently looking at the stats also made it apparent that I ran precisely according to my plans, based on my steps per minute. Typically I would have covered 42-5 miles and would have arrived at aids stations more rapidly.

I am not a fan of PTSD as an excuse, but taking diarrhetic medications for PTSD and mTBI has make heat especially hard for me to regulate my temperature in the summer.  I also have a history of heat injuries of high dosages of antibiotics in Ranger School for cellulitis, and the high heat of swamp patrol, made me pass out with heat exhaustion during a long movement in Florida. On my second ultra I had similar issues only to spend three days in the hospital with rhabdo. PTSD is also linked to inflammation that compounds heat regulation. This is not an excuse, it is something that makes me proud to have fought so hard for the thirty five miles I managed to complete rather than disappointed about the sixty five miles that never could have been on a day like that. This year it did not heat up until my rest period so there was no way to employ my more typical stadium run for heat management, though in the winter I trained inside with maximum gear to train for the June race. I hiked easy for ten miles in Acadia last Saturday and walked Darby during the hottest part of the day (there were streams and rivers for him) all week, but my acclimatization did not help at all.

Still to have the maturity to listen to my body, recognize a bad day and make a stronger attempt in the fall, or winter when it is more healthy. Being confident and aware of my limitations is as important never accepting those limitations as permanent immovable burdens. Letting my lesson be that I need to try in the winter and start with smaller distances in the summer is not giving up finishing a race on my worst days, rather for me it is learning my limits and moving forward.

Most importantly when I was on the edge of passing out with heat exhaustion my overly capable limbic system reminded me the ways that all the stigmatized "PTSD Symptoms" are so useful in times of real danger. PTSD or as I like to call it the Syndrome of Survival still works when your life is on the line. I wouldn't wish those moments on anyone so please learn my lesson, and let my miserable failed attempted at 100 miles remind you that PTSD ultimately kept us alive when we needed it too. All of that of our baggage comes from strengths and is still a resource during an actual crisis. You don't have to be as crazy as I am by running ultra distances to learn how to yield the fruits of trauma as well as the sorrow.

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