November 5, 2011

To the Combat PTSD Caregiver

Reach out to other spouses in your area or online to help educate and support one another. There are many benefits you can apply for today such as the Caregiver Benefit of service-connected veterans. An organization I highly recommend is Family of a Vet, you can find their link on the upper right hand of this blog.

When things between you two become confusing it is due to his perception of reality has been profoundly shaken. Everything he thought of himself has been shattered to the core including his spirit. I often speak of coming home in body starting as we disembark the aircraft to our home soil. Coming home in mind is a completely different experience and mine happened when I was able to be present all day without dissociating or loosing time to spacing out. This happened in 2010 twenty years after my combat experience. I still loose time, in the last several months my stress level has risen and remained constant and my dissociative features of Combat PTSD have been kicking.

Know that when his reality has been high-jacked, you are the means of his reality testing. When this other reality bleeds over into yours, it is real in his mind. Knowing this will help you communicate with him, his comments or behavior can give you clues to his mental state and in what reality his mind thinks its in.

When my kids where around and I was having hallucinations I included them sometimes as combat operations. To them they were playing war with dad, to me the intensity was dulled. I was able to tether myself to my kids and not succumb to the all encompassing flashbacks where the reality of today disappears as the horror of yesteryear rains.

He is in there and will come home in mind when he is ready, his mind trying to sort out the absurdity and brutality of war. It is a long process. I want to thank you for your spirit and knowledge seeking to understand your veteran, you are important to him if he doesn't say it. That's that part of him that cannot reconcile war, killing and the sacrifices your family experiences daily. This part of him is broken, how can we use something effectually rendered inoperable? You are in my prayers.

October 1, 2011

Combat PTSD Prayer

God, my faith had been lacking this last year and yet you still hold me in your hand. I curse your plan for me and tell you that I am not ready and you bless me further. I resist the path with detours and you place Angels in my life to guide me back. I have ignored you long enough, thank you God for the blessings in my life and I pledge to work on my humbleness and thankfulness to honor your presence in my life. When the darkness threatens to engulf me, I will turn to my faith. I love you God, Amen.

September 7, 2011

Advice Given to Caregiver Uncle Sam's Mistress: Fight for Him

Uncle Sam's Mistress over at Living with PTSD and TBI: An Army Wife's POV wrote this incredible article about meeting a Vietnam Veteran on the streets of New York and the advice he gave her. I think everyone who has a veteran in their life should read this.
I asked him "Do you have any advice for me about my husband?" He sat a minute and said "yeah 'a do. Have patience. It's hard, but he's in there somewhere. It's murky, its dark and there are demons riding his back all day...but he is still there. Love him no matter how much he pushes you away because he is only trying to punish himself. He depends on you cause you are all he has left. You got the only light on to show him the way and a part of him knows that. Fight for him, because he doesn't have the strength to keep going some days. When he gets stubborn or won't help himself? Stick a boot up his ass and let him know you aren't going to give up on him but you're not gonna tolerate his giving up either. If he is going to the VA and taking his meds? It means he is trying and probably just for you and your kids. Remember that. Lot you don't know, doll, about what goes on in war.... but a lot he doesn't know what you go through either. Both of you are just two lost people trying to hang on tight and not lose your way. One day, he will find his way as you will too. Have faith in God, cause he may take you for a ride but there's a reason. It's not your plan, it's his and he will let you know as you go along. Sometimes you just miss the message".

August 9, 2011

The Intimacy of War

Reclaiming parts of my memory has helped to regain lost bits and pieces of myself; by putting together this Combat Narrative I will regain a significant part of my life that has influenced me in many negative ways otherwise. This recording of my narrative will assist me further in reclaiming my past and coming to terms with my complete Combat Narrative over time. Watch it unfold here and at the Graffiti of War Project Blog.

Our second engagement commenced within the 100 Hour Ground War, but to get there I had to drive balls to the wall as part of the Army’s VII Corps mission to cut off the Iraqi forces before our hail Mary pass into Kuwait. As I was blazing 50 MPH across the sands towards the front line my 32 ton combat loaded Bradley drove over a sand dune and straight into a landmine field. Sgt T flipped out and started cussing and I could hear my captain in the background cursing and asking why we had stopped. As they both continued the barrage of swearing and demanding I screamed, “Shut the fuck up and look out your window, we are in a landmine field!” As the reality of situation sunk in, I assessed our trajectory into the field and found we had landed at an angle and missed detonating a single mine stopping us in our tracks.

July 29, 2011

Politics Aside, We Must Meet the Needs of Our Combat Affected Veterans

Photo by Scott Lee
We have been divided long enough, we must all work together to triage the oncoming wave of combat veterans struggling to readjust to peace. With the war’s end soon, we will have war fighters with plenty of time to think and begin to process the multitude of deployments and traumas they have experienced.

When we come together across bipartisan and ideological lines to make cooperative compromises and sacrifices, our veteran’s families and communities are strengthened and the fabric of our country becomes more whole.

The rates of PTSD and suicide will skyrocket in the following 10 years, even exponentially after the war’s end, if we do not do something now. We must mobilize our drive for innovation and creativity to meet the needs of a massive relief effort to help ‘combat affected’ members of our communities thrive in their new environments at work and home, before they are lost in the sea of Combat PTSD and TBI.

July 6, 2011

Support Family of a Vet in Discover Card Design Contest

Discover Card is holding a design contest to help raise money for Operation Homefront. The winning design will become an official new design for Discover cards and will earn $5,000!

CLICK HERE to VOTE for THIS DESIGN



Family Of a Vet (under the name of its founder, Brannan Vines, since only individuals are allowed to enter) has entered the contest. BUT, instead of simply entering a patriotic design, we hope to use this opportunity to not only raise some much needed funds for Family Of a Vet but to also increase nationwide awareness about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) in an unexpected way! Just imagine every time someone uses their credit card it will be an opportunity for the cardholder and the person processing the card to talk about PTSD and TBI!

Please help us win this contest! It's absolutely FREE for you to vote and you can vote once a day beginning on Tuesday, July 5th, until Friday, July 15th.

Make sure you click both the VOTE button and the Facebook "Like" button too CLICK HERE.

If you'd like to sign-up for a daily voting reminder from now until July 15th, please CLICK HERE.

We would also REALLY, REALLY APPRECIATE IT if you would forward a link to this page to your family and friends via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter and ask them to help us win the contest.

Used with permission, brought to you by FamilyOfaVet.com
FamilyOfaVet.com

Unspoken High Cost of War No More: Public Acknowledgment of Veteran Suicides

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says that families of service members who commit suicide are now getting condolence letters from the president just like families of troops who die in other ways. http://www.whas11.com/news/national/125047909.html
Photo by Scott Lee
It is sad that this issue has to reach critical mass for veteran issue to be acknowledged but, this is a good thing. The character of our country depends on actions that advance our cause. We teach our children to do what is right, especially if they have put it off.

We cannot ignore the work and struggle of the Vietnam Veteran, since the end of the war, over 200,000 veterans have killed themselves. In 1980 our brothers and sisters were on point for those of us today, they forged the path that we follow today. They fought and won a diagnosis for their troubles, then it was to work on the treatment side. We know that story, we live it today.

It has taken our government 30 years to do what is right; acknowledge that our veterans sacrifices were not in vain. This is a victory for the Vietnam Veteran who took their life after suffering in silence. Today his family has the President of the United States with a public acknowledgement of their struggle, their honor has been restored.

It just dawned on me that I was 7 years old when the Vietnam War ended.

July 4, 2011

Hallowed Day: 4th of July

A friend said to me, "I can't even imagine how the 4th of July feels for veterans..." and "Did you ever get hurt in the line of duty?" I shared with her my being wounded in mind for the last 20 years. She asked me how I deal with it on a day like today. My response, "I cry a lot, mourn some more, write, pray and force myself to be around people." I'm watching the fireworks outside my window wishing I had someone to share the sight with.

ON this day I remember the people who gave their lives so that I may go on. This actually has meaning for those of us who witness these selfless acts of compassion and unabashed brotherhood; they have forever changed us. Can you imagine what it feels like have someone forfeit their life so you may live? How can one live up to a sacrifice so profound? I carry this weight every day, but today I feel it especially deep and heavy.

To find my purpose is to find a way; My Purpose is My Life. My purpose and mission is to bring awareness to Combat PTSD and TBI. The song lyric, "Uncle Sam put you at the top of his list...", makes me think of massive effort needed to help veterans. We've exhausted our most wanted list and our high value targets. Now is the time to move on down to the veterans list, who fought these wars for the last 20 years, let's get on that list.

July 3, 2011

Thinking Patterns of War Can Impede a Veterans Life

People come here because they want to understand Combat PTSD. I appreciate your desire to learn, I am here to educate. War will change the way we think, feel and behave. Our minds can trick us into believing everything within ourselves is fine, the same. It's the world that has changed.

Photo by Scott Lee
Coming home is a seductive force to the deployed soldier fighting for their life; a fantasy island of peace and tranquility. This hairline crack in reality has shattered many a battle hardened warrior at home; the thought of 'coming home will be the easy part' can devastate the unprepared veteran. What I found was a battlefield of the mind and everywhere I turned forced my sanity to escaped me. The Pitfalls of Home engulfed me and a fire consumed my existence, forging and tempering my PTSD, folding my identity, losing who I used to be and believing I was still him. Thus cementing by unreality for decades.

The landscape of the mind has been altered by the experience of war, we now operate from a Warrior Perspective. We have the ability to morph into a sophisticated and skilled range of abilities that can devastate opposing forces. If we are unaware of this change within ourselves and we do not receive the training on how to decompress or disengage from the thinking patterns of war and adopt the Warrior Ethos to a peacetime setting. Then we will direct this energy at our loved ones and if they are unprepared for that consequence of war, then they too can succumb to the oppressive tidal forces of Combat PTSD.
Join me at Facebook.com/CombatPTSDBlog where I comment on relevant Facebook pages and create original content. Many interactions on my page generate insights and the creative process usually leads to articles here at PTSD: A Soldier's Perspective. If you want to have some input in my next article go to Facebook.com/CombatPTSDBlog today. You can have a say in your life, start now!

June 27, 2011

Frustrated and Alone: Combat PTSD Awareness

I received this comment on one of my better articles on Combat Rage and What We May Do With It; the Combat PTSD Veteran. Frustrated and Alone (FA) was me 6 years ago, I have come back from the brink of utter loneliness and abject isolation this young vet suffers silently with today, right now.

Frustrated and Alone says,
Mr. Lee, I completely agree with your statement. My personal story may very form another’s but I’m sure in many ways its related. I feel that the effects of “self medicating” I.E. alcoholic and/or drug abuse should have been brought up; it makes the pain stop… for awhile, then it only numbs and after time its only used to stay as sane as possible. I got so bad that I volunteered to leave my wife and 3 year old daughter for another deployment (my forth Marine Infantry deployment, 3 in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan).

I went to what I truly knew and felt comfortable, but to no avail… I came back worse than ever. The lack of sleep, always sitting at diners facing the doors, panic attacks from driving through underpasses or litter on the street. Since my first deployment during the invasion in 2003 to my last in Afghanistan in 2009 it has been a drunken downward spiral and its truly taken its toll on my family. I went for help at the V.A. and was told that I need deal with my alcoholism before “they” can deal with P.T.S.D. and I stressed that the problem was not from the alcohol but from my mental problems.

I was sent to doctors, counselors and shrinks and I kept telling them I need to fight the pain in me or I’ll keep using the “medicine” I’m using. It seemed to me obviously redundant to fight one while ignoring the other. That being said, I was refused mental health treatment and ultimately left to fend for myself, and here I am… frustrated and alone.

If you want to join our cause and volunteer your time to help men and women like FA, leave your contact info in the comment section or email me through my profile.

VA Late to National PTSD Awareness Day

Family Of a Vet, Inc. / FamilyOfaVet.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Brannan Vines
E-mail: Brannan@FamilyOfaVet.com
UPDATE: As of 12:47 CST and 1:47 EST the VA has FINALLY heard us! See, we can make a difference with social media! The VA has finally acknowledged the day of awareness for PTSD sufferers, National PTSD Awareness Day. I wonder how many opportunities the VA missed with getting a such late start on this day? ~ Combat PTSD Blogger
VA MAIN SITES GIVE NO MENTION OF NATIONAL PTSD AWARENESS DAY, Further Underlining the Stigma for Heroes and Families Who Are Struggling Daily with This Illness.

June 27, 2011, is National PTSD Awareness Day, a day intended to encourage awareness and education about post-traumatic stress disorder and help end the stigma associated with the disorder.

The Veterans Administration, our nation’s largest provider of combat-related PTSD care, is an integral component in the fight against PTSD-related stigma. Which contributes to the loss of 18 veterans each day to suicide, to the failing of 2 out of every 3 impacted marriages, and to hundreds of thousands of caregivers and family members who are now struggling with Secondary PTSD.

However, as of 10:45 am CST on June 27th, the home page of the VA’s website (http://www.va.gov/), the VA’s blog (http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/), and the VA’s main Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/VeteransAffairs), give no mention of this critical day.

In a society where the majority of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan (according to the VA’s own research - http://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/publications/forum/may11/may11-2.cfm) access the internet each and every day, this lack of coverage by the institution which is supposed to provide the majority of their PTSD-related care is an incredible oversight and one that further underlines and intensifies the stigma this day is supposed to fight against.

More information, including time stamped screen shots of the mentioned pages, is available on our blog at: http://blog.familyofavet.com/2011/06/hello-va-no-mention-of-national-ptsd.html

Family Of a Vet, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families learn how to cope with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and life after combat through real-world, plain language education and resources for heroes, families, and communities.
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For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Brannan Vines, President and Founder of Family Of a Vet, Inc., by e-mail at Brannan@FamilyOfaVet.com.

Thank you.

June 20, 2011

Anger Needs a Target: Don't Ask a Vet About Their Medicine During Stressful Events

The other day a friend unknowingly asked me the wrong question during a PTSD moment. "Are you taking your meds?" Asking a Combat PTSD Veteran if they have taken their medicine during times of stress can often be frowned upon by the wary Vet (attempt at humor); not really a good idea. The only thing she did was ask me if I was taking my meds because she could see I was stressed, that's it. But, to the stressed out Combat PTSD Veteran, timing is everything. I needed to counter-reflect in the moment, which I have love to do, to take myself out of being stressed. So I looked at this occasion as am opportunity to teach someone I love about how my mind works.

Her question,
But isn't that a natural question? I know if I don't take mine, I get symptoms.

Me, "Yes, and you shouldn't know that its not a good thing to do ask a vet at that time."

Ok, thanks for letting me know. I'll try to remember that. Can I be honest about my opinion of what you just told me?

Me, "Yes. If I am not mad at you its ok to ask if I am taking my meds, if not then ask the next day."

I don't really think that's fair to just say "don't ask if I am taking my meds" I understand that it can cause a reaction. Of course I don't understand because I haven't been where you have been. But if your friend is showing roller coaster moods it seems like a logical question. I want to understand, but I will never be able to truly truly understand, only one who has lived it can understand.
I can explain to most people what I go through and make them understand for the most part.

Anger needs a target for everyone. Anger heeds a object, for without a quarry there is no anger. If we feel angry then we can usually name who or what has triggered this emotion within us. If not, it can manifest as an internal conflict, thereby creating a problematic environment or situation for the Combat PTSD Veteran. Without realizing this internal conflict we can project this struggle onto others we feel emotionally close, for the dissociative mind can confuse the intimacy with loved ones with the intimacy of war.

June 14, 2011

Kent School of Social Work Screws Over Combat PTSD Blogger

I went to Walmart about an hour and half ago and about had a meltdown, it surprised the hell out of me. The last time a panic attack threatened to engulf me was a year ago. The latest panic attack TRIGGERED this rant at home on the keyboard; you heard it here first.

WARNING: If you read this article from here on, YOU WILL BE OFFENDED!

A year ago I was screwed by the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work out of a college degree in social work. This appalling excuse for a Social Work Program screwed a disabled veteran out of a degree. I have the conflicting paperwork that flies in the face of the disgrace they propose to place upon me. I was three months short, after 7 years in college, from graduating with a bachelors in Social Work. Three weeks into my graduating semester they pull me out of class to tell me that I was 10 hours short on my internship. I was to make it up by repeating the year again! Yes, you read that right.

Here is the messed up part; I was hospitalized during the hours they were talking about for suicidal ideation. I was going to kill myself or go to the VA, they hospitalized me for 11 days. I have been hospitalized for suicidal ideation and Chronic Combat PTSD four times in the last two years.

I missed 10 hours from an internship; my understanding of the situation was the hours would be made up the following semester. I provided the documentation and nothing else was said until the clarification came in the form of my being pulled out of class the following semester.

So, I was going to talk about Walmart. Here is the process as I work through the reasons why I should not use what Uncle Sam taught me,
I about had a PTSD moment at Walmart 20 minutes ago, its been a lone time since I had a panic attack. Its a good thing I can recognize them and have the tools to talk myself down from physically removing someone from my personal space.

My thought process; WTF is this guy doing? - Ok, I'm feeling severe anxiety. - OMG, not now. Panic attack, really? - Its been so long since I had... - Ok, you are feeling this. This is not you, you do not have to react. See, he has a small child with him. - He is only being socially rude, maybe he is not aware of it. - It's not worth saying anything just move a little to the right. - Time to go, paid the cashier. - None but me were aware...
This panic attack at Walmart triggered my one year anniversary blues of my U of L experience! A year ago the University of Louisville made a mistake and let me fall between the bureaucratic cracks. I kept everyone in the chain of command at Kent School of Social Work up to date on my mental health. They knew I had Combat PTSD and still worked behind the scenes to derail my chance at a degree, I walk away with a 3.2 GPA. Just recently they sent me a letter saying that they were dismissing me for unprofessional conduct. That conduct? Missing 2 meetings.

The mistakes I made was trusting three Social Workers at the University of Louisville to make an empathetic decision and not registering with the Disability Resource Center. I would have to say that the University of Louisville has left a bad taste in my mouth for the discipline of Social work.

June 9, 2011

Caregivers Need to Learn the Signs of Burnout and Secondary PTSD

You are not alone; welcome home to our veteran’s means something more profound then setting foot back on our homeland. For the combat veteran returning from war does not mean it’s a done deal; coming home. I tell a veteran welcome home to honor their continued sacrifice; the visions of war will never leave us and sometimes they swim in a deluge that reigns.

Add to your PTSD Toolbox
The panic attacks you are receiving are an attunement to the survival instinctual part of us; you have been programmed to react rather than rationalize in the moment. The deluge is the snapping in and out of reality; flashbacks, hallucinations, delusional thinking, the extreme dissociative features of Combat PTSD. The symptomology for chronic combat PTSD or Complex PTSD (CPTSD) has many similarities to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

Switching of personalities to suit the situation, thus the veteran will exhibit extreme characteristics not otherwise in line with "person we knew before war" (Dissociation of the Personality in Complex Trauma-Related Disorders and EMDR: Theoretical Considerations, p. 81-82). In combat we must compartmentalize our spirit or soul, our happiness, compassion, empathy and our humanity. We must demonize our enemy so that we may kill them. Later, coming to terms with taking lives, we trip over our Combat Values Structure; which does not fit in the civilian world. So, we make our home the war zone. Because, believe it or not. We know how to survive in here, outside those doors is a foreign world trying to invade. That's the world you live in now; I see you. You do not have to be ruled by it anymore. You can learn to take care of your veteran AFTER you take care of yourself first!

Go to a retreat for family members, such as When War Comes Home Retreat. There is a way out from under the oppressive emotions that chain us to our past; we survived not because we are weak. God put you on this path. What are you going to do with it?

Go to FamilyofaVet.com to learn more about the symptoms and signs of Secondary PTSD. Family of a Vet and Combat PTSD Blogger are partnering to bring together local resources that may not be available in your area; we aim to become that resource. If you would like to help click the link below and join us.
http://www.familyofavet.com/grassroots_team.html

June 6, 2011

USA Cares and Mark Wills Crazy Being Home Campaign



USA Cares and Crazy Being Home: A Warrior Treatment Today and USA Cares Program have created an awareness campaign shedding light on the difficulties surrounding our returning veterans and their families. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury have engulfed many veterans lives and we need to take corrective acts to stem the tide of the PTSD/TBI tsunami. This joint venture between Mark Wills and USA Cares is an important milestone in creating awareness.



This video is of Mark Wills' song "Crazy Being Home," it's a tribute to the way the combat veteran feels when coming home and what we may expect to encounter. It captures the emotion and identification we mysterosly seem to lack when we return home. Our ignoracne of this phenomenon can wreck our lives and those around us.

Go to Crazybeinghome.com to sign up to share your story and get your personal URL to spread the message, if your URL has the most hits you win a prize! Share it on Facebook, a personal webpage and on all your social networking sites.



The song immediatly took me back to my war as it was happening; except this time it more of a narrative with you. I can go with it today and learn what nature has to teach me of myself.

Heres where I went as I listened to the song. It immediately took me back to combat, sitting in the sandbox riding the line between boredom and terror. My war was in 1991 to you; for me, its everyday that I fight for your freedom since that day. I signed that blank check the media seems to throw up in our faces when we veterans say something is wrong; I make my daily installments on that debt. I am that crazy veteran with an attitude and I'm looking at you.

"...sadly, fighting a mental battle wasn't covered in basic training..." quoted from this video. God I never thought I would live to be this old, not that I'm old. I'm 43. God, I'm crying. This song it's me, there were no flags or anyone waiting for me when I got off the plane. It hasn't been right since, you would understand if you live where I've been.

It's crazy to crave insanity, it's crazy being home within the battle that is me. Thank you Mark Wills and USA Cares.

June 5, 2011

Memories, Flashbacks and Dissociation as a Function of Combat PTSD/TBI: Experiential Research

I am a Combat PTSD Veteran of the First Gulf War, I saw hectares of blood stained sands strung as the death clock clicked, chimed and claimed 45,000 lives. I lay witness, on point for the 3rd brigade of the 1st AD and beheld the 20,000 lives my unit snuffed in three bloody campaigns lasting 100 hours. I drove for 172 hours straight without sleeping, yes that's 7 days, on drugs they force me to take. I can speak on the horrors of flashbacks; memories that materialize and steal my reality to those thousands of enemy soldiers being wiped out in hours; the struggle with dissociative features of Combat PTSD as it threatens to engulf me everyday for the last 20 years. Imagine you are having a happy moment and the next thing you know visions of bodies and carnage engulf your view, confusion rings and the struggle to return to war or remain in the present resounds and sometimes I do not know where I left off or began. So, I pick it up where my slipped consciousness puts me and take my cues from those around me as to the reality of the situation sets in.

Today I understand these moments for what they are, a window into a place I tried to shut off. I have learned that this window, when open needs aired out. So I feel it and go with what nature needs me to understand. To live my purpose is to find a way.

Just percolating an idea for a paper I have 25 days to write, title is solid. Just needs fleshing out now...

June 4, 2011

Call for Local Community Organization

If you are a family member of a veteran with Combat PTSD, OR a family member of the fallen. You are welcome here. If you need support, I can assist you in understanding the Combat PTSD Veterans mind and how to communicate with your loved one.

We can do something about how we feel; if you choose too join me to help spread the word. I can put you in touch with an organization in need of your help, your personal experience is important in the healing of our combat veterans and possibly yourself.

June 3, 2011

The Graffiti of War Project

Used with permission from http://www.graffitiofwar.com/ 
Offering a unique perspective, experience the wars through the eyes of those living and dying through these conflicts.  Each image represents a moment in time, when an emotion was captured in ink, paint, or pencil, an unconventional historical record of this generation's war. Our Mission is that through sharing these images, we will begin a dialog between soldier and civilian, to bridge this ever-widening divide between our warfighters and civilians.  To bring understanding and true empathy of what our military men and women experience during their deployments.

We are collecting these images through submissions to our website, on Facebook and those sent into us via email.  This summer, Jaeson "Doc" Parsons is heading to Kuwait and Iraq to document the images on different posts and outposts located across Iraq.  Our content and blog, detailing the journey, will be a feature on Maxim.com and in their upcoming "Military" tab.

We will continue to accept images through Facebook and this website until we feel we have accurately and thoroughly collected enough to complete the book, The Graffiti of war.  Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to The Graffiti of War Fouondation as well as organizations supporting our service members and veterans suffering from the silent wounds of war, PTSD.

We have NO political affiliation, NO ulterior agenda other than to ensure our brothers and sisters-in-arms receive the help and support they deserve because of their selfless service to answer the call to arms.  They are that 1% and it is our duty as Americans to ensure their health and posterity.

How will our generation of citizens be judged?

From The Graffiti of War Project http://www.graffitiofwar.com/

May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

To those that never made it back, I will never forget your sacrifice.

Photo by Scott A. Lee
To the family members, thank you for your continued sacrifices for our country and may you find purpose in your loved ones absence.

May 27, 2011

Combat Veteran Eligibility: Enhanced Eligibility For VA Health Care Benefits

I know, I know. I'm a little late on breaking the news (2008, hello), I just found it and posted it. If anyone has any experience in filing for these benefits let me know in the comments.

Taken from the VA website:

On January 28, 2008, “Public Law 110-181” titled the “National Defense Authorization Act of 2008” was signed into law. Section 1707 amended Title 38, United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 1710(e)(3), extending the period of eligibility for health care for Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, (commonly referred to as combat veterans or OEF/OIF Veterans or to the recently established Operation New Dawn Veterans).

Under the “Combat Veteran” authority, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides cost-free health care services and nursing home care for conditions possibly related to military service and enrollment in Priority Group 6, unless eligible for enrollment in a higher priority group to:
  • Combat Veterans who were discharged or released from active service on or after January 28, 2003, are now eligible to enroll in the VA health care system for 5 years from the date of discharge or release. NOTE: The 5-year enrollment period applicable to these veterans begins on the discharge or separation date of the service member from active duty military service, or in the case of multiple call-ups, the most recent discharge date. Combat Veterans, while not required to disclose their income information, may do so to determine their eligibility for a higher priority status, beneficiary travel benefits, and exemption of co-pays for care unrelated to their military service.

May 24, 2011

Turtle Women Rising: The Tradition of Honoring Veterans




Eli PaintedCrow,
holds a proud history from the Yaqui Nation and Mexican ancestry. She is the mother to two veteran sons and a grandmother of eight. Eli is an advocate for Peace and an advocate for returning soldiers. A 22yr Army veteran whose eyes were opened in her last tour of military service, while in Iraq. Eli has committed to bring forward the strategies used in this society to continue keeping communities separated and in conflict.[...]

Veteran Unemployment, War Stigma and Employers Misunderstanding of the Modern Warrior

Veteran unemployment has reached critical mass. The stigma of the "Psychologically Wounded" veteran may be impacting employers decisions in hiring them. According to Call of Duty's Endowment (C.O.D.E.) website, veteran unemployment has reached 21.9%. This is totally unacceptable and it may be linked to the stigma attached to the Modern Combat Veteran. PTSD and TBI rates have rocketed to 30% in ten years, quicker than any war previously.

Can we infer a connection? You tell me.




I want to highlight Call of Duty's Endowment (C.O.D.E.) statistics. I researched their research as you readers knew I would. I'm so paranoid (smiling like crazy). I validated C.O.D.E.'s research and have worked with some of the organizations awarded grants, additionally I am familiar with most of the NGO's and GO's listed on their website.

Their informative website provokes an awaking of the American Public towards advancing the cause of the disenfranchised veteran.

video from http://www.callofdutyendowment.org/newsroom/media-kit/

May 23, 2011

Comumbia University Violates Eli PaintedCrow's Civil Rights

Eli Painted Crow, a featured speaker for Nadia MacCaffrey's VeteranVillage.org, her bio,
My work is about feeding our spirit by expressing my truth in language that is from my heart, life experience and my personal truth. It is my hope that people understand that what we speak we create, and what we fear most is what we call into our lives. By fighting for peace, we will inevitably fail because fighting for something is not a peaceful act. To have peace, we must become that which we desire. In order to learn how to stop this nation’s cycle of violence, we must heal our nation’s past acts of violence against others, in order to see how our present actions affect the future.
The letter below was written by Captain Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine to Columbia University School of Social Work on behalf of Eli. As I see it, this University has disrespected this honorable warrior, violated social work ethics and most of all violated her civil rights.
Dear Dr Steele, (I'm assuming it's the Provost of Columbia University...the one and only...ta da....Mr. Claude M. Steele! Fucking Asshole.)

It is with grave concern and a deeply heavy heart that I write this letter to you. My name is Anu Bhagwati. I am the Executive Director of Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), the nation's leading advocacy organization for military women and women veterans. I am also a former Marine Corps Captain.

I am writing because of a serious breach of ethics committed by the faculty and administration of the Columbia University School of Social Work against an Iraq war veteran, Sergeant First Class (SFC), Ret. Eli Painted Crow. Several years ago, SFC Painted Crow was interviewed by Professor Helen Benedict, who is on faculty at the Columbia University School of Journalism, for a narrative book titled "The Lonely Soldier." Professor Benedict interviewed and took advantage of SFC Painted Crow during a time of enormous mental and emotional turmoil for SFC Painted Crow. As a returning Iraq war veteran, SFC Painted Crow was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, she has been officially designated as a 100% disabled veteran by the Veterans Benefits Administration for the psychological and physical wounds she sustained while serving her country.

Call of Duty Endowment Memorial Day Campaign

Memorial day will be here soon and I have just been invited by Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment to participate in an Host Media Call with UFC 130 Fighter, Brian Stann and BG James "Spider" Marks (USA-Ret) to discuss their 2011 Memorial Day Campaign.

This is way freaking cool! I love the UFC and Call of Duty!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 19, 2011

Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment to Host Media Call with UFC 130 Fighter, Brian Stann, and BG James “Spider” Marks (USA-Ret.) to discuss 2011 Memorial Day Campaign.

WASHINGTON — As Memorial Day approaches, Brian Stann of Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) is not only prepping for his UFC 130 fight, but also gearing up for a Memorial Day Campaign with the Call of Duty Endowment. With the unemployment figures for the nation’s youngest veterans almost twice the national average, Stann will provide insights on the current landscape for veterans career opportunities and also launch the Call of Duty Endowment’s Memorial Day Campaign, which will benefit HHUSA. BG James "Spider" Marks (USA-Ret.), who serves on the Call of Duty Endowment advisory board, will also provide discuss the importance raising the public’s awareness of the veterans’ unemployment issue.

The Call of Duty Endowment is a non-profit, public benefit corporation created by Activision Blizzard. The organization seeks to help soldiers transitioning to civilian life find work and establish careers and to assist organizations that provide job placement and training. For more information about The Call of Duty Endowment, please visit www.callofdutyendowment.org.

Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) is an organization which focuses on providing transition assistance to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, specializing in the career placement of those injured or with any level of disability. HHUSA serves veterans from all branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Reservists and Coast Guard. For more information about HHUSA, please visit www.hireheroesusa.org

May 6, 2011

The Forced March



I was sitting here thinking about what it cost me to march 13 miles carrying 50 pounds of gear plus another 50 in ammo and water for my Expert Infantry Badge (EIB) march or marching 100 miles through the thick German forest over five days carrying an average of 70 pounds of gear. One foot in front of another, no quit, short-term goals of "that next tree," or the next click...if I can just get there. I only fell out of once in basic training at Fort Benning Georgia (Home of the Infantry!). I NEVER FUCKING LOST MY WEAPON! Oh, they tried. You just march on through. How about a 172 hour forced march through 3 countries with no sleep? Yeah, that forced march!




But, I did loose my mind and that I am told is our biggest weapon...

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 05, 2011

Presidential Proclamation--Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Military spouses serve as steady and supportive partners to the heroes in uniform who protect and defend our great Nation every day. Across America and around the world, military spouses serve our country in their own special way, helping families and friends through the stress of a deployment, caring for our wounded warriors, and supporting each other when a loved one has made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our service members and their families seldom ask for support or recognition. They carry out their duties to family and country with the quiet courage and strength that has always exemplified the American spirit. On Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we have an opportunity to not only honor the husbands and wives of our service members, but also thank them by actively expressing our gratitude in both word and deed.

When a member of our Armed Forces is deployed, an entire family is called to serve. The readiness of our troops depends on the readiness of our military families, as millions of parents, children, and loved ones sacrifice as well. This means supporting our military spouses is also a national security imperative. Earlier this year, my Administration released the report on military families, Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment, which marshaled resources from across our Government to identify new opportunities to support these patriots.

May 5, 2011

The VA's New Mobile App: PTSD Coach

Taken from the VA's website, modified from original;
The PTSD Coach app, a free iTunes download, can help you learn about and manage symptoms that commonly occur after trauma. Features include:

  • Reliable information on PTSD and treatments that work
  • Tools for screening and tracking your symptoms
  • Convenient, easy-to-use skills to help you handle stress symptoms
  • Direct links to support and help
  • Always with you when you need it
Together with professional medical treatment, PTSD Coach provides you dependable resources you can trust. If you have, or think you might have PTSD, this app is for you. Family and friends can also learn from this app. PTSD Coach was created by the VA's National Center for PTSD and the DoD's National Center for Telehealth and Technology.

NOTE: PTSD is a serious mental health condition that often requires professional evaluation and treatment. PTSD Coach is not intended to replace needed professional care. The questionnaire used in PTSD Coach, the PTSD Checklist (PCL), is a reliable and valid self-report measure used across VA, DoD, and in the community, but it is not intended to replace professional evaluation.

Providing you with facts and self-help skills based on research.

May 4, 2011

New VA Caregiver Program for Post-9/11 Veterans

PRESS RELEASE May 3, 2011:
VA to Take Applications for New Family Caregiver Program

VA Implementing Enhancements to Existing Services

for Veterans and Their Caregivers

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published the interim final rule for implementing the Family Caregiver Program of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act 2010. This new rule will provide additional support to eligible post-9/11 Veterans who elect to receive their care in a home setting from a primary Family Caregiver.

“We at VA know that every day is a challenge for our most seriously injured Veterans and their Family Caregivers,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “I know many Veterans and their Family Caregivers have been waiting anxiously for this day and I urge them to get their applications in as soon as possible so they can receive the additional support they have earned.”

May 3, 2011

30 Confirmed Kills: Surrender Hill Part 3

Healing is not fluid. Sometimes it happens in jagged forms; one step forward and three giant leaps back. I have part 3 of one of my war time trauma accounts to share with you, Buddha said, "Do not believe what I say just out of respect for me, but test it out yourself, as if you were buying gold." This resonated within me for reasons I have recently surmised; for a combat veteran with chronic PTSD we feel as if we must test everything in our world. It is in how we test ourselves that we may find the best use for our most intimate encounters in life.

Note: This trauma account is not heavy combat yet.

My notes pick back up from April 15, 2011:
Our 3rd vehicle opened fire strafing the hill. This was our first contact with the enemy, I was horrified that we had just taken lives, but also relived that we had not taken casualties ourselves - my god - I felt pride in doing my job, that I saw or was the first to see the enemy [this has got to be part of the core of this issue, the pride I felt at being first and saving our guys - which was what I did - saving my guys from the fate of the marines from the day before]
More to come on what all this means and the connections I make today...

May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden's Death

Photo by Scott Lee
I feel torn, I understand people's elation with Osama's death. But, I do not feel that way. My only thoughts have to do with the 30% of veterans coming home with PTSD, maybe now we can call these wars a success and get the hell out of them.

Remember, before you get pissed at me for not reacting the way you would. My sister was on the 33rd floor of tower number two, she ran down 33 flights of stairs in under 18 minutes to turn around and see the second plane hit 44 floors above where she was. And, I contributed to 30 confirmed kills. So, I got some wiggle room on how I want to feel here, can ya tell I'm angry? Yep, that's it. I am just angry.

May 1, 2011

New for March: Place in my Heart Where I Hold Sacred Memories

Place in my Heart Where I Hold Sacred Memories
Ok, update. Since last week I have been in communication with my sons and that "insecure" part of me has been abated, it is good to talk to my sons. It sure does give me much energy and hope for the future. This entry is not going to be long, I am working on an article I will title "Anatomy of a Flashback." Where I will blend personal experience and some scientific stuff too. I plan on taking some more new photos to be used in future posts, kind of running short on new material.

Oh, and also I hope you like the redesign (I happily obsessed for hours, lol). This photo was taken inside a quaint cemetery at my Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown, KY. It, as of right now, has become a physical representation to the place in my heart where I hold sacred memories. Maybe, a possible future site of cleaning rituals...hmm, something to consider.

April 23, 2011

Hard Time Keeping it Together Today

Well, my world is all fucked up...lets say that my family sucks at communication. We were never good at keeping in touch with one another, and I'm even accepting a large portion of the blame for not breaking the cycle. But, it is now time to give my sons 50% of the responsibility to maintain our relationships. Hey, call me sometime.

Oh yeah, one of my oldest and best friends died today. Having a hard time keeping it together today...

April 16, 2011

Healing and the 21st Century Warrior

As a combat vet I am just now after 19 years starting to put back together memories and now I have an understanding of where my emotions come from. Before, I was unable to distinguish the roots of my emotions, which resulted in disorganized thinking processes and seemingly eruptions of emotions and questionable behavior.

I would have argued, and have in the past, that healing was a myth for the combat veteran. But, that was before I started doing research in sleep disorders, trauma-based disorders and the mental constructs of such, and found parallels to my life and quested further to understanding the nature of trauma and its effects on a person. Trauma-based disorders; evolutionary defensive mechanisms stuck on shock and awe.

The dissociative nature of Combat PTSD and the integrative features of healing to the Combat Vet feel much like defensive positions and we will avoid doing so. Even if a vet believes they cannot be healed probably has more to do with sense of self-worth. I believed for many years that I was unworthy of healing because of the lives I ended 19 years ago. I battled everyone because thats what I was made into; a constant warrior. This false belief was compounded by my inability to reconcile my emotive responses from within and attributed them to the environment, the juxtaposition of the Combat PTSD Vet.

Healing has to come from within, but we can facilitate other needs of the Combat Vet until the warrior is ready to process further. The resources of the community needs to be marshaled together and bring support to the families in their communities. This is how we will help our warriors heal, at home with family, loved ones, mentors and spirit guides for those inclined.

The word heal is misleading and thats the trouble I have with using it. I am filled with images and inclinations of something having been done already, to mend the soul is an ongoing process and we Combat Vets can operate on the slippery slopes, but usually we try to avoid those. I think more of myself on a journey of healing...

April 15, 2011

Surrender Hill Part 2

Surrender Hill notes from March 7, 2011: Continues from PASP post dated April 14, 2011...come on people catch up! pwilmao -Pause while I laugh my ass off -I just laughed my ass off, that was funny...shesh.

At first I thought I was seeing things, but the images kept appearing on th horizon and I called it in. The adrenaline rush was immense; I remember my whole perception {shifted. It was surreal.}, I became...[I am becoming detached as I try and remember how I felt then. this was an event that had such a profound affect on my life - I feel such a deep sense of sorrow and loss - I feel as though I lost a piece of me back there and I want it back - crying as I write]

I became adept at my duties - again rationalizing- of course I became good at my job, my life depended upon on it. - That night I saw the people- the enemy on the horizon and called it in to my track commander, he in turn called in to our captain. {{this is important because I had judged myself unfairly in all or nothing terms, when in fact there was a chain of command and I acted according to rules of engagement and -- here I was struggling with how to frame my trauma and another veteran suggested this to me, "I along with others played a part in this unfortunate incident."}} CO told us to fire a warning shot - More background, the day before we had a report of the enemy acting like they were surrendering and once in range killing some marines, setting the stage for our encounter - We fired a warning shot, then [at this pint I am again detached while trying to discern my emotional state then]. {Once I reported it} We kept seeing the enemy on horizon, we fired two more warning shots, still the enemy advances. the CO gave us the order to fire on the enemy...

More to come.

April 14, 2011

Surrender Hill

My Trauma Account Re-write, dated March 7, 2011:

After driving for 48 hours straight without any sleep...I was the point vehicle and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Driver for the 3rd Brigade for the 1st Armored Division. I was responsible keeping an eye on our 2 other brigades (approx 5,000 personnel in each brigade) and keeping us within sight of each other. I remember the weight of such a burden, of course I told myself the "I can do this", "I am the man for the job!" That responsibility was put to the test on or around February 13, 1991, the day before my youngest son was born.

I was drilled on recognizing silhouettes for months prior to our deployment and I tested with high marks. That night after convoying for 2 days straight I saw the silhouettes on our left flank - {God, how I constantly trace shapes, I am obsessed with it.}

OK, ground rules of therapy notes and symbols:

text within [brackets] are original insights and muse

text within {brackets} are thoughts, insights, and creative license added here at PASP...

So, got that? Or am I still being too obtuse?

April 13, 2011

Kognito Interactive: My Perspective

I have been away for while now and wanted to let you know that I am back and ready to write again. Recently I have been invited by;
Kognito Interactive (who)..is currently partnering with VISN 3 of the VA to develop an online training for the families of veterans to help family members identify signs and symptoms of PTSD, depression, and suicide ideation and how to effectively conduct the difficult conversation of motivating their loved one to seek help. As part of our process, we are reaching out to individuals, groups and organizations that serve veterans and their families to both make them aware of the training and explore opportunities to partner. Also, we will be seeking feedback from veterans around the country as the training progresses to further development stages, to make sure that if (and hopefully when) it is adopted beyond VISN 3, it delivers on its goal to all those who be taking the training.
This is a service that i think will add to the resources available to many military and veterans families whose loved ones have re-ingratiation issues. Family's unspoken expectations can engage a combat veteran, triggering emotional states and possibly defensive mechanisms. We can test new skill sets in real time with this simulator. I will be testing this system and with this tool I have an opportunity to contribute to a wider audience.

At this moment I have access for 24 hours and will be reporting here...well they said I had 24 hour access, now after 2 hours I do not have access. I have contacted support, we will see how long till they contact me...REMEMBER I am a Combat PTSD Vet who although I have had some recent therapy...they did say that I have much work still to do. So, my patience is being tested for and by the simulation whose supposed to help.

Ha, Jeanne responded from Kognito Support to which I said "Thank you Jeanne, I appreciate your quick response. I will use Firefox to demo the website again." Shesh, I should of thought of that!" Or so my wicked mind tells me...not superman, just borrow his cape every now and again. I'm off to Firefox!

Thanks, with much love,

Scott A. Lee
Combat PTSD Blogger

April 11, 2011

Hello, I'M BACK: Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

I have been away for awhile...I'm ready to talk about it again. I'm ready to add the Memphis Chapter where I am back from a six week stay at the Memphis VA. I gotta say from the start, it was a great program. I was able to work through some more stuff and I am grateful for what I have learned. I saw some tremendous work from the staff and gained a new way to frame my trauma.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), I gotta say it does work. I endorse the inpatient program, but not the hospital. The hospital was pitiful, it reminded me of the Louisville, VAMC 20 years ago. I thank GOD for my local VA services. That said, I also want to scold the other f'ing side. Seriously, Louisville does not have inpatient PTSD services for residential patients? And VA over all...I waited four (4, if you read that wrong) months to get help I needed? Seriously? How many hours does one have to wait before another veteran takes their life?

As you well know I can only talk about my experience. So I will begin with typing out my therapy letters, notes and thoughts reworked here.