March 23, 2010

Once a Warrior Always a Warrior

GPP Life proudly announces the February release of ONCE A WARRIOR—ALWAYS A WARRIOR: NAVIGATING THE TRANSITION FROM COMBAT TO HOME by Charles W. Hoge, M.D. / Colonel U.S. Army (Retired) (ISBN #978-0-7627-5442-7; $18.95; Paperback; February 23, 2010).

Returning home from war can be as difficult, if not more so, than time spent serving in a combat zone. With this practical reality in mind Colonel Charles Hoge provides a groundbreaking resource with essential new insights. This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever returned home from a war zone, as well as their loved ones, friends, coworkers, and health care providers. Here, in clear easily accessible language, Dr. Hoge presents the latest knowledge about combat stress, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury), other physiological reactions to war, and treatment options.

Recognizing that everyone changes during deployment, Dr. Hoge provides ways to help warriors and their family members better understand each other’s experience. His message about recognizing that combat survival skills are often viewed as “symptoms” back home will help anyone who wants to truly understand the experience of service members and veterans. Readers will learn how military service personnel can successfully navigate the transition from the war zone (i.e., LANDNAV for the home front)—no matter how many days, months, or years have passed. Once a Warrior—Always a Warrior explains how a warrior’s knowledge and skills are vital for living at peace in an insane world.

Charles W. Hoge, MD, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) directed the premiere U.S. research program at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research from 2002 through 2009 on the mental health and neurological effects of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He deployed to Iraq (2004) to improve combat stress care. His articles on PTSD, mTBI, and stigma, published by The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of the American Medical Association, are the most frequently cited medical publications from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He continues to work as a staff psychiatrist treating service members, veterans, and family members. A national expert on war-related mental health issues and traumatic brain injury, Dr. Hoge has testified to Congress and has a track record of providing articulate, engaging interviews for national news organizations. He lives in the Washington, D.C.

March 11, 2010

Tell Me About Sgt J Patrick Lamoureux

The double edged sword cuts both ways, it is a blessing and a curse; and oddly there is no better example of the power to both help and harm than the act of sharing my interests with my husband. It's a blessing that he genuinely wants to involve himself in the pursuits I'm interested in and the online research I enjoy, it helps him feel connected to me and strengthens our bond. And yet at the same time it's almost a curse when he wants to be engaged with reading accounts of veterans fallen on hard times or struggling with life after combat. He becomes terribly distressed about those stories, and consequently all I want to do is stop sharing yet he still insists I keep talking until he can't take it anymore.

The latest quandary was when I was reading a story online about Sue Highsmith Lamoureux, the wife of a former Army Reserve Sergeant J Patrick Lamoureux incarcerated in Nye County Detention Center, after being involved in a pre-dawn gunbattle with Nye County sheriff's deputies. It's a very compelling story for me, especially as I work in corrections, and have first hand experience of dealing with combat vets in jail. Highsmith Lamoureux says it was the weight of post-traumatic stress that caused her 46-year-old husband with a previously "squeaky clean" record, to mentally collapse in September 2008.

As I was reading her Blog "The J Patrick Lamoureux Defense" I was about to click on the relating newspaper story link when my husband just hapened to glance across at my laptop.

"What'cha reading there?"

"A blog written by the wife of a Sergeant J Patrick Lamoureux, he's in jail awaiting trial after getting into a shootout with deputies last year. I was just gonna get the scoop from the newspaper report."

"Really? Do you mind reading it to me."

And as the healing edge of the sword swooped down, I clicked on the link to the newspaper article, and our bonding session began.....

Joseph "Pat" Lamoureux couldn't erase from his mind the sight of the young Iraqi girl walking up to his heavy equipment transport truck and blowing herself up. "Her body parts were all over his vehicle," his wife, Sue, said about the 2003 suicide bomber attack.

She said her husband was knocked down from the blast and later was evaluated for traumatic brain injury. In a benefits claim he filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Lamoureux wrote that the Iraqi girl, who was 12 to 14 years old, "came out of nowhere.

Then there was a firefight near the Baghdad airport and, later, an old man with a donkey who wouldn't stop when soldiers hollered at him. "He was 'lit up,'" Sue Lamoureux wrote in a July 1 e-mail. "To this day Pat believes the old man may have been deaf, and the image of him haunts Pat."

She said it was the weight of post-traumatic stress from these and other incidents that caused her 46-year-old husband to mentally collapse last September. That's when he went on a shooting spree that began in their mobile home at Terrible's Lakeside RV Park and Casino in Pahrump and ended after a pre-dawn gunbattle with Nye County sheriff's deputies......."

.... partway through the fourth paragraph I felt a nudge against my arm and looked down to see my husband collapse into my lap, tears streaming, almost as though he had literally been struck by the harmful edge of the sword.

"Stop, please stop." He said in a broken voice.

"But I thought you....?"

"I just don't want to hear any more." He sobbed.

"You know you're training me to want to keep my mouth shut and not share this stuff with you. I can't keep putting you through this all the time. I'm not gonna do it any's more." I came back defiantly fighting back tears of my own.

"No, I want you to share, it's just.... it's just.... it's hard you know?" Came his emotional insistence.

And as he lays with his head in my lap, I wished he wouldn't argue with me about sharing this stuff with him, wished I hadn't upset him, wished I could turn the clock back just 15 minutes and been checking emails instead of reading her blog when he looked at my screen. Then spared a heart-wrenching thought for J Patrick Lamoureux's wife who I'm sure would do anything right now to be in a position to comfort her husband during his greatest hour of need, wishing she could turn back the clock too.

March 5, 2010

Signature Wounds, A Scott Gaulin Documentary


This is my video submission to Scott Gaulin's "Signature Wounds" project. It literally only took me a few minutes to record and I threw in some stills on top of the video. I am soliciting your input on his behalf, to help make his project not only a successful one but one with a real voice, powerful and compelling enough to affect change.

Scott is a journalist from Texas. His documentary is being sponsored through the Kiplinger Fellowship Program and the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. It is centered around spouses and families struggling to cope at home when a loved one returns suffering from combat PTSD or TBI. He needs our help in collecting as many personal stories as he can from across the country from spouses, children, siblings, or parents of veterans. His website Signature Wounds supplies all the details you will need to contribute to this wonderful cause.

The following is an extract from his website:

He would like you to share your personal experiences not those of your veteran. It should offer some insight into you; how you cope, what your experiences are, changes in your family's life after PTSD.
  • The story can be whatever you make it; it’s your story. It can be a recollection – how was life before the deployment, or the day you first met.
  • It can be about a coping technique or hobby that calms and centers you.
  • If you’re an artist – it could be a conceptual work such as a painting that represents your emotions.
  • It could be song you’ve written, a page from your journal or a more traditional narrative.
He can take video, audio, a photographic submission, a drawing, a painting or handwritten letter. He encourages you to be as creative as you like. Visit his website and add your voice to the magnificent chorus I am hoping we will create.

This is an awesome opportunity....and if you need help, let me know and I would be willing to work out any of the technical issues that might stand in your way of contributing.