June 29, 2010

William Henley: INVICTUS

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of Circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of Chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Henley 1875

June 27, 2010

Casualties from the Battle of Wanat

By Richard Engel, Chief foreign correspondent, NBC News. This report airs Dateline NBC Sunday, June 27, 7 p.m./6 C,
DAVE BROSTROM: When you send your son off to war, you expect that they will get everything that this great country can provide to protect them.

CARLENE CROSS: This situation was pure recklessness. You just have to say, "This is wrong.”

KURT ZWILLING: Bad things happen in war. But our boys are not cannon fodder. The United States has to protect these men. And, in this case, it was not done.

Every parent who sends a son or daughter to war knows the worst can happen. But that deep, often unspoken fear is tempered by a faith that the military won't needlessly risk the lives of their loved ones.

MARY JO BROSTROM: Your son takes off. But, he's coming home. I never imagined that he wouldn't. I always thought that Jonathan would always be coming home. He was Jonathan.

Jonathan — Jonathan P. Brostrom, a 24-year-old Army second lieutenant from Honolulu, Hawaii.

DAVE BROSTROM: He was your typical American boy. Very athletic. Had lots of friends.

You might say the Army was in Jon Brostrom's DNA. His father, Dave, was “Army strong” long before the ad campaign.

Quote Me

We are all conquered men in the eyes of God~~Scott A. Lee

Cynosure the Gift of Faith

Photo by Scott Lee
I was so overwhelmed by the time the WWII veterans arrived I could no longer concentrate on the camera settings or my job there. So I tried to take pictures but most did not take of their return, but should that be that may. I got many contacts and wonderful photos, met some incredible people and have interviews in waiting. So many veterans want to share their stories, I am so blessed to have the gift of cynosure (please read the whole definition, I'm not as narcissistic as the first few lines might indicate...lol).

Every time I listen to that inner voice that says, "I must for I act." Today that means the mobilization of our communities to help our returning veterans come home safely. They need not end up homeless, incarcerated, suicidal or homicidal and thrown away in the increasing numbers we see today. We must as communities organize ourselves, we cannot afford to wait. The time has come to mobilize the most massive civilian relief effort within our homeland since we first asked our American Natives for help.

Today I carry that warrior spirit with me, my grandmother was Cherokee here in Kentucky. She was a child on the trail of tears, when my mother (I just worked through an issue with my mom, thank you God) would tell that story she could not help but weep as I do today. I have not confirmed, but my father told me that we were related to the local legend Robert E. Lee and have been impacted in from this side of the family. A local 'Hatfield and McCoy' merger, lol, man I'm a true Kentucky Colonel.

June 25, 2010

Daddy Has PTSD

How do I explain PTSD to an elementary school age kid who is clearly frustrated by the dramatic change of pace from his home life to that of weekends with his father?

Dear Stepson,

You were too young to remember when your dad went to Iraq to fight in the war. While he was overseas he saw many bad things and needed to protect himself and others from danger. He couldn't just run away and hide, he had to be very brave and not show any sign of fear even if at times he was scared inside. Now he is back home, having to cope with danger all the time has made him quiet and not very playful, but he had to learn to be strong and silent. He's like that all the time not just when you're around so don't think it's your fault.

You know how your dad "jumps" when you drop a toy on the floor or fire your cap gun? That's because there were many explosions and gun shots in Iraq which made deafening noises and meant he could be seriously hurt or even killed. When your dad hears loud noises now it still makes him jump because he is reminded how deadly bombs and bullets are. Just for a second it makes him think he is back in Iraq until he remembers he is home with us.

When he was on duty he sometimes had to patrol in a vehicle or on foot and when there were lots of people around it threatened his safety, that is why he does not like to be around crowds. He still thinks he has to watch all the faces and their movements in case they are getting ready to hurt him. Pax helps your dad feel safe when he goes out in public, he can help him watch all the people when there are too many for your dad to keep track of.

Sometimes when you ask your dad a question and he tells you he has to think about it, it's because his head was injured by bomb blasts. You know when you watch a movie and there is an explosion and people are thrown through the air? That's what happened to your dad and now he sometimes has trouble remembering things or answering your questions right away. That is called TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), his brain was injured when it got banged around inside his head.

Do you remember the other day when you asked your dad if he would play hockey and he said "we'll see, maybe later"? Remember how I made him go outside and play with you? Your dad did not like playing out in the driveway because cars drive past the house. During the war he had to stop cars at roadside checkpoints and search them for bombs and guns so he and his fellow soldiers would be safe and come home to their family. He also had to concentrate and watch traffic very carefully from high up in a tower, so he doesn't like being distracted when there are cars around, even if it is to play a game.

Sometimes people can be hurt deep down on the inside where you can't see it but it is there. Your dad has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Post means after the war, Traumatic means bad things happened during the war and his life was in danger, Stress means his body is reacting to the bad things... kinda like how you get hives, and Disorder means he will never be the same man he was before he went into combat.

Your Stepmother.

Anyone else had to try and explain PTSD and/or TBI to their kids?

June 24, 2010

Local Veterans Resource in Louisville KY: Interlink Counseling Services Inc

Photo by Scott Lee
Interlink Counseling Services at 8311 Preston Highway, Louisville, Kentucky 40219, phone 502-964-7147, E-mail support@interlinkservices.org. Interlink is a long-term residential treatment center for homeless veterans to meet their needs in achieving and maintaining a productive and meaningful life beyond substance abuse and homelessness. Issues such as chemical dependency, mental health problems, housing needs, and job placement, as needed can be addressed through a case manager in addition to assistance with filing for disability benefits through Social Security and the Veterans Administration.

Medications for a Combat Veterans Treatment of PTSD

One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small,

And the ones that mother gives you

Don't do anything at all.

-White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane 1967

I awoke this morning with a list of items I needed to tackle today. The real trick for me is trying to balance all my work around my family and husband. Today's list consists of running to the post office to mail off many candles, make some phone calls for FRG and our upcoming Family Day, write an article for our unit newsletter, and get my husband's medications in order. So armed with my extra large cup of coffee and my Vietnam Era music playing in the background, I hit the ground running. I had to buy my husband one of those seven day a week pill reminder boxes, or as we lovingly refer to it as, the Old Man Pill Box. Once a week I must refill it for twice to three times a day, and then double check myself as I can be forgetful sometimes. Once completed, I must then go through and double check all the original bottles they came in just to make sure he has plenty in supply or begin the refill process. I wondered how many others are on the same meds and what do all these do for my husband? Thought the White Rabbit song reference really played well with my blog this morning!

June 20, 2010

To SGT B and a Response to Veteran's Emails on What We Did for Combat PTSD and TBI

In the past few weeks, I have been getting several emails in regards to PTSD from my point of view and not just from spouses. I am in no way a professional and I don't have the answers. I really wish I did. It hurts me to see this many people suffering, more so the comments left with seeking help and not getting it. I can't give you much advice but will tell you what my opinions are as a spouse.

I can tell you that finding your local Vet Center is often the way to go. The counselors there are veterans themselves and like my husband's, "been there and done that" kind of guys. There is a common bond automatically set up when you walk in, because you both can look at each other and just know. I really like this factor because although not your "battle buddy", it can come close. You also know its not some doctor who doesn't really care or understand, and only knows about this subject from glancing at it in their psychiatric diagnosis manuals. I fuss about the system as ours sometimes has failed me as a family member, but that's not the case from every state nor is it the case for every veteran. The Vet Centers can also see soldiers who are not yet qualified to go to the VA yet. This helps because if you are not yet a technical veteran by VA requirements, it's a good resource for those who need immediate help. For soldiers who are still in, this is a viable option for you.

The Vet Center also has resources for family members such as marriage counseling which is free. They can also get you into the VA system and get you started in the right direction for disability paperwork. Most VA systems have OIF/OEF representatives which are also quite handy to have in your arsenal. Call and harass the hell out of them. It's their job and what they are there for. Check out your local Disabled American Veterans chapters as well. My husband and I are members in our local one. Each chapter has service officers who help veterans with their paperwork and fight for your disability. Most of them usually have 10-25 years experience dealing with the VA and all their bullshit. They can advise, explain and fight it when denied. Also your local VFW is supposed to have such officers within their groups as well, although ours does not currently have anyone.

On a more personal note to all the Veterans with PTSD/TBI, I want to give you some insight especially for our struggling ones who are just now seeking help and having family issues as in three emails I received from this site. The best thing I can say is: War is hell on the home front too, even long after you come home. The war may never leave you, but remember your battle has simply moved strategically to another place, your Home. You may not realize how much, as a spouse, we endured on our end while you were deployed, or even in the service. Wartime makes it so much harder because we not only have to constantly worry about our spouse overseas and the horrors that go through our mind, but our families that were left behind. It's a heavy load to bear sometimes and one of the hardest jobs I have ever had to do in my lifetime. Even if you were never deployed to a war zone, just being in the military poses stress on all family members because there is always the "what ifs?". Once you come home, and the battle wages on here....we never know whether to stand in and fight with you or simply retreat and save ourselves! In some cases, there is no other option but to leave you. We may not want to, but sometimes for mental and safety purposes, it's what is best especially if there are children involved.

If you are struggling with issues such as PTSD/TBI, often times you will shove us aside, take out all your anger, resentment, and your emotions on your family. The Spouse is often the gutter for your flood of problems and we too can get overloaded. If you are struggling with PTSD, TBI, reintegration or readjustment issues, talk to us. We don't need to know what you saw over there, it's not important. We don't need a reasoning behind your problems, but do need to know you are having some issues. We can't help you if we don't know. If you come home different, we are going to be shocked and confused. If you suddenly show problems and push us away, we are hurt and not sure what we did wrong. We aren't the enemy. I can assure you that you aren't the only one who isn't educated as many of our spouses do not have one clue to not only recognize PTSD, but understand and cope with it.
  • The first step is seeking help and that is often the hardest step to complete. Sitting down with your family/spouse and saying "I am having problems and I need your help". That statement will once again include us in your lives, lets us know that you still need us and puts us as a whole fighting one monster. Explain to your family and spouse what is going on with you. What sets you off? What type of things bother you? Is it being in crowded places, do loud noises startle you, what can we do to help you battle these things? Make a list of these problems not just for yourselves but also your primary care physician and your therapist and psych doctors.

    Sometimes a family member will notice more things about you that have changed than you will. Those little things can become serious red flags of problems and you aren't aware of it. Those red flags can also mean a difference in percentages of disability ratings that you get. If you aren't aware of it, you are missing out on your deserved disability. Most family members and spouses can tell if you have memory problems, suffer from sleep walking, and much more all the way down to a change in the hairs on your rear! We live with you, we notice everything. Once discharged, some questions may never have been asked by the military....you were sent home and pushed on through the system. Many afraid of the stigma and losing their military careers, simply gave answers to get through the system without being flagged. In our case, my husband managed to give answers they wanted to hear and in the case of TBI, I was the one who noticed the problems which led to the diagnosis. Just because you have the VA or the Vet Center, does not necessarily mean those are the only options. Call around to different doctors who take your insurance. There are many soldiers I know who have opted to pay the small percentage of the bill just to get help in a different way other than using the medical facilities on post or VA help. In two spouses I know, going to a therapist who is retired military was the best step for them and their families.
  • Talking to your spouse or family: will make an eternal difference I promise. We as spouses lost our freedom just as you feel. We have lost our husband, best friend, our rock, sometimes a parent if there are children at home, and most importantly left with a lot of unanswered questions. You came home and locked us up right along side with you in hell and there are days where we feel no way out. Educate yourself, get help and then remember to educate your spouse. Ask for marriage counseling, find a therapist, seek help for your spouse even if it's the smallest of avenues. We can't help you or understand if we don't know what the problem is or how to tackle it. We were once on the same team and now enemies...find a common ground to build a peace treaty on. Now some of you have emailed me, so why can you not tell the same things you told me to them?
  • Work Together with your family: I know it's hard, and easier said than done but remember that we love you. When there is a family crisis, do we not stand together? If our home burns down, do we not stand together hand in hand and say let's build again? Health problems: we married you for sickness and in health. That includes PTSD and TBI. When something stands in your way, you have to band together and fight as a team. If your children are sick, or a family member...do you not come together and sit by their bedside? There is no difference with your problems.
  • Listen: We know often that the issues you are facing consume you as a whole, but listen to us as well. Don't take offense and automatically get upset. We listened to you, now listen to us. You have to remember that often times, spouses do not have anyone to talk to whereas you might have a counselor or doctor. We don't have that option or in our case, that luxury. If you get angry when we talk about our problems, take a deep breath and count to ten. Walk away and pick up the conversation at a later time. We need you to understand how we feel, just like you need us to know what you are going through and understand. Sometimes a breakdown of communication is often the most reported problems when dealing with marriage and PTSD. How can you fight this enemy if you don't have a knowledge or a game plan put into place?
  • Seeking help and working together: is the best advice I can give you. When you are at the VA, ask about any type of family programs or resources they might have. Every VA is different and some have more to offer than others. Remember that you aren't the only one who is suffering. Try to keep in mind that your family is always there, you just have to include them in your life; not shut them out. Checking out sites together and reading them together is a great thing too. Sites like Family Of A Vet.com has resources, information and education for vets and families. I really like this site because it's easy to read and none of that scientific jargon no one understands. Knowledge is empowering especially in these problems. Remember that asking for help does not make you weak. Letting your family know that you need their help does not make you less of a person. Find strength in each other and your family's love......
As a spouse, I could have better handled the situation and taken a stronger stance there at the beginning if I had known what was going on. Looking back over the last three years, I can see where we both went wrong and it almost cost us our marriage. Don't let PTSD consume you to the point of losing your family. We know there are problems, let us move in just a little to help you. If you just once looked at us and said "I need help. I am having problems. I don't mean to be angry with you, I am just angry at everyone.", it will make the spouse feel acknowledged and included. I know that most of you can't tell your spouse what's going on with you because you may not even know yourself what's going on. I would think just the acknowledgment of your issues and trying to include your family is all that it would take to form a battle plan. It won't work in all cases, but it will help in some.

I hope this answers some. I am just speaking from my experience and often that helps more than any book I was told to buy from therapists and doctors. I came across this site of resources as well that may be of some use to you. Interesting links. Some of this is looking back over the last three years and asking myself what would have happened if my spouse had come to me and talked about it? I don't have all the answers and never will. I don't want to let anyone down by not providing answers to their questions, but felt you needed an honest answer. Thank you all for the emails and support. I will address the spouses later in another blog.

Fumbling in the Dark Myself,

Uncle Sam's Mistress

June 18, 2010

Ex-wife and Combat Vet Talk 20 Years Later

Lotus flower and om symbolImage via Wikipedia
Positive said,
Scott, please don't misunderstand that I only fear that you may regress. I'm very concerned that when you get angry you may regress into what you were. I'm sorry if I offended you in any way. It wasn't meant to. I'm just concerned. When you get angry, you tend to spiral in a downhill motion that lasts days, weeks, or sometimes months and years. I just don't want to see that again. Being aware of some of the things you have done when you're in that state of mind, I truly don't think I can be at fault for being concerned about your frame of mind when your that angry. You were angry-and told me you were very pissed, I told you to get on your blog and let it out-that's why I was so concerned. I just don't want all of us to have a remake of what once was.

When you and [Our son] had the argument, it hurt me. I knew it was bound to happen. [Our son] has had so many emotions built up inside him for so long, it was inevitable he was going to explode one day. In time he will come around. Until he does, let's just try to continue what we're trying to do. I'm trying to help him threw this to the best of my ability. Its not easy but, it is things he needs to hear. He has to deal with it in his own way. We are all different and, all of us handle situations differently. Yes, he is back with his girlfriend now. I'm happy about that. If the blow-up hadn't happened he may not have been. In saying that maybe it needed to happen. At some point, however; it was destined to happen anyway.

I sincerely hope that you never let yourself regress as far as you did in the past. Its my fear that one day you will. I hope it never happens, not ever.

The boys and you have finally been talking for about 3 straight years. I'm happy about that. They always needed you-even if they didn't know it. This is just something that had to happen between you and [Our son]. I'm deeply sorry it happened the way it did.
My response,

Combat Vet Guided by Rights, Responsibilities and Principles

Almost every bay of the communication sap from...
Image by National Media Museum via Flickr
Wow, the fallout from war is staggering, 15 years after the first Gulf War ended I begin the healing process and people I thought were friends attack me almost 20 years later? Really? Yes I did horrible things when I got home to my family, I did hurt the people around me. Can you live with the vision of 20,000 mangled enemy bodes and not have some fallout? Count yourself blessed if you do. After driving for 172 hours or 7 days?

I will engage anyone who wants to have a real conversation about my life and share in a mutual discussion. I challenge people to do the same, your right I do not have to like what others say. But, should you behave in an aggressive manor and force me to act because you do not like what I have to say then I will end the engagement with the objective of keeping my character in tact.

First you must check yourself, I cannot and will not do it for you. I can chose to end a conversation if I so choose. My rights, responsibilities and principles will guard my actions, words and deeds as they have for the last five years. I am not who I used to be and I will never apologize for who I used to be again, I've said that enough.

Can you say the same?

June 17, 2010


Belisaire demandant l'aumone Jacques-Louis de ...
Image via Wikipedia
Altruism is the race to balance between our passions and purpose to effect social change, against one's own self-interest. A calling that was not of our choosing, but a gift from God to do his bidding. When we hear it and obey, then we find that life begins to unfold as never before.

No, altruism is not a word nor deed or the sum thereof. It is the efficient use of generosity, community and organization with holistic implications and impacts on lives for the better.

Altruism, is the thread that holds the weave of everything.

June 16, 2010

Combat Vet and Wife Realize the Weight of Duty to Family

The Straight Jacket Realization

My husband and I watched the movie Shutter Island, which to say the least, was pretty weird but somewhat interesting. After the two hour flic, we went outside on the porch to catch the fresh cool mountain air. We talked about the movie and the criminally insane. This led into treatments and an explanation of what a lobotomy was because my husband had never heard of that term. As strange as our conversation was, it seemed one topic would lead into another. We started talking about PTSD and all the things I have been reading about and learning. I told him that I found an online book about PTSD and that it was called all these other terms such as "Soldier's Heart" and more familiar "Shell Shock" and various treatments. The book had references made all the way to the war of 1812 with soldiers with a diagnosis of "Soldier's Heart". Interesting although some of it was more historical than anything.

So this led into the conversation of treatments of insane asylum patients and then of course, PTSD. I told him I read that electro-shock therapy was often used back in the day, thinking that would be a cure all for symptoms of insanity. This same treatment option was also used for patients suffering from PTSD symptoms way back when and still used in some patients today. Although the same method is much more humane than our past ways of doing it, still the thought of having shock treatments is strange to absorb. Lobotomy's were also used in treatment of PTSD in hopes that it would cure flashbacks in which were interpreted as hallucinations/delusions by psychiatrists. My husband asked me "What did they do with some of these people?" I said "I gather from what I read, a majority of major sufferers were put into mental hospitals and died there. If they had gone over the edge, and no one would care for them, they would lock them up and throw away the key."

My husband chewed on this last statement of mine while watching the stars and lightening bugs, and quietly he asked "Do you think I will get that way? Go over the edge?"

Lord, did my heart drop into my stomach and did it drop hard. I looked at him and said " I won't let you go over the edge". 

To lighten up the stillness, I did turn to him and told him if he kept giving me shit all the time, I would perform a full frontal lobotomy on him myself ! We chuckled and went back inside to go to bed.

That one statement really ate at me all night last night. I guess more so, because I didn't realize how worried he was about himself. Possibly worried if he got worse, would someone be there to care for him? Does he think that someone would lock him away and throw that key into a forgotten place? Does he think in his mind that I could do such a thing to him?

I think it was more of a realization last night than anything. I realized that my husband depended on me heavily, a lot more than I give him credit for or even myself for that matter. Not just to pay the bills, or to wash his clothes, make sure his meds are refilled and remind him to shower and shave when he tends to lose focus and zone out on me. It's more than that. The role of caregiver is daunting to say the least, but it must have been the way he said that statement, that made me realize no matter what.....

I was in for the long haul in our marriage.

So strange as this must sound, a weird movie about a man, played by Leonardo Di Caprio,who suffered from possibly PTSD and lost his mind; somehow found my husband and I on the same ground for once in a long time.

Thanks Hollywood,

Uncle Sam's Mistress

Media Release: Combat Relief Helps Returning Combat Troops Reconnect With Society


Combat Relief Helps Returning Combat Troops Reconnect With Society

The Grant Humanitarian Foundation announces new programs to care for America’s military men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

San Francisco, California, June 15, 2010. The cost of war to American men, women, and children is hard to measure. Troops not only put their own lives at risk, but face further challenges after long military deployments that can tear apart the fabric of their families. After coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, unemployment, homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol addiction are issues that too many of our troops face. Returning troops, including the broader communities they inhabit, all suffer the effects of war-related stress, which requires support to assist returning veterans in readjusting to civilian life.

Elena Grant, President of the Grant Humanitarian Foundation, states that America doesn’t have sufficient resources to help troops reintegrate into society and recover from their psychological wounds, especially those experiencing stress disorders. "American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have made a immeasurable contribution, and undergone a tremendous sacrifice, on behalf of our country,” says Ms. Grant. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to help these brave men and women.”

The Grant Humanitarian Foundation offers several Combat Relief programs that support America’s military men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

June 15, 2010

Time Running Out for PTSD Sufferers to Claim Benefits

Markham Evans with Virginia News Channel 8,
WASHINGTON - The U.S. military has agreed to pay millions of dollars to veterans who were discharged from the service for post-traumatic stress disorder with lower disability ratings than they are entitled to. But time is running out for those who are eligible.

The law says that veterans whose PTSD was serious enough to result in discharge from the military are entitled to 50-percent disability, which would give them and their families lifetime medical care, and, if the PTSD is combat-related, tax-free retirement payments, as well. But for some reason, Iraq (web | news) war veteran Ryan Peck and more than 4,000 others did not receive the 50-percent rating.

June 14, 2010

When a Combat Vet Asks For Help: To the Struggling Combat PTSD Vet

I Want YOU to Care About PTSD
Ilona Meagher via Flickr
When a Combat Vet asks for help, what does he receive?

Our loved ones do not understand us, we were trained to filter out many things that would not get us killed. Today we filter out speech, actions, intentions, expectations and the subtly of it begins to enchain the Combat Vets mind. The Combat Values structure tells him to question, to suspect, and to interrogate and that they hold a license to do what needs to be done. We become that which brought us home, the one thing she feared the most.

They call this being a good soldier in combat, but at home they call it Combat PTSD.
I am here, I have been where you are. You can find help from the many resources we have listed in the right column (Scott A. Lee).
From another conversation I had tonight where I was just refereed to as a professional blogger!!

My answer,
Shesh, don't give me to much credit, lol. I stumble along because I feel compelled to help others through what I have been through just as you. I may know how to stumble better, but stumble none the less I do...lol.
Follow the conversation as the Mistress gives a SGT in the military some sound advice and her opinion on searching for help when a Combat Vet asks for help.

June 13, 2010

Military Wife Writes a Letter of Complaint

Dear Uncle Sam,

Thank you for keeping my husband alive during war and for that I am grateful. I stood by him through 15 months with a heavy heart, spent sleepless nights worrying about him, and prayed that another day would bring some type of communication. I proudly showed our country's flag and my blue star banner, and literally bled, red, white and blue when was asked of me. You made sure he was fed, showered, clothed, had ammunition when he needed it, and Medical care when he was injured. He fought, and fought hard never questioning his duty, because like many of our brave men and women....your orders are all that mattered and they had a job to do. They did it. Not once did my husband ever complain, because again, it was his duty and he was proud to serve you.

While being grateful, I would like to file a complaint against the United States Military, United States Government and for all those parties that had anything to do with this Middle Eastern War. You sent me back the wrong man. A man, who as I casually watch outside sitting in a chair, no longer communicates with the world, expresses any emotions, and who's family he has left a long time ago all while remaining under the same roof. A man who can't go into public without freaking out, and who's anger and frustrations roll upon his family like a deadly Tsunami. Somewhere over Ramadi, Iraq and back through Afghanistan to come home, my husband must have been switched with someone else. I sent you my husband over there with good faith in you that he would return, and you have let me down.

Military Wife gives Uncle Sam a much needed ass kicking...

June 12, 2010

Resource Seal of Approval: Family of a Vet

From the desk of Combat PTSDnews...

I am happy to announce that I will be updating our Resource Seal of Approval to include Family of a Vet to recognize the hard work they do and would like to extend an offer to join the Coalition of Combat PTSD Bloggers.

Over the years I have sent many women to Family of a Vet to seek out the knowledge to help shape the safe return of our modern warriors. Help in their latest project Congressional Survey to share your Combat PTSD story.

Family of a Vet welcomes those who seek real help in dealing with Combat PTSD,
Welcome, dear friends! Thanks for visiting Family Of a Vet (FOV). This site is dedicated to you... whether you're a Veteran or someone who loves a Veteran.

It was created trying to figure out how to handle the "after shocks" of combat including PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). We're here to help you find your way, find the information you need, and find a way not only to cope with life after combat... but to survive and thrive!

Our most important current project is our Congressional Survey. If you're visiting this site, please, please, please take time to fill it out. It's one way we're trying our best to get all Veterans and their families the help and support the need and deserve. It will only work, though, if we have LOTS of responses!!!!

Communicating with Deployed Combat PTSD Soldier

Panic Attack or Anxiety PTSD
Image viaWikipedia
I received this email just about 30 minutes ago from a woman whose fiancée is deployed in a war zone with PTSD that he has had since 2005!

Diagnosed with PTSD and still in combat? Really? To some of the general public this will be a surprise, but to those of us who live it. It has always been a reality. Hello world, wake up and smell the gunpowder in the air. I want to encourage our readers to research this site and copy and paste those links here and I will add them in a new resources button 'Communicating with Deployed Soldier.' Here is her email as it came to me,
I came across your blog while researching out PTSD. My fiancé is actively deployed and been dealing with this condition since 2005. I found your blog to have a wealth of information especially the posts relating to communicating with a loved one with PTSD. I searched through your blog for information on understanding and communicating with a spouse or partner who is deployed but was not successful. Any insight you may have or resources you know of that you could give me would be greatly appreciated. My fiancé is really having a hard time and I am at a loss on what to say to comfort him since I am doing this from a distance and I am really wanting to understand PTSD and the effect it has on a person.

Thank you for your time
My response,
Right below the Dr. Jay's ad you will find a box that says 'Resources and My Favorites.' You will find several articles that I wrote along with others whom I thought were relevant to the conversation of . The rest of the information you need to better communicate with him comes from your soon to be education on Combat PTSD, thats where the rest of the website comes in. Two of my writers are Combat veteran wives who can give you a wealth of knowledge in understanding their Combat Vet, which may have some insight for you and your situation.

The writing at my websites comes from a clinical perspective with a 'been there, done that' kind of attitude. Sound familiar? Well, now we are connecting. I can help you understand how he thinks, the other writers can help you with getting through it how they got through it.

Hope this helps and I will be posting this response at my website. Can I have your permission to use your email? I will change the names and will post soon

June 11, 2010

New Look at Combat PTSD News Headquarters

Photo by Scott Lee
Hello Everyone!

Sitting here and want to dedicate this new look here at PASP, a redesigned mission required a redesigned website. We are gathering more forces and resources here at PASP I was getting overwhelmed with trying to keep track of it. Now, it is mostly finished. Polished enough to say WELCOME to PASP(1)'s new and redesigned look.

Its all about building on teamwork, information gathering, networking and pooling resources to institute a lasting foundation to help our loved ones who have returned in body return in spirit.

Don't panic! All the resources that I had plastered everywhere are still here. I moved them in the top right column under Resources and My Favorites. The PASP Resource Seal of Approval list the resources that I list as having effecting change on a social scale for veterans in their communities.
I love photography, so I am going to embark further upon my journalistic journey and will posting more of my photos. Interestingly enough, if you can believe it. I took this picture of the hand-seemed tin roof I put on this building 15 years ago, me and another guy over the summer. It will last 100 years.~~Scott
To those of you readers get this information from a feed, please if you find the information stimulating. Please, come to the site, its all new and join the conversation. We need your input to amass enough experience to help our returning veterans.

Photo by Scott A. Lee

Label Me Not: PTSD Voluntary Placement on GA Driver's Licenses

A close friend of mine posted this article yesterday and the more I thought about it...the more it made me really mad. I want you to read over it and see what your thoughts are on this.
Some Georgians could soon be carrying a unique driver’s license – one that says they have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lawmakers recently passed legislation that would allow current and former military to request the PTSD designation on their driver’s licenses.

The legislation, which has to be signed by the governor to become law, would likely make Georgia the first state with a driver’s license that denotes a specific health problem, other than poor eyesight.

Some veterans and law enforcement officials say they can’t image that many servicemen and servicewomen will want their PTSD diagnosis put on display when they present their driver’s licenses to cash a check, buy alcohol, board an airplane or face a traffic cop.

“Why would I want to put out there on my license – hey, I’m a nut job,” said Marvin Myers, president of the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance Inc.
Read the rest of the story and Uncle Sam's Mistress' opinion on the whether a combat vet should wear a 'scarlet P' on our drivers license.

June 10, 2010

Reservist Wife Cares for Combat PTSD Veteran: To Blame or Not to Blame

As I was working online today, I got an email in regards to this blog. A wonderful email which really reduced me to tears, which by the way, have been trying to push aside. Thank you so much for sending me that, and know that what was said will always remain between you and I except the permission you gave me on the used statements.

The subject of "Being angry at my spouse for his mental issues," and "Do you ever blame your husband for the way he is?" Really made me think. I can totally relate to your anger, because I live with it every day. Some days are moderately ok....eeking by one hour at a time, and if he's gone from the house, worrying from minute to minute until he is back. Other days, the damn hours are so long that you wish it was bedtime the minute you roll out of bed!

The 'Blame Game'. Do I ever blame my husband? OH YEAH!

As you suddenly get thrown into the role of caregiver to your spouse with PTSD/TBI, everything as you know it suddenly changes. It's even harder if you have children in the household, because as I have mentioned before in another blog...you suddenly lost a husband, gained another child and the kids have lost their dad as they knew him. What's left is this empty pod person who has no emotions and incapable of feeling anything, and you are suddenly left making excuses and dealing with a lot of resentment and anger from the children. You as a spouse, must make up for your needs, your losses, and your failure to fix everything.

Miss Mistress expresses her frustration, fear and feelings of failure...

June 9, 2010

Resource Seal of Approval: The A to Z Guide to VA Disability Benefits

The A to Z Guide to VA Disability Benefits

How My Internet Collection Works Best For You: My only goal is to ensure you have the knowledge available to make the most of the benefits you've earned with your honorable military service. There are a series of sites that work together to keep you informed.
This site, The A to Z Guide to VA Benefits is a benefits data clearinghouse and is arranged so that you may find the benefits facts you need quickly and easily.

June 7, 2010

Do We Ask a Combat Vet About His or Her Experiences?

PTSD, Boundaries and a Welcome Home

If someone asks you to do something that you do not feel comfortable with, do not, you have no higher obligation than the one you have to yourself. You will not be able to meet the needs of others if you do not take care of yourself first, even if it seems that others needs may outweigh yours. In combat we had to learn how to take care of everyone at the cost of ourselves if need be, today here in civilization this can no longer be, as this world does not work in the way of a brotherhood born of blood.

Most do not understand that a person with PTSD, through no choice of their own has to deal with phantoms of their past encroaching upon every consideration and choice we make. Some more so than others to the point of crippling indecision that can trigger dissociative states, emotional numbing, anger and even possible blind rage. If someone thinks that asking us about our war experiences to get to know us has no consequences other than polite conversation, then they do not see us at all.

We can think about nothing more, than what we experinced, saw and lost, we think greatly on the person who we used to be and want nothing more than to have that person back. We want to speak freely again of the things we used to dream about, but we have lost that part of us to. We consider ourselves to be the lucky ones who have somehow learned to suppress that part of the night, where the unlucky of us find the terrors of the dark as they can no longer fight these enemies who have no feel or flight.

The next time you consider addressing a soldier or veteran about their combat experiences, or asking them if they killed anyone, or what it was like over there, consider what you just read. We all need to maintain and respect proper boundaries. No need to feel intimidated either, if you feel the need to say something tell them this:

Welcome Home

Reservist Wife Feed Up: Will Work For DD-214

Ok..so am in a really funky ass mood today. Don't know why, guess I am tired number one. Number two? Just simply overloaded. So as from my last blog, you know that I was quite a busy bee this past week and weekend, but my mood has been good. I had some problems with my legs swelling, so much so that they resembled elephant legs as some people called it. The American Red Cross nurse that was out at the Homecoming took my blood pressure and said she was very concerned about my leg. Hell, I was concerned!

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis which is a real bitch some days. Most days it's tolerable and I really just get so used to hurting all the time that I don't pay attention to it anymore. Some days are so bad that I don't want to do anything or breathe. I went to my doctor today and she is concerned that I am doing too much and needed to slow down. More meds, more pain meds, more of this, and oh we really need to send you to a Vascular Specialist. "You are going to simply have to start taking care of yourself and take it easy". When? I don't know if the "more meds" part really disturbed me today, but just busted out in tears! Fortunately, she knows my husband and knows of our situation. It seems in the past year, I have been slightly heading on the downhill road of health, and the part that scares me the most? Who is going to take care of me? Hell just between PTSD and now TBI, my physician has added Valium, medicine for tension headaches, sleep aid at night for nightmares I am suffering, and Cymbalta for pain management for RA and depression from dealing with my husband.

Miss Mistress has had a bad day and needs to vent about taking care of her family and her combat disabled veteran...

PTSD: Two Components Memory and Psychiatric

Longitudinal Investigation of PTSD

Watch this video from a PhD candidate Erin Dickie as she describes PTSD with a two fold condition, one memory and the other psychiatric. She used modern fMRI imaging to point out the strong correlates within her research. The video and power point is 20 minutes long, but if you want to know more from a research standpoint then this will help. Keep in  mind that this video was presented at her university, so it is intended for mental health professionals.


June 5, 2010

Uncle Sam's Mistress Welcomes Home Vietnam Veterans

This blog will be a little different for me as I usually write about family life and marital aspects of living with PTSD, but thought it was important to share with all who reads this while it's been rolling around in my head these last two days.

I spent the most part of the weekend out at the First Annual Vietnam Veteran's Homecoming this past weekend. There are several of these all over the U.S. but the first for our state. Our Homecoming was sponsored by the Fountain of Life Church, Rolling Thunder and the Vietnam Veteran's Association with the proceeds benefiting the Wounded Soldier's Project and VVA. Supporter of the Wounded Warriors Project but do have my opinions on how things are run, but hey, can't go wrong with the Vietnam Vet Association! We went out as the Family Readiness Group and I took a few soldiers with me. Man was it an eye opener for all of us. In the process of being hailed on, rained on, and simply just HOT...it was a hell of an experience and so glad I went. Ok, maybe glad is not a word I should use to describe my experience.....let's say honored to be there. I met so many wonderful veterans from all over the U.S. and just chit chatted with them about many many topics ranging from comparisons of the "Old" and "New" Army, the different wars that these Vets served in, and believe it or not, PTSD.

Read more on Mistress's conversation with her battle buddies...

June 4, 2010

PTSD and Depression, In Bed Together

The clock read 1:20pm and my stomach notified me it was long overdue for some lunch, but I'd been holding out hoping momentarily Bill would make his way downstairs.  Last night... correction, this morning he came to bed shortly after 4am, but that's normal for him, however remaining in bed past 1pm is not.

I made my way upstairs and sat on the edge of the bed, he wasn't really sleeping, just suspended in that portal through which we all emerge when waking.  "Are you doing okay?" I inquired, knowing he wasn't but wanting to give him the opportunity to explain what was going on and not lead in with "Look at the time, man you must be depressed!"

"I guess I better get up huh?' he said in a barely audible faltering voice.

"In your own time." I replied, getting up and kissing him on the forehead before making my way downstairs.  About 15 minutes later I heard him in the shower, which made me happy as he's neglected to both shave and shower for several days.

Depression.... pack your bags and go haunt someone else for a while, you've outstayed your welcome!