Tuesday, March 02, 2010

PTSD and other injuries

DEAR ABBY: I am stationed in Iraq. My husband is home taking care of our two teenagers -- a 16-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl.
My daughter has had several sleepovers at her friends'. On two separate occasions, the mothers allowed the girls to dye their hair. They did this without first consulting my husband.
Am I old-fashioned, or isn't this something a parent should decide for a 14-year-old? Did the other parents think that it was OK since I wasn’t home to disapprove?
My husband is doing an excellent job of parenting while I am deployed, and he would never have allowed her to dye her hair. How should we handle this type of situation? -- Mom on Duty in Iraq

DEAR MOM: Your husband should have told the adults plainly the first time it happened that he objected to the dye job. Since that didn't happen, please remain calm and remember that it's only hair, which will grow out. And now that you know the parents of your daughter' friends lack judgment, any sleepovers she attends should be in your home until your return from overseas.

The above is from Jeanne Phillips' Dear Abby column in the Kansas City Star and it's something that many parents -- civilian or military -- can relate to and it underscores the concerns parents have over the daily details of their children's lives even when they're stationed in a foreign country. WSAU reports 400 Wisconsin soldiers will deploy for Iraq Saturday. Meanwhile Pete Brekus (Express-Times) reminds that, on this day, "In 2005, the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq reached 1,500." Five years later, the death toll stands at 4380.

The wounded contains on reliable count. There are those with obvious wounds and those who carry wounds not readily visible. Alison Boggs (Spokesman-Review) reports on Iraq War veteran Kenny McAnally who is among the over 40,000 US troops diagnosed with PTSD in the last seven years:

McAnally carried those memories for a year with no outlet, until a writing assignment for a North Idaho College class unexpectedly began to release them. It seemed harmless -- write a descriptive story -- but what poured out of him left him bathed in sweat and crying uncontrollably.
His writing described his worst day, the one that yanks him from sleep, gasping for air. Some 30 Iraqi National Guardsmen in the camp next door were hit in a mortar attack and he rushed to help. He looked into the eyes of a dying man as he tried to stop the blood pouring from the man’s side and leg. He prayed to God that the man would live, only to be told he was already dead.
"I can still hear those men, lying in the sand, bleeding to death, pleading with their God," he wrote. "Screaming at him. Begging to live another day."

Susan Frick Carlman (Naperville Sun) reports on Iraq War veterans Sarah Raby and Keith Ellis who also have been diagnosed with PTSD:

The couple, former Marines who have both served two tours of duty in Iraq, can't forget that in some places, a plain-looking box can contain deadly explosives. They are part of a swelling population of military veterans who are bringing home from Iraq and Afghanistan memories of sights, sounds, smells and scars that now dog them, every day.
Although Raby and Ellis both exhibit the aftereffects of battle that show themselves as post-traumatic stress disorder, they are doing their best to get on with their lives. They're both working toward associate's degrees at College of DuPage, and Ellis is employed part-time in contractual security work.
Normalcy doesn't come easily. The couple and their three young children were homeless for a while last fall, after it became clear that their living arrangements weren't going to work out as they had hoped. Tensions ran too high in the quarters they were sharing with some of Raby's relatives after moving back to the area from California in July.

Boston's WCVB reports on PTSD, "Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, took brain scans of vets with PTSD. In those vets, a specific area of the brain responsible for memory was much smaller. Researchers said this discovery could lead to better diagnosis and treatments." Meanwhile Katherine Noble (Daily Texan Staff) reports that University of Texas professors and researchers Ivan Ponomarev and R. Adron Harris are working with others to devise new methods of treatment for PTSD: "When a person undergoes a traumatic event, the parts of the brain set to regulate stress can be overrun to the point where they cannot normalize new fear and stress stimuli. The victim's amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory, is incapable of processing fear-related stimuli. Instead, the amygdala can respond incorrectly to stress, causing the person to be overly anxious in mild-stress situations. Cases of post-traumatic stress disorder are rising among returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. At UT, veterans enrolled at the University can find support through counseling at the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center and through student groups." Susan Goldsmith (The Oregonian) reports on the Portland Vet Center where Lori Daniels works on an effort "to rewrite our own nightmares and make them less troubling" -- a treatment she and Terry McGuire have worked on developing:

McGuire and Daniels guided vets to talk about their dream lives and used their answers to help them understand what the trauma meant to them. The technique taught them that "they can be in control of their trauma."
These days, Daniels uses guided writing exercises to help patients delve into what haunts them at night. Once the content of the dream is laid out, she encourages vets to come up with a plan for responding to those nightmares. That plan, she explains, might be writing a letter or any other action that ritualizes their grief.
"The action plan is an essential piece," she says. "One vet really wanted to connect with the guys who died in his unit, and he wrote them a letter."

In England, Aislinn Laing (Telegraph of London) reports on Iraq War veteran Craig Lundberg using the BrainPort ("a pair of sunglasses fitted with a motion-sensor video camer that transmits images to the wearer using an electrode-laden pad on their tongue") and his reaction to it:

The new £10,000 device, which is joint-funded by the Ministry of Defence and St Dunstan's, the charity for blind ex-servicepeople, is so good that Mr Lundberg was able to make out the top letters on an optician's eye test.
"I could feel with my tongue that the first letter was an A, and then I moved onto the next one. It was amazing. Then I walked down a corridor and I could make out the doorways, the walls and people coming towards me," he said.
"It was the first time since Iraq that I had been able to do that. The equipment needs a lot of work, but it has got huge potential. I believe this could be the next best thing to getting my sight back."

The BrainPort has been addressed in the US Congress. May 13, 2009, the US House Veterans Affairs Committee heard and from that day's snapshot:

Robert Beckman spoke of a portable device, the Brainport Vision Device, where a small camera ("with zoom capability") is hooked to other neurochannels ("such as the tongue"). Beckman stated, "One blind user with two glass eyes was able to successfully shoot a basketball and another used the Brainport Vision Device at an indoor rock climbing gym to see the next rock holds and at home with his daughter to play Tic-Tac-Toe."
"The Brainport Vision Device will not replace the cane or the sight dog," he continued. "But it will become an important, additional tool to improve the safety, mobility and quality of life for blind users. Some examples. Finding the open seat on a crowded bus or train. Identifying the direction to the target building in a confusing parking lot. Finding the handle in order to remove a hot pot from the stove. Wicab recently sponsored clinical testing of the Brainport Vision Device at the Atlanta VA. Dr. Michael Williams, the PI concluded, 'Bottom line, the device performs remarkably well for the tasks that we looked at in phase one'. To optimize the device we need feedback from a much larger pool of users who are blind. We would welcome the opportunity to further test the Brainport Vision Device at VA sites. Perhaps those willing soldiers who are blind as a result of a blast injury should be first in line to test this new technology?"

The following community sites updated last night:

I am noting this posted by Ian Wilder at OntheWilderSide:

We owe Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney an apology. They were right about Barack Obama. They were right about the corporate state. They had the courage of their convictions and they stood fast despite wholesale defections and ridicule by liberals and progressives.

Obama lies as cravenly, if not as crudely, as George W. Bush. He promised us that the transfer of $12.8 trillion in taxpayer money to Wall Street would open up credit and lending to the average consumer. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), however, admitted last week that banks have reduced lending at the sharpest pace since 1942. As a senator, Obama promised he would filibuster amendments to the FISA Reform Act that retroactively made legal the wiretapping and monitoring of millions of American citizens without warrant; instead he supported passage of the loathsome legislation. He told us he would withdraw American troops from Iraq, close the detention facility at Guantánamo, end torture, restore civil liberties such as habeas corpus and create new jobs. None of this has happened.

Ian didn't write that, it's Chris Hedges, (and I believe Ian voted for Cynthia McKinney) but we don't highlight the site that came from due to (a) their non-stop attacks on Ralph Nader (including urging him not to run), (b) their silence when it came to Cynthia McKinney's run and (c) their lies and astroturf attacks on Hillary Clinton (including printing a 'student' attack which was penned by LieFace professor). We'll note the Wilder's site but we're not linking to that other site ever. They owe democracy an apology, they owe women an apology, etc. Their meager re-posted words of apology to Ralph and Cynthia aren't good enough. Nor has their ever been anything in their own words to indicate that, when 2012 rolls around, they'll play it any differently.


March 20th, marches in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Students for a Democratic Society are an organization that will be participating and they note:

While the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is growing ever larger, the occupation of Iraq is still raging, nearing its seventh anniversary. With over 4,300 US soldiers and over 1.3 million Iraqi civilians estimated dead, something has to be done to stop this senseless slaughter.
This year Students for a Democratic Society will hold a national week of action March 15th to 20th where students will organize protests and direct actions at campuses across the country in opposition to the ongoing, brutal occupations.
The need for a vibrant anti-war movement has rarely been felt more than this very moment, while the United States drops trillions of dollars into unjust wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, during the worst economic crisis in 80 years. Students are struggling to pay for school while tuition skyrockets, and states lose billions of dollars to two continuing occupations.
On Saturday, March 20th, SDS will participate in a massive National March & Rally in D.C. hosted by A.N.S.W.E.R. to finish the week of action with tens of thousands of people in the street!
We're calling on students and youth from across the country to join us the week of March 15-20th in demanding: Fund Education, Not Occupation!
For more information visit: http://sdsantiwar.wordpress.com/

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends