Monday, March 26, 2012

PTSD and other issues

As Baghdad prepares to host the Arab Summit and Nouri hopes to strut on the regional stage, reality has a way of checking egos. Al Rafidayn reports that Kuwait's Coast Guard picked up seven Iraqis in a boat yesterday stating that they were in Kuwaiti waters. The seven are under arrest and a blow to Nouri's claims (lies) that, on this month's trip to Kuwait, he resolved regional differences with Kuwait. When even a member of his Cabinet revealed that what happened on the Kuwait trip was far different than the victory lap Nouri was portraying in interviews and speeches, the Parliament declared he needed to appear before them. He has stalled and stalled. Al Mada reports that Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee announced yesterday that they are still considering calling him and that Iraqiya is leading the push for him to answer questions to the Parliament.

If you read the community newsletters, you know (a) there are some hearings I don't cover here but do in the newsletters and (b) I've been really 'less than impressed' (cleaned up version) with what various elements of DoD have been telling Congress specifically the PTSD testimony by ___ which revolved around 'resiliency' while it was supposed to be putting forward that PTSD could happen to anyone and that it was not a sign of weakness or that something was wrong with your character, etc. Instead, someone with several decorations yammered on at length about how some people were just less resilient than others -- only in greater detail and more insulting and putting forward the (WRONG) notion/belief that PTSD happened due to some weakness or flaw in a person. And if you read the community newsletters, you know ______ [a friend at DoD] tends to get my ranting and raving version of "What the hell was supposed to be the point of that?" when that sort of testimony occurs. ____ phoned this morning and asked if we would note this video of Chaplain Steve Dundas discussing PTSD.

We won't just note it, we'll transcribe it. I said that and ___ responded that it had Closed Captioned features. So if you need that, it's there. But I know we have one community members who is a veteran with PTSD and he's a rural veteran without DSL. He would be able to stream audio but trying to stream video with his dial up is going to be a pain. So here's the transcript of the above -- and if you can stream it, you can follow with audio and/or Closed Captioning.

Chaplain: Steve Dudnas: I am Lt Commander Steve Dundas. I've been in the military 30 years, the Navy since 1999. When we got to Iraq our mission was to support US Marine Corps and Army advisers across the entire Al Anbar Province. These teams were out by themselves and they would very seldom if ever see a chaplain because of their isolation. I would go out and provide counseling, religious services. The hardest parts of the deployment? One, I've had a lot of experience as a trauma department chaplain and seen a lot of death. But when I got there and actually saw our wounded Marines and soldiers, prayed with them, anointed them, that was one of the really hard things -- was to see what war does to these warriors. I had studied a lot about PTSD and dealt with Marines who had it. I thought I was pretty much untouchable to it because I thought I'd seen everything. But I was really surprised by some of the things I saw and the impact that they had. The sites, the smells especially. The exhaustion. The travel. We went through some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq. Occasionally got shot at. And there was always an understanding that al Qaeda had chaplains at the top of their target list. When I came back to the States, I just felt so disconnected from people, church. I didn't even know if God still existed. And that was one of the most painful parts of my life. Prayer became really hard. Just going -- Doing life became really hard. I was depressed, angry, on edge all of the time. Finally, our medical officer did an assessment and was convinced that I was really starting to suffer PTSD and got me connected with the Deployment Health Clinic at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center and I started seeing a therapist there trying to figure out how to deal with my experiences. For me, writing is something that allows me to work through things and if I didn't write them out [they] would gnaw at me. And some of that deals with my own struggles with PTSD and faith, some of it deals with how I see the world now, and part of it are those things that are part of me: my dad, growing up, baseball. About the only place I can be in a crowd of people and still feel really safe is at a baseball game. And part of it is just the way the diamond's laid out and just the peacefulness of it. My role as a chaplain is to provide the spiritual support as they make this journey and as they begin to open up about what they've gone through. But many times, it requires more than just the chaplain. And so, I'll say, I know it's scary but I think that you need to seek the help of a mental health professional because it's a way to get better. And I tell them my experiences which are good experiences with both the therapists I've had. That they understood and they didn't push me to some track that I was unable to go to. I realize that you can't go back, you can't go back to what you were, you have to adapt to what you are. Do you want to be healthy? Yes. Do you want to be well adjusted? Yes. Does that mean you're going to be the same person you were before you went to war? No. Nobody is. But that's okay if we open ourselves up to get help. It's not something that we're going to be better overnight. What it will be though is a step on the way to healing, a step on the way to integrating those experiences with our daily life now. I don't think it is weakness to seek help. In fact, I think it's a sign of strength. I think it's a sign that you want to move forward. And what I hope is that when I spend time with people, when I share with people, when I listen to people, that I can help them to begin that process if they haven't already started. And to encourage them if they're already getting some therapy. Provide that extra bit of support, that extra bit of connection so that they don't feel that they're alone.

Iraq War veteran Kevin Snow suffers from PTSD. And, Rob Spahr (Press of Atlantic City) reports, was injured in an Iraq mortar attack: "suffered a brain injury, a torn eardrum and shrapnel in his knee, for which he earned a Purple Heart but also 100 percent disability. He also suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, which has hospitalized him several times in the years following the attack." As he and his family (wife and five children) waited for the medical retirement payments to start, they became homeless and had to borrow from family:

Adrienne Snow joined a soldier’s spouse support group a couple of years ago to learn how to better cope with the wide array of issues military families face.
It was a phone call from a friend from this group that gave the Snows hope.
The friend informed them of a program through the Military Warriors Support Foundation and Chase Bank that is attempting to provide 1,000 homes to service members and veterans over a five-year span.
The Snows immediately applied to the program, and on March 12, they moved into their new home in Egg Harbor Township.
“It’s funny that after all of this, it wasn’t the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) that helped us — it was a bank,” Snow said.

One visitor has been lobbying in the public e-mail account repeatedly since Saturday morning for us to include the death of Shaima Alawadi. No, thank you. In this morning's four e-mails, the visitors argues that surely the Iraqi press must be covering the woman's death. They are. Here for Al Mada. They're also covering that Omar Sharif's grandson "admits" he's gay and half-Jewish. We're not going to be devoting space to that story either. For those who don't know, the woman is an Iraqi-American who came to the US in the early 90s. She was beaten and she's died. That's what's known. The coverage is a bunch of items that are speculation. And inflated outrage. It allows people to pretend they care about an issue, these momentary topics that flare up every few months. But they don't really have much to do with news. To be clear, her death is tragic, unfortunate and all too common for women in the US and around the world. However, nothing is known. When we covered the Iraqi woman run down in the US, killed by her own father, there were eye witnesses and that was a story the media didn't want to touch. This isn't any such story. The media has portrayed it as 'killed by an outsider who hates foreigners' and that is easy to cover, no real risk to anyone and allows everyone to mount their soapboxes. I'm sure there's already a Facebook outrage page for the woman, there are not, however, any real facts about who killed her or why.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Funding Terrorism" "Sporty Barack" went up last night Kat's "Kat's Korner: Carole's back catalogue" went up Saturday and her "Kat's Korner: Carole Touches the Sky and Soul" went up Sunday morning. On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), topics explored include the Bradley Manning court-martial, the Park Slope Food Co-Op vote Occupy Wall Street (with guest Colin Robinson) and they remember legendary attorney Leonard Weinglass.

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