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ptsd
May 11, 2006 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Only 2,029 out of 9,145 veterans with post traumatic stress disorder resulting from combat have been referred to mental health for evaluation/treatment. I say give them the same treatment the IDF gets.
posted by augustweed (42 comments total)

 
Suddenly I want to join the IDF.

Wait, what? Cannabis for PTSD!? Punters. I'm still holding out for MDMA for my eventual service-related tango with PTSD.
posted by loquacious at 8:27 PM on May 11, 2006


Can't wait to hear what the assholes at the DEA will have to say about that. They're not smart enough to make up a new excuse.
posted by rougy at 8:52 PM on May 11, 2006


IANASoldier, but I have a good buddy who got back from Iraq last year, an officer. He's pretty messed up -- he's got some of the classic PTSD symptoms, and he knows it.

The Army makes some mental health counseling available on a voluntary basis. He could go see them any time he wanted. But everyone from my friend's level on down to the lowest of the low knows that taking advantage of the mental health services available is basically shooting your career right in the ass.

They make some services nominally available, but in practice there's nothing these folks can do that doesn't scuttle their career. Society is going to be dealing with the psychological fallout from this war for a long, long time.
posted by gurple at 9:14 PM on May 11, 2006


Well someone had SOMETHING to say about it. The Jerusalem post removed all articles about Israel/IDF use of cannabis, which is why I had to use a cached article. There are many cannabis related articles recentely removed from the Jerusalem Post , like this one:

party chairman Boaz Wachtel and group members campaigned in Gaza for the government to issue a temporary order to allow settlers and security personnel to use cannabis during planned evacuation of settlements in August to reduce the level of violence.

I love google cache.
posted by augustweed at 9:15 PM on May 11, 2006


Well said, gurple.

A startling number of homeless people are actually vets - of the Vietnam war, Gulf War 1 and we probably already have a at least a handful from the current Afghanistan/Iraq.

I can only imagine that seeing someone get their head blown off or other bodily carnage probably changes a person. Accidently shooting a civilian, or even intentionally shooting a combatant probably changes a person.

Heck, I wasn't even quite the same each time I turned some knee or elbow into hamburger after eating road on a skateboard/bike/whatever.

Having to see (and deal with) some dude's bloody stump of a leg - or much, much worse - would probably mess you up pretty good. Even more so if it was your own.


And the response, I imagine, is going to be a resoundingly meh "So? War is hell!".

Right. Exactly. Which is why it should be the absolute last option considered.

And soon we'll have even more psychic casualties roaming the streets, lost and hurting - afraid to ask for help because they must just be weak or something, asking themselves why they sacrificied the best parts of their lives humanity - and why no one seems to care.
posted by loquacious at 9:50 PM on May 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


The numbers of people that have served in this war usually means that everyone has a cousin-in-law that has served.

How about we stop pretendending that this is other peoples war?
posted by dglynn at 10:15 PM on May 11, 2006


.... and we probably already have a at least a handful from the current Afghanistan/Iraq.

yup
Lots more appalling facts -- 1 in 3 homeless men in USA iis a veteran.
posted by Rumple at 10:15 PM on May 11, 2006


You HAVE to watch the trailor to Sir No Sir! If you can download bit torrants, you can get the whole documentary HERE. This one is worth sharing.
posted by augustweed at 10:32 PM on May 11, 2006


Only 2,029 out of 9,145 veterans with post traumatic stress disorder resulting from combat have been referred to mental health for evaluation/treatment."

While the percentages sound about right, the numbers are *WAY* low. It should be noted that they are commenting on 9,145 *DIAGNOSED* cases of PTSD.

I know about fifteen OIF veterans with obvious symptoms of PTSD, but only about three of them have been diagnosed, and only one has been treated.

About six of them are scheduled to deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan again within the next few months, much like this woman.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:11 PM on May 11, 2006


I'm not suggesting in any way that PTSD is not a serious (nor real) psychological disorder - but... what part of me is wondering is; of the reported cases - how many are "really" PTSD (as in, something[s] during active duty directly contributing to a psychological disorder [as in that some neurological function is rendered into a seriously pathological state]) and what percentage are just people copping to "oh yeah, I have PTSD" (partially because it's becoming a more acknowleged problem... yes, more awareness --> increased actual diagnosis, but may also contribute to a hypocondriatal claim for PTSD sufferage).
posted by porpoise at 11:24 PM on May 11, 2006


I swear by it.
posted by SaintCynr at 1:03 AM on May 12, 2006


Good question, porpoise.

Everything I know about war trauma(from the fighting and winning perspective) is right here.

Historically, we'll get a good study ten years from now, and it will only be used by ER personel.

I've never been shot at, other than rock salt when we were stealing melons, but it always amazes me the things we must relearn.

Apparently thirty years is time enough to forget, even for institutions like the Army.

And the cheerleaders for this dumbass shooting match will be the same one's claiming that the PTSD diagnosis is bogus, because from the DVD's they've watched, if you have the proper mindset, then you shouldn't be twitching ten years later. Hell, Joker plugged that sniper cold blooded, right, and was singing M-I-C-K-E-Y right after that, right? Why should we pay to fix that?

Right?

Now I want to punch the next guy in the bar who is for the war, even if he is uninformed, just on principle.

It probably won't change the way he votes, but it might make me feel better, until I have to help him up.

At this point, that little bit might be enough.

Hey, porpoise, buy you a beer if you get off the coast and make it the midwest?
posted by dglynn at 1:50 AM on May 12, 2006


"I'm not suggesting in any way that PTSD is not a serious (nor real) psychological disorder - but... how many are "really" PTSD . . . and what percentage are just people copping to "oh yeah, I have PTSD"

So, is your wife a goer? Wink wink nudge nudge say no more... not that I'm in any way insinuating anything.

While I'm sure it must happen, it has been my experience that a *LOT* of soldiers are intentionally not seeking treatment, even when they are told by numerous people that they show all the classic signs of PTSD.

In some cases, this is a matter of pride. They feel that they should be able to deal with it, hold themselves together, and do their duty. Nevermind that they've been seriously damaged and traumatized.

In many others, it's that they don't want to fuck their careers. Having PTSD in the military is like being a truck driver diagnosed with narcolepsy.

And in several cases, they've let their CO know about it, and have been told to suck it up.

Yes, this still happens all the time, especially during a deployment. I know one soldier who is stateside who is fighting for treatment for both PTSD and a permanent back injury. They told their CO in Iraq about their problems, and not only were they ignored, but the CO failed to file the request/information about their condition, so they had to fight for months back home just to get treatment.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:53 AM on May 12, 2006


The ankle bone is connected to the foot bone. If your husband or your father has PTSD and you are living in the same house with them your quality of life goes into the crapper as well. There are plenty of sections in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual full of the symptoms of the second hand victims.

And of course the effect in the United States could probably be multiplied by a thousand or ten thousand in Iraq.

Cannabis, indeed.
posted by bukvich at 4:56 AM on May 12, 2006


In some cases, this is a matter of pride. They feel that they should be able to deal with it, hold themselves together, and do their duty. Nevermind that they've been seriously damaged and traumatized.

Bingo ! Curiously enough soldiers are usually taught they need to suppor each other, help each other and the axiom of "no man left behind" is installed. Duty, pirde, duty, duty pirde. Isn't it their duty, their pride to help each other ? An army of +- 10,000 people (not counting wifes, friends, relatives, parents) can raise quite an hell without using any violence or special weapon, as their "weapon" is being in the same boat and rather angry.
posted by elpapacito at 5:47 AM on May 12, 2006


Part of the problem is that some soldiers who seek help are charged with cowardice.

I have a friend who's a company commander for an armor unit that just got back. In one week, he lost seven of his men, saw the battalion commander step on a IED, and pulled another of his men out of a burning vehicle.

He said the kid kept asking how his face looked -- he was afraid his wife would divorce him. My friend said he looked like Freddy Kreuger, but that he told him he was going to be ok.

He knows what these memories are doing to him, but the last I talked to him, he's not getting any counseling. He's been in more than 10 years, so it probably has to do with preserving his career.
posted by lemoncello at 6:02 AM on May 12, 2006


lemoncello: maybe a gentle , very gentle reminding to your friend that he pulled his men out of the vehicle, by doing so he demonstrated in _practice_ that he is a corageous, loving, strong person. He may be charged with cowardice, but it's evidently a false accusation as he demonstrated, first and foremost to himself, that he is corageous. A selfish person wouldn't have tought for a second about letting the "fucker" burn, who the "fuck cares" ? A scared person, probably scared by all the ongoing hell, would have probably hesitated and that's understandable given the pressure, the fire, the fear ! Yet your friend didn't, part of his training was good (as he contained fear).

Necessarily, he is not selfish and not scared, so he most probably is generous, loving and corageous ; not a saint, but an human being.

I don't know the details , but most probably getting a man out of a burning vehicle was very dangerous, for instance what about secondary explosions ? What if the vehicle was going to be finished by hidden enemies ? Maybe he didn't realize that, because his mind was on recovering the kid that was burning alive. It requires enormous courage to risk life to save one in front of such risk ; on a parallel, he did what all firefighters risk when they face a fire, with additional danger of being bombed, shooted, torn apart in pieces.

Actually I guess not letting him have counseling is a cruel and unusual punishment, and menacing him of being charged with cowardice is the work of chickenhawks cowards themselves, who can't but menace legal consequences, who can't but ship corageous people to fight because they themselves think they are smart, not gullible, powerful and that the corageous one is an idiot, a cog , a nothing. What an ironic inversion of reality.

He may be avoiding you because he doesn't want to remember about his suffering and that horrible image stuck in his mind ; so try avoiding the topic, show him you can talk about else...it takes patience, but as he is suffering he will probably vent his feeling with you when he learns to trust you and learns expressing feeling isn't "cowardly" or "weakling"..I bet your help and presence can help , even if pro help could help him more.
posted by elpapacito at 6:39 AM on May 12, 2006


George Carlin:
There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum, can't take any more input. The nervous system has either snapped or is about to snap.

In the First World War that condition was called "shell shock." Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables. Shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was 70 years ago.

Then a whole generation went by. And the Second World War came along and the very same combat condition was called "battle fatigue." Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to be as hard to say. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock...battle fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea in 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time. And the very same combat condition was called "operational exhaustion." Hey we're up to 8 syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase now. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion: sounds like something that might happen to your car.

Then of course came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about 16 or 17 years. And thanks to the lies and deceit surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called "post-traumatic stress disorder." Still 8 syllables, but we've added a hyphen. And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

I bet you, if we'd still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I bet you that.
Support the troops!*
* Offer does not include actual support.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:18 AM on May 12, 2006


My son reported to his new duty station this week. One of the first questions his new commanders asked: "You don't have PTSD or any shit like that, do you?"
posted by taosbat at 7:28 AM on May 12, 2006


Why is PTSD still an issue in this day and age? I thought TV and video games had completely desensitized us to violence.
posted by banshee at 8:27 AM on May 12, 2006


Trying desperately to pinch an artery closed watching your best friend visibly pale and go into shock whilst other men scream in pain around you is probably a little different to how America's Army presents things.

The worst that happens after playing some FPS is that maybe some 12 year old Korean kid beat my ass. Your friends aren't hobbling around on crutches scarred both inside and out in a virtual war, and (more's the pity) there aren't any save points in real life.

I'm pretty certain you were being sarcastic, but you never know.
posted by longbaugh at 9:19 AM on May 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


PTSD is one of the topics near and dear to my heart: my dad has it. He served in Vietnam, saw combat, and did things that to this day he will still not speak of. I have first-hand experience of what undiagnosed PTSD will do to a family, as for the first seventeen years of my life, I thought his behavior of a need to get things accomplished ASAP, his inability to communicate, and his occasional overreactions were normal. That behavior was all undiagnosed, because no one bothered to follow up with him after the war. Unlike many vets, he never turned to alcohol, drugs, and was able to provide for us as a father figure. It was only until he began having trouble keeping a job that he finally got a diagnosis: PTSD. I can still remember sitting in his VA’s counselor’s office and hearing what my dad had and why it explained his behavior…but all I had now was a label I could put on his actions and my own reactions. It was like having an unknown terminal disease, but only now we had a name for it…

To this day, I still have to deal with the effects his PTSD had on my family and me. I can see the occasional mirror between my behavior and his in certain situations. He’s been to two different PTSD clinics now to help out vets, but all that results is them pumping him full of drugs that does help take away his PTSD symptoms, but it also takes him away, as his personality disappears into some of those drugs. Some simply make him mean and even more impossible to deal with. Would cannabis have helped his situation? I doubt it, as it would have also taken him away in a different sense, in the same way many vets turn to alcohol.

I would love to see a magic pill that someone could take, they would forget all of their trauma, and go on to live normal lives. But doing something to remove a memory, to me, is simply burying it. It’s like breaking a bone: the bone may heal, but it the memory of that break can ache for a lifetime…even when the memory of the actual incident is gone.
posted by rand at 9:48 AM on May 12, 2006


This interesting article in the New Yorker (July 12, 2004 issue) talks about how the Army trains soldiers to kill--but not how to deal with the consequences of killing, and how that is affecting the soldiers in & coming back from Iraq.

There was also an in-depth article in Vanity Fair about the guy in the army who got dishonorably discharged because he asked for counseling (I can't remember if it's the same guy that lemoncello's linked article is talking about). I can't remember when the article came out (sometime in 2004 maybe?) and they don't have archived articles on VF online.

It is highly disturbing to me how no one wants to take responsibility for the psychological damage to soldiers.
posted by witchstone at 10:06 AM on May 12, 2006


So, is your wife a goer? Wink wink nudge nudge say no more... not that I'm in any way insinuating anything.

Insomnia - my first impulse was to feel insulted, but since this is the internet and all, I'll just chaulk it up to that you believe in the inherent and unassailable nobility present in every single soldier that has ever been on the field.

I'm wondering how many are claiming to suffer PTSD (and complaining the loudest) and thus soaking up limited resources which could be used to treat those who are affected/ go towards adjusting the gung-ho/PTSD is "crap" mindset so that more people who are suffering can be treated.
posted by porpoise at 11:50 AM on May 12, 2006


Thank you for sharing that rand.
Kinda breaks my heart.
posted by nofundy at 12:57 PM on May 12, 2006


“I'm wondering how many are claiming to suffer PTSD (and complaining the loudest) and thus soaking up limited resources which could be used to treat those who are affected/ go towards adjusting the gung-ho/PTSD is "crap" mindset so that more people who are suffering can be treated.” -posted by porpoise

Yeah, I’m with porpoise - why are those resources so limited?

Oh, yeah, because there are assholes who think people are coming home and faking PTSD.

It’s got such a stigma attached to it, all the crazy vet stuff, etc. Long history.

There doesn’t need to be sympathy or admiration or any other bullshit, just more money to put guys back together so they can live their lives. Too much to fucking ask? Then why don’t we take a page out of Stalin’s book and execute returning soliders because it’d almost be better than the song and dance going on now.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:10 PM on May 12, 2006


rand -

"Would cannabis have helped his situation? I doubt it, as it would have also taken him away in a different sense, in the same way many vets turn to alcohol."

I don't know if you've ever smoked weed, but the effects are nothing like booze.

If he hasn't tried it yet, maybe a friend of a friend could help him out and score a bag.

Best of luck.
posted by rougy at 3:12 PM on May 12, 2006


Like Rand, my father was also in Vietnam and also suffered from PTSD after the war. I've heard that he had the nightmares and bursts of anger that are so common with disorder, but I never came into contact with them because his committed suicide when I was only four. The VC didn't kill my father, but PTSD did.

The pain this new Vietnam is causing will last for decades.
posted by spork at 4:31 PM on May 12, 2006


My son reported to his new duty station this week. One of the first questions his new commanders asked: "You don't have PTSD or any shit like that, do you?"

It's crap like this, taosbat, that kept me from being a soldier. I have a lot of respect for the guys whose devotion to duty and country (or whatever) gives them the self-ontrol to keep themselves from throwing a punch in the direction of a question like that. I know I don't have it.
posted by three blind mice at 4:44 PM on May 12, 2006


My son reported to his new duty station this week. One of the first questions his new commanders asked: "You don't have PTSD or any shit like that, do you?"

It's crap like this, taosbat, that kept me from being a soldier. I have a lot of respect for the guys whose devotion to duty and country (or whatever) gives them the self-ontrol to keep themselves from throwing a punch in the direction of a question like that. I know I don't have it.
posted by three blind mice at 4:45 PM on May 12, 2006


It's crap like this, taosbat, that kept me from being a soldier. I have a lot of respect for the guys whose devotion to duty and country (or whatever) gives them the self-ontrol to keep themselves from throwing a punch in the direction of a question like that. I know I don't have it.

Robert says he laughed and said, "No 1st Sergeant...good to go."

I know Robert was deeply affected by the deaths of several of his friends during his last deployment to Iraq. I also know quite a bit about PTSD. I can't say yet if he has any symptoms.

I can also say that Robert mentioned this to me because he knows I understand the military environment and wanted me to know how things are in his new assignment.
posted by taosbat at 8:54 PM on May 12, 2006


I went to the doctors earlier this week and the doc thinks I might have PTSD.

I disagree. I don't think I really exhibit enough of the major symptoms to come to that conclusion.

I'm a 22yo female who has never been to war, so, if the diagnosis is correct it has nothing to do with active warfare, but I did witness my father dropping dead in front of me about 8 years ago.

I don't really get flashbacks, if I was avoiding situations that remind me of Dad, I'd never get on the internet, and most of my friends laugh at me when I tell them I think I might be depressed. Most of the time I am a well functioning human, however, I go through phases where I'll be hyperventilating several times a day, I'll have severe nausea, lack of concentration, lack of motivation, and I've been chronically tired since he died.

It makes me mad to think of all these poor soldiers that are actually suffering this terrible condition in silence, and that actually doing something about the debilitating condition could actually damage their careers, careers that provoked the problem in the first place.
posted by jonathanstrange at 11:13 PM on May 12, 2006


Jonathan -

"... I did witness my father dropping dead in front of me about 8 years ago."

That will do it.

I think that PTSD has a lot to do with unresolvable issues - not doing something you wish you had, or doing something that you wish you could undo.

Talk to someone who will listen - you're too young to be stuck in that endless loop.
posted by rougy at 1:47 PM on May 13, 2006


P.S. - though you may not know it, the world needs you.
posted by rougy at 1:49 PM on May 13, 2006


Thank you for your kind words, rougy...

I definitely think I have *something* - but I don't think what I have is severe enough, and doesn't follow the same patterns as PTSD. I go through bad days, or a spell of bad days, but most of the time I'm fine.

For me, I think it has to do with not being able to do more to save him, and this weird underlying fear that people will blame me for his death because I didn't save him.
posted by jonathanstrange at 5:44 PM on May 13, 2006


"For me, I think it has to do with not being able to do more to save him, and this weird underlying fear that people will blame me for his death because I didn't save him."

That's the endless loop that I'm talking about, Jonathan.

It wasn't your fault, and there was nothing you could do, a fourteen-year-old girl.

It was his time to go, nothing you could have done would have changed that.

He's still near you, and if you ask for guidance from your father in a quiet moment, you will receive a sign.

Talk to some people, just the same. It really helps to have someone hear it. It removes a lot of the blockage.

What you learn from this, down the road, you will use to help someone else.
posted by rougy at 6:23 PM on May 13, 2006


(I think I goofed up your gender - forgive me - too rushed today)
posted by rougy at 6:30 PM on May 13, 2006


...but I don't think what I have is severe enough, and doesn't follow the same patterns as PTSD. I go through bad days, or a spell of bad days, but most of the time I'm fine.

For me, I think it has to do with not being able to do more to save him, and this weird underlying fear that people will blame me for his death because I didn't save him.
posted by jonathanstrang


Please think about what Post - Traumatic - Stress means.

A trauma is a wound a person endures. Psychologically, a trauma is something that overwhelms a person's sense of 'self in the world' in the fluid moment.

Any 8-year-old would have a hard time dealing with witnessing the sudden death of either parent no matter what the circumstances of that death. 8-year-olds don't think like 22-year-olds.

One trap of PTSD is that the 8-year-old passes on to the 22-year-old what the she couldn't begin to deal with. The 22-year-old then has plenty of practice not dealing...with what bugs her.

As much as it sucks to deal with a terrible wound...well...it's real life.

It's not totally terrible to talk it through with someone, paid or free, if they're only a good and neutral listener. If it's working, it should get pretty good. Having settled your experience as much as it will....you may be in a more personally powerful position to affect whatever confronts you.
posted by taosbat at 10:25 PM on May 13, 2006



He's still near you, and if you ask for guidance from your father in a quiet moment, you will receive a sign.


Weirdly enough - it was Dad himself who told me there was nothing I could have done - he was a doctor, and explained about aneurisms to me less than 24 hours after he died, which was a comfort to me, hearing from his own mouth, that I couldn't have saved him.

oh, and you were right - I am a girl!

Please think about what Post - Traumatic - Stress means.

I know what post traumatic stress is, and, yes, I'm obviously still struggling with several things, but I don't think I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a specific condition that people who witness something like warfare, the sudden death of a loved one, and other things like that, can get. Thanks for your advice though... :)
posted by jonathanstrange at 4:52 AM on May 14, 2006


er.... less than 24 hours before he died, that should read....
posted by jonathanstrange at 4:53 AM on May 14, 2006


"Insomnia - my first impulse was to feel insulted, but since this is the internet and all, I'll just chaulk it up to that you believe in the inherent and unassailable nobility present in every single soldier that has ever been on the field."

Hardly. I know soldiers aren't saints. That said, the last thing they need is to not be taken seriously when they need help. That happens to too many returning soldiers entirely too often, including one of my friends. So, if I take it a bit personally when people imply that they need to tighten up on who they think is having real problems and who they think isn't.

I reject the idea that something like PTSD is a one-size-fits-all disorder with a cookie cutter solution. The psychological effects of war can manifest themselves in many different ways. For this reason, I'd rather see everyone who requests help get it, than see good soldiers who are hurting inside being denied treatment.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:32 PM on May 14, 2006


Well put insomnia_lj
posted by Smedleyman at 10:15 AM on May 15, 2006


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