Fighting the War after the War/PTSD

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    LarryJK
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    (6/1/01 9:24:38 pm)
    | Del All Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    This is an article from Stars & Stripes site.


    The War After the War: Understanding PTSD

    Jun 1, 2001
    Randy Fillmore
    Stars and Stripes Medical Correspondent



    (Part one of a series)

    In the mid-19th century, survivors of traumatic railway accidents exhibited a group of symptoms--anxiety, nightmares and extreme "startle response"--that in England came to be called "railway hysteria."

    Many combat veterans of the American Civil War suffered "soldier's heart," a term that arose in 1876. The symptoms included extreme startle response, rapid heartbeat and "hypervigilance."

    Following World War I, it became clear that some veterans were suffering lasting psychological damage. They were "shell-shocked." In World War II, it became "combat fatigue."

    In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Included in DSM-I was a condition called "stress response syndrome." It accounted for the psychic aftermath of trauma, but there was scant association with the nightmares, intrusive memories and social dysfunction--often followed by alcoholism and suicide--suffered by veterans of World War II and now the Korean War.

    In 1968, DSM-II deleted the "stress response" diagnosis in favor of "adjustment reaction to adult life."

    In the 1970s, psychiatric advances and the experiences of returning Vietnam War veterans made it clear that the trauma of war raged on in veterans' hearts and minds even decades after combat.

    PTSD Codified in 1980

    In 1980, "post-traumatic stress disorder" (PTSD) was added to DSM-III and the VA added PTSD to its diagnostic codes in April of that year. DSM-III was revised to DSM III-R in 1987 and again, to DSM-IV, in 1994.

    According to DSM-IV, a traumatic event that can lead to PTSD involves "a threat to one's life or physical integrity and a subjective response of fear, helplessness or horror." The symptoms may include a persistent re-experiencing of the event, avoidance of things associated with the event, significant distress and increased arousal, impaired social or occupational functioning, emotional numbing (failure to process emotional information), disturbed sleep patterns and threatening nightmares.

    PTSD is a "delayed stress reaction" that may surface years or decades after the initiating event.

    Ken Moore, a service officer at the VET Center in Rochester, N.Y., puts it this way:

    "Let's say a service officer meets a 52-year-old Vietnam combat veteran and asks him when he was in Vietnam."

    "'Last night,'" the veteran replies.



    Many veterans don't want to be labeled, don't want people to think they're crazy. But I tell them that no one needs to know other than me, or their doctor, or their brother veterans.
    - Ken Moore



    "Part of the problem is the veteran facing up to having PTSD," says Moore, who also is the hepatitis C national coordinator for Vietnam Veterans of America and national vice president of Veterans Aimed Toward Awareness. "Many veterans don't want to be labeled, don't want people to think they're crazy. But I tell them that no one needs to know other than me, or their doctor, or their brother veterans."

    Moore says that dealing with PTSD might be easier if a veteran could go to a mountaintop, sit there and scream, or "just throw it all up and get it out of your system."

    "But it's not that easy," he says.

    Age May Trigger Symptoms

    Peter Ziarnowski, Ph.D., coordinator of the PTSD program at the Canandaigua, N.Y., VA Medical Center, says that as Vietnam veterans age, some who had never experienced PTSD symptoms may start having them. In other words, advancing age may be a risk factor for veterans who in earlier years may have been able to cope more successfully.

    Ziarnowski says that some Vietnam veterans well into their 50s are just now coming to the VET centers for the first time.



    Retirement may present a problem. PTSD may have been like a wave that--like a surfer--you could ride and stay ahead of when you were younger.
    - Dr. Peter Ziarnowski



    "Any stressor in life--a death in the family, a new job--may stir emotions," says Ziarnowski. "Retirement may present a problem. PTSD may have been like a wave that--like a surfer--you could ride and stay ahead of when you were younger. But as you get older, the wave catches up to you."

    According to Ziarnowski, many veterans may have unconsciously dealt with PTSD by becoming workaholics. But in retirement, having more free time means that the "wave" is more likely to catch up with you. And declining health in later years may also render a veteran more vulnerable.

    "Just talking and listening to others is helpful. I tell a lot of guys they need to just come to the group sessions--don't talk, just listen. There they find out that they are not crazy, that others are experiencing the same things. As they listen for the first time, their eyes light up."

    Ziarnowski says that "exposure therapy," in which patients are re-exposed to a representation of a trauma, no longer is considered credible. While returning to Vietnam as a tourist might be useful for some, visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (the "Wall") in Washington, D.C., might be a better "exposure therapy" and help veterans deal with "unfinished emotional business."

    PTSD and the VA

    But resolving the emotional aftermath of combat may be easier than getting compensation for it from the VA.

    "What makes it more difficult is what you have to go through to get a claim through the VA," says Moore, who helps veterans with claims. "It takes 370 days to adjudicate a claim. You can appeal a claim that doesn't go through, but that takes another year."

    Moreover, says Moore, the VA will pay a claim only if the veteran can point to a specific event. PTSD is presumptively service-connected for holders of the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star and Combat Infantryman's Badge. But just having been in a combat zone is not enough, no matter how horrific one's experience might have been.

    "PTSD is not curable," says Ziarnowski. "But as with any chronic disease, such as diabetes, you can live with it if you manage the symptoms."

    Next: Why do some veterans get PTSD and others don't? Can it be prevented? Can war trauma be positive?



    Mesen
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    (6/3/01 7:49:47 pm)
    | Del Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    PTSD is a very ingenious adversary. Just when you think you have part of it whipped, something else comes up and slaps you HARD! My ex has it and it's really difficult to deal with a problem that the symptoms are so diverse and ingrained into a person's psyche.
    It should also be noted that people who have had traumatic experiences such as violent childhoods, near death experiences and things of that nature are vulnerable to the disorder as well.
    Bree
    IF YOU VALUE YOUR FREEDOM, THANK A VET!

    Edited by: Mesen at: 6/3/01 10:58:22 pm

    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
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    (6/3/01 8:53:44 pm)
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    My wifes Grandfather was a WWI infantryman.... F company 4th Infantry.....we never knew where he was at during the war...but about 10 or 11 months after he came back.... he went to a place that took pictures of soldiers for free (to give to the family... like a discharge picture).....

    Had is painted and framed......then a few weeks later... he put on his uniform.... and took his own life......

    My wife has aways been terrified that I might do the same....

    Her father was the one that I wrote about last Memorial day.....It was his father... I think that is the reason that he would never talk to me about what he did in WWII.... he never talked about his father to anyone... not even his daughter....and I could never get him to talk about his fahter....


    I always start stressing out in early may and it goes away in August.....That is why I stayed in the Reserves for so long... it helped me rechannel the memories into a positive mission....

    There is a lot going on in my family and my wifes.... I may lose my mother soon.... just as my wife has lost her father....and my step-father is not doing well either..... bind this all up with things that I have not expressed... and I have a great amount of ..... well.... shit .... going on.....

    All of you have been a tremendous help to me these last few weeks....





    out....

    Indybear57
    Moderator
    Posts: 357
    (6/3/01 9:46:28 pm)
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    Mith-you've got another family here ready and waiting to do whatever we can for you. Just pop smoke and we'll be there.

    Mike L

    BARTAL
    Moderator
    Posts: 160
    (6/3/01 9:54:57 pm)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    Mith....We all go through a lot a shit ,but we never go through it alone...................We are here,and we can help.
    Don't ever thinkthat you are alone. We lost both of our parents, it's not fun ,but with the help of friends you make it.
    Hang in there man. I will say a prayer for you and your family tonite......................Peace brother.
    Peace....Barry

    Mesen
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 163
    (6/3/01 9:57:11 pm)
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    Mith,
    I'm not a vet, but I'm a daughter, stepdaughter, and ex-wife of one. What I lack in knowledge I make up for in the fact I'm a real good listener. Even if you don't want to say anything.
    If I can ever help, let me know.
    Bree

    Email's great. post office is always open.
    IF YOU VALUE YOUR FREEDOM, THANK A VET!

    106RR196LIB
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 124
    (6/3/01 10:10:46 pm)
    | Del Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    Mith;
    It is imperative that you stay clean and sober if you hope to deal successfully with PTSD. Anything addictive leads to a downward spiral that is altogether to fast to handle. By addictive I mean, any substance which in humans has the capability of developing a receptor cell. This includes tobacco and alcohol as well as the other more obvious things.
    Withdrawal from any of these things can trigger a new PTSD episode. When you try to slow down or stop using, the PTSD pops up and you have to continue or suffer the intrusive thoughts and nightmares again.
    The VA has a confidential store front program in most cities. I have a buddy in Crescent City,CA who communicates with a VA counselor by e mail.

    Good Luck,
    Mike H

    hope6970
    Moderator
    Posts: 377
    (6/3/01 11:08:54 pm)
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    Larry,

    When the next series of the report comes out, will you please post it if possible?


    Mith,

    You hang in there! You went through hell when you were in Nam, whatever you do don't let anything about it take you down now. You may have another problem to get through but with this one, it is going to be different. Look how many you have on the board to help you fight it and there are so many places that you can go to get some backup. Perhaps there is someone on here such as Mike H. or anyone else that you feel you could email and have a good chat with, you never know how much it could help you.

    We will be keeping you in our thoughts!

    Hope



    Tac401
    Administrator
    Posts: 802
    (6/4/01 12:09:42 am)
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    Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    Mith,

    I'm here too my friend, the whole crew is here for ya
    anytime, this ain't no bullshit, we are here for you!

    Just say the word and we'll be there!

    Regards, JD
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    oneknight
    Moderator
    Posts: 1088
    (6/4/01 12:32:52 am)
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    Mith,

    Sometimes it seems as though there is no light at the
    end of the tunnel, not so, there is.

    If you choose not to e-mail with anyone, please stay with
    this board and continue to post. It's important that you
    not let go.

    We're here and we're listening.


    Donna

    LarryJK
    Senior Chief Moderator III
    Posts: 79
    (6/4/01 6:41:24 am)
    | Del Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    Mith...I know about the seasonal stress times. I have posted before that mine come in Mar/Apr and last about a month. Then again in Aug...again lasting about a month. There is help here on the board and out there. You just got to want the help.

    I will post the next installment as soon as it comes out.

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 775
    (6/4/01 7:40:45 am)
    | Del Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    Mith...you've come this far bud...this is a good place to dump frustrations,anger,confusion and the like.Some dumping on your part and responce by some here an help at times...might possibly get you thru the especially rough times.

    For some it's fishin or tinkering or the VFW or family or perhaps a friend.

    Eating right and getting out helps greatly...sometimes by force.
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.

    hope6970
    Moderator
    Posts: 381
    (6/4/01 10:49:18 am)
    | Del Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    Mith, you never know when it could be one of us looking to you for security one day. Hang on to us, we all work together. - Hope

    TShooters
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 196
    (6/4/01 11:09:15 am)
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    Mith,

    Ditto what everyone said above. Everyone here is willing to listen, help, and
    offer support in any way possible. Hang in there, and we'll ride it out with you.
    It's great that you are able to post some of your memories.
    Letting them out can help tremendously in the taming of this beast.

    Sharon


    gorourke
    V.I.P. Member
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    (6/4/01 11:22:01 am)
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    Mith,

    Fighting the Anniversary Demons is an on-going battle. They love to grab you when you're alone. After many years fighting them myself, I've learned to call in help. This is the place, put it on the board or start with e-mail. I won't tell you the Demons will go away forever, but understanding you are not alone will keep you from going over the edge.

    Stay with us……… P. Gary


    Mithrandir
    V.I.P. Member
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    (6/4/01 2:16:41 pm)
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    at the moment... I HAVE help....It's called you guys and my family.........


    thanks....

    but others need it..god knows, more than I ever will......be sure to help them too....

    and don't worry..... I'm a terrable shot..........







    out

    dap22
    Senior Chief Moderator II
    Posts: 660
    (6/4/01 3:11:48 pm)
    | Del
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    Re: Fighting the War after the War/PTSD
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    Mithrandir.........glad to hear it (your last statement) but suspect you're modest!

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 785
    (6/4/01 8:32:22 pm)
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    Hey Mith!...so's Ole Meantome...can't hit a lick...Thank Goodness for me! Hehe!
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.

    Tac401
    Administrator
    Posts: 804
    (6/5/01 1:37:25 am)
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    Mith,

    If you know of others besides yourself, send them here
    too, we have many arms here too reach out, send them
    all, we are here for all and each other!

    JD
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    mt pari
    Moderator
    Posts: 38
    (6/10/01 1:59:08 am)
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    I remember when my doctor, a Viet Nam medic, turned doctor diagnosed me with PTSD in 92'..I thought what the heck is going on here.. I was widowed in my 20's, bla bla, then my brother was murdered, my grandmother just died and I had had enough of the abuse my exhusband dished out for 17 yrs., but I wasn't a vet, so I couldn't have PTSD..
    Yes others can get it, I have come a long way from then, but I still battle the demons, doesn't take but a drop of a hat and the tears flow for my brother, he was my best friend and my everything, needless to say everytime I think I would like to be with a man, the demons hold me back, have lot's of good male friends, but...my ex cured me..or is it the demons that step in..maybe it's I just like being alone..whatever..doc says it's battle scars..
    I met Jer after my divorce in 95' and saw what I knew as PTSD..I care so about him and we have a real close friendship. I have watched him jump up in the night, swearing and fighting a battle, seen him have apnic attack in the middle of a store..watched his health decline more each year and seen him withdraw more and more from people..He still can't sleep with his back to a door..so many things..and I get mad..he was just a boy of 18, so many young men and women scarred for life.
    I read the stats saying there are more VN vets in prisons and on the streets, than any other war.. The VA sure didn't want to help, our own country was not very nice..Heck, my own husband was spit on when he was in the SF airport coming home with his uniform on, after 13 months away. So the anger and frustration took over on many, until they just decided to drop out. Jer has told me of the doctor that said his Agent Orange symptoms were "menapausal" when he was 30?? He didn't go back for years, the damage escalated until he finally went to the PTSD center in Palo Alto..they kept him for 6 1/2 months..He has made progress, but can it erase 32 years? MT. has more veterans per capitia than anywhere in the US..Is this where they want to escape to? I have no answers, all I can say is it isn't right..
    I asked a shrink once why some vets did OK and some didn't, he said it had to do with how prepared they were when they left, what they had to see while there and what kind of home they came from to begin with..what you think?

    Misterstan
    Moderator
    Posts: 256
    (6/10/01 3:43:15 pm)
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    Pari,

    I hope you don't take offense to this suggestion, but you have got to go to your local public library and check out the book STOLEN VALOR. Give yourself about a week to read it.

    You may be fighting many deamons that are not really there.

    The media has twisted the facts about the effect on men and women who served in Vietnam to make them out to be accidents waiting to happen. It is my belief that the truth is just the opposite.

    If you get the book, please let me know what you think after reading it.

    Sincerely,

    Stan Lambert
    St. Clair Shores, Michigan

    mt pari
    Moderator
    Posts: 41
    (6/10/01 5:26:52 pm)
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    OK Stan I will get it, glanced at it before..I would be interested as to what it may say about PTSD. In my case I feel I have come a long way, not much has ever kept me down for long. (except for this cancer junk)... I went from a near basket case in 92' to now..but I can't imagine ever feeling much different about my brothers death, being as it is still an unresolved murder.

    But how could the men/women I have read about and the men I have known with wartime PTSD ever be media oriented?
    Seeing Jer in a cold sweat fighting the enemy is very real, believe me, down right scary. Watching the man I married leave as a happy guy in 1967, then come home a wreck..hey they didn't even talk about it in 1968.that I was aware of.

    I will read it, but not much could ever convince me that PTSD isn't as real as it can be..been around for ever, was even documented under a different name in the Civil War.

    106RR196LIB
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 132
    (6/11/01 2:56:49 pm)
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    The Va and PTSD
    Many VA counselors believe strongly in the "single event" theory of PTSD. That is, they believe that a single moment of trauma causes people to suffer fron the symptoms of PTSD.

    If you have PTSD and you can trace it to a single event, it is much easier to treat. Example: a woman is asked for directions by a lost motorist then attacked and brutally raped in a parking lot. She may put the event behind her and go on with her life. Some night fifty years later when she is asked for directions in a parking lot she screams for help. This is a flashback. If your flashbacks are from a single event it, is easier to fix. REM therapy is quite effective.

    In contrast the experience of some grunts might be likened to being raped many times a day for a year. There is no single event. The year is simply a continual nightmare of shimmering terror and pain.
    This type is still treatable, in fact it is easily treatable. The VA runs programs out of store front type offices in most cities. They started this program because most viet vets wouldn't walk into a VA hospital. Remember that war isn't new. PTSD is as old as war. Men who have been through far worse trauma than ours (Stalingrad, New Guinea, Gallipoli etc)are still getting better and functioning well in life. Mike H

    Mithrandir
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    (6/11/01 3:54:22 pm)
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    To Mt Pari.....

    “I asked a shrink once why some vets did OK and some didn't, he said it had to do with how prepared they were when they left, what they had to see while there and what kind of home they came from to begin with. what you think? “

    I have said how I felt in different posts … “Looking back”, “saying goodbye”, “coming home” and maybe one or two others but none of those posts reflect what you are asking… so… here goes…..

    My girl had left me some months earlier, so THAT was not an issue at the time (and another story in its self).. I still had one female friend that I never dated.. she wrote to me a lot while I was there (and in Panama… looking back… maybe I should have persued that relationship… Oh well…)…

    My Grandfather almost disowned me when I joined the Army…as did most of the rest of the family…. you see…
    ALL of them had lost family during WWII & Korea …. ALL the lost ones were Army & Marine .. so the family had a lot of Navy members now…. so I was “breaking tradition” by going into the Army …(IMHO they were all squids!)

    My Grandmother did not want me to go but she knew that I would and seemed to accept it long before I went.. she was the only one I worried about how she felt….


    SO….
    Home….I came from, what I believe was a good one, albeit a poor one,

    Prepared for it…..
    I WAS better prepared than most. I believe it was because I did not assume that I would return… …. my Grandmother had always been my spiritual guide so that I had nothing to settle with my God… and I knew that if I went… they would not send my younger (step) brothers there.. one was Air Force and one was Army Air-defense Arty. So that would keep my mother and Step father happy… (my step-father , many years later, actually thanked me for it….) yes…. I was “Prepared”….. and it made going there was easy…. I think I said it as “ I sang my death song, buried my sole and never looked back.

    What I saw while there…..
    Well.. too much… but… when one is already dead….such as a beserker or dog soldier….these things do not “Hit” you at that time…..you only hurt when you survive….


    I vividly remember that the morning I got off the commercial aircraft from KC and walked over to the next terminal at LAX for the hop flight up to Travis AFB… I stopped and looked up at the Marquee….. it struck me as strange at that time and I don’t know why…. but I looked at it long and hard….I went on in, took the hop to Travis and on to VN.. upon coming home….. I happed to come back to that exact marquee… and again stopped and looked at it long and hard….. and a very huge weight was gone….is if it had all been just a waking dream…

    AND THEN… I was awakened by hippies spitting on me and yelling that I was a baby killer…….fifteen minute’s earlier….. I believe my spirit would have killed them without a thought….. but now…. they were unimportant…. I had to get home and reclaim my sole…..

    Sorry… I talk too much….. but to give an answer to what your shrink said…… that’s how I felt……



    out……


    mt pari
    Moderator
    Posts: 44
    (6/12/01 1:44:10 am)
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    Mithrandir,

    Yes, I can see how you felt..I was not totally impressed with the shrinks response..but everyone has a *take* on it.

    You are right about singling out on event to the trauma. But I haven't met any vets that have only spoke of one event they witnessed in Nam. Infact, many of the vets I know or knew (some have since died) could not talk about it.
    And why, they had just been through hell and back, came home to what..some hippie or who ever calling them names.

    I was a bit of a hippie chick, ended real fast when my husband went over. I became enraged at how insensitive and irresponsible so many people were, and these were the people who claimed love for all. I was pregnant when he left, he had to wait until our son was 5 months old before he could see him for the first time, and I was one of the lucky ones to have him return. He was never the same though..the scars had set in. I was too young to handle the change and we ended up divorced.. we had been high school sweethearts, after some time we ended up being friends, but nothing could bring back what we had once known. The war impacted all of us in different ways..

    I am really touched by your very open and honest feelings. You had so much to deal with, so very much..

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