Music Therapy for PTSD from a 13-year-old singer-songwriter

I’m a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat vet that has lived with PTSD since 1966 when I returned from the war, and recently I have discovered that music helps me cope and sleep better.  And not just any music but the songs written by and sang by child prodigy Grace VanderWaal. For me, no other music has worked to give me a sense of peace from the demons of PTSD.

But why does it work?

Brainwave Power Music reports, “Studies have shown that music can trigger the brain to release chemicals to distract the body and mind from the pain. Music, as well as binaural beats and isochronic tones which augment the effects, reach the brain’s auditory cortex, which causes the communication between the cortex and the sections of the brain that govern emotion, memory, and body control.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says, “Findings suggest that the music therapy was effective in reducing depression symptoms and improving health-related quality of life. Investigators are developing a multi-center study to test if their findings are generalizable to a larger and more diverse group of Veterans. Also, in coordination with local Guitars for Vets chapters, the music therapy program has been successfully taken up by several VA sites …”

A Frontiers in Psychology report: Music and trauma: the relationship between music, personality, and coping style.

“Survivors of violence have also benefited from participation in music therapy programs. In one project working with survivors of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City (American Music Therapy Association, 2011), 33 music therapists provided over 7000 programs to children, adults and families. The programs were designed to reduce stress, improve coping, and process the trauma associated with the crisis by drawing on a range of techniques including musical improvisation, songwriting, singing, sharing stories, and relaxing with music.”

However, “While the benefits of the arts therapies discussed above are multiple, there is some evidence that people do not always respond in the same way to music or other creative arts in dealing with trauma.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.

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PTSD is a Never Ending Challenge and when help arrives “Don’t Let Go”

I turned twenty-one in Vietnam. There was no cake with candles, no presents, no party, no happy birthday songs, but I remember the tracers from thousands of armed Marines lighting up the night from the 1st Marine Division’s perimeter, and that display of destructive, brutal power was not a celebration of me turning twenty-one. It was from combat.

When I returned from Vietnam in 1966, I had no idea I came back with a permanent illness that later in the 1980s became known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Combat vets aren’t the only victims of this disease. Rape victims, child abuse, domestic abuse of women, someone who grew up the target of lying, cruel bullies and trolls just like U.S. President Donald Trump (Trump is not the vicitm. He is the bully. He is the troll.), victims of muggings, survivors of accidents and brutal acts of nature.

Imagine my surprise when fifty-one years later, a twelve-year-old girl sang her way into my life through YouTube and offered me a lifesaver that helped me manage my PTSD better, and she probably will never know it.

PTSD is all about how our body reacts to fear.

From 1966 to 1982, I never talked about the combat, the snipers that almost took me out, our own troops firing on a patrol I was with on our way back to base camp, the mortar rounds that rained down on our tents, the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and grenades that maimed and killed others in my company, the ambushes, the recon missions, the rocket attacks that left one Marine in my unit headless, and the regiment/division sized field operations.

I was a field radio operator and in the field, through that radio, I carried on my back, I passed on orders that killed hundreds of armed Vietcong. Marine Corps training is intense. When we leave boot camp we are different from the child that arrived.  When we leave, we are trained killing machines.

When I was honorably discharged from the Marines and went to college on the GI Bill, that PTSD I didn’t know I had was behind the heavy drinking. I often say that between 1966 and 1982, I drank enough hard liquor and beer to fill a swimming pool.

My first step on the road that led me out of the darkness of PTSD managing me was an accident. I was thirty-six and my health was falling apart from all the booze, beer and bad food. Someone I worked with was a vegan and her husband, raised a vegan, helped me get off the liquor and change my lifestyle. Once the booze was out of my system and I was eating better, the vivid flashbacks of combat lost some of the intensity that woke me at night drenched in sweat and ready to fight with an unsheathed, razor-sharp USMC KA-BAR that I kept under my pillow and a loaded 45-caliber automatic pistol in an easy to reach drawer.

I came to the conclusion that the booze and bad diet made the flashbacks worse so I stayed sober and stuck to the healthy vegan diet Greg and his wife helped me transition to.

Decades later, after I retired from teaching high school English and journalism, I discovered that the VA offered counseling to help combat vets manage their PTSD. I’m in a group now and most of my friends are combat vets who also work hard to manage their PTSD.

I’m seventy-two and a thirteen old girl I’ve never met and probably never will meet has helped my PTSD demons to take a few steps further back. By definition, this young woman is a child prodigy, and I wrote about What does it take to become a child prodigy? for one of my other blogs in an attempt to understand what was happening to me because of her and her songs.

When she was twelve, she won America’s Got Talent by singing songs she wrote. She was signed by Columbia Record and Simon Crowell to a record contract. Her first album has only five songs on it. Her next album, with more of her original music, will be out November 3. I already have a copy of her first album and have preordered the longer one.

Perfectly Imperfect, her first shorter album, reached #9 in the U.S. and #11 in Canada. This child prodigy’s name is Grace VanderWaal. Something about her and the songs she writes and sings is helping me manage my PTSD better, and I’ve been trying to understand what that is, and I think I’ve figured it out after watching her first almost hour-long concert a half dozen times. It’s the themes of her songs and her nonverbal language. Studies say that nonverbal language is 70-percent of communication. Her fans call that being genuine. Some critics and a friend of mine have called her an old soul. I think it is her nonverbal language that makes her genuine to some and/or an old soul to others.

I don’t think she is an old soul. Grace is unique because of a number of factors. One was the family environment she grew up in. Her mother, father, and I think especially her older sister, are a big part of who she is.  Genetics also plays a role in Grace being a child prodigy. Child prodigies are unique as I explained in What does it take to become a child prodigy? Another factor is that some of her songs are about bullies and in interviews, Grace has mentioned that she was a target of bullies in grade school. I was also a target of bullies when I was a child, and that is probably the reason I went into the Marines to make sure no one ever messed with me again.

In “Clay”, one of her original songs, she sings,

“Your silly words
I won’t live inside your world
Because your punches and your names
All your jokes and stupid games
They don’t work
No they don’t hurt
Watch them just go right through me
Because they mean nothing to me
I’m not clay”

In another original song, Gossip Girl, Grace touches on this topic again.

Grace is thirteen now and this month she went on her first concert tour starting with the Austin City Limits Music Festival. If the full concert is still available through Red Bull TV, you can access it through the next link. I tune in to this concert every evening because her songs and her performance help me sleep better. I think that is because of the combination of her genuine joy at performing for a huge crowd of fans that love her and the themes of her songs.

Austin City Limits Music Festival
Red Bull TV told me this video is only available for a limited time. If you click the link, I hope it’s still there.  Red Bull TV said they aren’t allowed to sell a DVD of this concert, so I sent an e-mail in an attempt to reach Simon Cowell and see if his record label will offer it on DVD soon.

Grace’s next video is a song called “Escape My Mind”, and Grace performed it live in Austin for the first time.

“Escape My Mind” is another original song, and I understand what Grace means because I can’t escape my mind either, but Grace is helping me to at least escape the PTSD demons tattooed in my mind for a few hours while I’m sleeping and that is a first. I hope it keeps working. I think the joy Grace feels while she sings and receives the love of her fans is the reason for whatever is happening to me, and I hope she never loses that genuine joy for her music and life as her career grows. If she manages to keep hold of that unique genuineness, I’ll continue to be her fan, but thanks to my PTSD, I’ll probably never attend one of her concerts, because crowds are a trigger for my PTSD, and I work hard to avoid those triggers. That’s why I want to buy a DVD of Grace’s first concert.

The Grace in this concert, and all of her previous performances is still the genuine thing, and that helps me feel better about life. It’s all about escaping the demons even if it is only for a few hours at a time. Like I said in the title of this post, if help arrives, “Don’t Let Go!”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

What is the Lying Malignant Narcissist Planning for the VA Medical System?

The popular-vote loser and allegedly illegitimate President Donald Trump wants to privatize the Veterans Administration. The Liar-in-Chief claims that vets are not getting the medical care they deserve.

But Bill Moyers.com reports, “Scamming US Veterans: Efforts to Privatize Veterans Administration’s Health System … Evidence suggests that a privatized system would make worse any problems veterans now face in getting care — and it is likely to cost more money.”

The VA currently has 168 VA Medical Centers (hospitals) and 1,053 outpatient sites.

How much do you think the VA infrastructure is worth – all those hospitals and clinics that were built with public funds over the last century – Trillions?

Just one of the 168 VA hospitals, the one in Palo Alto, has over 800 beds, including three nursing homes and a 100-bed homeless domiciliary – all to serve more than 67,000 enrolled Veterans.  Although the cost of building a hospital varies depending on where you live, an answer on Quora estimated the cost is about $1.5 million per bed. If accurate, the VA hospital in Palo Alto is worth about $12 billion.

If one VA hospital is worth about $12 billion, what are all of them worth?

Some states are already giving, yes giving – not selling, public schools and the property to private sector, for profit, corporate charters and those charters, when they go out of business, and many close their doors annually, can sell that property resulting in a 100-percent profit because that land and the buildings were free. If the state wants that school back that taxpayers already paid for, then it has to be paid for again with public funds.

I’m a woodworker. That’s my hobby. Last summer on a Saturday, even with all my safety gear (goggles, Hepa filter mask, ear protection, gloves) I still ended up with a wood-chip embedded under my left eye lid and that chip was scratching the surface of my eye.  When I called the VA’s 24/7 nurse, I was told that there was a high risk of losing vision in that eye. She said, “Get to a hospital emergency center as soon as possible.”

My vision was blurred and the pain was intense.  The closest hospital emergency room was at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, and my VA medical coverage might not cover the cost of that visit.

It cost my former sister-in-law several thousand dollars when her youngest son had a severe asthma attack, and she didn’t have health insurance.

“For patients without health insurance, an emergency room visit typically costs from $150 – $3,000 or more, depending on the severity of the condition and what diagnostic tests and treatment are performed. In some cases, especially where critical care is required and/or a procedure or surgery is performed, the cost could reach $20,000 or more. “ – CostHelper.com

I couldn’t risk it but I couldn’t drive, so I asked a friend to drive me to the VA hospital in Palo Alto, California where the VA has a 24/7 emergency medical center. That VA hospital is huge.

After arriving, I didn’t have to wait long before I was seen by two doctors who then referred me to a specialist, a doctor on call from the Stanford University’s Medical Center. The Stanford doctor drove to me at the VA hospital and saved my eye.

I discovered, when possible, the VA has partnered with many private sector and university hospitals to make sure vets get the care they need. After all, The Washington Post reports there is a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States, and it’s going to get worse.

In any huge system there is going to be problems, but my experience with the VA is that the problems are few compared to the private sector where I had my medical care for decades before I retired from teaching and turned to the VA for medical care.

And U.S. News.com reports, “Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.”

“People don’t just die from heart attacks and bacteria, they die from system-wide failings and poorly coordinated care,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “It’s medical care gone awry.”

Turning the nation’s vets over to the private sector, for profit medical care system is not the solution to any problems the VA medical system has.

In fact, thanks to the VA’s innovative computer information system, most of the mistakes that cause deaths outside of the VA do not happen there.

From the Bill Moyers piece (link above): “The key point was that the VA system effectively tracks patients through their various contacts with doctors and other health care professionals.”

“This reduces the likelihood that they will get unneeded treatment, but more importantly, ensures that the patient’s doctors are aware of the other treatments their patient is receiving. A major problem for patients seeing multiple doctors is that none of them may have full knowledge of the set of conditions afflicting the patient or the drugs they might be taking. By keeping a central system and having a general practitioner assigned to oversee the patient’s care, the VA system minimizes this source of mistakes. In fact, this model is so successful that most providers have tried to move in the same direction in recent years.”

The VA also negotiates the cost of drugs with the private-sector, for-profit drug industry. The Los Angeles Times reports, “the VA pays 40% less for drugs than Medicare.”  In fact, if Trump and/or Congress allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices too, the savings could be about $30 billion annually.

Back to Bill Moyers: “Nonetheless, as Alicia Mundy points out in a recent Washington Monthly piece, the VA system still did quite well by most measures. An analysis done for the VA in 2010 found that nearly all the studies comparing the quality of VA care with its counterparts in the private and public sector found that the VA provided care that was as good or better than what was available in its competitors.”

The New York Review of Books says, “Privatization means that a public service is taken over by a for-profit business, whose highest goal is profit. Investors expect a profit when a business moves into a new venture. The new corporation operating the hospital or the prison or the fire department (or the school) cuts costs by every means to increase profits. …

“For the past fifteen years, the nation’s public schools have been a prime target for privatization. Unbeknownst to the public, those who would privatize the public schools call themselves ‘reformers’ to disguise their goal. Who could be opposed to ‘reform’? These days, those who call themselves ‘education reformers’ are likely to be hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs, and billionaires, not educators. The ‘reform’ movement loudly proclaims the failure of American public education and seeks to turn public dollars over to entrepreneurs, corporate chains, mom-and-pop operations, religious organizations, and almost anyone else who wants to open a school.”

It’s already happening to our public schools; it can happen to the Veterans Administration too. I don’t want some greedy SOB like Donald Trump to destroy the quality of VA medical care.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

Does Tulsi Gabbard represent the future of the Democratic Party and the United States?

I was introduced to another rising star in the Democratic Party today.

Her name is Tulsi Gabbard. She represents the 2nd District of Hawaii in the House of Representatives; she is a combat vet and a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Tulsi is impressive; quite possibly a hero, the future of the United States; the future of the Democratic Party.

I’m suggesting that we start to support candidates, NOW, for the elections in 2018 and 2020, and then mention them on as many blogs as possible. Even if you don’t agree with her, tell us why and mention her name.  It’s time to leave the Hillary Clintons and Donald Trumps behind and forge a new future for politics in America.

To be clear, I want Tulsi Gabbard’s name known across the Untied States.

And when the campaign of alternate-false truths begins, I highly recommend you check out what Vote Smart reveals about the real Tulsi Gabbard. I’ve already had someone claim that she couldn’t be trusted because President Littlefingers Donald Trump considered her for a cabinet post.

Seriously, someone distrusts her for something she has no power over!? Maybe Trump did this to cast doubts her way. In my book, only fools trust Tricky Trump.

Vote Smart is not a fact-check site. Vote Smart isn’t a misinformation or conspiracy theory site. Vote Smart is not a gossip mongering tabloid. Vote Smart is not biased.

Vote Smart reports the actual facts. Vote Smart offers a fact based bio, how she votes in Congress, her positions, ratings, speeches, and where her funding comes from. I focused on her actual voting record in Congress to make my decision.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher,  journalist, and award winning author.

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A Clear and Present Danger to the Republic

As a U.S. Marine, I came back from the Vietnam War in 1966, and PTSD followed me home like an evil, second shadow, and that PTSD conspired to wreck my life and drove me close to suicide a number of times. There was no support for combat vets with PTSD until the 1980s. Before then, we were mostly alone.

In the last decade the mental health support from the VA has helped me to manage my PTSD instead of letting it dominate me, but last week I heard from a reliable anonymous source within the VA that a transition team from the Trump administration has already visited the VA and told the top leadership they were planning to privatize the VA.

From what I heard it wasn’t “if”; it was “when” and “soon”.

A former old friend, we’ve known each other for about 60 years since we were children, already triumphantly explained in an e-mail soon after the election, right before I blocked him from sending me any more of his crap, that the VA was going to be closed, everyone that works there fired, and every vet would get a voucher of about $8,500 annually to pay for medical insurance in the private sector. This former old friend is also a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam vet that relies on the VA for his medical care, but he is also a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian, tea-party sympathizer, and libertarian thinker who listens to and believes many of the same misleading sources Littlefingers, who he voted for, relies on for his allegedly smart thinking.

The VA leadership told Trump’s transition team that the VA couldn’t be privatized easily, just because Littlefingers snapped his fingers expecting total obedience (my words, not theirs).  It would take an act of Congress and even then it would be complicated, because the VA is funded by both mandatory (more than half) and discretionary spending. The mandatory part is based on previous legislation passed by previous presidents and Congresses going back to the beginning of the VA all the way to 1811 when the federal government (and most of the Founding Fathers were still alive) authorized the first medical facility for veterans, and in 1917 when the US entered World War I, and Congress established a new system of veterans benefits, including programs for disability compensation, insurance for service personal and veterans and vocational rehabilitation for the disability.

For Littlefingers to legally erase the VA, or any element of the federal government, the Republican dominated Congress would have to cooperate and support him every step-of-the-way.

And last week, the Koch brothers, ALEC, tea-party people dominated Republican Party in Congress took a step that clearly signals they are ready to do just that.

New York Magazine reports, “The GOP Just Gave Congress the Power to Cut the (annual) Salaries of Individual Civil Servants to $1 … and the budget of any individual federal programs right down to zero.

“They executed this attack on the independence of the civil service by reviving an obscure provision enacted by Congress in 1876: The Holman Rule, named after the Indiana congressman who devised it, empowers any member of Congress to submit an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets the funding of a specific government program or employee.” …

“It remains unclear how aggressively Republicans will use the Holman Rule, which inspired some opposition within their own ranks. …”

But it is clearly obvious to me that the Trump administration and the Koch dominated GOP plans to roll the U.S. back to a time right after Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War (1861 – 1865), back to the Jim Crow era of racial discrimination and injustice, back to a time when there was no income tax, and the federal government was weak, very weak, when it came to protecting the people and the environment from racists, liars, frauds and con-men like Littlefingers Donald Trump, who will never be my President, and back to a time when there was little to no job protection and more than 40 percent of Americans lived in poverty.

And instead of creating jobs, Littlefingers will soon be in a position, with possible support from the GOP dominated Congress to get rid of and/or bully most if not all of the 2.8 million civil servants that work for the federal government with a legal threat to legislate many of them into poverty.

The VA, for instance, employs almost 345,000 people at hundreds of VA medical facilities, clinics, and benefit offices across the country. They are mostly civil servants and few working Americans can survive on $1 a year.

This is what “draining the swamp” really means to Littlefingers, with a long history of contempt and obvious hate for the law and anyone with more power than he has, and soon he will be the most powerful person in the world with help from Russia. Littlefingers is clearly the Kremlin’s President of the United States, a clear-and-present danger.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist, and award winning author.

His second novel is the award winning historical-fiction love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t commit, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence, or he will never go home again.

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Veteran Medical Care through VA Neglected by Obama Administration and Congress

UPDATE for June 6, 2014

Maybe we can’t blame the Obama administration for all of what happened at the VA. Maybe the GOP is responsible for wrecking the VA medical system so it broke down and was failing in its mission long before Obama was sworn in as President and moved into the White House.

From Forbes, we learn: “In the “old days” of the VHA, before President Clinton, many of those eligible for care wouldn’t use the system – the care was considered sub-optimal. Through reforms implemented during the Clinton years by Dr. Kenneth Kizer, the VHA went through an amazing transformation – and patient enrollment surged. Great primary care, a beautiful and relatively easy to use electronic medical record, AND a culture of accountability. Veterans received wonderful care for a great price. Unfortunately, in 1999, the GOP made it clear they were going to refuse Dr. Kizer’s renomination, and instead of being slung through mud, he resigned and went to the private sector.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynmcclanahan/2014/06/04/fixing-the-veterans-healthcare-mess/

UPDATE for June 4, 2014

ProPublica reports: “The scandal surrounding long wait times within the Veterans Affairs’ health care system has garnered national attention as VA secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amidst growing opposition to his leadership. To help make sense of the institutional problems that led to the scandal, we’ve compiled some of the best reporting about chronic issues of mismanagement in the VA.”

http://www.propublica.org/article/the-veterans-affairs-scandal-and-more-muckreads-on-va-health-care?utm_source=et&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter

UPDATE for May 29, 2014

“An array of lawmakers from both parties called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign on Wednesday following the publication of a new report describing the “systemic” practice of mishandling medical appointments at a Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix that may have led to the deaths of 23 veterans.” – Foreign Policy Magazine

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/05/28/new_wave_of_lawmakers_call_on_shinseki_to_resign?wp_login_redirect=0

UPDATE for May 26, 2014

The American Legion reports that a Department of Veterans Affairs memorandum written four years ago warned that “inappropriate scheduling practices” were being used at some VA medical facilities “in order to improve scores on assorted access measures.” These practices were sometimes referred to as “gaming strategies.” The document, dated April 26, 2010, was written by William Schoenhard (appointed to the VA by President Obama in 2009), who then served as VA’s deputy under secretary for health operations and management. The nine-page memo lists several specific scheduling practices to avoid.

President Obama appointed Eric Shinseki as the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2009.

Arne Duncan, who is orchestrating the destruction and dismantling of the democratic U.S. Public schools was appointed by President Obama to be the US Secretary of Education in 2009.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was appointed by President Obama to lead the US Federal Communication Commission in 2013, and now he is attempting to end Internet Neutrality and allow corporations to control the Internet with pay to play power to choke anyone’s site from being easily accessed—a clear form of censorship.

Do you see the pattern here?

UPDATE for May 22, 2014

Only in this White House could a Cabinet Secretary (Eric Shinseki at the VA) get not just one but two public presidential statements of confidence. … as internal documents emerge ( a 2010 memo) showing that an agency (the VA) knew about fraud and left the problem to such an extent that people died while waiting for medical care. What does it take to get fired from a job in the Barack Obama Administration? (The Fiscal Times)

What does this tell us—that Arne Duncan after being connected to fraud and lies in the Department of Education will be with us until the end of 2016?  See Smoking Gun 1 and 2 to discover the scandal at the Department of Education and how that is also being ignored. When will memos and e-mails of Duncan’s incompetence and fraud be splashed across the media, and when will Republicans (the GOP) admit that America’s public schools are the best in the world and the problem is poverty (see Smoking Gun)?

The GOP continues to hammer the Obama White House over four deaths in Benghazi (after several Congressional investigations find nothing that leads to the White House) but ignores that fact that children are dying in the public schools due to cutbacks thanks to Arne Duncan’s Department of Education spending billions on useless testing leading to full-time nurses losing their jobs in the schools. See: Another student dies after falling sick at Philly school with no nurse on duty

UPDATE May 20, 2014

The top official for veterans’ health care resigned Friday, as the Obama administration and Congress begin to respond to a growing political firestorm over allegations of treatment delays and falsified records at veterans’ hospitals nationwide. The House has scheduled a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki greater authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical Centers. (You may read the rest of this report @ Military.com http://www.military.com/veterans-report/steps-taken-to-address-va-firestorm?ESRC=vr.nl)

First published May 13, 2014:

What’s going on? First the Public Schools and now the VA!

First: Under President Clinton and a Congress dominated by a GOP majority, the Glass Steagall Act of 1933 that was meant to protect the United States from another Great Depression was repealed in 1999 leading to the Great Recession of 2007-08 under President G. W. Bush, the 2nd worse global financial disaster since the Great Depression.

Second: President G. W. Bush—with approval from a GOP dominated Congress—enacts the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act and the U.S. Government declares war on its own Public Schools under the false claims that the public schools are failing when they aren’t.

Third: President Obama, with overwhelming approval from Congress enacts Race to the Top in 2009 along with the Common Core Standards as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act escalating the White House’s war on Public Education to Machiavellian levels.

Fourth: In early April 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court—dominated by a conservative majority—wipes out the overall limit on what a wealthy donor can give to political parties and federal candidates during an election cycle with the McCutcheon decision. This ruling reinforced the unwritten iron law that now prevails in American politics: Pay to Play

Fifth: A very real threat to Net Neutrality. Network neutrality is basically the principle that Internet access providers—[including] companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast—shouldn’t discriminate in how they handle traffic on the Internet. And without this neutrality, the Internet also becomes “Pay to Play” or vanish into obscurity.

Sixth: Now medical care through the Veterans Administration (VA)! Since the late 1990s under President Bill Clinton, the VA became an efficient model medical care system, and President Obama can’t reform something that works so what’s the best way to change that? The answer: make sure it needs reforming by introducing corruption through the VA’s top leaders.

The Obama Administration and the Congress seem hell bent to privatize government. The public schools are in the middle of an all-out war with the federal government to turn education over to private sector Charter schools that are riddled with corruption and mostly worse than the public schools. It also seems that the VA is under attack as services and support has been eroding under the Obama White House and Congress.

Does this mean the VA has also been targeted to be privatized just like the public schools, prison systems, and even the military? After all, if the VA failed to provide adequate services, then the White House will have an excuse to demand reforms and that usually means privatization.

The American Legion.org reports: “At a May 5 press conference in Indianapolis, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger called for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (appointed by President Obama in 2009), as well as Robert Petzel (appointed in 2010) and Allison Hickey (appointed in 2011), VA’s undersecretaries for health and benefits, respectively. It was a decision the Legion arrived at gradually, after years of support. …

“Dellinger noted two of the most recent revelations that finally convinced him that top VA leadership in Washington needed to change: allegations that the Phoenix VA medical center kept a secret list of patients waiting months for medical care, which was linked by CNN to preventable deaths of about 40 veterans; and findings by a VA investigation that workers at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., had been instructed on how to falsify appointment records. …

“The American Legion expects when such errors and lapses are discovered, that they are dealt with swiftly and that the responsible parties are held accountable,” Dellinger said. “This has not happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There needs to be a change, and that change needs to occur at the top.”

The American Legion may demand changes within the VA but the problem originates from the White House and a neo-liberal president and his administration, who have clearly signaled that they are allied with neo-conservatives in the Republican Party with a common goal to privatize most if not all of government services.

Once the VA, the public schools, the military and the prisons are turned over to private sector, for profit corporations, does that mean the Constitution and Bill of Rights will be meaningless. After all, what the Founding Fathers wrote in 1776 was meant to protect all U.S. citizens from their own elected government and not private sector corporations (that didn’t exist in the 18th century) run by billionaire oligarchs and CEO autocrats.

For instance, the 1st Amendment freedom of speech protections only protects Americans from their elected federal and state governments. The 2nd Amendment’s right to own and bear arms also protects America’s citizens only from our elected governments—the feds and the states can’t legally take away a citizen’s right to own firearms.

But what happens when there is only a puppet government owned by the wealthiest 1% of Americans and all federal and state services have been turned over to, for instance, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, the Koch brothers, the (Wall-Mart) Walton family, and Hedge Fund billionaire’s on Wall Street?

Imagine what will happen if the IRS is turned over to Microsoft or Rupert Murdock’s Media Corp; if the U.S. Forest Service is privatized and turned over to the Koch brothers, and if President Obama is successful in doing away with Internet Neutrality.

Also Recommended:

President Obama’s Failure of Leadership

Who crowned Bill Gates the Emperor of Education?

Education Bloggers Network Supporting the Public Schools

The compulsory Common Core standards and the facts behind the Controversy

The challenge of teaching At-Risk Kids reveals why Charter schools are abandoning them

The successful history of—and the threat to—Public Education in the United States

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ignorance of PTSD might be dangerous: Part 2 of 2

It’s been forty-seven years since I served in Vietnam, and over those years, the few times I’ve been in threatening situations, my thoughts are not of running away or breaking down in tears of fear. Instead, I’m thinking of the fastest way I can kill the person I perceive as a threat. If I’m close enough, I’ll be looking at his throat thinking about digging my teeth in and tearing out his jugular.

In the film “Patton”—played by George C. Scott—there is a scene where the general explodes in anger at troops who were in military hospitals suffering from severe PTSD—known as battle fatigue or shell shock back then.  The violence they had experienced had traumatized them severely. But General Patton thought anyone who suffered from PTSD was a coward and a fake.

I think that Russell Ireland, who owns the Big I’s Restaurant in Oxford, Massachusetts, is evidently an uneducated throw back to that World War II era, who does not think a war veteran suffering from PTSD deserves the same respect as a vet who lost body parts and probably also suffers from PTSD.

To Ireland’s way of thinking—just like General Patton—if the injury isn’t physical, it doesn’t count. For example, missing body parts.

I never know when my PTSD is going to flare or what may trigger it. When I’m awake, I’m always vigilant of my surroundings watching for threats.

 At night and early morning hours I often wake up and see enemy combatants in the darkness—they seem real but I’ve experienced this so many times over the decades that I often stare at them and maybe use a flashlight I keep by my bed to make sure it isn’t real before I can go back to sleep.  And by my side is a .45 caliber Glock automatic with a loaded magazine.  In the closet is a pump shotgun. In the gun safe are more weapons and boxes of ammo.

I did not buy these weapons to go hunting. I bought these weapons so I could sleep at night knowing I was prepared for the unexpected that my PTSD keeps reminding me is out there. Watching the daily news also doesn’t help so I avoid it most of the time. Before Vietnam, I read newspapers. After Vietnam, I stopped reading them. Newspapers are filled with reminders of crimes and violence in the United States that may trigger PTSD symptoms.

PTSD wasn’t recognized until the 1980s and then vets started to receive help from the VA.  I have carried the dark shadow of my PTSD with me since 1966 and didn’t get any help from the VA until after 2005 when I discovered that I was eligible.

And ignorant idiots like Russell Ireland don’t have any idea about the time bomb they may be triggering when they confront a vet with combat induced PTSD. He may have been fortunate that James Glaser had his trained service dog by his side.

By the way, it’s been forty-seven years since I served in Vietnam and I haven’t killed or physical attacked anyone yet. As for Dr. Phil, I’ve never been impressed by his show. It’s more of a shock and awe thing promoted by Oprah [she’s the billionaire who owns the show] while Dr. Phil acts the guru to an ignorant mob of fools—Dr. Phil’s net worth is estimated to be $200 million or more earned from his show.

Return or start with Ignorance of PTSD might be dangerous: Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”