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!”

Advertisements

Shell Shock in 1915 becomes Combat Fatigue by World War II and PTSD in 1980

In World War I, PTSD—known as shell shock then—was such a problem that ‘forward psychiatry’ was begun by French doctors in 1915. Some British doctors tried general anesthesia as a treatment (ether and chloroform), while others preferred application of electricity.

Imagine suffering from PTSD and being strapped down to a table with electrodes attaches followed by jolts of electricity to shock you healthy.

In 1917, four British ‘forward psychiatric units’ were set up. Hospitals for shell-shocked soldiers were also established in Britain, including (for officers) Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh.

Patients diagnosed to have more serious psychiatric conditions were transferred to the Royal Edinburgh Asylum.

Near the end of 1918, the use of anesthetic and electrical treatments to treat shell shock was gradually replaced with modified Freudian psychodynamic intervention. The efficacy of ‘forward psychiatry’ was controversial.

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior.

In 1922 the British War Office produced a report on shell shock with recommendations for prevention of war neurosis. However, when World War II broke out in 1939, this seems to have been ignored.

Then during World War II, the term ‘combat fatigue’ was introduced as breakdown rates became alarming, and the value of pre-selection was recognized.

At the Maudsley Hospital in London in 1940, barbiturate abreaction (an emotional release resulting from mentally reliving through the process of catharsis, a long-repressed, painful experience) was advocated for quick relief from severe anxiety and hysteria, using i.v. anesthetics: Somnifaine, paraldehyde, Sodium Amytal. ‘Pentothal narcosis’ and ‘narco-analysis’ were adopted by British and American military psychiatrists.

However, by 1945 medical thinking gradually settled on the same approaches that had seemed to be effective in 1918.

The term PTSD was introduced in 1980.

In the UK the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for management (2005) recommend trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and consideration of antidepressants. Source: Pub Med.gov

Discover The public image of PTSD and the Vietnam Veteran

_______________________

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

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do 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.

Promo Image with Cover Awards

Where to Buy

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

Unwanted Heroes – Part 1/4

Disclaimer: Lloyd Lofthouse is the editor/publisher of Alon Shalev’s Unwanted Heroes, and for a few days, we will showcase the first three chapter of his novel about surviving with PTSD.

Unwanted Heroes brings together an elderly, battle weary Chinese American war vet and an idealistic and pretentious young Englishmen, who share a love for San Francisco, coffee and wine. They soon discover further common ground when repressed memories abruptly surface, cementing an unlikely relationship that just might release each from the tragic pasts that bind them.

When Will Taylor finds employment as a barista at The Daily Grind in the Financial District, he feels inspired to write his breakout novel. Walking the streets of Kerouac and Ginsberg, Taylor discovers the harsh side of America and an injustice he must try and help right before he loses his sanity and love.

When his boss suddenly disappears, Will needs all the help he can find. A homeless professor, precariously balanced between intellectual pinnacles and mental abyss, offers advice and contacts. Taylor’s Goth girlfriend initiates him into the West Coast counter culture, while her Nob Hill father digs up his own military nightmares to help another haunted soldier in desperate straits.

The unique culture of San Francisco lends itself to the comical aspects of the novel, offset in a rollercoaster of emotions as comic follows tragic. Will finds himself dining with his Goth girlfriend and her parent at their home on Nob Hill and teaching them how to toast in twelve languages. In the next scene, he is frantically searching a military graveyard at night, looking for his boss who has suddenly disappeared for a second time.

Unwanted Heroes confronts the issue of homelessness and, in particular, war vets who could never readjust into society. This novel is a tribute to a beautiful, unique and quirky city, its people, and those who sacrificed so much to keep it and America free.

Continued on February 18, 2013 in Unwanted Heroes – Part 2

____________________

Growing up in London, Alon Shalev has been a political activist since his early teens. He strives through his writing to highlight social and political injustice and to inspire action for change.

Moving to Israel, he helped establish a kibbutz where he lived for 20 years and served in the Israeli army.

Shalev then moved to the San Francisco Bay area and fell hopelessly in love with this unique city. Being new to the US, however, he was shocked to see so many war veterans on the streets. He regularly volunteers at initiatives such as Project Homeless Connect and the San Francisco Food Bank where he meets and talks with war veterans.

You may buy Unwanted Heroes at Amazon.com

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Follow”.

A U.S. Marine Deals with his PTSD through Ballet

I faced my PTSD when I started to write about it. Here’s a Marine that did the same thing but with Ballet.

After serving at Fallujah, choreographer Roman Baca channeled his military experience into provocative dance performances.

This post is in addition to a post I reblogged from “Off the Base” — A Marine’s Voice Being Heard from the Dance Stage

“Roman Baca is a Marine Iraq War Veteran and the Artistic Director of Exit 12 Dance Company in NYC.  After a career in dance, Mr. Baca served as a US Marine and was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq from ‘05-’06.”  Source:  Exit 12 Dance Company

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Unwanted Heroes

Many unwanted heroes defend our nation and fight its wars—right or wrong. When America’s leaders declare wars based on lies (for example: Vietnam and Iraq) or the truth (World War I, II, Afghanistan and Korea), unwanted heroes do the fighting and pay the price.

On the side of a bus at the VA medical clinic that I go to, it says, “All gave some; some gave all.” I have a credit card sized VA Department of Veterans Affairs ID card.  It says below my photo: “Service Connected.” That means I have a disability connected to my service in Vietnam in 1966 when I was serving in the US Marines.

What is the price many unwanted heroes pay for trusting their leaders?

This post has the same title of a novel that was recently released, and I had the privilege of editing Unwanted Heroes by Alon Shalev.

In Unwanted Heroes, Shalev brings together a long suffering, battle weary Chinese American Vietnam veteran suffering from the trauma of PTSD and an idealistic and somewhat pretentious young Englishmen, who both share a love for San Francisco, coffee and wine.

Alon Shalev, the author, grew up in London, and has been a political activist since his early teens. He strives through his writing to highlight social and political injustice and to inspire action for change.

Moving to Israel, he helped establish a kibbutz where he lived for 20 years and served in the Israeli army.

Shalev then moved to the San Francisco Bay area and fell hopelessly in love with this unique city. Being new to the US, however, he was shocked to see so many war veterans on the streets. He regularly volunteers at initiatives such as Project Homeless Connect and the San Francisco Food Bank where he meets and talks with war veterans. These experiences lend authenticity to the novel.

In fact, according to NIH (the National Institute of Health) Medline Plus, “PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults” … and “members of the military exposed to war/combat and other groups at high risk for trauma exposure are at risk for developing PTSD.

“Among veterans returning from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD and mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often linked and their symptoms may overlap. Blast waves from explosions can cause TBI, rattling the brain inside the skull.

“The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD afflicts almost 31% of Vietnam veterans; as many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans; 11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, and 20% of Iraqi war veterans.”

NIH says, “PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders.”

In addition, “between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year, and on any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the US. … About 33% of homeless males in the US are veterans and veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless. One of the primary causes of homelessness among veterans is combat-related mental health issues and disability.

The incident of PTSD and suicide rates among veterans is also climbing and 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness including PTSD. Source: Veterans Inc.org

The New York Times reported, “Suicide rates of military personnel and combat veterans have risen sharply since 2005, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan intensified. Recently, the Pentagon established a Defense Suicide Prevention Office.”

“The CDC Vietnam Experience Study Mortality Assessment showed that during the first 5 years after discharge, deaths from suicide were 1.7 times more likely among Vietnam veterans than non-Vietnam veterans. …

Why? “The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter.” Source: History.com – Statistics about the Vietnam War

I did not seek help for my PTSD for thirty-eight years, because I did not know the VA offered counseling.

Discover A Prisoner of War for Life

__________________________

Follow this Blog via Email — sign in near the top-right corner of this screen and click “Follow”

One Never Forgets

It has been forty-six years since I fought in Vietnam, and watching two movies rebooted my PTSD interrupting my sleep pattern. For years, I usually wake at least once a night and listen. However, since watching the movies, I wake every hour and listen to the night sounds.

In Brothers, one of the two brothers, a captain in the US Marines, goes to Afghanistan on his fourth tour of duty and becomes a tortured and abused POW.  After he is liberated and his captors killed, he returns home suffering from severe PTSD trauma. Tobey Maguire plays Marine Captain Sam Cahill and does a convincing job playing a veteran that is severely damaged by PTSD symptoms.

Watching Maguire act his part reminded me of my first decade back from Vietnam when I drank too much and often woke once or twice and carried a loaded weapon around the house checking the doors and windows.  More than once, when overwhelmed by a burst of anger, I punched holes in walls with fists.

The anger comes fast—one moment you are calm as a rusty doorknob and an instant later an exploding fragmentation grenade.

In the Valley of Elah, Tommy Lee Jones plays a father, who was also a Vietnam combat veteran, searching for answers to explain his son’s death soon after returning from Iraq. In this film, we see how war strips young men of their humanity—that thin veneer that comes with so-called civilization.

From Brothers, I was reminded of the homeless Vietnam veteran I met in an alley in Pasadena, California one early morning. He had been a prisoner of war and similar to the character Tobey Maguire plays, was severely traumatized with PTSD symptoms.

The VA rated the homeless vet I met in that Pasadena alley as 100% disabled by PTSD possibly explaining why he was homeless—not because he could not afford an apartment.  The disability from the VA was more than enough to support him.  However, most of that money went for drugs and booze for him and his homeless buddies.

Then there was another vivid image of a Vietcong POW being tortured by South Korean troops during a field operation I was on.  The South Koreans hung that Vietnamese POW by his heels from a tree limb and pealed the skin off his body while he lived.

In the Valley of Elah reminded me of an ambush where a team of Marines I was a member of went out in a heavy rain at sunset and after an hour or so of slogging through the gloomy downpour, we stopped in a rice paddy with water to our necks and stayed there for more than an hour waiting for complete darkness before moving into position. We shared that rice paddy with a very large king cobra.

In the Marines, one does not question orders—we do or die—so we stayed in that paddy knowing a king cobra was in the water with us.

Both of these films are dramatic examples of what war does to young men and their families.

Some combat veterans avoid seeing films such as these two. However, I do not. I do not want to return to that time where I avoided talking and thinking of my part in the Vietnam War, because at night when we struggle to sleep there is no escape. We cannot hide from the monster that came home with us living inside our skin as if it were an unwanted parasite.

Discover A Prisoner of War for Life

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

The PTSD Connection – help from friends, family, loved ones and maybe marijuana

On the walk home from the theater after seeing the film Savages (Oliver Stone directed the film), I thought of one of the characters played by Taylor Kitsch—Chon is a former Navy Seal that served combat tours in Iraq and then Afghanistan.

Near the beginning of the film, it is obvious that Chon has PTSD but by the end Ophelia and Ben will have it too. What these characters experience in the film was traumatic in the worst way without joining the military and serving in a war.

If you see the movie or read the novel by Don Winslow, pay attention to how Chon deals with danger. There is one film scene in a restaurant where a server drops a tray of dishes and Chon, in a flash, is under the table with pistol in hand. He also handles dangerous situations ruthlessly.

In the movie, Chon and Ben produce high-quality marijuana and sell it legally and illegally, and all three of the main characters smoke their own product, which may be explained away by a study conducted at Haifa University in Israel that found rats with PTSD treated with marijuana within 24 hours of a traumatic experience successfully avoided any PTSD symptoms (maybe the US military should include some marijuana in the rations of all combat troops in Afghanistan).

However, that would not have helped me. I’m allergic to marijuana smoke and cannot be in the same room where someone else is smoking weed.

Winslow, the author of Savages, was once a private detective in New York City. His career as an investigator would repeatedly bring him to California to look into arson cases, so maybe he has some PTSD from that experience.

It is a fact that anyone can have PTSD—it isn’t exclusive to combat veterans. After all, Ophelia and Ben never served in the military and were not combat veterans from Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, but by the end of the movie the odds are they both will have PTSD.

It doesn’t hurt that Oliver Stone, the film’s director, enlisted in the United States Army, fought in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division, then with the First Calvary Division, earning a Bronze Star with Combat V, an Army Commendation Medal and a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster before his discharge.

After Stone’s experience in Vietnam, PTSD may have followed him home adding authenticity to the film.

However, if you have PTSD or you know someone with PTSD and you have severe allergic reactions to smoking marijuana, as I do, then you may have to look for support from family, loved ones and friends.

That brings us to Charlene Rubush’s Blog—Win Over PTSD.


This video has nothing to do with Rubush’s Blog but does focus on PTSD.

Rubush’s experience as a former wife of a Vietnam veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder led to years of research on the subject, and she recently published a guest post by Ryan Rivera on How to Be the Partner of Someone with PTSD.

Rivera says, “One of the most important recovery tools for someone living with PTSD is social support. The more they know that they have real, true friends behind them, the better the outcome of their PTSD treatments. The problem is that PTSD can be hard to understand, and those in a relationship with someone living with PTSD often find that they are struggling with how to keep the relationship together.”

In Savages, Chon’s true friends are Ophelia and Ben. He knows he can count on them accepting him as he is, PTSD included—they are a family.

If you try the marijuana therapy, make sure to do it legally and if you don’t do it legally, don’t get caught. A term in prison may make the PTSD worse—a lot worse.

Discover Booze, the Veteran and coming home

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is 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 trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”