Furry Friendly Therapy for PTSD

Lauran Neergaard, writing for The Huffington Post, reported, “Brain Scans Reveals Invisible Damage of PTSD.”

Powerful scans measure how some of the brain’s regions are altered/damaged in the vicious cycle that is PTSD, where patients feel as if they are reliving a trauma instead of understanding that it’s just a memory.

With these scans, doctors may see how the brain has been changed in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

In fact, Brain Facts.org reported that “Long-term or high levels of cortisol (brought on by PTSD) can also have damaging effects, causing toxicity and shrinkage of brain regions such as the hippocampus, a structure involved in memory formation.… an especially traumatic event can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which occurs when the stress system fails to recover from the event. This results in recurring flashbacks that can disrupt everyday life.”

However, Neergaard reports that these changes to the brain need not be permanent and may change with treatment.

One such treatment is canine therapy. In May 2010, the US Congress introduced the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act through H.R. 3885, which required the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a pilot program through which veterans diagnosed with PTSD or other mental health conditions would train service doges for use by disabled veterans. The pilot program would operate in three to five medical centers over a five-year period.

Next, in July 2011, VA.gov’s VAntage Point reported in Finding Solace in Companion Dogs that this new pilot program authorized by Congress was launched at the Marion VA Medical Center in Illinois. The focus has moved beyond the idea that dogs are only for guide purposes (example: the blind). The focus has shifted to their companionship
and therapeutic potential.

In addition, Palo Alto Online News reported that at the VA in Palo Alto: “Melissa Puckett, recreational therapist and PTSD supervisor in the men’s and women’s trauma-recovery program, said many vets deal with emotional numbness as part of PTSD. The dogs help them to receive touch and spontaneous affection and to express love — ‘things they thought they would never have again,’ she said.”

Then The New York Times reported in For the Battle-Scarred, Comfort at Leash’s End that “Veterans rely on their dogs to gauge the safety of their surroundings, allowing them to venture into public places without constantly scanning for snipers, hidden bombs and other dangers lurking in the minds of those with the disorder.”

Discover Before PTSD, it was called Combat Fatigue or Shell Shock

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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!”

Casualties of the Mind (part 1 of 3)

Associated Press writer Heidi Vogt wrote “Casualties of the Mind”, and I read her piece in the Bay Area News Group about the trauma of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The copy I found on-line was from the Fresno Bee and had a different title, Dying faces, body bags: How trauma hits a US unit (you may read the whole piece here). I checked. It’s all there.

Vogt writes that 20% of the 1.6 million troops who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSD).  I’m sure the numbers are higher.  After all, many do not report the symptoms.  Even if it were 20%, that’s still 320 thousand Causalities of the Mind, and the casualties from Vietnam, my war, may be higher.

Each troop interviewed by Vogt relates symptoms that are connected to the combat they experienced. For me, it was the long nights waiting for the enemy to infiltrate or hit our hill one more time or the night patrols and ambushes outside the wire moving through rice paddies on hyper alert in inky darkness because the enemy could be anywhere and hit at any time. The enemy could even be buried in the dirt we walked on waiting to blow off our legs if we stepped on one.

Then there were the field operations—one time I was part of a five or six man team on a recon thirty miles in front of our lines. We drove through a village where we saw no one but a radio antenna sticking from the top of a tree with a Vietcong flag flying from it.

Continued with Casualties of the Mind – Part 2 and/or 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!”

Benefits for Military Veterans

This is the summary of a longer piece that appeared in the May & June 2010 issue of the AARP Magazine.

There are 23 million veterans in the United States.  About 8 million receive VA benefits.  Some don’t know they are eligible for benefits. I was one of those who didn’t know until a few years ago when another veteran told my wife and a friend that I was eligible.  When I retired from teaching English and journalism in the public schools at sixty, I left the classroom without medical coverage and expected to wait several years before I was eligible for Medicare. Now I have the VA for my medical.

Here are a few facts to know:

1. A service-connected disability need not be a combat injury. Any injury suffered or aggravated while in uniform can be considered—even injuries incurred while traveling to and from National Guard duty.

2. If a veteran’s net pension is below $11,830 for a single vet or $15,493 if married, the VA may provide a pension to bring the veteran’s income up to that level.

3. Eligibility to receive health care at any of the VA’s 1,400 hospitals, clinics and care centers is based on an income test and is not limited to veterans who served during wartime.

4. Limited In-Home care is available to all veterans who meet the income test.

5. Assisted Living—Vets and their spouses who reside in an assisted living facility may qualify for an aid and attendance pension/allowance to help pay for costs of additional care.

6. Prescription drugs—the VA drug plan provides drugs free or for an $8 co-pay, depending on income.

7. Nursing home care—The VA owns and runs 132 nursing homes.

8. VA-guaranteed mortgages—If a vet pays off an old VA mortgage, he or she is eligible to take advantage of this benefit again.

Note: For more information, check the original article at AARP Magazine on-line.

Learn more about PTSD

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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!”

Trained Killers

That was me in 1966, a trained killer. That was what I was trained to do at MCRD—to kill the enemy and not fight him—but to destroy him or her.

When I read the title, The Threat From Within, Some soldiers become murderers by Jim Frederick, Time Magazine, February 22, 2010; my first thought was that this issue was more complicated than that.

I read the piece, and then looked up the author’s bio. I saw no mention that Frederick served in the military or in a combat zone as a member of the military. No matter how many military men he interviewed or how much research he did, Frederick will never understand what it is like to be the hunter or hunted in a combat zone and what it does to that person.

The Threat From Within never mentions PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I have a PTSD VA rated disability from serving in combat in Vietnam in 1966. When I was in Vietnam, I knew men who did horrible things probably driven by PTSD.  Current research shows that PTSD causes permanent brain damage. I’m sure that the reason the military handles incidents that would appear to be crimes in a civilian world the way they do, is because the officers know the horrible blood price that comes with winning a war and many people like Jim Frederick do not.

Frederick indicates that the military should find a way to root out these potentially dangerous individuals so these types of killings do not take place. It’s bad enough that our soldiers are put in harm’s way with rules that do not allow them to shoot unless they see the shooter with weapon in hand. They did that to us in Vietnam and America lost that war.

After years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a military stretched to the breaking point, if every solider damaged by PTSD were pulled from combat, there wouldn’t be enough troops left to accomplish winning a war America cannot afford to lose. Consider that Al-Qaida and their allies have sworn the utter and total destruction of our entire civilization.

In war, the military has a job to do. If that means sending partially damage troops into combat still capable of fighting and killing, that’s what’s done.

From history, we learned that great military minds like Alexander the Great understood that war is hell and must be fought as if the battlefield is hell itself. America fought like that in World War II and won. In a war zone, there are no innocent people no matter what the media prints or says and only ignorant people and fools support putting limits on our troops doing their job. Even in the Korean conflict, the harsh reality of war existed.

If the rules that our troops fight under today existed during World War II, America would have lost and eventually been split between Japan and Germany.  If you lived in the West, the flag to salute would have a rising sun and in the east a swastika.

In my opinion—Jim Frederick and people that think like him are ignorant fools. Let them have their say and politely ignore them.

Discover The Public Image of PTSD and the Vietnam Veteran

_______________________

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!”

The Recon

I was one of four Marines in two jeeps. We were Marines but we were not Recon Marines. Two of the four were officers. One was a staff sergeant, and I was the radio operator with equipment so old that the three spare batteries had a better chance of being dead before me. Heck, they were feeding us twenty-year old C-rations. The sides of the boxes were stamped 1945 and it was 1966. Proof that the Marines don’t waste anything.

What was more dangerous? The food we were eating or the Vietcong. It’s good to be stupid and nineteen—not knowing about botulism. Besides, I liked the ham and limas.

The 1st Marine tank battalion was involved in a field operation with a South Korean unit—the kind of soldiers you want on your side. The US Marines and the Koreans, along with an ARVN unit, were forming a box to trap a regiment of North Koreans.

We drove ahead of our troops to check the depth of the rice paddies making sure our tanks wouldn’t be bogged down. Every mile or so, we would stop and the officers, a major and a lieutenant, would take a long pole and poke a paddy.

Once we were fifteen to twenty miles ahead of our lines, I lost contact with our people.  I switched batteries until I’d tried them all. Then we rolled through a recently deserted village where I saw the Vietcong flag and radio antennas sticking from the top of a tree.  Food was still cooking on open flames inside empty huts.

I pointed them out, and the staff sergeant said, “Don’t tell the officers. They don’t need the worry.”

Thirty miles in front of the lines, the officers were busy poking a rice paddy when I spied a line of muscular men in peasant clothing coming toward us. I was squatting behind the second jeep watching our rear holding a fifty-caliber Ingram submachine gun. I was dressed in camouflage, the jeep was olive green, and I was squatting in shadows. These guys were approaching from the rear and the staff sergeant and officers didn’t know.

I felt like an orphan about to be molested.

When that line of men reached the dirt road and climbed from the rice paddy, I stood so they could see my weapon and me, the skinny Marine who had gained twenty pounds in boot camp and was no longer invisible if he turned sideways.

A fifty caliber Ingram submachine gun with a fifty-round clip will cut small trees and men in half. Once you pull the bolt and let go, the entire clip empties.  There was another clip taped to the first one. It’s a quick change.  You aim to the left of the target and the recoil swings the weapon in an arc to the right.

They saw me and, still walking military fashion, crossed the road, went down the other side into the next rice paddy and kept going. No one shot at us on that recon, but this kind of memory causes you to wake sweaty at three in the morning listening. I remember thinking that maybe my hands were too slick with sweat to pull the bolt and fire.

Discover The ambush; the king cobra and the water buffalo

_______________________

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!”

“This Emotional Life” on PBS

PBS Tackles Happiness In ‘This Emotional Life’
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122207615

I understand that this series on PBS will also be discussing PTSD.  Since PBS offers Podcasts of programs that have aired, you may want to listen in.

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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!”

About the PTSD Forum

I found this interesting site and wanted to share it.

http://www.ptsdforum.org/

This is the site’s introduction: “Welcome to PTSD Forum. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a life threatening, debilitating disorder that can break down a sufferer’s body through anxiety and stress. Further it poses a significant suicide risk resulting from the brains neurological imbalance and chemical depression. Sufferers often live in denial, thus this community is aimed at helping PTSD sufferers help themselves through others experiences, guidance and education. We are here for the sufferer, spouse and families surrounding PTSD. Spouses and family are too often forgotten in this equation, and often they receive all the worst that PTSD has to offer. If you’re involved in any way with PTSD, get registered and help yourself now.”

This Website asks for donations. They claim that the “PTSD Forum is costly to run and maintain. Your donations assist to keep this free resource online. All donations are gratefully received.”

I question the “costly” claim. I pay less than a hundred dollars a year to maintain several Websites, and the Blogs I maintain cost nothing but time. Blogs like mine on WordPress are free. The Soulful Veteran was created on WordPress and there was no cost except in the time writing and posting. It would be interesting to see an itemized list of expenses from the PTSD Forum.  Maybe they pay a Webmaster to maintain their site.  I don’t have that problem since I am the Webmaster for all my Blogs and Websites. The Soulful Veteran will never ask for money. If you see an error or mistake, I’m the responsible party. Let me know, and I may correct it.

The only way I could see that the PTSD Forum is costly would be if the staff paid themselves and running the forum was their job. Maybe I’m wrong. Regardless, there could be important information to help someone with PTSD on this site so do not ignore it.

Learn more about PTSD

_______________________

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!”

Politics as Usual

Amazing.  Politics as usual.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091230/ap_on_go_co/us_airliner_attack_demint_1

Here we are fighting a war with an enemy that wants to destroy America and everyone in it, and the Republicans are putting obstacles in the way of America’s safety net that is supposed to protect America against terrorists while blaming the democrats for what happened on that Northwest flight.

Let’s not forget that Americans are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and many come home missing parts or with PTSD.

In Vietnam, I remember congress passing rules of engagement. We weren’t supposed to shoot until we saw who was shooting at us so we wouldn’t hit noncombatants leading to bad press in the media.

Try that in the jungle when you cannot see anyone and someone is shooting at you.

Near the end of my tour, we had a young lieutenant just out of West Point who drummed it into us that we weren’t supposed to shoot unless we saw who was shooting at us.  Then he was pinned down on a patrol and he was shouting at us to lay down covering fire.

Yea, right!

No one fired. Then a voice, “We can’t see who is shooting at you.”

What are we supposed to say to the enemy who wants to kill us? “Hold your fire! Hold your fire! You aren’t playing by the rules.  This isn’t’ fair. You are a cheater. I’m going to tell your mommy what you are doing.”

What does congress and the media think war is, a game of Risk (that board game kids sometimes play)?  Hey guys, we aren’t made of plastic here. We bleed and even if we walk away, we leave damaged.

What do you think? Maybe we should shoot the politicians and the reporters instead.

Learn more from John Kerry, Purple Hearts, PTSD and Weapons of Mass Destruction

_______________________

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 Public’s Image of PTSD and the Vietnam Veteran

Are we all crazy?  Does PTSD ever go away?

How many Hollywood movies have painted a positive picture of Vietnam Veterans compared to movies that show Vietnam veterans as angry, violent, dangerous drug users and/or alcholics (mostly brought on by PTSD)?

Three Vietnam Veterans that I know of have run for President of the United States.  All three lost.

Al Gore served in Vietnam as a reporter/journalist for five months. He Gore was stationed with the 20th Engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa and was a journalist with The Castle Courier. He received an honorable discharge from the Army in May 1971.

Of his time in the Army, Gore later stated, “I don’t pretend that my own military experience matches in any way what others here have been through […] I didn’t do the most, or run the gravest danger. But I was proud to wear my country’s uniform. And my own experiences gave me strong beliefs about America’s obligation to keep our national defenses strong.” He also later stated that his experience in Vietnam “didn’t change my conclusions about the war being a terrible mistake, but it struck me that opponents to the war, including myself, really did not take into account the fact that there were an awful lot of South Vietnamese who desperately wanted to hang on to what they called freedom. Coming face to face with those sentiments expressed by people who did the laundry and ran the restaurants and worked in the fields was something I was naively unprepared for.”

John Kerry reported for duty at Coastal Squadron 1 in Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam on November 17, 1968. In his role as an officer in charge of Swift boats, Kerry led five-man crews on a number of patrols into enemy-controlled areas. His first command was Swift boat PCF-44, from December 6, 1968 to January 21, 1969, when the crew was disbanded. They were based at Coastal Division 13 at Cat Lo from December 13, 1968 to January 6, 1969. Otherwise, they were stationed at Coastal Division 11 at An Thoi. On January 30, 1969, Kerry took charge of PCF-94 and its crew, which he led until he departed An Thoi on March 26, 1969, and subsequently the crew was disbanded.

On January 22, 1969, Kerry and several other officers had a meeting in Saigon with Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the commander of U.S. Naval forces in Vietnam, and U.S. Army General Creighton Abrams, the overall commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam. Kerry and the other officers reported that the “free-fire zone” policy was alienating the Vietnamese and that the Swift boats’ actions were not accomplishing their ostensible goal of interdicting Viet Cong supply lines.

John McCain requested a combat assignment, and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal flying A-4 Skyhawks. His combat duty began when he was 30 years old, in mid-1967,  during the Vietnam War. McCain and his fellow pilots became frustrated by micromanagement from Washington, and he would later write that “In all candor, we thought our civilian commanders were complete idiots who didn’t have the least notion of what it took to win the war.”

John McCain became a prisnor of war on October 26, 1967.

He was flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam when his aircraft was shot down by a missile over Hanoi. McCain fractured both arms and a leg ejecting from the aircraft. Although McCain was badly wounded, his captors refused to treat his injuries, beating and interrogating him to get information; he was given medical care only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral.

Does John McCain suffer from PTSD?

George Bush, Karl Rove exploit John Kerry’s PTSD in 2004

What is your opinion about the public image of Vietnam Veterans? Do you think these three men lost the White House because they served in Vietnam?

Discover A Prisoner of War for Life

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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 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.

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PTSD Vet Charged with Murder

I read this in a headline this morning and thought, there was a time when I could have been that veteran. My anger is unpredictable. Although I work at controlling it and have struggled with that anger for decades, like an earthquake it can strike and sweep away reason at any time.

“Mom befriends wife of PTSD vet charged with murder”.

This piece was written by Joe Mandak for the Associated Press. I read it  in the Contra Costa Times and found a link to The Seattle Times to share here.

 The Seattle Times

The wife of the veteran who is charged with murder is scared. She has received hate mail for what her husband did.

Hate mail like this shows the ignorance that still exists in society–an almost total misunderstanding of what it is like to suffer from PTSD that, like a violent virus, was caught in combat fighting for one’s country.

But there are those that understand, who have suffered from PTSD too. To find out more, click the link and read about Laurie Claar whose son, a combat veteran with PTSD, killed himself.

Learn more about PTSD

_______________________

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!”