Monthly Archives: June, 2013

PDST and the elephant in the room

Afganistan

It seems the VA is taking seriously the dramatic increase of PSTD in both soldiers/warriors/veteran in the field and at home. Here is an excerpt from the an blog written by Elspeth Cameron Ritchie entitled, “The Importance of Instilling Hope. ”

The 4th Annual Department of Defense-VA suicide-prevention conference was a big deal here in the capital last week, with three days of presentations by top officials from the Pentagon and the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services. I put together the first military suicide-prevention conference, back in 2002. A decade ago, it was done on a shoestring budget (in other words, none), at the Marine Corps’ Henderson Hall near the Pentagon. It had about 100 attendees (some complained there was no coffee!). The keynoter was Kay Redfield Jamison, a great speaker and author of Night Falls Fast,on suicide, and numerous others that delve into the mind.

Since then the military conference has grown, merged with the VA, and routinely draws over 1,000 people to one of downtown Washington, D.C.’s biggest hotels. I have actually grown a little cynical about the conference over the last 10 years.

All this effort and money, but the suicide rate in the military grows every year – despite the Army and DoD task forces.

However I was impressed by this last conference, and want to share a few highlights.

Related articles

 

Your Dear Veteran is home, now what?

Margo was ecstatic. Her soldier/warrior husband, Dean had returned from Afghanistan safe and sound. Her family and friends are greeted him at the airport with signs welcoming him home.  There was a flurry of hugs, tears, laughter and relief from everyone, most especially Margo. Dean was home, he looked wonderful, happy and a bit bewildered.  She was eager to get him home, but was unsure of herself as he had been gone for almost a year, maybe he had changed. Dean was her hero, her husband, her one true love and she couldn’t wait to show him how she decorated their home in flags and flowers. She was proud of her soldier husband and was eager to show him off to her friends at the huge welcome home party she had planned for the coming weekend.

And yet, as they drove home together, Margo’s hand resting lightly upon his khaki-clad and muscular leg, she could feel that Dean’s tenseness.  Wasn’t he glad to be home, did he not love her any more? What was wrong?

The above scenario is not unique. A veteran (a soldier who has been in the armed forces for over 6 mos.) coming home from deployment is understandably, a bit confused and disoriented. He or she has been in an environment where they have had to rely on themselves and their fellow soldiers for support and survival.  They have probably seen friends or acquaintances killed or wounded, perhaps right next to them.  Their life for months has been of order and fairly predictable. Coming home can be for many a very big…culture shock.

I would recommend anyone who is a friend or loved one read this helpful article-> Ten Things You Should Know to Help Bring the OIF/OEF Veteran All the Way Home By Alison Lighthall, RN, MS (Former Captain in the US Army Nurse Corps) Founder, HAND2HAND CONTACT.

Here is a brief excerpt of her pdf article:

10. OIF stands for Operation Iraqi Freedom, also known as the Iraq War, and it began on March 20th, 2003. OEF stands for Operation Enduring Freedom and is a multinational military operation aimed at dismantling terrorist groups, mostly in Afghanistan. It officially commenced on Oct. 7, 2001 in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks;

9. Returning Service Members do not think of themselves as heroes, no matter how extraordinary their skills, courage, or actions may be. Their heroes are the ones still over there or coming home in a flag-draped boxes;

To read more, click (here) and it will take you to the HAND2HANDCONTACT.org webpage, scroll down halfway and click on the article “10 Things You Should Know About Today’s Veteran.

Other sites to visit:

Called to Serve Ministry

Naval Alliance to End Suicide

Soldier’s Angels

Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Wives

 

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