Saturday, November 12, 2016

What Veterans Want You To Know About PTSD

What Veterans Want You To Know About PTSD
There are a few things we should all understand about the common disorder.
 11/11/2016 12:15 pm ET
Carolyn Gregoire  Senior Writer, The Huffington Post
For many, this Veterans Day comes with a little extra heaviness. Just days ago, our country elected a new president who has insulted decorated war veterans and suggested that post-traumatic stress disorder is a sign of weakness
Unfortunately, PTSD myths and stereotypes like this are all too common. An estimated 8 million Americans ― and up to 31 percent of Vietnam War veterans and 20 percent of Iraq veterans ― suffer from PTSD, and rates of the disorder in the U.S. are now higher than ever
But still, the disorder is poorly understood, stigmatized and often misrepresented, and the negative connotations surrounding PTSD are a major part of what keeps many veterans from seeking help. Increasing understanding around the disorder can only help more veterans to seek help and get better treatment.
In honor of Veterans Day, here are five things vets wish others knew about PTSD.
Most people have no idea what veterans have been through.
Anyone who refers to veterans with PTSD as “weak” has no idea what those people have seen and experienced in a war zone, or the toll that these experiences can take on an individual ― no matter how “strong” they are. 
“War, I believe, dare not be commented on by those who has yet to experience it,” one military veteran told Gawker. “Until you kill other human beings for survival, what could you possibly say about it? It assaults all your scenes, the smell of death and the machines that cause it. Noises so loud you feel like an ant under a lawnmower. It is incomprehensible.”
“On my best days I tell myself I killed to survive,” he added. “On my worst my mind tells me I committed acts of madness so that I didn’t go mad.”
The blog PTSD: A Soldier’s Perspective aims to share stories from and inspiration for veterans struggling with after-effects of their service.
“There is disconnection between everything human and what has to be done in combat,” a vet named Scott Lee wrote on the platform in 2008. “Imagine being in an unimaginable situation and having to do the unthinkable.”
That being said, some veterans say there’s a common misperception that counselors or therapists can’t do anything because they can’t possibly understand. Psychologists can help even if they don’t understand everything about war, according to Jeffrey Denning, the author of Warrior SOS: Military Veterans’ Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD.
PTSD isn’t always easy to recognize.
Symptoms of the disorder often go masked and unnoticed. War journalist Sebastian Junger, who spent months embedded with American troops in Afghanistan, wrote a Vanity Fair essay about the experience last June. In it, he highlighted his own struggle to recognize PTSD. 
“I had no idea that what I’d just experienced had anything to do with combat; I just thought I was going crazy,” he wrote. “For the next several months I kept having panic attacks whenever I was in a small place with too many people — airplanes, ski gondolas, crowded bars. Gradually the incidents stopped, and I didn’t think about them again until I found myself talking to a woman at a picnic who worked as a psychotherapist. She asked whether I’d been affected by my war experiences, and I said no, I didn’t think so. But for some reason I described my puzzling panic attack in the subway. ‘That’s called post-traumatic stress disorder,’ she said.”
Much of the suffering of PTSD is silent. 
PTSD survivors often suffer in silence, trying to present a strong face to the world and not seeking help for fear of being seen as week. A veteran who served in Baghdad in 2007 and 2008 opened up about the struggle to admit to himself that he needed care. 
“The few nights a week I’d get drunk and start crying inconsolably, although often silently, I tried to shake off as simple moments of weakness,” he wrote, according to Gawker. “I should be tough, like my grandfather returning from WW2, or all the others who seemed to get on day after day without noticeable problems.” 
“Some of the toughest guys I had ended up the worst off” he added. “I simply hope that everyone, at some point, can get the help they need and I hope the VA can get its act together to assist those who so desperately need it.”
PTSD doesn’t make you violent. 
A harmful stereotype about PTSD is that it leads to aggressive behavior. But research indicates that the prevalence of violence among individuals with PTSD is only slightly higher than the general population, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In a viral blog post published on the website RhinoDen, a veteran named Rob fights back against the dangerous stereotype that veterans with PTSD have violent tendencies. 
“I have never committed violence in the workplace, just like the vast majority of those who suffer with me,” he writes. “I have never physically assaulted anyone out of anger or rage. It pains me when I listen to the news and every time a veteran commits a crime (or commits suicide); it is automatically linked to and blamed on PTSD. Yes, there are some who cannot control their actions due to this imbalance in our heads, but don’t put a label on us that we are all incorrigible. Very few of us are bad.” 
Recovery is possible.
One of the most damaging stereotypes about PTSD is the idea that people with the disorder are somehow broken or can’t heal. 
Roy Webb, a Marine who served in Vietnam and suffered from PTSD and insomnia for four decades, told CBS News about his recovery through yoga and meditation
“I did feel at total peace, like I hadn’t known in years. You don’t have all those thoughts flying through your mind at night,” he said.
Iraq veteran Gordon Ewell, who has overcome PTSD, sent a message of hope to his fellow veterans: Recovery is always possible, and you’re never alone. 
“You may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I promise it is there,” he said in an interview published in Denning’s book. “I promise you can get through anything. I also promise that there are people willing to walk with you every step of the way.”  

Vietnam vets seek help for rare cancer

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2016, PAGE #13                                                           As Seen In: NEWSDAY

DANVILLE, Calif. — They were the lucky ones who man­aged to make it home from Viet­nam. Now, a half-century later, some veterans are finding out they, too, are victims of the war.
The enemy is a known killer in parts of Asia: Parasites in­gested in raw or poorly cooked river fish. These liver flukes attach to the lining of the bile duct and, over time, cause inflammation and scar­ring. Decades after infection, a rare cancer called cholangio-carcinoma can develop. Symp­toms typically do not occur until advanced stages.
Ralph Erickson, who heads post-deployment health ser­vices at the Department of Vet­erans Affairs, said about 700 cholangio-carcinoma patients have passed through the agency's medical system in the past 15 years. In some instances, the government has acknowl­edged that the illness is "as likely as not" connected to vet­erans' time in service. By VA standards, that's enough to make them eligible for benefits. Less than half of those 700 submitted claims, however, in part because they were un­aware of any possible link to service. Of the claims submit­ted, 3 out of 4 have been re­jected, according to data ob­tained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.
As a result, some veterans are spending their final days fighting the VA. They say they were never told they could be at risk, even though they were deployed to a region where the worms are endemic.
"Hard to believe," said veteran Michael Baughman, 64,
as he sat in his living room in Danville, California, flipping through a photo album from his war days. "I dodged all those bullets, then get killed
by a fish."        — AP

VA Medical Center, Northport, NY

Only 700 cases....REALLY, VA....REALLY!!
Both the Liver Fluke and the Blood Fluke (close cousins) are known to be ingested not only from local fish, but also from local water and local leafy plants and vegetables. They are extremely prevalent in the rice paddies of Asia and Southeast Asia. There is, currently, a contingent of Veterans at the VA Medical Center in Northport, NY who are trying to get properly tested for this parasite. The VA has known about this disease since 1997 when the VFW launched a successful law suit for Widow’s benefits from a Veteran who was positively identified as having the Liver Fluke parasite. The VA has not acknowledged the existence of this disease, and therefore, has no need to install a protocol to test for it.
There are other factors that the VA has decided to ignore. Another similar parasite has reared its ugly head in the form of a Blood Fluke. The Blood Fluke has many of the same characteristics as the Liver Fluke and is equally as deadly once released from the digestive system some forty to fifty years after contamination. There is currently one case of Blood Fluke at the VAMC, Northport. It was discovered by the Veteran demanding that he be tested thoroughly for all parasites. Unfortunately the VAMC Northport has not read the CDC report on treatment protocol. They have chosen to go with a single dose of medication to attack the adult Fluke. The CDC outlines to necessity to treat for any eggs that may be presumed to be present; there is also a very rigorous testing of stool samples that goes along with the multiple doses of both medications.
Both these particular Fluke are considered endemic in Southeast Asia (i.e., Vietnam), and the only certified testing Laboratory for Liver Fluke is in Seoul, So. Korea. There have been recent indications that both these Fluke have turned up in the Mideast (i.e., Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria). One would think that the VA Medical system would be willing and able to set up testing and treatment here in the U.S. After numerous law suits and hundreds of proven cases, past and present, the Department of Veterans Affairs choses to turn a blind eye and not even acknowledge the existence of Blood Fluke and its cousin, Liver Fluke. This denial may well be deliberate, because, once either fluke emerges from dormancy, it is no longer treatable and death occurs very shortly thereafter.
A PLEA TO ALL VETERANS......Go to your VA Medical Facility and demand to be tested for these, and other, parasites. It is normally done through the Infectious Disease office/clinic. The current VA test involves a blood sample and a stool sample. If you don’t do this for yourself, please do it for other Veterans who are not aware they have a ticking time-bomb in their body.