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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion Talks

I will be giving my usual two talks at the Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion at Wickham Park, 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne, FL. When you enter the park, drive around to the right till you see the Moving Vietnam Wall. The Wall Pavilion, where I give the talks will be in front of it.
At 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, I will be talking about Recovering from the War. Since PTSD is a normal reaction to war, I discuss the symptoms as survival skills, give a little history (Saul and Achilles had it), discuss effects on the family and make suggestions for how to begin to recover.
At 10:30 AM on Sunday, I will talk about The War at Home. I talk about what each symptom of PTSD did for the veteran during the war, then what it may be doing to the veteran today, and how that may be affecting the family.
My husband served in Vietnam, but I have been told that the talks I give are helpful to the new vets. I will have free handouts and copies of Recovering from the War for sale.
I try to share my own experience, strength and hope at these talks. Hope to see you there.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Huge Grant will change human nature! NOT!

So the VA is spending 3.5 million dollars to change human nature. Normal people are bothered by what they live through, especially if it is traumatic. Survival capacities which are part of what we called "the reptile brain" in high school are activated. They don't speak English and they can't tell time.
These survival skills are easily reactivated by further traumatic events, including starting new wars.
“The ultimate goal is to prevent the effects of traumatic stress from occurring in the first place. Having said that, another goal is to determine how we can mitigate the effects of stress once symptoms have occurred,” says principal investigator Seema Bhatnagar, assistant professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at Penn/CHOP.
This makes me crazy. Professor of Anesthesiology???? Her research has been into stress on rats.
There is always a chance she will come up with something that will help some veterans, and I am for that.
At least she is not saying "cure" like some of the developers of new therapies. You can't tell if someone is "cured" of PTSD in less than a lifetime, despite the unscientific claims of some therapies. A four year follow up is considered a cure. Tell that to the vet who is back in the throes of PTSD and feels like a total loser because he (or she) was told he was cured. Does he realize that what helped once will help again, or does he give up?
I have seen my PTSD veteran husband have good years and very bad years. It seems to be a lifetime condition to me. The survival skills (PTSD symptoms) are always available at the drop of a hat.
I predict that if something helps some vets, the upper management of the VA and the military will apply it to all vets and then call the ones it doesn't work on defective in some other way like a personality disorder.
People who have been traumatized need to talk or write or process what happened in some way to move the events from the "reptile brain" where they are stored as images, smells, words, feelings, etc, into the forebrain where they become narrative memories. They also often need to re-inhabit their bodies and deal with intractable stress through meditation, yoga, any kind of body therapy or sensorimotor psychotherapy. Learning to live in the now is a continuous process of recovery, more like managing PTSD than having it surgically removed or "cured" with pills. So I would like to see the upper management of the VA provide continuous care for veterans with PTSD and quit screwing around.