Saturday, August 21, 2010

PTSD is not new

                                             A BLANK CANVAS

                                        WHAT WILL YOU MAKE?

                                                   A NEW YOU


                                   PTSD IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE

PTSD has been around since the Vietnam war. It was called Shell-shocked back then. Researchers later found that they were one in the same. Symptoms of PTSD can last for years. While I was in treatment at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Medical Center being treated for PTSD almost half of the patients were from the Vietnam war. Of those Vietnam era patients this was not there first time treated on an inpatient basis. Many had been treated inpatient more than three times.. Some of the patients admit themselves when the symptoms become too much to bear. Some of the symptoms were alcohol abuse, drug abuse, committing crimes to support their habit and spending time in the state penitentiary, becoming homeless, and having several mental health issues that need medication and individual or group therapy.    theblogmeister

Some vets had no family and no where else to turn.

Others waited on a domiciliary to open up that are run by the VA.

Veterans PTSD

Following a congressional mandate in 1983, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS) was conducted by the U.S. government to better understand the development of PTSD from the Vietnam War, as well as other problems.

The findings from this study were alarming. At the time of the study (middle to late 1980s), among Vietnam veterans, approximately 15% of men and 9% of women were found to currently have PTSD. Approximately 30% of men and 27% of women had PTSD at some point in their life following Vietnam.

These findings, obtained approximately a decade after the end of the Vietnam War, found that for many veterans, their PTSD had become a chronic (that is, persistent and long-lasting) condition. To examine the longer-term effects of chronic PTSD, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Columbia University, The American Legion, and the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center surveyed 1,377 American Legionnaires who had served in Southeast Asia in the Vietnam War 14 years after their NVVRS interview in 1984.

The Long-Term Impact of PTSD

Their study found that almost 3 decades after the Vietnam War, many veterans continued to experience problems with PTSD. At the initial interview, approximately 12% had PTSD. Fourteen years later, the rates of PTSD had dropped only slightly to approximately 11%. Those who had experienced high levels of combat exposure were most likely to have PTSD at both interviews.

Veterans who continued to have PTSD 14 years after their first interview were found to have considerably more psychological and social problems. They reported lower satisfaction with their marriage, sex life, and life in general. They also indicated having more parenting difficulties, higher divorce rates, lower happiness, and more physical health complaints, such as fatigue, aches, and colds. Veterans with chronic PTSD were also more likely to be smokers.

Getting Help for Chronic PTSD

The findings from this study suggest that people exposed to severe traumatic events (such as combat exposure) may be at risk for developing chronic PTSD, and persistent PTSD can have a tremendous negative effect on a person's life and physical health.

Even in cases of chronic PTSD, recovery can still occur. Therefore, whether you have been suffering from PTSD for a long time or recently developed the disorder, it is important to seek out treatment if you have PTSD. The Anxiety Disorder Association of America provides links to PTSD treaters in your area. You can also get specific information on PTSD and its treatment for veterans from the National Center for PTSD

To anonymous

I would like to exchange links with you, however, in order for it to work I would need your url. You can send it to my email and we will do the link exchange. Thanks, theblogmeister
If you think that you may have PTSD, do something, talk with someone. PTSD is treatable. The following is some good information, please, use it.   theblogmeister

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

An easy-to-read booklet on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that explains what it is, when it starts, how long it lasts, and how to get help. (2008).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD?

Who gets PTSD?

What causes PTSD?

How do I know if I have PTSD?

When does PTSD start?

How can I get better?

How PTSD Can Happen: Janet's Story

Facts About PTSD

Don't Hurt Yourself

Contact us to find out more about PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

It's natural to be afraid when you're in danger. It's natural to be upset when something bad happens to you or someone you know. But if you feel afraid and upset weeks or months later, it's time to talk with your doctor. You might have post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD?

PTSD is a real illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a dangerous event, such as war, a hurricane, or bad accident. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.

If you have PTSD, you can get treatment and feel better.

Who gets PTSD?

PTSD can happen to anyone at any age. Children get PTSD too.

You don't have to be physically hurt to get PTSD. You can get it after you see other people, such as a friend or family member, get hurt.

What causes PTSD?

Living through or seeing something that's upsetting and dangerous can cause PTSD. This can include:

Being a victim of or seeing violence

The death or serious illness of a loved one

War or combat

Car accidents and plane crashes

Hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires

Violent crimes, like a robbery or shooting.

There are many other things that can cause PTSD. Talk to your doctor if you are troubled by something that happened to you or someone you care about.

How do I know if I have PTSD?

Your doctor can help you find out. Call your doctor if you have any of these problems:

Bad dreams

Flashbacks, or feeling like the scary event is happening again

Scary thoughts you can't control

Staying away from places and things that remind you of what happened

Feeling worried, guilty, or sad

Feeling alone

Trouble sleeping

Feeling on edge

Angry outbursts

Thoughts of hurting yourself or others.

Children who have PTSD may show other types of problems. These can include:

Behaving like they did when they were younger

Being unable to talk

Complaining of stomach problems or headaches a lot

Refusing to go places or play with friends.

When does PTSD start?

PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a frightening event and then continue. Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later.

How can I get better?

PTSD can be treated. A doctor or mental health professional who has experience in treating people with PTSD can help you. Treatment may include "talk" therapy, medication, or both.

Treatment might take 6 to 12 weeks. For some people, it takes longer. Treatment is not the same for everyone. What works for you might not work for someone else.

Drinking alcohol or using other drugs will not help PTSD go away and may even make it worse.

How PTSD Can Happen: Janet's Story

Janet was in a car crash last year. The crash was frightening, and a man in another car died. Janet thought she was lucky. She lived through it and she wasn't badly hurt.

Janet felt fine for a while, but things changed. She started to have nightmares every night. And when she was awake, she could see the crash happening over and over in her mind. She felt tense every time she rode in a car, and tried to avoid it as much as she could. Janet started yelling at her husband over little things. And sometimes she just felt numb inside.

Janet's husband asked her to see her doctor, who told her she might have PTSD. Janet's doctor put her in touch with a doctor trained to help people with PTSD. Soon Janet was being treated. It helped her to feel less tense and scared, and it helped her to sleep. It also helped her to share her feelings with the doctor. It wasn't easy, but after a couple of months Janet began to feel better.

Facts About PTSD

PTSD can affect anyone at any age.

Millions of Americans get PTSD every year.

Many war veterans have had PTSD.

Women tend to get PTSD more often than men.

PTSD can be treated. You can feel better.

Don't Hurt Yourself

You are not alone. Get help if you are thinking about hurting yourself.

Call your doctor.

Call 911 if you need help right away.

Talk to a trained counselor at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).

Contact us to find out more about PTSD.

National Institute of Mental Health

Science Writing, Press & Dissemination Branch

6001 Executive Boulevard

Room 8184, MSC 9663

Bethesda, MD 20892-9663

Phone: 301-443-4513 or

1-866-615-NIMH (6464) toll-free

TTY: 301-443-8431 or

1-866-415-8051 toll-free


Web site:

Friday, August 20, 2010

This information will help veterans seeking disability from the Veterans Abministration. I hope it helps. If you have any questions drop me an email.  theblogmeister
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A very common question asked by U.S. Veterans who are seeking disability compensation for injuries and disabilities incurred in military service is this: what is the "de novo" review the VA offers me when I file my Notice of Disagreement, and should I use it?

In all honesty, I cannot think of a scenario where a U.S. Veteran challenging the VA Regional Office's denial of disability benefits would not request the DRO review.

To understand why I say this, it is helpful to understand the process of challenging the VARO (VA Regional Office) denial of a claim for disability compensation to a US Veteran.

After the veteran's claim is denied by the VA Regional Office (whether denied partially or entirely, the U.S. Veteran must challenge the decision if he or she wants to continue to pursue the benefit.

To begin the process of challenging the VARO Ratings Decision, the first step is for the Veteran to send the VA Regional Office a written notice of disagreement (also known as a "NOD"). Once the U.S. Veteran files the "NOD" with the VA Regional Office, that office will typically send the Veteran a form that has some language about making an " appeal election. The VA Regional Office will ask that the Veteran choose between the traditional appeal process or a review by what is called a "Decision Review Officer (which I call the DRO). The VA will give the Veteran 60 days to file the appeal election for with the VARO.

Now, that is the process to get the ball rolling on challenging the VA Ratings Decision. What is the DRO process, how is it different from the BVA, or traditional, appeal, and why do I say it should always be utilized by the Veteran?

First, DROs are senior claims examiners who have the authority to grant the Veteran's requested benefits, based on the same evidence that was used in the initial ratings decision. The DRO will review the evidence "de novo" (This means, in a nutshell, with fresh eyes and without deference to the initial VA Ratings Decision.)

Second, the DRO is a senior and much more experienced claims representatives with the VA who has probably seen more claims, knows the law better, and whose job is not only to make sure that the Veteran is getting a "non-adversarial" decision, but also to protect the VA from the cost and time of poor decisions from Junior Claims examiners.

Third, the DRO will review the case without deference to the VA Rating Decision. In some situations, the Veteran can ask to meet with or talk to the DRO.

Fourth, the DRO process has a good chance of being successful and if it is successful, it will be a lot faster than appealing to the BVA, where the wait for a hearing can be 500-600 days, or more. I was told at a recent Veterans' CLE, without any hard evidence to back up the statistic, that 2% of the initial claim denials are reversed by the VA's DRO process. In the land of the VA, 2% is an incredibly high success ratio (believe it or not).

Fifth, even if the DRO agrees with the Initial Ratings Decision, (or makes a decision that is favorable, but not completely correct) you can still appeal to the BVA. So, the Veteran doesn't lose the ability to challenge the VA Ratings Decision, has a 2% chance of having the VARO's decision reversed, often doesn't have to submit any new documentation, and can at times communicate directly with the DRO. What's not to like about the DRO process?

Let me give you a good example of success using the DRO process. In a recent appeal I read, a Vietnam Vet with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the VA initially denied the Veteran's claim. The VA's position was that there was no evidence that the Veteran had been diagnosed with PTSD. This conclusion was absurd: the VA had actually diagnosed the Vet with PTSD, the diagnosis was in his Claims File AND the VA Doctors had already concluded that this Veteran's PTSD was a direct result of his military service.

On behalf of the Veteran, they sought review by a DRO. Within a couple of months, the Veteran was evaluated by a local VA Medical Center, and was given an impairment rating for his PTSD. About 30 days later, the Veteran received payment of past-due money from the VA, and will continue to receive benefits for his now service-connected PTSD.

Without a DRO, this Veteran would have had to wait at least one or two YEARS to argue to a BVA HearingS Officer that he was entitled to PTSD. Even if the Veteran persuaded the BVA Hearing Official, the claim likely would have just been sent back to the VA Regional Office for an impairment evaluation and further development of the record. This process could have taken years, without netting a single payment to the Veteran.

While the DRO process does not guarantee Veterans that they will win their claim, the DRO process can be a really good chance to get the Veteran the benefits they are entitled to - and usually quicker!

The process works for the VA, because they are able to more efficiently reduce their backlog of claims.

The process works for the BVA Hearings Officer, who only has to resolve the remaining disputes (such as the effective date of an award, or the proper impairment percentage, etc.)

In short, I can't think of a reason not to request a DRO review of the VARO's Initial Rating Decision
I thought it would be a good idea to cite what PTSD is all about. I have told you what happened to me, now, I want you to see what the professionals have to say about this debilitating disease. If you are a veteran and have been diagnosed with PTSD, I will show you how to get your benefits that you so richly deserve.  theblogmeister

If you went through a traumatic experience and are having trouble getting back to your regular life and reconnecting to others, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When you have PTSD, it can seem like you’ll never get over what happened or feel normal again. But help is available – and you are not alone. If you are willing to seek treatment, stick with it, and reach out to others for support, you will be able to overcome the symptoms of PTSD and move on with your life.

Wendy’s Story

Three months ago, Wendy was in a major car accident. She sustained only minor injuries, but two friends riding in her car were killed. At first, the accident seemed like just a bad dream. Then Wendy started having nightmares about it: waking up in a cold sweat to the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass. Now, the sights and sounds of the accident haunt her all the time. She has trouble sleeping at night, and during the day she feels irritable and on edge. She jumps whenever she hears a siren or screeching tires, and she avoids all TV programs that might show a car chase or accident scene. Wendy also avoids driving whenever possible, and refuses to go anywhere near the site of the crash.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can develop following a traumatic event that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless. Most people associate PTSD with battle-scarred soldiers – and military combat is the most common cause in men – but any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event is perceived as unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It can even occur in the friends or family members of those who went through the actual trauma.

Traumatic events that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include:



Natural disasters

A car or plane crash


Violent assault

Sexual or physical abuse

Medical procedures (especially in kids)

PTSD is a response by normal people to an abnormal situation

The traumatic events that lead to post-traumatic stress disorder are usually so overwhelming and frightening that they would upset anyone. When your sense of safety and trust are shattered, it’s normal to feel crazy, disconnected, or numb – and most people do. The only difference between people who go on to develop PTSD and those who don’t is how they cope with the trauma.

After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Following a traumatic event, almost everyone experiences at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. It’s very common to have bad dreams, feel fearful or numb, and find it difficult to stop thinking about what happened. But for most people, these symptoms are short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, but they gradually lift.

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, the symptoms don’t decrease. You don’t feel a little better each day. In fact, you may start to feel worse. But PTSD doesn’t always develop in the hours or days following a traumatic event, although this is most common. For some people, the symptoms of PTSD take weeks, months, or even years to develop.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise suddenly, gradually, or come and go over time. Sometimes symptoms appear seemingly out of the blue. At other times, they are triggered by something that reminds you of the original traumatic event, such as a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms, as listed below.

Re-experiencing the traumatic event

Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event

Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)

Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)

Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma

Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing

Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma

Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma

Loss of interest in activities and life in general

Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb

Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

PTSD symptoms of increased arousal

Difficulty falling or staying asleep

Irritability or outbursts of anger

Difficulty concentrating

Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)

Feeling jumpy and easily startled

Other common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

Anger and irritability

Guilt, shame, or self-blame

Substance abuse

Depression and hopelessness

Suicidal thoughts and feelings

Feeling alienated and alone

Feelings of mistrust and betrayal

Headaches, stomach problems, chest pain

Getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome. If you’re reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. This process is much easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor.

It’s only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will only get worse. You can’t escape your emotions completely – they emerge under stress or whenever you let down your guard – and trying to do so is exhausting. The avoidance will ultimately harm your relationships, your ability to function, and the quality of your life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why is a civilian hospital preffered over a VA Medical Center for traumatic brain injuries? Read on and you will understand.

Last month, a 24-year-old veteran received his first treatment for trauamtic brain injury from the Veterans Affairs Department — more than a year after he was discharged from the Marine Corps.

“The hand-off from [the Defense Department] to VA was very slow,” Jonathan Barrs told the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Wednesday. “So far, the VA care has been good, but this whole time of waiting was very hard, and I had to keep asking my primary care doctor for a consult, which took a very long time.”

His TBI was diagnosed in November 2008. He medically retired in May 2009. He began receiving care in April 2010.

“The injuries get worse with time,” said Michelle LaPlaca, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “The longer you wait, the less beneficial it will be for veterans.”

Though panelists at the hearing agreed that VA care has greatly improved since the early days of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they also agreed that much work needs to be done.

Barrs’ case served as an example of service members and veterans still slipping through the cracks with “invisible” injuries. Not only did Barrs have to wait for a year for treatment from VA, he also eluded an initial diagnosis of TBI by not telling anyone about his injuries when an improvised explosive device blew up 30 feet from his vehicle in 2006, slamming him into his gunner turret and leaving him with glass embedded in his head. Symptoms showed themselves when he finally was screened for TBI in November 2008 by the Defense Department.

“I’m a United States Marine,” Barrs said. “I was still walking. I never wanted to get out of the Marines. But I had these horrible migraines.”

What about testing?

Military officials said that should no longer happen.

“What are you doing to ensure they get treatment?” asked committee chairman Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

Air Force Col. Michael Jaffee, the national director for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, said testing for the troops is no longer subjective — “even if you are being strong and denying treatment.”

“What we’re really concerned with is people in the margins,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. “How are we going to catch it if we don’t have a baseline?”

Jaffee told Burr he was “proud to say” there is a baseline — a pre-deployment cognitive assessment, the results of which people in theater could access by calling a special help line. What he did not say is that there is no post-deployment follow-up using the same test.

That was the subject of a brief debate at a recent House hearing in April in which lawmakers questioned the value of doing a baseline test if no post-deployment comparison is done to see if a service member’s cognitive functioning has changed. The senators at Wednesday’s hearing did not ask questions about a follow-up exam.

Burr also said he is concerned that few veterans with TBI seem to be accessing care in private assisted-living facilities under a pilot program created by Congress.

Lucille Beck, chief consultant for rehabilitative services for VA, said VA treated 3,700 veterans for TBI in fiscal 2009. Four went to residential programs, and 26 are expected to do the same in 2010.

“Why are so few being served under this pilot?” Burr asked. “This is 2010. We passed this in 2007. And we have four veterans?”

Beck said veterans prefer to get their care in their homes with their families. However, VA initially identified 168 veterans who said they would be interested at some point in assisted-living care.

Michael Dabbs, president of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, said only three veterans had been referred to private care for TBI in the lower part of the state.

“There is totally inadequate access of care within VA to address the problem,” he said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., cited a 2008 Government Accountability Office report that cited concerns with how veterans and service members were being screened for TBI, and she asked what has been done to address the problem. Beck said three research projects were in the works, and the first would be completed in 2011.

“Are we doing anything in the interim, or are we just waiting for a study?” Murray asked.

Beck said everyone who screens positive on the existing exams is receiving a “full and complete” evaluation. She also said a telehealth screening pilot would be in place by the end of the year.

Jaffee said several research projects involving brain scans are also in place. The scans would allow doctors to actually see if an injury has occurred.

Roadblocks to care

Karen Bohlinger, wife of Montana Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, took issue with that research. She has spent most of the past 4½ years caring for her son, a former Special Forces officer who has a severe head injury, in Seattle because care is not available in their home state. Her family paid for a private brain scan to determine what care her son needed.

She said all troops should automatically receive those scans, rather than having doctors rely on symptoms or asking people questions to determine their cognitive abilities. She also asked for bio-marker baseline testing.

“Self- and counselor assessments are not always accurate,” she said. “Neuroimaging is critical.”

She said she often hears of cases where a service member is given a 10 percent disability rating based on a doctor’s assessment, but have their ratings shoot up to 100 percent after a brain scan, when doctors can see how much damage was actually done.

“Scans are available in the private sector,” she said. “Our veterans deserve no less.”

She also said care should be made convenient for the veterans, not the providers, and cited group therapy sessions that coincided with rush hour in Seattle, as well as providers who are reimbursed by the number of diagnoses made, rather than how well the provided treatment works. She said, clinics also provide fewer services during the holiday season, so there are few group sessions or therapy appointments.

Frustration in private sector

Bruce Gans, executive vice president and chief medical officer for the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, said there are diagnostic tools the military and VA could be using. But he also said very few people train to take care of people with brain injuries because it’s such a difficult field.

Therefore, it’s frustrating to him that the private facilities see so few veterans, mostly because they don’t get referrals from Tricare or VA. He compared the “trickle” of brain-injury veterans to the 97 percent of amputees who receive care through private contractors for VA. He said case management has improved greatly, but that case managers can’t get their veterans the care they need because it’s still not available through VA.

LaPlaca, of Georgia Tech, also expressed frustration. She said there is no FDA-approved treatment for TBI, each case is different, most clinical trials are done by industry so doctors don’t know which ones can be trusted, and it’s difficult to work with VA because all research has to be done offsite to access VA records.

“There is a lot of bureaucracy,” she said.

I have a Friend

Living with PTSD and TBI

An Army Spouse's Point of View and Feelings About Living with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury

Interesting Sites on PTSD

Army Strong Bonds Retreat Program Army Wife Blog Army Wife Chat Caregiver Retreat DAV Double HH Candles Family of A Vet For Spouses of Combat PTSD Vets Gift from Within Interesting Resources Lest We Forget-PTSD/TBI Living the Army Life Married to the Army Medal of Honors-Speak Out! Operation PTSD Operation We Are Here PASP PTSD News PTSD: A Caregiver's Perspective Puppies Behind Bars-Dog Tags Program VA Watch Dog Veteran Caregiver Vets 4 Vets Vietnam Veteran Wives Why is Daddy Like He Is?



Wednesday, August 18, 2010Failure to Launch

I don't know whether it's just because I am emtionally and physically tired, but it seems like everything here lately is just so damn overwhelming. Between my little one being so sick, my other two in school, and then my husband....anything else is just like a big whopping smack in the face!

Recently, we found out that my husband must go before the Medical Review Board. Now, for those of you who know what I am talking will probably say "well you knew this was coming!". Ok, yes I did....My issue here is the confusion, the lack of no information or a straight answer and of course, trying to figure it out all again, on my own. We recently sent in for an increase of my husband's disability which was currently at 40%. 30% for PTSD, 10% for Tinnitus (ringing of the ears). After reading so many other horror stories of fellow PTSD Veterans, we should be thankful for what my husband was originally awarded. However, two statements later from his psychiatrists, they deemed him unemployable...and pretty much in both letters, stated he really didn't need to be out in the world on his own and as his wife....I know this statement is most definitely true! His increase came back and of course, everything else was turned down. They considered that TBI was factored in, but he hadn't been to the doctor yet so they could not determine anything as of yet. Understandable. The thing that pissed me off, was yes he did get an increase of his PTSD to 50% but took away his original award of Tinnitus! 10% is a good chunk of change and we didn't realize they would take it away. Now he has hearing loss so severe that the VA placed hearing aids in both ears, and the ringing can last for hours in his head. Everywhere we looked on this paperwork stated DEFERRED DEFERRED DEFERRED! What does that even mean? Deferred for what? The VA originally gave it to him, and now they are asking for his paperwork from when he first signed up for Basic Training!The rest which was all documented and the VA is treating him for, of course, was turned down because they don't feel it's war related. We have documentation showing this! I figured I am going to have to put two large flags on each underlined word and then maybe they will read it!

So back to Medical Review. My husband was informed from his Battalion that they are now sending him before the board. My husband says he is ok with getting out although he hates to lose his almost 13 years in of service. The thing is, I have heard many many stories coming down from medical review boards such as getting booted with an honorable discharge, no medical retirement and that's that. Now I have been talking to a Veteran's Benefit Support group on Facebook (totally been waaay more help than anyone I have found) and he says that if they give my husband the boot, demand they medically retire him. Well A.....this is great help man, but if they tell us that "out you must go", what else could we do? Now VBS explained all about the GAF scores and the lower the better, and how that most soldiers just accept the boot without fighting it. My husband is having his first appointment for his TBI care soon and the VA just set his evaluation for disability appt in regards to the TBI. I am hoping this will help his review before the medical board.

So am I worried about him getting booted with the foot still up the ass from the Army? No. I look at it as simply another page in life and he seems to be ok with it.....What concerns me the most is that if they broke him, they need to fix him. If he gets the boot, then no more health insurance. I understand the Veteran has to have a certain score to be deemed enough for benefits such as medical retirement/temporary or permanent disability and at this rate deemed by the military, can we keep some type of insurance. We have had Tricare for a very long time, and then once he was home....we switched to Tricare Reserve Select in which our family gets coverage for 198.00 a month. It has been a God send for all of us, especially my little one who has had several hospitalizations due to severe Asthma and allergies. Between his monthly medications, breathing apparatus and so much more...I couldn't be more thankful for that wonderful insurance. For myself, I am on several medications such as Humira for Rheumatoid Arthritis that is really expensive. If we lose our insurance because he gets booted out and they don't offer it once you are out, and we can't get insurance for the family through the Army because of Medical retirement....I really don't know what we will do.

I looked up private insurance thinking, Ok....we will simply re-budget, tighten up in a few places, and then we will be fine. However, after 22 quotes, checking every ins and outs......there is no way we can afford to do anything! Many would not accept either myself or my son due to "pre-existing" conditions....the others, well let's just say the cheapest I could find was around 900.00 to 2196.00 a month, 10,000 deductible which is every year and must be met before the insurance even kicks in!! I tell you dear readers, I have been through ups and downs.....weathered many many storms and pulled through with strength and confidence. This time.....I felt like the wind was literally knocked out of me!

If my little one wasn't so ill, then I could find a daycare and head back to work. No one will touch him with a ten foot pole. My second son who is in public school Pre-K, gets out at 1:45 in the afternoon. A severe asthma attack can occur at anytime with my little one so that means hospitalization for at least 3 days....there isn't an employer who wouldn't fire me right off the gate. I always have a backup plan.....once plan A is into motion, there is always a plan B in place. Just my nature. This time, I don't know what to do. My husband is expecting me to deal with all this paperwork for the VA, then find out information on medical review board, and I just feel like all the stress is bogging me down to the point I am slowly sinking. My worrying and stress is simply feeding the bonfire of a meltdown. I know that he struggles with reading comprehension.....his attention and patience is like that of a three year old and once he gets frustrated, it makes it even worse.So I can't say "Honey, you are going to have to help with this".

It makes me feel better with the help of the Veterans Benefit Support, but on the other hand....I feel like some of it sounds so simple, that it just can't be that easy and we are going to run into problems. I have worried so much about our health insurance, I think I have a permanent headache from the stress. I often wonder what the Active Duty personnel do when they make the military a career and then they get booted by the medical board.....what happens to their family?

I don't mean to seem like I am whining....because I am really not. I am just so frustrated and wondering what we did to deserve all this? If it was as simple as me going back to work, leaving my kids with my husband, it would be a no brainer.....however, he can barely remember to take his medicine and the first toy that makes too much noise, all hell breaks loose! There is no way he could be home and deal with the kids.....what do other families do?

So far, I have been strong, trying to stand up straight for all of us....but damn, I get so weary of being strong all the time! I want to crumble and fall apart, even if just for a little while. I feel like I am failing my family who so depends on me because I can't launch that Plan B! I wish just once, my husband could stop and realize what all I am going through....maybe let me break down and shoulder some of the burden. I think out of all the issues with PTSD and TBI, this lack of shouldering the burden and providing support, is the worst one to deal with. I want to scream "you know what! I DON'T KNOW!". I wish there was one site you could navigate and give a break down of this is going to happen at Med Board, this is what to do, and then......this is what you need to deal with after all is said and done. Not too much to ask for right? Hahah!

Sigh.....I keep hoping the Big man upstairs will just cut me a break. Throw me a job from home, throw me a better set of lungs for my little one, give my husband the courage to come of out PTSD and never go back. I know it seems like a lot, but all I do is give give give even when it takes away so much for myself. Couldn't the military and God give back to me just a little bit?

I need a good cry, but honestly don't think I have the strength for that even. Any ideas, suggestions or experience....I will take it all! Surely, there is someone reading this who understands what I am going through, and has already gone through the steps of all this and can share something positive.

Still clinging to the life raft,

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Uncle Sam's Mistress

I am a 34 year old Army Reservist Wife who is married to a Combat Medic/Engineer who is diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. I write for self-help therapy and to hopefully find other spouses who need to know they aren't alone with their feelings. I give this blog my all with true stories, true feelings and hope that it helps someone else know that it's ok to feel the way we do. I am also a huge fighter in more recognition of PTSD and TBI with emphasis on educating the spouses and families who suddenly become their spouse's caregiver. Drop Me a line as I would love to hear from you!

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I found an interesting article about the Texan's Brian Cushing. I thought it insightful, compassionate, and empathetic towards an NFL player with problems that seem no one understands. I also thought it would be a chance to write something less depressive than Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am, in no way, diminishing the importance of this disease. To be honest, I just couldn't pass this one up.

May 14, 2010

Interesting take on Cushing from a pituitary patient

This morning, I received e-mails from Melissa Taylor Slovacek, a Houston native. She describes herself as a Texans fan and a Brian Cushing fan as well as a pituitary patient. She asked me to forward her original e-mail to Tom Condon, who is Cushing's agent.

I thought the one or two of you who might not have made up your mind about Cushing's guilt may find this interesting. Slovacek gave me permission to run her e-mails. Please read everything she writes because it may shine some light on what Cushing's going through.

Here's a little more about Slovacek, in her words:

I am a new patient to Mass Gen. My 1st appt is Monday. However I have seen many neuroendocrinologists, endocrinologists, and neurosurgeons. I had pituitary surgery 1 year ago. Not cured. I have never had high hCG other than when pregnant.

I do not know what is the truth. I only offer a perspective of a pituitary patient who has learned about the hormones on my three year journey seeking a cure to my endocrine issues. A neuroendocrinoloist would best be able to discuss what is possible or probable

• • •

Mr. McClain,

You have my permission (to use name and print e-mail), as it is so important to educate the public about the damage pituitary issues can do to a person's life. In fact, one in five people have pituitary tumors, and most do not even know what or where the pituitary is. It is the master gland, and it is the command center for every hormone produced in the body. The pituitary is even protected by a bony structure — just as the brain is protected by the cranium.

In addition, I am a member of and have found reliable information through the Pituitary Network Association. Doctors available for commentary are listed on the PNA's media contact page. Perhaps someone is available to talk about the relationship between hCG and testosterone in terms of that HPA axis.

While all of the media aspects are good for undiagnosed and diagnosed pituitary patients, I do not want to overlook the despair that Brian Cushing is facing, as Houston, the football community, and the world question his integrity and question his abilities. In the end, I hope that Brian finds the medical care he needs to resolve any medical issues he may be facing. I will be praying for that.



• • •

Dear Mr. McClain

I read your article about Mr. Brian Cushing and his positive hCG test today. In response, I sent the following message to Tom Condon. I am concerned for Mr. Cushing's health. It is very important to me that he is treated, as pituitary/adrenal patients are overlooked and worn down by their diseases "rareness."



• • •

Dear Mr. Condon,

I recently read the Houston Chronicle story about Brian Cushing's hCG positive test results. As a person with undiagnosed pituitary issues, my heart goes out to him. I also know what it is like to know something is wrong with your body, and not to know what it is and what to do about it. So, I felt I needed to write to try to reach Mr. Cushing.

The article states that Brian has tested negative for testicular cancer, fortunately. It also states that he has seen doctors in several cities. Of course, I am totally unaware of any testing that Mr. Cushing has undergone. I just wanted to make sure his doctors have tested all of his pituitary and adrenal hormones. Hormones produced by the pituitary and adrenal glands lead to the production of hcg then testosterone. For a basic description of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, this is helpful: adrenal gland wikipedia entry. My point? I am wondering if a neuroendocrinologist is among the specialists on Brian's medical team. These doctors specialize in the HPA axis. Other doctors underestimate the significance of the complex hormonal dominoes that fall and the impact on nearly every bodily function. In addition, tumors are difficult to see on brain MRIs because of the small size of the pituitary (pea sized!). Unfortunately, patients with these issues are often bounced around hopelessly from doctor to doctor with help, if any, coming only years and years later.

I am headed to Massachusetts General (Harvard) in Boston on Monday to meet with the team at the Neuroendocrine Clinical Center. They are highly regarded, and if Brian has not seen a neuroendocrinologist, this may be a good place to start.

I hope Brian gets the help he deserves. If I can help in anyway, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Melissa Taylor Slovacek                       Thank You Melissa.......theblogmeister

The Real Bad-Asses of Afghantstan--- Task Force 373

No current or planned missions nor will any of our troops be in danger as a result of this post.

US soldiers pursue militants in Helmand province. The shadowy Task Force 373 meanwhile focuses its efforts on more than 2,000 senior Taliban figures on a target list. o

The Nato coalition in Afghanistan has been using an undisclosed "black" unit of special forces, Task Force 373, to hunt down targets for death or detention without trial. Details of more than 2,000 senior figures from the Taliban and al-Qaida are held on a "kill or capture" list, known as Jpel, the joint prioritised effects list.

In many cases, the unit has set out to seize a target for internment, but in others it has simply killed them without attempting to capture. The logs reveal that TF 373 has also killed civilian men, women and children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path.

The United Nations' special rapporteur for human rights, Professor Philip Alston, went to Afghanistan in May 2008 to investigate rumours of extrajudicial killings. He warned that international forces were neither transparent nor accountable and that Afghans who attempted to find out who had killed their loved ones "often come away empty-handed, frustrated and bitter".

Now, for the first time, the leaked war logs reveal details of deadly missions by TF 373 and other units hunting down Jpel targets that were previously hidden behind a screen of misinformation. They raise fundamental questions about the legality of the killings and of the long-term imprisonment without trial, and also pragmatically about the impact of a tactic which is inherently likely to kill, injure and alienate the innocent bystanders whose support the coalition craves.

On the night of Monday 11 June 2007, the leaked logs reveal, the taskforce set out with Afghan special forces to capture or kill a Taliban commander named Qarl Ur-Rahman in a valley near Jalalabad. As they approached the target in the darkness, somebody shone a torch on them. A firefight developed, and the taskforce called in an AC-130 gunship, which strafed the area with cannon fire: "The original mission was aborted and TF 373 broke contact and returned to base. Follow-up Report: 7 x ANP KIA, 4 x WIA." In plain language: they discovered that the people they had been shooting in the dark were Afghan police officers, seven of whom were now dead and four wounded.

The coalition put out a press release which referred to the firefight and the air support and then failed entirely to record that they had just killed or wounded 11 police officers. But, evidently fearing that the truth might leak, it added: "There was nothing during the firefight to indicate the opposing force was friendly. The individuals who fired on coalition forces were not in uniform." The involvement of TF 373 was not mentioned, and the story didn't get out.

However, the incident immediately rebounded into the fragile links which other elements of the coalition had been trying to build with local communities. An internal report shows that the next day Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Phillips, commander of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, took senior officers to meet the provincial governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, who accepted that this was "an unfortunate incident that occurred among friends". They agreed to pay compensation to the bereaved families, and Phillips "reiterated our support to prevent these types of events from occurring again".

Yet, later that week, on Sunday 17 June, as Sherzai hosted a "shura" council at which he attempted to reassure tribal leaders about the safety of coalition operations, TF 373 launched another mission, hundreds of miles south in Paktika province. The target was a notorious Libyan fighter, Abu Laith al-Libi. The unit was armed with a new weapon, known as Himars – High Mobility Artillery Rocket System – a pod of six missiles on the back of a small truck.

The plan was to launch five rockets at targets in the village of Nangar Khel where TF 373 believed Libi was hiding and then to send in ground troops. The result was that they failed to find Libi but killed six Taliban fighters and then, when they approached the rubble of a madrasa, they found "initial assessment of 7 x NC KIA" which translates as seven non-combatants killed in action. All of them were children. One of them was still alive in the rubble: "The Med TM immediately cleared debris from the mouth and performed CPR." After 20 minutes, the child died.


The coalition made a press statement which owned up to the death of the children and claimed that troops "had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building". That claim is consistent with the leaked log. A press release also claimed that Taliban fighters, who undoubtedly were in the compound, had used the children as a shield.

The log refers to an unnamed "elder" who is said to have "stated that the children were held against their will" but, against that, there is no suggestion that there were any Taliban in the madrasa where the children died.

The rest of the press release was certainly misleading. It suggested that coalition forces had attacked the compound because of "nefarious activity" there, when the reality was that they had gone there to kill or capture Libi.

It made no mention at all of Libi, nor of the failure of the mission (although that was revealed later by NBC News in the United States). Crucially, it failed to record that TF 373 had fired five rockets, destroying the madrasa and other buildings and killing seven children, before anybody had fired on them – that this looked like a mission to kill and not to capture. Indeed, this was clearly deliberately suppressed.

The internal report was marked not only "secret" but also "Noforn", ie not to be shared with the foreign elements of the coalition. And the source of this anxiety is explicit: "The knowledge that TF 373 conducted a HIMARS strike must be protected." And it was. This crucial fact remained secret, as did TF 373's involvement.

Again, the lethal attack caused political problems. The provincial governor arranged compensation and held a shura with local leaders when, according to an internal US report, "he pressed the Talking Points given to him and added a few of his own that followed in line with our current story". Libi remained targeted for death and was killed in Pakistan seven months later by a missile from an unmanned CIA Predator.

In spite of this tension between political and military operations, TF 373 continued to engage in highly destructive attacks. Four months later, on 4 October, they confronted Taliban fighters in a village called Laswanday, only 6 miles from the village where they had killed the seven children. The Taliban appear to have retreated by the time TF 373 called in air support to drop 500lb bombs on the house from which the fighters had been firing.

The final outcome, listed tersely at the end of the leaked log: 12 US wounded, two teenage girls and a 10-year-old boy wounded, one girl killed, one woman killed, four civilian men killed, one donkey killed, one dog killed, several chickens killed, no enemy killed, no enemy wounded, no enemy detained.

The coalition put out a statement claiming falsely to have killed several militants and making no mention of any dead civilians; and later added that "several non-combatants were found dead and several others wounded" without giving any numbers or details.

This time, the political teams tried a far less conciliatory approach with local people. In spite of discovering that the dead civilians came from one family, one of whom had been found with his hands tied behind his back, suggesting that the Taliban were unwelcome intruders in their home, senior officials travelled to the stricken village where they "stressed that the fault of the deaths of the innocent lies on the villagers who did not resist the insurgents and their anti-government activities … [and] chastised a villager who condemned the compound shooting". Nevertheless, an internal report concluded that there was "little or no protest" over the incident.


The concealment of TF 373's role is a constant theme. There was global publicity in October 2009 when US helicopters were involved in two separate crashes in one day, but even then it was concealed that the four soldiers who died in one of the incidents were from TF 373.

The pursuit of these "high value targets" is evidently embedded deep in coalition tactics. The Jpel list assigns an individual serial number to each of those targeted for kill or capture and by October 2009 this had reached 2,058.

The process of choosing targets reaches high into the military command. According to their published US Field Manual on Counter Insurgency, No FM3-24, it is policy to choose targets "to engage as potential counter-insurgency supporters, targets to isolate from the population and targets to eliminate".

A joint targeting working group meets each week to consider Target Nomination Packets and has direct input from the Combined Forces Command and its divisional HQ, as well as from lawyers, operational command and intelligence units including the CIA.

Among those who are listed as being located and killed by TF 373 are Shah Agha, described as an intelligence officer for an IED cell, who was killed with four other men on 1 June 2009; Amir Jan Mutaki, described as a Taliban sub-commander who had organised ambushes on coalition forces, who was shot dead from the air in a TF 373 mission on 24 June 2009; and a target codenamed Ballentine, who was killed on 16 November 2009 during an attack in the village of Lewani, in which a local woman also died.

The logs include references to the tracing and killing of other targets on the Jpel list, which do not identify TF 373 as the unit responsible. It is possible that some of the other taskforce names and numbers which show up in this context are cover names for 373, or for British special forces, 500 of whom are based in southern Afghanistan and are reported to have been involved in kill/capture missions, including the shooting in July 2008 of Mullah Bismullah.

Some of these "non 373" operations involve the use of unmanned drones to fire missiles to kill the target: one codenamed Beethoven, on 20 October 2008; one named Janan on 6 November 2008; and an unnamed Jpel target who was hit with a hellfire missile near Khan Neshin on 21 August 2009 while travelling in a car with other passengers (the log records "no squirters [bodies moving about] recorded").

Other Jpel targets were traced and then bombed from the air. One, codenamed Newcastle, was located with four other men on 26 November 2007. The house they were in was then hit with 500lb bombs. "No identifiable features recovered," the log records.

Two other Jpel targets, identified only by serial numbers, were killed on 16 February 2009 when two F-15 bombers dropped four 500lb bombs on a Jpel target: "There are various and conflicting reports from multiple sources alleging civilian casualties … A large number of local nationals were on site during the investigation displaying a hostile attitude so the investigation team did not continue sorting through the site."

One of the leaked logs contains a summary of a conference call on 8 March 2008 when the then head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security, Amrullah Saleh, tells senior American officers that three named Taliban commanders in Kapisa province are "not reconcilable and must be taken out". The senior coalition officer "noted that there would be a meeting with the Kapisa NDS to determine how to approach this issue."

It is not clear whether "taken out" meant "killed" and the logs do not record any of their deaths. But one of them, Qari Baryal, who was ranked seventh in the Jpel list, had already been targeted for killing two months earlier.

On 12 January 2008, after tracking his movements for 24 hours, the coalition established that he was holding a large meeting with other men in a compound in Pashkari and sent planes which dropped six 500lb bombs and followed up with five strafing runs to shoot those fleeing the scene.

The report records that some 70 people ran to the compound and started digging into the rubble, on which there were "pools of blood", but subsequent reports suggest that Baryal survived and continued to plan rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

Numerous logs show Jpel targets being captured and transferred to a special prison, known as Btif, the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility. There is no indication of prisoners being charged or tried, and previous press reports have suggested that men have been detained there for years without any legal process in communal cages inside vast old air hangars. As each target is captured, he is assigned a serial number. By December 2009, this showed that a total of 4,288 prisoners, some aged as young as 16, had been held at Btif, with 757 still in custody.

Who are TF373?

The leaked war logs show that Task Force 373 uses at least three bases in Afghanistan, in Kabul, Kandahar and Khost. Although it works alongside special forces from Afghanistan and other coalition nations, it appears to be drawing its own troops from the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and to travel on missions in Chinook and Cobra helicopters flown by 160th special operations aviation regiment, based at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fratricide or Friendly Fire

This is a story everyone needs to read, not only veterans. It will be beneficial for a veteran to help the civilian understand the command structure, terminology, and anything having to do with the military. The Vietnam veteran has the most understanding of some reasoning behind the actions that were made in this unfortunate story. It is a terribly sad truth of the military way of life. I want to make it clear, I do not agree, accept, nor understand the decisions made that led up to this loss of life. My condolences to the Tillman Family and I hope that they find the closure that they deserve.             theblogmeister

Please click on following link to read The Tillman Story