Thursday, September 19, 2013

Note to readers

I am on a temp assignment again so if you need to keep up on the news, I am doing the best I can on Wounded Times to make sure reports are not forgotten about. A good example of this was the fact Green Berets, other elite Army forces ordered to stop taking anti-malarial drug mefloquine after reports came out in 2004 about how dangers this drug was. Sorry there has been little time to keep this page updated, so please go to the Wounded Times link above. I hope to be able to post here over the weekend.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Do you think you are evil because of PTSD?

Suicide prevention starts with what works and you can get a basic idea of what I'm talking about. It all boils down to one simple fact. What you need to heal is already within you. You just need help getting it all connected back again.

Do you think you are evil because of PTSD?

by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
April 22, 2013

I hear it all the time. Veterans thinking PTSD is some kind of punishment from God. They start to believe they are evil because of the flashbacks and nightmares centered around what happened during combat. The things they see stay with them. That is why I wrote the title of THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR. With the bombings in Boston, many said they saw things no one should ever have to see. Most of them were veterans. Seeing what man can do to others hits hard. It was not just seeing the evil that happened, but what came afterwards that was loving, kind and compassionate as total strangers rush to help the wounded.

Two people decided to do evil but hundreds decided to do good.

When men and women are involved in combat they tend to focus on only the bad around them but even during war, there are acts of kindness and compassion surrounding them and when people are able to hang onto what is good surrounded by what they view as evil, there is evidence of God. It is hard to see Him when they see so much horror but He is always there.

Many believe because they are being haunted, it is punishment and then they do things based on that belief. They push people away, afraid to let them get too close or judge themselves to no longer be worthy of being loved. They cannot see the goodness that still remains within them.

There are questions that have to be asked of them usually centered around things they have forgotten. Ask them why they wanted to join the military and usually it is about someone else. They wanted to serve the country. They wanted to help the others serving. They wanted to give back. Is there anything evil or selfish in any of those answers? No. They forget that part. Ask them what they want to do once they heal and usually the answer is they want to help others heal too. Anything evil in that? No. Ask them if they grieve. Usually the answer is centered around other people they grieve for and not for themselves. Anything evil in that? No.
How do they go from being so unselfish to believing they are evil? They are judging themselves with focusing only on what was wrong, what they did wrong and the wrong done to others. No one showed them what they were unable to see. Once they see they grieve because they still have goodness within them, they begin to heal. They heal faster when they can forgive their enemies and even faster when they can forgive themselves.
Learning to Forgive Yourself, by Jean Lawrence on WebMD explored forgiving.
"I think people often try to forgive themselves for the wrong things," says Joretta L. Marshall, PhD, a United Methodist minister and professor of pastoral care at the Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. "We think we ought to forgive ourselves for being human and making human mistakes. People don't have to forgive themselves for being who they are -- gay or lesbian, or having some kind of handicap. Forgiveness means being specific about what we did that needs forgiving."
Forgiving yourself isn't a slogging, long-term, "good day/bad day" type of thing, Marshall says. "At some point," she says, "you reach a turning point. Something shifts. You feel less burdened, you have more energy. You live longer, you have better health."

"We all screw up sometime," Hartman says."Forgiving ourselves is as close as we come to a system reset button."

There is no trick to healing them. It is not magic. It is not anything I can do for them. It is what is already inside of them to heal. They just have to find the connections again and that has to start with helping them to see the goodness that still lived through everything they faced.

It is not up to us to dismiss what they feel they need forgiveness for but it is up to us to help them find it. It is not up to us to judge what they have done but to help them find peace. This is not about one group or denomination among Christians. It is not about one faith over another. I am a Christian, so that is what my work is based on but no matter what faith they have or lack, they are addressed as other humans based on what they already believe. My job is to help them rediscover everything they were born with and help them get past the pain by reminding them that evil people do not grieve for others or regret anything they did.

That is the mission of Point Man International Ministries. It isn't expensive. Taking time and talking to veterans doesn't cost more than some books and coffee usually. Done in small groups, over the phone or thru emails, veterans have been healing since 1984 but this "moral injury" has been reported going back the the days when King David wrote about it in Psalms. You won't see huge fundraisers since most of us operate out of our pockets and don't have a clue how to raise money. Most of us are supported by generous churches valuing the work we do. It takes time, patience, compassion and love. We wouldn't do this work for "evil" people simply because it wouldn't work on the selfish. Selfish people do not care what God thinks of them. Loving people do. 

Last week I wrote two posts on healing and survivors guilt.Walking Point out of PTSD darkness and "It should have been you" said dying Marine Looking for more details to put into my new book, THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR, I found one going back to a month after I started this blog. Considering yesterday I celebrated the fact this blog has been read 1 million times, I thought it would be good to share it with some of the new readers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Kathie Costos for Wounded Times
To lay down his life for the sake of his friends.

Do you think God abandoned you still? Come on and admit that while you were in the center of the trauma, you either felt the hand of God on your shoulder, or more often, never felt further from Him. In natural disasters, we pray to God to protect us. Yet when it's over we wonder why He didn't make the hurricane hit someplace else or why the tornadoes came and destroyed what we had while leaving the neighbors house untouched. We wonder why He heals some people while the people we love suffer. It is human nature to wonder, search for answers and try to understand.

In times of combat, it is very hard to feel anything Godly. Humans are trying to kill other humans and the horrors of wars become an evil act. The absence of God becomes overwhelming. We wonder how a loving God who blessed us with Jesus, would allow the carnage of war. We wonder how He could possibly forgive us for being a part of it. For soldiers, this is often the hardest personal crisis they face.

They are raised to love God and to be told how much God loves them. For Christians, they are reminded of the gift of Jesus, yet in moments of crisis they forget most of what Jesus went through.

Here are a few lessons and you don't even have to go to church to hear them. ( Matthew 8:5-13)

As he entered Caper'na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress." And he said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion answered him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; be it done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment.

This sounds like a great act Jesus did. You think about the Roman Centurion, powerful, commanding, able to lead men into combat, perhaps Jesus even knew of the other men this Centurion has killed. Yet this same man, capable of killing, was also capable of great compassion for what some regarded as a piece of property, his slave. He showed he didn't trust the pagan gods the Romans prayed to but was willing to trust Jesus.

Yet when you look deeper into this act, it proves that Jesus has compassion for the warriors. The life and death of Jesus were not surprises to Him. He knew from the very beginning how it would end. This is apparent throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. He knew He would be betrayed, beaten, mocked, humiliated and nailed to the cross by the hands of Romans. Yet even knowing this would come, He had compassion for this Roman soldier. The Romans had tortured and killed the Jews since the beginning of their empire as well as other conquered people. The Roman soldiers believed in what they were doing, yet even with that, there was still documentation of them suffering for what they did.

Ancient historians documented the illness striking the Greeks, which is what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is evidence this illness hit every generation of warriors. Jesus would be aware that saving the Centurion's slave, because of the faith and trust He placed in Jesus, would be reported from soldier to soldier. Jesus showed compassion even to the Romans. How can we think that He would not show compassion to today's soldiers? How can we think that He would look any differently on them than He did toward the soldiers who would nail Him to the Cross?

God didn't send you into combat. Another human did. God however created who you are inside. The ability to be willing to lay down your life for the sake of others was in you the day you were born. While God allows freewill, for good and for evil, He also has a place in His heart for all of His children. We humans however let go of His hand at the time we need to hold onto it the most.

When tragedy and trauma strike, we wonder where God was that He allowed it to happen. Then we blame ourselves. We do the "if" and " but" over and over again in our own minds thinking it was our fault and the trauma was a judgment from God. Yet we do not consider that God could very well be the reason we survived it all. PTSD is a double edge cut to the person. The trauma strikes the emotions and the sense that God has abandoned us strikes at the soul. There is no greater sense of loss than to feel as if God has left you alone especially after surviving trauma and war. If you read the passage of Jesus and the Roman, you know that this would be impossible for God to do to you. Search your soul and you will find Him still there. For the last story on this we have none other than the Arch Angel Michael, the warrior angel. If God did not value the warrior for the sake of good, then why would He create a warrior angel and make him as mighty as he was?

Michael has a sword in one hand and a scale in the other. God places things in balance for the warriors.

And in John 15:

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
When it comes to waging war, issuing orders, God will judge the hearts and minds of those who sent you and He will also know yours. If you feel you need to be forgiven, then ask for it and you will be forgiven. Yet if you know in your heart the basis of your service was that of the willingness to lay down your life for your friends, then ask to be healed. Know this. That if Jesus had the compassion for a Roman how could He have any less compassion for you?

Because the military is in enough trouble already trying to evangelize soldiers for a certain branch of Christianity, understand this is not part of that. It's one of the benefits of having I don't care what faith you have or which place of worship you attended. If you were a religious person at any level before combat, your soul is in need of healing as well. There is a tremendous gift when the psychological healing is combined with the spiritual healing. If you have a religious leader you can talk to, please seek them out.
If you doubt this, the top post on Wounded Times is "For those I love I will sacrifice" and has been read over 35,000.

If you don't have one, or one who will listen to you, call me at 407-754-7526 or email me

If you don't want to talk to a woman than go toPoint Man International Ministries site and use the drop down menu for OUTPOSTS find your state and contact them.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

De-Tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide, healing

Start healing by understanding. Jonathan Shay has been trying to get you to understand combat and PTSD before it became popular to do it. He wrote Achilles in Vietnam so it is a good place to start with what he has to say.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Step four, De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide

Now is the time to start healing. Hopefully you did the first parts of this and have taken a look at why you wanted to join the military in the first place. That should prove to yourself that it was far from selfish.

Every part of your life before you were deployed went with you just as every part of you returned home after deployment. Everything you went through is a part of you.

You can't run from it, hide it with booze or drugs or legal medications. You can't shove people out of your life because you are afraid they will see who you think you have become. Hopefully you have finally discovered that you are not evil, crazy or anything else that popped into your head.

If you grieve, then you are still able to love even though you may think you can't.

Frankly there is only one reason I am doing this and that is my husband. I remember what it was like in his darkest times but this month we're celebrating our 29th anniversary. We still hold hands, kiss goodbye and hello and manage to even hug when our dog cannot see us. He jumps in between us every time he catches us.

So let's get a few things out of the way.

You are not alone with feeling the way you do.

The VA study said that 22 veterans a day commit suicide but there was a VA lawsuit in 2007 that showed there were 1,000 veterans attempting suicide every month within the VA system. That means there are 55 of you every day feeling so hopeless that suicide seems to be the only answer. It isn't.

Veteans are double the rate of civilians committing suicide.

Almost half of PTSD patients are not identified "PTSD is currently diagnosed solely on the basis of clinical interviews, and patients sometimes misrepresent their feelings, often because they are trying to avoid the memories and emotions associated with their trauma. Nearly half of PTSD patients are not identified, by some estimates."

USA Today story Military divorce rate at highest level since 1999.

This is not even addressing the suicides and attempted suicides of servicemen and women. We also know that 2011 showed that attempted suicides have been under-reported.
2011 Air Force 50 241 attempted suicide
Army 167
440 attempted suicide
Marines 32
156 attempted suicide
Navy 52
87 attempted suicide
Department of Defense Suicide Event Report for 2011
For 2011 there were 935 attempted suicides in the military with 915 individuals trying to kill themselves. 896 tried once, 18 tried twice and 1 tried three times.

What do you need to stay here? Obviously you want to heal or you wouldn't be reading this. There may be a part of you believing that you are a burden to your family. Well, you're not alone on that feeling either and Medal of Honor hero Dakota Meyer knows that feeling all too well. While the media jumped all over the time when Dakota had the medal put around his neck, they didn't pay much attention to the fact that before that day, he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Someone took the bullets out, probably his Dad.

If you feel like a burden, then understand something. You are not a burden, they just don't understand what is happening to you, so they get sad, they get angry and they wish to God that you'd just go back to the way you were before. I know because in the beginning I felt all of that with my own husband but the kicker is, I knew what PTSD was way back then.

I loved him and it was hard to see him suffer but when it came to the time when he wanted to die, I did all I could to keep him here.

In an article called 'Shattering of the soul' that inspired me to write more on this, there was what a Vietnam veteran had to say.
Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, Maine's adjutant general, issued orders this year for every National Guard member who returns from Iraq or Afghanistan to talk one on one with a counselor.

"We are all Type A's," Libby said. "Lots of us don't like talking about our feelings. We'd rather do something."

However, Libby knows the emotional healing needs to happen.

"These men and women have been forever changed by their experiences," said Libby, a veteran of the Vietnam War. "Thirty-eight years later, I am still struggling with my experiences."

Explain it to them. No, not the details. At least, not the details you really don't want to talk about. Let the professionals listen to them. All your family and friends need to know is why you act the way you do and that you need their support to get better.

They care about you but they don't understand something they never experienced. Don't expect them to. Tell them you are hurting because you cared so much, after all, you were willing to die for the sake of someone else. That takes a lot of love. It is probably the quality that made people care for you before but they are assuming you are just turning into a jerk. Let them know you are still in there.

Now for the healing. There is the biological changes your brain goes through but the biggest change came within you spirit.

Tomorrow we'll talk more about your healing, not just your life, but being able to help others are you are stronger.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Step three De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide

What did you think about while deployed?

Being away from home actually began back at home. Everything that happened in your life was part of "who" was deployed.

Your hopes, dreams, history, joys and heartbreaks were all packed up and every detail of your life before that mattered even if you didn't notice.

You may aware of the fact you have a memory of your first love, but if you do not try to remember more than that, it is all you have. The memories are still there but filed away in your brain because it is not necessary to function on a daily basis with that memory. You didn't pull up to a drive-thru to order a taco and think of him/her unless a taco had something to do with an important moment between you. When you need to remember, your brain does a search much like the way Google does searches of what information is available on the web. The memory data base you walk around with does not quit. It is taking in what you may think as useless as well as important details.

Think of the first time you saw something amazing, like the ocean. Huge, powerful, constantly moving and even though you may know it is part of the weather system, that fact is the last thing on your mind when you put your feet in the sand.

Your eyes see the view as you get closer. Your nose takes in the scent of the salty air. If it was during the winter at a beach like Revere in Massachusetts, the smell was a lot different than during low tide in August.

Your ears take in the sound of the waves, seagulls, people and vehicles.

Your skin feels the sun, moisture and gritty sand.

As you walk closer to the water, the sand turns from hotter than hell to soothingly cool and it feels good.

Nothing changed from the time you first laid eyes on it but your experience of it changed with every move of your body and your senses were being fed new information.

All of that went with you, how you got there, what you were wearing, what the others were wearing, what you said, what they said, what kind of mood you were in and what you say from the corner of your eyes without really paying attention. Bet you didn't think a relaxing day at the beach was actually that busy for your brain,

Once at home you deal with sand all over your body, clothes and car, sun burned on the parts of your body you forgot to put lotion on and the strange echo of the waves in your ears. Most of it is forgotten as you moved from the past event at the beach to the current event of dealing with what came with being at the beach. Depending on what you thought was important and didn't matter, your brain keeps all of it but sorts it out so unimportant stuff is pushed into the recycle bin but as hard as you try, it never really gets emptied out even though my Mom said after a while your brain runs out of room so stuff starts to fall out.

It stays.

If you have a hard time understanding this, think about school. How much did you learn in your last year? Even if you scored 100% on a test, it is more likely than not to have been forgotten about. It was not lost, it is just stored and you have to try to find it if you need it again. Usually it takes a trigger to get your brain to search for it. A word or a question will send it on a search.

While you are deployed the same thing happened. Your brain took it all in. When you have PTSD there are memories that do not get sorted as well as they should.

Flashbacks and nightmares are usually based on something real that happened even if they are not the exact event. Triggers to set your mind searching are words, sounds, smells and often going unnoticed, an anniversary date.

The event that starts PTSD taking hold may not be the biggest one because as with life, things pile up so you need to take them down starting with the one that haunts you the most.

The worst part of the event is usually what freezes everything else out of view. It is the strongest part you are connected to.

Take that event and try to remember to the beginning of that day. What was going on, what were you doing, what were you thinking and then try to remember what emotions were the strongest before the worst moment.

Look at it as if you were watching a movie. If you think you need to be forgiven for something you did, you can be but the hardest part is forgiving yourself. That is why the first part of this guide is so important.

Remembering you were willing to join the military to help, to defend, to save, then you will remember that you were not evil and there is nothing evil in your now except for things your mind is doing that you don't understand.

Forgiveness is vital. Forgiving others for what they did or did not do. Forgiving yourself for what you had to do and what you did because you were in pain begins the healing.

After something terrible happens humans question God. What did He let it happen? What wasn't He there? How could a loving God just stand there and do nothing?

Look at it another way. He was there because no matter what happened, you still cared about others. You still grieved. You are in pain now because your ability to care was strong while others ability was not as strong.

There are all different types of people. There are some more selfish than others so they tend to walk away concerned with their own lives. Some are a pretty good blend of selfish and caring. Then there is the type of person usually putting other people first. It is a safe bet that you were that way when you were growing up. Your ability to care also included the ability to feel more pain.

What you need to heal is already inside of you. I hope this helped so far to have all of this make more sense to you.

Next week we'll start talking about healing. For now, look back on what you wrote down for the reasons you gave about joining.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Step Two De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide

Step Two De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide
Kathie Costos
September 5, 2013

What else did you pack for deployment? Sounds like a strange question and you must be thinking about some personal stuff you put in your bags, but that isn't what I'm talking about. You also packed your life with you. Everything that happened since the day you escaped from your Mom's body went with you. From that moment on, you became an individual growing and learning from everything around you.

You had people and things to love but you also developed emotions about things and people you didn't like.

Each new experience, good and bad ones, became a part of who you were turning into. The same happens on a daily basis even now. You are not done changing yet because life is still happening all around you.

Get a piece of paper and write down what you were thinking about when you deployed. If it has been a long time it may be hard to remember but if you think about your life before, you can fill in the gaps.

Again, this is for your eyes only so be honest.

There are observations we make all the time even though we may not think they are that important. I have a two year old Rottweiler-Rhodesian Ridgeback-Hound named Harry.

If you know anything about the breeds that are in his DNA, he is a hunter, great guard dog, brave and really strong. He frightens a lot of people. Harry is also a Momma's boy.

Wherever I am, he is usually nearby. When I go out of the house to smoke, he follows me. At night he is usually right by my feet unless he hears a noise and goes on high alert. During the day when the sun is shining, he will suddenly get up, put his head down as if he sees something and runs all over the deck near the pool. Sometimes he's paying so much attention to what is driving him he comes very close to falling in. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what he was doing until one day I noticed a really big butterfly over the pool cage leaving a big shadow on the deck. He was chasing shadows.

I thought about how most people spend the rest of their lives chasing shadows too. We all know a shadow is formed when something is blocking the light of the sun but if you think of it in another way, it is also a void. If you look up the definitions of these two really simple words you are closer to understanding what is happening within you.

One of the definitions of "void" is "A feeling or state of emptiness, loneliness, or loss."

It is not so much the loss of "it" but the inability to see "it" even though it is all still there. A shadow does not remove what is beneath it. It just blocks your eyes from seeing it.

When you got on the plane, left your family, friends and everything that was "normal" to your life, it all went with you and one second piled onto another the whole time you were gone.

The day you arrived wherever you were stationed, you were probably in your early 20's and sure that you had nothing left to learn, but you didn't notice your brain was still developing.

If you look at how your body works, you can see why PTSD hits all of you but also know that the part of your brain where emotions are controlled does not stopped changing until you turn 25.

Military training attempted to break you away from thinking like an individual but while they had all of you dressing the same, eating the same, sleeping at the same time, they really didn't manage to make you all the same, thinking the same way of feeling the same way. There was a buddy you liked but others didn't. There was someone you didn't like but others gravitated to. It is just the way life goes.

It all got on the plane and landed just as you were wondering what would happen while you were there.

So think about your answers and save them with the first one you did. Tomorrow we'll talk about deployment.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Step One De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide

Make sure you have a piece of paper and a pen. Don't use a keyboard or texting code. It is important that you actually make a connection between what you think and what you write for answers. This is for your eyes only so be honest with your answers.


It is a good place to begin thinking about why you wanted to join the military instead of doing something else. When you consider that less than 1% of the American population serve today and only 7% are veterans, it is a unique decision to make.

There had to have been a strong reason to decide this life. To decide a career that was not only dangerous but also required many sacrifices for you and your family.

Think about why you made the choice and write it down on the paper. Don't try to sell it. No one will see it but you. Don't try to use the patriotic or duty response because there are a lot of careers you could have picked. Why this one?

If you were honest it is a safe bet for me to guess there was nothing selfish or simple about your answer. If you wrote anything that was along the lines of slogans take a look at the answer again and keep looking at it until you can honestly say, that is all there was to it.

People go into all types of jobs for all sorts of reasons. Most of the time they are just trying to get a pay check to live off of while they search for the job they really want to do. Everyone has a dream job but not everyone wants one that will put their lives on the line or put them into contact with devastating outcomes.

A firefighter knows they are trying to save lives and property but they know there will be times when it is not possible to save every life. They know there are things they will see but what keeps them risking their lives are the times when they did save someone.

A cop knows they will stop crimes but they also know they may have to stop a criminal with a bullet. They do it because of the next time they can stop a crime from happening and pray to God they make an arrest instead of a mistake. They have to decide in less than a second what to do. Sometimes they are wrong but they can't take the bullet back into the gun. They also know they can't have a do-over and shoot instead of guessing wrong while the criminal got of a shot at another cop.

If you wrote about why you decided to join the military over anything else, make sure you really understand the answer. If you don't, then nothing else here will make sense.

What did you think about during training?

You showed up among a bunch of strangers you knew you would have to depend on. The trainers (different titles depending on which branch you went into) had to break you down in order to get rid of the way you already thought about everything. You were no longer independent. They decided what you ate, what you wore, when you went to sleep, woke up and what you would put your body through. They also handed you weapons and taught you how to use them.

You changed because of all of this. Write down what was different about you after training.

What were your strengths? Weaknesses? Who were you buddies and why did you like them? Who didn't you like and why not?

If you were among the troops discharged under "personality disorder" you need to be reminded that you not only had to take a physical fitness test, you had to pass a mental health evaluation as well. Either the military caused your problems or their test failed to find the "illness" they claimed was already there.

Tomorrow we'll start with Deployment but for now, think about the reasons you joined and about the changes you went through.

Remember this is only way for you to see things differently. To remember things you may have forgotten. It is not a test and you will be the only one to see the answers.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Soul Survivor of Combat

The Soul Survivor of Combat
De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide
Kathie Costos
September 3, 2013

Before we begin, there are several things that have to get out of the way. The first thing you need to know is that God is not punishing you. You are doing a good enough job of that on your own. He didn't abandon you or put the whammy on your head. Just because you didn't notice what came from God during combat doesn't mean it was not all around you.

Most wonder how a loving God can allow all the horrors and suffering in combat. The fact is, He has to allow it. God doesn't mess with freewill. Every human is free to make their own choices and that includes leaders of nations. Wars have been fought since one caveman clan decided they wanted what another clan had. When other humans decide to start wars, it is up to the war fighters to carry it out but when you really get to the bottom of why you were willing to die, it isn't for the deciders. You do it for each other.

The fact you are still grieving means you still care. You cared then. You cared when one of your buddies was killed as much as you cared when one was wounded. You cared when prayed, wished, hoped or screamed for an end to the horrors going on all around you. You cared when you put your arm around a friend but showed you cared even more when you comforted another soldier you didn't really like. When you shed a tear, you cared. Caring, especially in that kind of action, being able to think about someone else other than yourself, showed that God was there all along.

Another thing to get out of the way is the notion that Combat PTSD is the same as all others. While there are different levels there are also different types and Combat PTSD is much different from the others. The only type that comes close is what police officers get because most of the time they have to decide to use their weapons or not. They are not just responding to the danger, they participate in it must like you did.

If you think PTSD means you are demented instead of tormented, you need to know the difference.

Demented is Mentally ill; insane. Suffering from dementia or a loss of cognitive function

While tormented is,
1. Great physical pain or mental anguish.
2. A source of harassment, annoyance, or pain.
3. The torture inflicted on prisoners under interrogation.
1. To cause to undergo great physical pain or mental anguish. See Synonyms at afflict.
2. To agitate or upset greatly.
3. To annoy, pester, or harass.

PTSD has nothing to do with what you were born with but has everything to do with what was done to you. The only way to get PTSD is by surviving a traumatic event. How many times did that happen while you were deployed and then add up the other deployments you had but don't stop there. You have to add in what happened during training as well. (We'll discuss this during the week)

What you will read does not come from a "professional" but from a wise friend. I remember what it was like reading all the damn clinical books ending up more confused trying to stop what I was reading so I could look up the definition of the words they used. IT SUCKED! That was before the Internet so I had to have a dictionary right by the book from experts. I've been reading them ever since but at least now I have the ability to have different windows open instead of heavy books sitting in a hard library chair.

As a friend I write the way I talk so don't expect it to be grammatically correct. I tossed out the rules of grammar when I passed my last English class. As for speaking, count yourself fortunate you are reading this instead of listening to me talk. If you had to listen you'd need a Massachusetts translation guide to figure out where the "r" is really supposed to be.

What we'll work on are the basics. I am tired of rehashing how things got this bad. I want to focus on what works instead so after today that is what we'll address. For now, you need to catch up on some things you haven't heard in the press as they begin to focus on Suicide Awareness Month.

Attempted suicides shows how screwed up all of this is.
The report said that the 99 confirmed suicides by active-duty soldiers compared with 87 in 2005 and that it was the highest raw number since 102 suicides were reported in 1991, the year of the Persian Gulf War. Investigations are pending on two other deaths.
Officials reported 948 suicide attempts, but there were no comparisons for previous years.
Among soldiers who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan when they attempted suicide in 2005 and 2006, a full 60 percent had been seen by outpatient mental health workers before the attempts. Forty-three percent of the deployed troops who attempted suicide had been prescribed psychotropic medications, the report shows.
As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of some 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday. The rise comes despite numerous efforts to improve the mental health of a force stressed by a longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the most deadly year yet in the now six-year-old conflict in Afghanistan. Internal briefing papers prepared by the Army's psychiatry consultant early this month show there were 89 confirmed suicides last year and 32 deaths that are suspected suicides and still under investigation. More than a quarter of those — about 34 — happened during deployments in Iraq, an increase from 27 in Iraq the previous year, according to the preliminary figures.

The report also shows an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries — some 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 the previous year and less than 500 in 2002.

863 suicide attempts across all Services in 2010 for 837 individuals. 
 915 Service Members attempted suicide in 2011 (Air Force = 241, Army = 432, Marine Corps = 156, Navy = 86). DoDSERs were submitted for 935 suicide attempts (Air Force = 251, Army = 440, Marine Corps = 157, Navy = 87). Of the 915 Service Members who attempted suicide, 896 had one attempt, 18 had two attempts, and 1 had three attempts.

Now you know more than the number of suicides we keep talking about. For a much larger view read Suicides After War, but for now, there is one article that is of great importance to read.
Col. Carl Castro, director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program, has been funding studies into post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, over the past five years, and he said the results are beginning to come in.

"I really think the next eight to nine months are going to be the most exciting as the data comes on line and we can start saying, okay, this is really working, we really know what we're doing here, let's do this," Castro said.

Apparently he forgot about another program he was instrumental in "providing" after "research" and "funding" produced it. Battlemind came in 2006. "What is Battlemind? A Soldier’s inner strength to face fear and adversity during combat, with courage. It is the will to persevere and win. It is resilience."

Castro must have forgotten how much they paid for it as well as what the results proved. An increase in suicides and attempted suicides.
"Ten years ago, I think most people would be appalled that we hadn't already done those studies. I know I was surprised that we hadn't done them."

Castro said if people are really honest with themselves, nobody thought these wars were going to last this long, so nobody really felt the need to energize and make changes.

"Finally we started changing when we realized we can no longer say the war is going to end any day because it hasn't ended in the last five years and if you really look at when funding started being provided for medical research and development, or R and D, and when people started changing, it was about five years ago," he said.

The first time medical R and D received any big increases in its budget was when a congressional special interest group gave $301 million in fiscal year 2007.
(Army research looks at new PTSD treatment, Army By Rob McIlvaine June 20, 2012)
More than 1,100 U.S. servicemen and women killed themselves between 2005 and 2009.

In July, the Army announced a $50 million study of suicide and mental health involving about 500,000 service members and four other research institutions. That is separate from this initiative, which will be directed by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Denver and Florida State University.

"We know we're not going to solve the suicide problem in the military with this three-year research consortium," Castro said. "But what we hope to do at the end of this three years is to lay a very solid foundation on which other research can be built."
(Army Putting $17 Million toward Suicide Research, CBS News, January 19, 2011)

If you believe Castro, then you are just not aware of the fact that research programs started over 40 years ago. If Castro thinks everything available before he came along popped out of thin air, then he has a lot to learn. Very little of what he is talking about is working. Evidence isn't just found by how many successfully killed themselves. It isn't proven just by how many attempted it. It is found when everything is put together including the reports from the men and women no longer in the military. Wounded Times covers these reports everyday. While I keep waiting for evidence they finally have it right, more and more sad stories come. So whatever the military told you about "what is wrong with you" (since they clearly don't understand how you are hearing what they are trying to say) is tossed out, common sense has room to get into your head.

For now we'll walk together until they catch up.

There is only one reason a person decides to commit suicide. They lost the last sliver of hope that tomorrow would be any better than this day was. Whatever you have going on in your life think of it this way. If yesterday sucked but you got up this morning, you can get up tomorrow too. You survived a lot worse than this before. Today is already a bit better because you are learning what you need to know to heal. There is no cure for PTSD but there is a lot of healing going on all over the country.

If that doesn't give you enough hope think of this little tidbit of news. When nothing was being done for PTSD in the 60's and 70's, Vietnam veterans with PTSD were still able to not just survive but are still walking around today. My husband is one of them. This month we'll be married for 29 years, still holding hands and still in love.

If your family and friends don't understand you, give them a break because honestly you are pretty hard for most people to understand in the first place. If they have no clue what combat is like then they are in the majority since veterans are only 7% of the population. WWII veterans had the most people understanding them simply because most able bodied men went. For your family and friends, they may be expecting you to just get over it and go back to the way you were before. You need to get them to think of you in a different way.

If you know them really well, there is a little trick I use when I talk to an audience full of civilians trying to understand. I make it personal to them. I talk about traumatic events most people experience. Someone had a shocking death of someone close to them in their past. Remind them what that felt like. Then tell them PTSD is like feeling it everyday the same way. If they don't have that experience, then use one of the other events that are traumatic. Natural disasters, fire or floods can cause PTSD. Crimes and accidents can cause PTSD and does abuse. If all that is not part of their lives then remind them of the event that hit everyone in this nation. The attack of September 11th when everyone was in shock plus changed by it. No one was really the same after that day.

Talk to them afterwards. You don't have to give them details they probably couldn't handle. Just help them to have a basic understanding of what it going on with you. Tell them you are hurting and sometimes you act out inappropriately but you don't mean any harm. You just need help. If they think you are just being a jerk, they will get defensive. If they understand it is coming from pain, they will want to help. It is human nature especially when they care about you.

You are hurting because your soul survived. What you need to heal it is already inside of you. Tomorrow your reconnection begins.