PTS SERIES: “THEIR STORIES” (LIVING WITH PTS)
WEEK 6 OF 6 OUR FINAL INSTALLMENT
If you are currently having suicidal thoughts: CALL the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. (Veterans can call the Veterans Crisis Line: (888) 514-8650)
DUB: “For some reason something wasn’t right that day. I had taken my medication and something still wasn’t right. I didn’t feel good. I was angry, I was sad, I was going from one emotion and then I snapped. I was in my house in Afghanistan, outside of my house was Afghanistan and I was going to kill everybody there. It was almost a swat incident. In my mind all these guys were Taliban. They can’t get me, they weren’t trained like me and by God they can’t outshoot me. They don’t know the tricks about where the firing protection points are. I knew if I could get to the back door there were no cops there. They are not in the backyard. Theses cops are not smart enough to go to the back of the house, too damn dumb, this is East Texas. I then heard them on the bull horn. Why don’t you come out and let’s talk, let’s get this over with. Something made me realize, I was no longer in Afghanistan.”
BRAVO: “All veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD at one point in time have that thought. According to the VA the suicide rate is EPIDEMIC and they don’t know what to do.
I will stay home, I will isolate, I will do all these different things. I will push you away. I will not get close to you. The list is on and on. I kept everybody at a ten-foot distance in my life. Two failed marriages. I didn’t know I was sick. When I tried to kill myself, that is when I realized I needed help. I had a pistol and I ended up injecting about 120 units of insulin. That is still in the plan today if something happens. I am a diabetic. I have to take insulin to live. I will just go to the refrigerator, get all my insulin out. Load up a couple of 50cc syringes. Once I do that, there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Go ask for help, reach out and swallow your pride. You are not being weak asking for help and get help. Your legacy is too important not to. What kind of legacy are you leaving for your child, what kind of legacy are you leaving for your granddaughter? Yeah, I don’t want my grand baby to know I committed suicide.”
The Latest 2005-2017 VA NEW Suicide Prevention Annual Report:
The older 2012 VA report was FLAWED where it gave updates on veteran suicides at the 22 per day rate. They used data from 21 states and 2 of those states, California and Texas were not included. The new report above includes all 50 states and is much more comprehensive.
Here is a great article on the FLAWED previous report from the VA: “Understanding that even one veteran suicide per day is one too many, 16.5 is a far cry from 22.”
JEFFREY CLAPPER Public Affairs Officer – VA North Texas: “VA’s data doesn’t focus on whether it is 22 or 20. I will say when the number was 20, 14 out of those 20 had never step foot into a VA. That, to me, is the most important statistic. That is where we focus on here. Trying to reach those 14 vets, because that is the vast majority of them.”
SGB INJECTION TREATMENT FOR PTS:
www.drseanmulvaney.com (Click on Stellate Ganglion Block for PTSD)
Over a 10-year period, Dr. Sean Mulvaney from Annapolis, Maryland has safely completed over 1000 ultrasound-guided Stellate Ganglion Blocks or SGBs and is one of the most experienced physicians in the world at this technique. He has taught hundreds of physicians neck sonographic anatomy and ultrasound guided SGB injections for Post Traumatic Stress.
Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is proven to provide durable relief from symptoms of PTS and may help in some anxiety states. “I have successfully treated over 1000 patients with SGB for PTSD, and published 5 medical peer-reviewed papers. A major study (multi-center randomized controlled trial) on this topic has been accepted for publication in a top tier medical journal and is awaiting publication.”
“It is not just the Stellate Ganglion Block procedure, you are still taking over all their care, but you have to know how to approach this. A big part of this is you do have Stellar Ganglion Block. You can do the procedure, but you may NOT get a result unless you got a GOOD result.
When you block the sympathetic nervous system, you get a Horner’s Response. That Horner’s Response shows up as visible changes in the eye on the side that was blocked. (Usually the right side). The pupil gets smaller and the eyelid droops, the sclera may get red. These are all of the things we can look at and measure.
If you do a good block but you don’t get Horner’s, then you really didn’t do anything. You did a medical procedure but you didn’t do what you set out to do and that is to block the sympathetic nervous system. I heard some of my patients went and got the SGB from another physician but nothing happened and they didn’t think it worked. But, I said how funny did your eye go? Did your eye start to look really real? And they would say no, and the doctor would say that happens sometimes. It is like you paid someone to mow your grass and your lawn looked the same when you came back, they didn’t mow the grass.
This is a huge deal, number one which is doing a quantitative procedure. I published a scale on this and the peer reviewed publications is on this.” ( There are 7 articles referenced here )
GETTING A GOOD HORNER’S:
“The ultrasound guided procedure is much less painful. I am a sports medicine and pain physician and have done them under fluoroscopy or x-ray guidance, but when you do it that way you can’t see the nerve you are trying to block and you can’t see the blood vessels or the other nerves. The needle just goes toward a bony landmark but you can’t see what you are going thru. That means you could be going in or thru nerves and it is much more painful. With the ultrasound, I can assess all the blood vessels before I go in. I can see all the nerves and avoid them with my needle.
Some people faint at the sight of a needle. One woman I saw today I did the injection and she said yeah, that was nothing. So, we can do the injection with less pain as possible.”
ULTRASOUND VS X-RAY:
“So, we can do it as close to painless as possible under ultrasound guidance, but that is a skill a lot of physicians don’t have. It takes a real knowledge of anatomy of the neck, and the sonoid anatomy, what the neck looks like under ultrasound and with the ability to accurately guide the needle to guide to the spot of the Stellate Ganglia. That is very critical.
The best way to do this procedure is in a cadaver lab. There, you get to look at the anatomy and it helps to see if their Doctor can guide the needle like they say they can. Can you see that needle the whole time without fail? That is a forgiving place to be lost. You must make sure they have the requisite skill to perform this operation.
It is a very safe procedure and the likelihood of an adverse event is very low. If something happens they have to have to skill to be able to handle that. They need to be qualified to do it, be able to handle any adverse effects and then they have to follow the patient.
I have been doing this for over ten years and have treated over a thousand patients.
It is very frustrating when people come to see me and their PCL-5 scores are almost at the maximum. (80 would be maximum based on 20 questions and 4 being the highest score for each question). Some of their scores are in the 70’s. They have been on multiple psychoactive medications and multiple pharmacotherapy have been given for their PTSD symptoms. They have been in-patient PTSD treatments, they have been in ongoing out-patient PTSD treatments and NOTHING has made them better.
They come here and I do this treatment and they are a lot better. They are almost normal to how much anxiety they have going thru their day. Their symptoms are essentially resolved. I see that over and over and it is very frustrating to me. I have been working very hard in publishing on this topic and lecturing on this topic. These people’s lives are really in a horrible place. They are living a very sub optimal life. They are in a situation where they are not a nice spouse to be around. Sometimes they lose their families all together and the children suffer for that and this is something where we can help people.”
WHY NOT TRY SGB:
“If you have someone who has been on maximum medical therapy and on maximum out or in-patient therapy and they are still not better, why not try this. There are over 18-peer review publications on this and all of them say, it is safe and effective.
PTSD: Treat the Epidemic in Our Ranks:
New Medical Evidence for Dealing with It Head On
By Colonel Sean Mulvaney, Medical Corps, U.S. Army (Retired)
(Here is the November 2019 Issue of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings publishing on SGB:)
A SUCCESS RATE:
“A success rate to me is something I can measure, where we look at their PCL-5 score and it is reduced by 10-points and that is measured one week and one month after the injection, that is considered a success. We routinely see that. That is considered to be a clinically significant response. That means there is a difference the patient can feel. Now, what we see typically is a much bigger response than that. As long as they did at least that, they can tell and they are definitely improved from where they were, that is considered a success. We measure that with that one questionnaire.
What I am looking for ultimately is to get them to where their PCL-5 scores are somewhere in the normal range for people. Like you might have after a hectic day, or driving in traffic in the rain. You are not messed up, maybe not great, but you are ok. So, that is where I want to get people down to that end.
When I say 85% of the people have had success, by that I mean they have dropped at least 10-points. Enough for them to tell there has been a difference and that has been sustained for some length of time.”
SHARED DECISION MAKING ON TREATMENT:
Dr. Sean Mulvaney: What is the reasonable way to be treated as a patient?
“If someone comes to me and they are having back pain. We can try physical therapy, we can do surgery or we can try this treatment or that treatment. It is called shared decision making. I lay out the risks and benefits of each treatment. We talk about them and then they choose about which way they want to go forward. WHY should PTSD care be any different? My fear is behavioral health specialists are afraid somehow, they will lose control of this diagnosis. For the last 10 years I have tried to assuage that. We don’t want to take your patients away from you. We don’t want to take over PTSD care. What we have is a technical expertise to reset their fight or flight nervous system, their sympathetic nervous system. When we do that, no matter what you do to them, they are going to be doing a lot better. We want to make them better with as few adverse effects as possible. Whether it is from drugs or therapy. I have always tried to work hand and hand with behavioral health professionals. I let them know this is not something to be afraid of. This is something that can help you in your goal to help the patient.
The Doctors that have the skills to do this generally have no interest in taking over a patient’s PTSD care. They can be a part of helping that patient get to a much better place in life.
SGB can be a pretty dramatic tool in the veteran’s toolbox.”
KNEE SURGERY DATA:
“If you look at the level of evidence for almost every surgery done in this country it is not at the level of evidence that currently exists for the Stellate Ganglion Block today. Whenever there is something new there is a different standard. It is absolutely ridiculous when you get down to it.
If you have an arthritic knee operation in this country you will walk into some office and they are going to give you a cortical steroid injection. What we know from published studies, top tier journals, we know in randomized control trial evidence, two years later the cortical steroid accelerates our arthritis.
We have great evidence this is NOT helping. It didn’t improve their pain and it accelerated their arthritis. Even if it made them better for a month, it made them worse overall. That is evidence we have. So, what do we do in this country we are still injecting cortisone. The most common surgery done in this country is knee arthroscopy for a cleanout or for a degenerative meniscal tear. There have been six random control trials done by orthopedic surgeons. They all say the same thing. The non-surgery groups all did better than the surgery groups. This is crazy.
The British Medical Journal of sports medicine came out and said we do not recommend arthroscopic surgery for degenerative meniscal tears regardless of the symptoms and do not think further research is necessary on this topic. They NEVER say that, they always say further research is needed.
The number one performed surgery in this country is arthroscopic surgery for degenerative meniscal tears. We have the strongest possible evidence. I really want to believe these physicians really believe they are helping their patients.”
VAN ZANDT COUNTY VETERANS IS TREATED WITH A STELLATE GANGLION BLOCK INJECTION:
Phil Smith: After two failed marriages and two suicide attempts “DUB” has revealed himself, and with his permission, his real name is Jerry Powell of Wills Point, Texas.
You have read about his history in Bosnia and two tours of Afghanistan in this 6-Part Series. Jerry passed the rigorous 101st Airborne light infantry test, at age 36. Here now, is the rest of his story.
Phil Smith: On September 18th, 2019 I travelled with Jerry Powell to Annapolis, Maryland so he could receive Dr. Sean Mulvaney’s SGB Injection procedure for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS).
I sat in and watched Dr. Mulvaney give pre-instructions of what to expect, the benefits and the risks involved and I signed a release form. (The entire What happens during the SGB procedure? Can be found on Dr. Mulvaney’s webpage, www.drseanmulvaney.com)
Jerry was then prepped for the injection. Using ultrasound and viewing on a monitor, Dr. Mulvaney injected a long-acting anesthetic called Ropivacaine (ROE-PIV-A-CANE) around the main nerve (stellate ganglia) in the right side of Jerry’s neck. This nerve controls the “fight or flight” response (the sympathetic nervous system).
As I watched the needle inserted on the monitor Dr. Mulvaney asked Jerry how he was feeling. With his eyes closed Jerry responded saying, “he hardly felt anything.”
The doctor slowly injected the anesthetic as he watched the monitor. It took a few minutes. He asked Jerry if he was doing ok, if there was any metallic taste in his mouth or ringing in the ears? Once the needle was out a small band aide was placed over the injection site. Jerry laid on his back for about 5 minutes.
He was then asked to sit up. Dr. Mulvaney’s medical assistant was asked to come over and look into Jerrys right eye. She smiled. When the sympathetic nerves are blocked, it results in a temporary condition referred to as a “Horner’s Syndrome.”
Jerry was horse when answering questions, a very common occurrence in patients. Jerry relaxed on his back with soft music playing in the background for the next 30 minutes.
He told Dr. Mulvaney, “his teeth no longer were clinched and his jaw was loose. He hadn’t felt that in years.” I made a comment that it was probably all the stress. Dr. Mulvaney smiled and said absolutely, it was from all the stress.
Other comments from Jerry to Dr. Mulvaney was “I feel like I have a clearer head. There is quite a bit of difference. I feel more relaxed.” “It will only get better as time goes on,” said Dr. Mulvaney.
Jerry continued lying on his back and looking at the ceiling smiling. “I feel like a gorilla was lifted off my back,” he said. Mulvaney added, “It is you being you, absence of that stress.” Jerry said, “My jaws always felt clinched toward the back and now they are much more relaxed. I have had a lot of needles before but the procedure was not bad at all.” Jerry slowly closed his eyes and said, “I definitely feel better, good stuff.” I sat with Jerry in Dr. Mulvaney’s office with Jerry for the next 15 minutes. I too, had felt a tremendous sense of relief. I had wanted, for Jerry’s sake, the injection to be successful. Looking at Jerry, I was right.
We left Dr. Mulvaney’s office and drove back to our hotel room only a couple of blocks away.
Comments after SGB Treatment:
Four hours after his SGB treatment, Army veteran Jerry Powell and I went out to eat at a restaurant about a block from Dr. Mulvaney’s office. As we finished our meal Jerry asked me to look over my shoulder. As I turned my head he asked, “Do you see what I see?” I turned my head back and Jerry was smiling. “Do you want to do an experiment with me,” he asked. “Are you ready?” I answered back.
We got up from our table and headed out of the restaurant to drive the hundred yards to the front of the Annapolis Shopping Center. It had been years since Jerry had stepped foot in a mall. It was time for him to test the SGB block. The advice Dr. Mulvaney had told Jerry in his office earlier that day.
As we entered the front doors of the mall I deliberately walked a couple steps behind Jerry. I wanted to see his reactions and ask him questions as we strolled along. We entered the main corridor and Jerry turned right and saw a Sears store and to his left, down the long mall, a JC Penney’s.
Jerry turned right and walked towards the Sears store. He kept his eyes straight ahead, occasionally looking at the storefront displays to his right and left. On a couple of occasions looking at other shoppers but mostly focused on where the men’s department was as we entered Sears. We got to the back and I asked him what he was feeling. He said, “normally, I scan a store looking for a way out. Where are the exits? Perhaps a table I can dive under, looking for that escape route.” He then looked towards the ceiling at the security camera. “Always look for those,” as he pointed up towards the ceiling. Jerry saw the shirts on the men’s rack and looked at the prices and noticing they were 50% off. “I like this one,” he said. Several customers passed by but he was more focused on the shirts and the prices.
After several minutes he asked if I would walk down the Penney’s stores to see if maybe he could find a similar one at a cheaper price. “Sure, let’s go.” Again, I stayed a few paces behind Jerry taking note of his reactions. Once again, his eyes were focused forward, occasionally looking into the other stores. As we entered JC Penney’s Jerry looked for the men’s department and found it in the back. I tagged along. Jerry looked at several shirts but most were overpriced and asked if we could go back to Sears. Once again we walk the Mall. I felt like I was shopping with my wife, looking for the best bargains.
Jerry tried on the Extra Large, then the XXL and chose the XL. We walked over and a saleslady from Croatia with a thick accent asked Jerry how he was doing. He quickly struck up a conversation with her and asked where she was from. He was recalling his days in Bosnia.
As we left the store I immediately saw her walking towards us. She was about 30 feet away. I glanced over at Jerry. His eyes fixed on the exit door. As she came closer I stayed fixed on Jerry. She passed within a foot of him and in a couple of seconds he started smiling. I asked him what was going on. I knew. “Yesterday,” he said, “I would have been walking fast to the other side of the mall.” The woman he just passed was Islamic wearing a full Hijab. “I would have thought she was a suicide bomber, today she is just a customer,” said Jerry.
I realized at that moment Jerry Powell was back. The 101st Army Airborne light Infantry soldier was home. His war in Bosnia and Afghanistan were over. His demons from Post Traumatic Stress were buried. Thanks to his “Miracle in Annapolis.”
Jerry Powell: Wills Point, Texas
Pre SGB Injection: PCL-5 (78) of a highest score of 80
1-week follow-up: PCL-5 ( 6 ) A DRASTIC Improvement
Dr. Mulvaney said a score of 10 or better is considered a success.
One Month Follow Up:
On October 18th, one-month after his SGB injection in Annapolis, MD. Jerry and I met for lunch near his home in Wills Point, Texas. Jerry was looking very calm and relaxed. He did mention he had a couple of setbacks but did not seem too concerned. Most of his stress now was coming from everyday life and how he deals with it. “I am able to analyze situations much clearer now and seeing what caused the stress and deal with it much more with an open mind. Before, it was so overwhelming and with all the trauma it was very difficult for me to deal with. I am still seeing my psychotherapists and will deal with the medications when I visit. I am also dealing with new case workers and am not sure they are very PTS trauma trained to understand all I have been thru.”
I will continue to visit with Jerry and follow up on his progress in the future. His score on his PCL-5 for the one month follow up was a ( 7 ).
DAKOTA MEYER: “My name is Dakota Meyer, I’m a Marine, Medal of Honor recipient, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and I’m someone who has PTS.”
Watch the YouTube story of Dakota Meyer and his treatment for PTS. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sgb-a-possible-breakthrough-treatment-for-ptsd-60-minutes-2019-06-16/ )
“I got the Stellate Ganglion Block from Dr. Mulvaney and it’s something that changed my life. PTS is something that I didn’t start understanding what it was until later on. It comes out thru me in anxiety so it’s affected relationships, and business. Lot of it is because of the anxiety. It’s all I can think about when it comes on. It’s affected my marriage, my relationship with my wife and ended up getting a divorce. So, with the Stellate Ganglion Block, I went and got that and Dr. Mulvaney brought me in and said try this. It forever changed my life. It literally gave me my life back. When I got the SGB It was safe and quick. I was able to drive there and back home. There was no pain at all. I laid down and the crazy part about it was as soon as the needle came out of my neck it was like… you took my life from being in downtown New York, I was 15 minutes late to a meeting my life depended on, and instantly when that shot came out of my neck I was driving down a quiet country road with nowhere to be.
I laid there on the bed and started crying because I had not felt that much relief in my entire life from this. It made such an impact on me I realized when I woke up the next morning, I caught myself singing in the shower. I will never forget standing in the shower and the water was running over my head. So many times, I have stood in the shower with my hands against the wall with the shower running over me and saying, Holy shit how am I going to get thru the day? What’s even cooler is that the doctor that gave me this SGB shot was also a Navy Seal and then he became an Army physician. Dr. Sean Mulvaney, is not only an incredible doctor but an incredible friend. He gets it. If you have PTS the Stellate Ganglion Block can help you get your life back.”
Costs for SGB Injection:
“Dakota Meyer has a GoFundMe site to help pay for this injection. (https://www.gofundme.com/f/sgb-treatment-for-veterans-with-ptsd#campaign-members). This site will pay for the block. They will just have to arrange for travel. I am happy to see them. It is a haul from Texas, but if you are trying to get their life back it is worth it. If they are going to come see me I am going to take care of them.”
PCL-5 Test from Dr. Mulvaney’s office: (copy/paste)
American Airlines has direct flights to Baltimore-Washington International (BWI). Dr. Mulvaney’s office is located less than 30 minutes from the airport.
Jerry Powell and I stayed at the Crown Plaza Annapolis for $99. a night thru expedia.com. It is located within two blocks of Dr. Mulvaney’s office. A shopping mall is across the street along with several restaurants within walking distance of the Hotel.
An email from Jerry Powell to Phil Smith:
It is a different life! The heart of a lion now, a better attitude, the feeling I can visit a busy store and not hide in an empty department. A return to normal life! Thank you for all you did!
God Plus You and all of Yours!
Are you familiar about SGB and what is the VA’s position on the Stellate Ganglion Block injection?
Julia C. Smith, Psy.D / VA Clinical Director, Mental Health Trauma Services: (VA North Texas Health Care System): “Yes, I believe what the papers are saying that more research is needed. It is not something that is offered here. Long Beach is in a research situation with SGB. They are using it as part of research, I would need to look that up to see. I am always for more research.”
The possibility of fast-acting, medically based treatment for Post Traumatic Stress has potentially great significance for those suffering from the disorder including those who have failed conventional therapies. The rapid response and destigmatization the procedure offers may enable this technique to be beneficial for particularly difficult- to-treat patient populations, including military service members and veterans. Further well-designed and adequately powered research is needed to conclusively address questions of efficacy, to identify which patient groups may receive the most benefit from this treatment, and to establish the likely neurophysiological mechanism underlying its purported beneficial effects. *Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; †Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
NOTE: The Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) injection is NOT covered by the VA. I know there are a lot of veterans out there with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). If the counseling sessions, the frequent visits with the psychotherapist and the drugs administered over the years are NOT working and you still have this “fight or flight” feeling, please include the SGB treatment in your toolbox for treatment of this medical condition.
Please call the Veteran’s Memorial office in Canton. (903) 567-0657 and ask for Phil Smith. They will relay your information over to me. I may not have all the answers about SGB but I will get them answered for you. This treatment may not be for everyone. But, it may also be a life changing treatment to help bring you back home from the horrors of trauma.
Seeing Jerry Powell go from a PCL-5 score of 78 and a week later go to a 6 and one-month later score 7 is remarkable beyond my comprehension. Other than the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) injection worked, at least with Jerry.
PTSD updates emailed to you: From the US Department of Veterans Affairs: PTSD Monthly Update
Receive a monthly email with PTSD news, information, and relevant products. The updates are for all audiences. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/publications/monthly_update.asp
Warrior Peer Groups:
Phil Smith: I attended several Warrior Peer Group sessions with PTS Trauma Trained Counselors Susan Oxford and Brenda McBride in Tyler, Tx. They were both very beneficial in helping me with this Series on PTS. I highly recommend both Counselors. They are PTS Trauma informed. They work with all groups of veterans and first responders as well as sexual trauma.
I will continue to seek ways where Van Zandt County will have its own PTS Peer Group meetings in the future. I have been given promises but nothing yet. I will continue working with the Andrew’s Center in Tyler, UT-Health in Canton along with our own Christus Trinity Mother Francis Hospital. I will keep you updated on our Facebook and Website.
SUSAN OXFORD / COUNSELOR: “I work with veterans, first responders and woman who have had sexual trauma. I also deal with some who have had severe child abuse and neglect type issues. When they are an adult something has sparked and they are kind of reliving everything. There is no specific group that I take or don’t take.
In our therapy groups we never know who is going to show up. It could be all veterans or EMS first responders or all law enforcement. We don’t know until they show up.
It is a free open group and they don’t have to have a diagnosis of PTSD, it is a warrior group meaning it is anyone that is fighting a battle.”
PTSD Warrior Group meet at McBride Counseling Solutions located in Tyler at 13495 Frankston Highway (look for the Germania Insurance sign). If you have questions feel free to call Brenda McBride, LCSW at (903) 871-5175 or Susan Oxford, LCSW at (903) 231-3620.
Camp Hope: Houston, Texas:
Go to the URL above to learn more about Camp Hope
Camp Hope provides interim housing for our wounded warriors, veterans and their families suffering from combat related PTS in caring and positive environment. It is an 80-bed Dormitory styled facility free to vets.
CAMP V: Tyler, Texas:
20 Acre Camp-V site in Tyler to help Veterans in 14 counties:
The East Texas Veterans Community Council ( ETVCC ) has announced the beginning phases of Community Assisting Military People and Veterans ( Camp-V ) off the 323 Loop in Tyler. Opening Day is schedule for Veterans Day on November 11th of 2019.
For more Information you can contact Susan Campbell at (903) 363-5275.
Veterans Community Care Program:
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched its new and improved Veterans Community Care Program on June 6, 2019, implementing portions of the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (MISSION Act) which both ends the Veterans Choice Program and establishes a new Veterans Community Care Program. https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/61286/va-launches-new-health-care-options-mission-act/
What our PTS veterans want you to know:
Cody Bennett / PTSD Foundation of America: “You have to admit you have a problem. Then you need to step out there to the limits of your comfort zone.
You got to get out of house you got to do things get you service dog do whatever just do something other than sit in front of the TV, eat bon bons and drink cold sodas.”
GRUNT: “If you have a veteran and you have loved ones around let them know you have this. They need to tell the person all the symptoms of this stuff. Just let the people know and they will understand you. They will help you thru this. Like my wife. You got to stop the alcohol. You have two battles going on. There is a cure for this and that is God.”
STACEY: “Please do not judge a veteran by their reaction to something. Realize that there are some people that can’t be touched, not startled, but please don’t judge veterans. Just thank them for their service. They don’t hear that enough. If you see someone break down in the store, it is not YOU, it is them. We are just having a tough time.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. It is NOT weak asking for help. It is the strongest, hardest thing you will ever do, but it will be worth it. You will be so uplifted be hearing people cheering you on, you can do it. My therapist tells me, “you are so funny, I like seeing that side of you.”
DANO: “I need to let the public to know about us. Please understand that it is dangerous for me when I go out to public places and I feel trapped. I have nothing against you. I just want you to understand that I just need to have some space. If you are in my space it is putting both of us in danger.
Don’t fear me. I have always been dedicated to protecting and serving you. Be afraid for me but don’t fear me. I recognize other vets with PTSD. I know you.”
WIFE OF A VETERAN: “They say, join the military, fight the war, we will take care of you for the rest of your life. But, they don’t. I would like for the VA to stand up and take care of all our veterans. Look what they did for our country, for us. I don’t want to see our veterans fighting to get that. They have already been at war. Have patience. Be more kind. Be more respectful. This crap of burning the flags, kneeling during the national anthem. Even if that is part of your right to do those things. Think about them. Think about those veterans who went to war and got mentally screwed up, physically disabled, so you could keep those rights. These are people who fought for you because you wouldn’t. Now they are saying help me, please help me.”
SUSAN OXFORD / COUNSELOR: Is a Veteran diagnosed with PTS ever cured? “It does not mean they will need counseling or have to have group therapy for the rest of their lives or be on medication. They have to be connected with people. There is a term called PTSD growth. The person can be further along than the way they were before. It is like cancer, it is always there. The PTSD trauma is always there, what triggers it is what therapists work with patients with in dealing with those situations when they arise. How to deal with them. Will they react as severely as they did before, will they remain in a spiral as long as they did before. So, I don’t think they are ever completely cured.”
What is a success for a PTSD patient? “A success is someone who is able to regulate themselves and to recognize and know when something has triggered them, their ability to reach out and share and be able to use some of the tools they have to be able to get back on track. When someone is functioning and able to get back with their family, work or whatever function they have in life. Living on life’s terms. They are going to be much further along on their journey. Stuff happens, I made it thru, I am ok. We hear those stories and it warms our hearts. Those are the big wins.
The feeling that we have given a patient hope and they learn to live life on life’s terms. That is a great feeling to see the success rates.”
Cody Bennett / PTSD Foundation of America: “A success story is somebody that can successfully live again. To be able to get out and go to Walmart on occasion. Go watch a movie on occasion. It is baby steps.”
IN CLOSING: Phil Smith
This 6-Part Series on Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), has been the most emotional and toughest project I have ever taken on. To interview and listen to these veterans talk about their trauma and how close they came to ending their lives has been gut wrenching to me. It has taken an emotional toll on my life. I accept that. It is part of what I do as a journalist. It still doesn’t make the job any easier.
I hope and pray that if I can save one life, just one . . . then the suicide rate for our veterans just dropped by one for that day. Baby steps, as they say in counseling, baby steps.
Remember, November 11th is Veterans Day. Thank a veteran for his service to our country. Thank them for their sacrifices. For many, their war is not over. It is time to bring them back home.
If you have any questions about this 6-Part Series on PTS, please contact the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial at (903) 567-0657.
If you are interested in talking with me about the SGB treatment please let the office know and they will contact me. Your name and identity will remain anonymous and will not be revealed without your permission. Thank you for your service to our country and God Bless. Phil Smith
GOD BLESS OUR VETERANS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA