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  #41  
Old 7 May 2015, 21:48
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Originally Posted by SOTB View Post
IMO -- YOU (we) are the best therapist there is. Yeah, a combat vet (LOL, in today's world -- WTF is that anymore?) could go to college, get his/her psych degree, and then turn around and offer counseling. Or -- and I think this is prob better (although still not necessary) that same vet goes and gets some focused counseling trg and starts assisting and then chairing sessions.

Here's what I think. If you know of someone who needs help (look in the mirror, too), get that person out of the stressful environment he/she is in, even if only walking down the hall with you. Better would be to get him to go fishing, the type where you're sitting on the bank and could care less if something bites, and talk. When I write talk, I really mean, get them to -- not always easy, and that is why I think we are better suited, we can look over and gauge what needs to be said to begin the conversation, some kid in a bright, pastel colored office, won't be able to.

Anyway, get them to talk, and you listen. IMO that is what we of this century are losing. We don't talk. We write on the internet. We post some stupid, trivial shit on FB. We send SMS messages. We occasionally write/read an email (the absolute WORST form of commo, BTW). In the end, we miss out on talking.

I have been on the receiving end of some support, recently. And I admit I pushed back/rejected it at first. It hurt my being to admit to a man I respected that I was weak. But the old bastard wouldn't let up, and kept at it, and forced me to hang out with him and when that was not feasible, he made me Skype (video-conference) him. Long story short, well, I'm still here pissing off half of the readership of this board -- so there's some evidence that it works.

What I am trying to write is that I don't believe in psychology. I have a degree in it (a BS in BS). I believe that what we need are friends. Not sympathy. Not patronizing, coddling. But friends who won't judge you for your moment of faltering under the ruck, and will simply quietly shoulder some of your weight for you, and the unspoken agreement is that everyone knows that when you have the chance to do so, you'll step in to shoulder someone's ruck too.

Those of you who've been under the ruck know of what I refer to. I don't need to explain. As such, fuck a bunch of therapists. Go help a friend....
I agree with this post, with one caveat:

A psychology degree does not a counselor make. It's a skillset like any other, but it doesn't come from the degree.

Plenty of good tools that the pros have, that "just a friend" doesn't. (and I am not referring to meds) Absolutely nothing that precludes someone from using both, except, perhaps, pride.

My door is also open, and I am a semipro at the therapy stuff.
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  #42  
Old 7 May 2015, 22:58
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I was in the hot air balloon directly behind the three people that burned up about a year ago this week in Virginia. My sister was the event organizer and the two UofR women that died worked for her boyfriend that was in the ballon at the victims' 4 o'clock. I've seen a lot of horrible shit, guts literally being puked out, wrapping a 20 yr old woman that died in child birth and taking her to the morgue, etc., but never from start to finish and not with all my senses, sight, smell, hearing. Compiled with that was a complete lack of ability to do anything about it because I was 100ft away and 75ft in the air. We (my wife, a lady who had the ride as a Mother's day present, and the pilot), crash landed with two bounces. I ran over to look for bodies/render aid, but the bodies we saw fall were farther away.

I had great public safety friends that were well versed in critical incident stress management (CISM) and they reached out to me, often, and with no judgement. I thank them every chance I get because, as I'm sure some of you feel, survivor's guilt and that feeling of "what if I did this..." could create a different outcome is hard to manage. They also pushed me to talk to a counselor.

The most useful piece of advice the counselor gave me is not to get mad when others chit chat about "understanding" or saying "I remember how horrible", when they were at home, but rather consider that ~5% (if that) of folks understand the horribleness of a catastrophic event (combat, personal tragedy, etc.), so don't expect others to get it.

Godspeed Brothers and Sisters, and talk about it now or you WILL deal with it later and it won't be fun.
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  #43  
Old 7 May 2015, 23:03
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I feel like we've come a long way as a culture in that the macho, chest beating bullshit seems to have largely fallen by the wayside, though of course not entirely.
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  #44  
Old 8 May 2015, 00:29
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Originally Posted by Silverbullet View Post
I'll ask someone to post a list.

PTSD seems to be a broadly defined category which adds to the confusion. My suggestion is that anyone who has suffered any type of head trauma or the effects of a blast get checked for TBI.

Another thing I learned is that talking with dudes on the phone or here is great, the face to face interaction is more important. A couple yrs ago I moved to a place that on first glance would seems to be filled with vets, but isn't. Even where I work, the few vets aren't really from a background like mine. (I have two SF dudes on my team who are remote so that doesn't help)
I will second the idea re having a TBI checked out.

In 2006, our number came up outside Najaf while running PSD. Large IED, destroyed armored suburban, medevac to Balad and two days in trauma.

I recovered but with serious memory problems, permanent high freq loss in one ear, loss of about a third of my sense of smell, and more seriously, a change in my personality.

I initially blew it off when people would say things like I seemed "different" etc

I continued to "drive on" and went on to different USG work and four more deployments.

Finally, I realized as SB said, eventually I have to go home.

It cost me a lot personally. But I finally got things turned around now and am solid. I didn't have anyone to intervene. It would have helped.
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  #45  
Old 8 May 2015, 03:34
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Some very good comments here. All so true. BTW is this a A 2/75th reunion site : ) see a lot of bros here
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  #46  
Old 8 May 2015, 23:01
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CA Sgt, glad you're ok.
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  #47  
Old 9 May 2015, 02:18
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Thanks SB. When I read your post, it hit home. I saw a lot of things in me you described.
After getting released from trauma, I flew home, picked up my girlfriend, and went to London. I distinctly remember walking through Hyde park, and having to stop and sit due to waves of nausea I was still experiencing.
After a week she went home and I couldn't wait to get back to the team. Couldn't let them down I thought. In truth, I had no business going back then. I was still way fucked up, both physically and mentally. Couldn't remember shit, and had come to actually believe that I would not make it out of Iraq alive, given the amount of violence we were experiencing then. But there was no way I was leaving the team I said.
Finally the boys said you gotta go see the doc, your ripe for the rubber gun squad.
He filled me in on TBI's and what I would go through then, and maybe the rest of my life. He was right.
And then like you wrote your buddy, eventually you gotta go home.
I stayed gone four more years, gone from home over 300 days a year. As you know what I was doing, the op tempo was very high.
Finally things started to crumble personally, and the idea that I HAD to step off the merry go round, hit home.....and I walked away.
Took some time but like you say, it starts a process.
It's hard for people like us, type A++ to ever feel like we let someone down or were less hard than others. Harder still to talk to someone who has no clue what it feels like to actually be in battle and have it hit you that your going to die "in this one" but make it somehow. You can't explain that except to someone who has experienced it.

As I say to people who ask about it, I tell them I can tell you as story, but unless you smelled it, breathed it and stood there with me, you can't understand it
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  #48  
Old 9 May 2015, 10:23
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At least you recognized it and got right. The self destructive part I've struggled with. For me it has impacted something that was as close to perfect as perfect is. The fix yourself issue manifested itself in other parts of my life and led me to "fix" things in completely asinine ways that ultimately made things worse. On top of that I started to get severe feelings of being crushed even in rooms with windows. Took me a bit over yr to get that under control. Dr tied it to buried trauma and feeling of loss. I felt like a puss just hearing him say it, but got over that and focused on getting it right.

If anything I've posted helps others self reflect or reach out great. Being dead or sitting alone reminiscing about deployments, what a great job you have or how hard you used to be doesn't compare to having that someone or your health- hopefully both.
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  #49  
Old 9 May 2015, 12:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Expatmedic View Post
Mass, IIRC I did some research on this before the banning of Lanister, and I am pretty sure LE is exempt from HIPPA. But this was about 6 years ago. I am not sure where my post is.
There are exceptions to HIPPA for certain police functions. For instance if someone treated as a rape victim we can access their records for the purposes of documenting injury, rape kits, etc.

The popo can't walk in and ask for the latest blood test results just because.

If you go on a crime spree and try to hide out in a mental hospital there's a good chance you aren't covered by HIPPA. However I know one mental health facility used HIPPA to refuse to say if a wanted rapist/kidnapper was under care. They saw the light when his coverage ran out and then called.

Back on topic. Boston PD lost a man last year. Pat Rogers. He was featured on the tv show Bostons Finest. I didn't know him but a good friend was partners with him early on. Pat had been planning this for some time and left a trail of clues that in hindsight were obvious. His speech pattern changed, started saying things like "maybe I'll see you then", instead if "I'll see you later". He paid of all of his bills. He missed several high profile social events for boston PD. Things people don't just no show for. Some people say he had issues from being on the tv show, some say he had gf issues. Some say other things.

The only thing everyone knew before was he was a great cop, a great guy, and no one saw it coming.

I have an acquaintance who's a cop in FL. He at one point he had his gun to his head and a bottle in his hand. Someone helped him. Didn't go running to his bosses. Just helped. That man is now a Sgt., and teaches classes to recruits and veteran officers based on his experience. This man saves lives now. The point is someone saw and recognized it. He got the help he needed based on an out reached hand.

ETA the friend in FL was at his home when this happened. A co worker just happens to drive by and saw he was home and stopped in to say hi, maybe have a coffee. This was another case where no one knew anything, but there were a million clues that were there in hindsight.
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Last edited by Macka; 9 May 2015 at 12:25. Reason: Important point I didn't ad......
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  #50  
Old 9 May 2015, 12:17
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This is an outstanding thread and having "tough guys" be open and honest to this extent can be enormously helpful for people.
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  #51  
Old 9 May 2015, 12:25
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I just want to say that talking to fellow vets has help me more than anything, whos else can you talk to right . I started a FB page for my old units and I now have 50 members and we talk alot. The doctors at the VA help also and I now take meds which I hated at first but they have help me, I have to admit.
[B]Dont keep doing the same destructive behavior, Get help![B]
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  #52  
Old 9 May 2015, 19:13
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I feel like we've come a long way as a culture in that the macho, chest beating bullshit seems to have largely fallen by the wayside, though of course not entirely.
I'm still guilty of it at times.
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  #53  
Old 9 May 2015, 20:19
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Originally Posted by hiltd View Post
Some very good comments here. All so true. BTW is this a A 2/75th reunion site : ) see a lot of bros here
It is. :)
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  #54  
Old 9 May 2015, 23:47
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Thank you SB.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOTB
You're an Army dude, aren't you?
Quote:
Must have been my use of big words that gave it away.
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  #55  
Old 10 May 2015, 10:25
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We recently lost a young USMC veteran from our organization. He was an excellent person with a potentially bright future. He seemed to be doing well – just went part time to go to engineering school. He was concealing a pretty bad case of PTSD. The signs were there. We all wish we had seen them. It seems that whenever this happens we look back and see things we wish we had noticed.

The reality is we all get wrapped up in our day-to-day lives and don’t always see the signs. It really requires a hyper vigilance and a proactive stance – this to me is a key point in SB’s post. He’s trying to get ahead of the situation. Bravo.

A few items of note (my opinion):
- PTSD is real and is a completely normal reaction to extreme stress. It’s more common than you think.
- PTSD is treatable. One of the therapies that are very successful is EMDR. I don’t really understand it but it involves left/right stimulation. I do know it can really accelerate progress.
- I do not believe that a therapist has to be a veteran to successfully treat PTSD. Ideally, you’d have a really good EMDR certified therapist, family support and veteran friends that understand and are there for you.

Things to keep an eye out for
-Impulsive behaviors
-Lack of sleep
-Withdrawal from family and friends / disappearing / not showing up for events, reunions etc.
-Bad reactions to prescription meds / changes in meds/ not taking meds

These are things I look out for. I’m sure there’s more.
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  #56  
Old 11 May 2015, 23:06
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I was never a grunt, a SEAL, a commando, a ninja, or anything else other than just a humble technician, and I was never interested in being anything else. I'm glad that I've never been in combat or even in a defined combat zone. However, through catastrophic equipment failures, incidences of poor judgment due to sleep deprivation, inadequate equipment for necessary tasks, random accidents, and a few cases of just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I was exposed to a whole lot of death, dismemberment, mutilation, and horrific injuries among my close companions. Through a combination of incompetent and inadequate medical care, dosimetry protocols designed to deflect blame at the expense of health and safety, an utter lack of psychiatric involvement or even awareness that such a thing was a realistic option, and a VA that was overloaded with actual physical combat trauma while busily denying that Gulf War vets were getting Lou Gehrig's disease, nearly all of my friends eventually either died from work-related stuff or killed themselves. As years went by and I didn't get sick the way they did and I kept on showing up to one job or another every day, I either didn't realize that I was screwed up or was too dumb or blind to get the concept. My wife noticed that after about a decade went by I slept better most nights but talked more in my sleep, and I began mentioning things and people she had never heard of before. Just last year there was a new teacher at work who was a former Army infantry SFC combat vet of several years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was dealing with some pretty severe survivor's guilt, sleeplessness, and general purpose disgust with "oblivious, blissfully ignorant civilians." I thought he was a whackjob, but the more time I spent talking to him to try to get him off the proverbial ledge the more I realized that the reason I could talk to him and him to me was because I was sharing his crazy. Our root cause military experiences are nothing alike whatsoever, but maybe that is a good thing because neither of us can pull that condescending "yeah, I know" crap on one another that is an instant conversation killer. If there is a point to my ramble, it is that the perfect solution to PTSD might be talking to a person who can relate to everything you have to say, but just because you aren't the perfect solution doesn't mean you can't be helpful as a not entirely ignorant listener. There are probably many more folks than we suspect with issues because they can hide it well enough from everyone who doesn't know what to look for and just have no interaction with the people who would.
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  #57  
Old 12 May 2015, 19:02
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I did 6 weeks in patient and it helped out tremendously, currently seeing a therapist weekly. My initial event was in 1994 many events after during years of deployments and then in 2013 I had any event almost identical to my first. I was puking in my mouth and shaking like a dog shitting razorblades on the objective as the senior man I could not show fear, disgust, I had to lead.....

In typical fashion the only discussion was the debrief...everyone still tough and operator as fuck...LOL

I came home and immediately hunkered down and stopped going out, stopped working out, started drinking heavily. Was not the father or husband I knew I could be, all the while hiding and stuffing my feelings down in any space I had available.

I had a 4 hour meltdown I don't remember, my wife called a doc to come over and calm me down. I knew I needed to go in patient but was able to have everyone believe all I needed was some counseling...The last straw was when my E-9 told my team I was faking, This sent me into a rage that I knew was going to lead me down a road that I would not recover from. Luckily my wife was able to talk me into going away for a bit.

I was not able to talk to my teammates because they would just enable me, shit they all have the same shit going on. It took me to look at where I was and how far I had gone from who I used to be to seek help.
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  #58  
Old 12 May 2015, 19:13
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Pj1, thanks for sharing.

Good to hear you got the help.
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  #59  
Old 12 May 2015, 19:51
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This should be a sticky.
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  #60  
Old 13 May 2015, 05:24
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...I was faking,...
I would think that the faking of a mental unbalance should be pretty easy to detect. I definitely understand mad, I've learned to walk away.

Most of us have seen true 'goldbricks' in the service and understand that they are a big reason why others are hesitant to admit their/any shortcomings.
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