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Author and former marine Anthony Swofford gets to the bottom of an epidemic.
I was sitting next to Melissa, a call responder at the VA Crisis Hotline in Canandaigua, N.Y., when she looked at me and whispered, 'He just said he thinks he should walk out into traffic on Interstate 5 and end it all, that life is not worth living.'
By Michael M. Phillips
Wall Street Journal
HOOVER, Ala.—Two years ago, Matthew Proctor dropped to his knees in the Afghan dirt and watched his best friend bleed to death.
These days, when dreams get disturbing or guilt eats at his gut, there is one person the former Marine corporal is likely to call: Thomas Rivers Sr., his dead friend's father.
When Mr. Rivers, 60 years old and a pharmaceutical executive, feels himself sinking into black depression or misses the pleasures of raising a son, it is the 24-year-old Cpl. Proctor he confides in or invites over for a boat ride. "He lost a best friend, and in a sense I lost a best friend as well as my son," says Mr. Rivers. "That is a bond we share."
War sunders some relationships and forges others. More than 6,500 Americans have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving gaping holes in families across the nation. Out of duty or kindness, guilt or need, the troops who survived often step forward to fill the voids their buddies left.
July saw a record number of suicides in the Army and among recent veterans. I was nearly one of them.
I suffer from both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the two most common conditions of suicidal veterans. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming.
This summer, as has happened often before, I experienced severe depression, which leads to isolation. Then, when I was feeling most hopeless, I also started feeling tremendously reckless. I found myself feeling aggressive and impulsive, feelings that fuel erratic behavior. With each passing week of the summer, as I pushed yet another friend or family member away, it became easier to envision suicide as an option to break this insufferable tension.
By David Wallis
FALLING asleep in a crowded lecture hall was never a problem for Adam Connell. Just the opposite.
As a freshman at the University of Iowa in fall 2010, he uneasily eyed his classmates. "I had feelings of bad anxiety," recalled Mr. Connell, 25, a Navy veteran. "When you pull into ports, because terrorism is so high, you are always super-vigilant at all times. In these 300-person lecture halls, you are just surrounded by people you don't know."
Neither the Defense nor the Veterans Affairs department -- which operate the world’s largest electronic health records systems -- tracks treatments used for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report the Institute of Medicine issued last week. What’s more, Defense does not even know how many PTSD treatment programs it or the services provide.
Many who served on battlefields seek refuge from and ways to cope with Fourth of July displays
He knows it's just fireworks, but Andrew Sabin's heart races anyway and he starts to sweat profusely.
The concussive booms sound like Iraq.
The 26-year-old Army veteran from Racine, Wis., didn't have trouble when he returned from the war. But gradually fireworks displays began to affect him.
This Fourth of July, many combat veterans like Sabin will try to stay far away from fireworks displays. Fireworks take them back to combat, when the sound of explosions meant death and injury, not colorful rockets lighting the sky on a peaceful, happy holiday.
More than 244,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with some form of brain injury over the past 12 years, according to Pentagon statistics.
They are the most common injuries among combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet little is known about how to treat these wounds or cure the illnesses that result from them, says Peter Chiarelli, retired four-star general and former vice chief of the Army.
For a nation that takes pride in taking care of its wounded soldiers, he laments, it is a shame that the so-called invisible wounds of war get so little attention.
LESTER HOLT: Tonight we're proud to announce our NBC News network-wide initiative in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help more than a million unemployed veterans get back into the workforce. Tonight we're focusing on unemployed women veterans and the mentors helping them realize their full potential.
WASHINGTON — Tanya L. Towne was wearing her full “battle rattle” when she got injured preparing for war. Now the Pentagon must explain why that should be treated differently from a combat-related injury.
What happens next will put the Defense Department on the spot. It also could mean a lot to veterans other than Towne, who served 17 years in the New York Army National Guard before her 2009 medical discharge.
DENVER--Busy, tech-savvy and often miles from their peers, thousands of new veterans are going online to find camaraderie or get their questions answered -- forcing big changes in long-established veterans groups and inspiring entrepreneurs to launch new ones.
"We're going back to school, we have full-time jobs, we have families and kids," said Marco Bongioanni, 33, of New York, who deployed to Iraq twice while on active duty in the Army.
That leaves little time for what he calls "brick-and-mortar" groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.
By Greg Barnes, Staff writer
Fayetteville (NC) Observer
Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick stood in front of 14,000 soldiers on Fort Bragg in February with a message:
"We have got to stop the violence."
Just weeks before, Helmick had closed out the combat mission in Iraq and brought the troops home. Now, as he congratulated them for a job well done, he could not ignore some disturbing numbers. In just the past six weeks, he knew of six suicides and 25 accusations of spousal abuse.
Since Helmick retired in May, the violence at home has only gotten worse.
The Macho Spouse, Male Military Spouse online community, has started a new video series on PTSD. Check out the first video, Defining PTSD with Nicholas Lind, and view the other great videos they provide on topics ranging from depression and deployments to finding work and career building.
"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious battle injury we wanted to know more about, so we found Nicholas Lind, PsyD, Co-Owner of Post Traumatic Resources (Columbia, SC). In this multi-part series, Dr. Lind defines PTSD, explains the symptoms, shares how and when to seek help, and offers insight into living with someone who struggles with PTS symptoms. This first video offers a thorough explanation of what causes PTSD and how it may affect our families."
Macho Spouse Male Military Spouse Community Released Second PTSD Video: Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The Macho Spouse, Male Military Spouse online community, has a great video series on PTSD. Be sure to check out this video series and the other great videos Macho Spouse provides on topics ranging from depression and deployments to finding work and career building.
The second Macho Spouse PTSD video, Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is now live! Dr. Nicholas Lind, Co-Owner of Post Trauma Resources (Columbia, SC), discusses typical PTSD symptoms while offering some advice on how best to start an initial conversation with a loved-one who may have PTSD.
"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious battle injury we wanted to know more about, so we found Dr. Nicholas Lind, Co-Owner of Post Trauma Resources(Columbia, SC). In this multi-part series, Dr. Lind defines PTSD, explains the symptoms, shares how and when to seek help, and offers insight into living with someone who struggles with PTSD symptoms. This second video discusses typical PTSD symptoms while offering some advice on how best to start an initial conversation with a loved-one who may have PTSD."
The Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly released a new report on post-traumatic stress disorder, showing that since 9/11, nearly 30 percent of the 834,463 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Veterans advocates say the new V.A. report is the most damning evidence yet of the profound impact multiple deployments have had on American service men and women since 9/11. Troops who've been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan are more than three times as likely as soldiers with no previous deployments to screen positive for PTSD and major depression, according to a 2010 study published by the American Journal for Public Health.
The report, which revealed that 247,243 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have been diagnosed with PTSD, was buried on the V.A.'s website without fanfare.
As GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare for Monday's foreign policy debate, a new poll shows that members of the armed forces view veterans' unemployment as their top concern, and a majority think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Eighty-eight percent of military members think Iraq and Afghanistan war vet joblessness is a problem, according to the poll from non-partisan advocacy group Concerned Veterans for America and obtained by POLITICO.
Largest research project in U.S. military history, started in 2001, follows 187K service members for 21 years
The largest research project in U.S. military history aimed at studying the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder has now passed the halfway point.
The Millennium Cohort Study, run out of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, is a 21-year study that is comprehensively following the lives and habits of 187,000 service members. Researchers began accumulating data 11 years ago, in 2001. The project is scheduled to run another decade, until 2022.
Researchers hope the massive amount of data they collect will help them pinpoint who gets PTSD and why.
The stress of readjusting to civilian life is a major reason some soldiers seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, a new study finds.
Many veterans who require mental-health care do not receive it, and a great deal of previous research has focused on barriers to treatment. The new study was conducted to identify characteristics and factors that motivate veterans to seek mental-health treatment.
By Sen. Kay Hagan
Ask a random American if they know someone who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the answer is likely to be "no." That's not surprising. Nationwide, military service members account for only 1 percent of our population.
Petraeus -- Holly, that is -- makes mark on military by putting herself between soldiers and swindlers
By Rick Hampson, USA Today
When 18,000 members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division flew back to Fort Campbell, Ky., in 2004 after a year in Iraq, Holly Petraeus was there to meet them, no matter the hour, the weather or her other duties.
In the first comprehensive review of the government's programs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder in service members and veterans, a panel of experts recommended on Friday that the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs expand access to services, particularly for people in rural areas, in the National Guard or Reserves, or in combat zones.
The report, by the Institute of Medicine, also concluded that the two departments need to improve their assessment of how well their many treatment programs work, as well as find better ways of coordinating care that can begin overseas and then continue on bases or in small towns across the country.
Emerson College Polling Society Survey Reveals Veterans Seek Anonymous Treatment of PTSD from Private Organizations
BOSTON, Dec. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- One in five U.S. Military personnel returning from deployment said they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 41% of service members know a fellow soldier suffering from PTSD. However, 46% of service members said they are not seeking counseling, according to a poll conducted by the Emerson College Polling Society (ECPS). The poll surveyed both members of the military, and citizens who personally know members of the military, about symptoms related to PTSD.
Felix Chen, an international student and chief analyst for the Emerson College Polling Society, found the most important reason cited as to why military personnel do not seek PTSD counseling was embarrassment by admitting they needed professional help (25%) and not wanting to identify themselves in order to get treatment (11%).
For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide. It's time to broaden efforts against PTSD.
By Robert Morgenthau
Wall Street Journal
During the Civil War, they called it "soldier's heart." In World War I, doctors called it "shell shock." In World War II, the war I served in, we called it "battle fatigue." Now we know it as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The name may have changed, but one thing is clear: It is reaching epidemic proportions among our soldiers and veterans.
According to a Veterans Administration report released this March, current or former military personnel represent an estimated 20% of all known suicides in the United States—that's more than 7,000 veterans and service members each year. For every soldier killed in combat, 25 veterans are dying by suicide.
SHL Launches Veterans' TotalMatch Solution to Improve Success Hiring Veterans into Private Sector Jobs
New Veterans Hiring Solution Uses a More Complete View of Experience, Competencies, and Interests to Help Companies Better Match Veterans to Civilian Jobs
ATLANTA, June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- SHL, the global leader in talent measurement solutions, today announced the launch of Veterans' TotalMatch(TM) (VTM) Solution at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2012 Annual Conference & Exposition in Atlanta, GA, (Booth #1340). Developed by SHL government subsidiary PDRI, the VTM Solution utilizes assessment science to go beyond simple military skills translation to give a complete picture of new hire candidates returning from military service. This provides civilian employers with a true 360-degree view of a veteran's experience and potential, resulting in veterans being more accurately matched to a larger number of potential civilian jobs they are well suited to perform.
But vets must take first step: seek help
The most common misconception about post-traumatic stress disorder is that there is no effective treatment.
Dr. Matthew Friedman, executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, is working to get the word out that it's "very treatable."
PTSD is more prevalent among service members today, with 17 percent to 20 percent of the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from it, he said. But studies have shown that 80 percent of those, given proper treatment, are without symptoms after five years.
After leveling off in 2010 and 2011, suicides among U.S. service members have jumped to nearly one a day, catching many by surprise.
By Robert Burns, Associated Press
WASHINGTON â€” Suicides are surging among Americaâ€™s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year â€” the fastest pace in the nationâ€™s decade of war.
The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan â€” about 50 percent more â€” according to Pentagon statistics.
The numbers reflect a military burdened with wartime demands from Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken a greater toll than foreseen a decade ago.
By Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap
WASHINGTON -- The United States plans to expand the presence of its Marines in Asia in tandem with diplomatic initiatives towards the increasingly important region, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Tuesday.
By Gopal Ratnam and Michelle Fay Cortez, Bloomberg News
No one knows better than Connie Chapman that almost 150 years since troops came home with "soldier's heart" after the Civil War, the U.S. military is still struggling to identify and treat what's now called PTSD.
The tragic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or battlefield concussion are all too evident. Even more alarming for researchers is emerging evidence that these newest American combat veterans -- former GIs and Marines in their 20s and 30s -- appear to be growing old before their time. Scientists see early signs of heart disease and diabetes, slowed metabolisms and obesity -- maladies more common to middle age or later.
The Coming Homeâ„¢ Project is a non-profit organization devoted, since 2006, to providing expert, compassionate care, support, education, and stress management tools for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, service members, their families, and their service providers. We are an experienced team of psychotherapists, veterans and interfaith leaders committed to alleviating the unseen wounds of war. Our nationally recognized, evidence-based programs address the emotional, social, moral, and spiritual injuries and the family challenges experienced during all stages of deployment, especially reintegration.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a DoD-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. Through Yellow Ribbon events, service members and loved ones connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments.
Behavioral experts Anita Chandra, behavioral scientist, RAND Corp. and Leonard Wong, research professor, Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College, testified about the effects of deployment on children from military families.
WATCH as we talk with 10th combat Aviation Brigade Bravo Company 277th Aviation Support Battalion soldiers in Bagram Air Field Afghanistan where they work on aircraft and more. We talked with SPC Sean Ginn from Midwest, Wyoming, SGT Joshua Maidinbaam with six years of service including an infantry division deployment to Iraq and now to Afghanistan. He is from Marmora, NJ, SPC James Henderson with 4 years of service and from Azle, Texas, PFC Joseph Wheelihan from Belleglade, FL, SPC Thomas Tipton from Phoenix, AZ, SGT Donald Wilkins with 5 years of service and from Louisville, KY, They talk about Care Packages especially from SoldiersAngels.org and OperationShoebox.org. They all give Shouts Outs to Family and Friends back home!