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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.
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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 Mike Mullen and Steven A. Cohen
Our nation is finally emerging from one of the worst recessions in American history, yet for our military veterans there is no recovery in sight. The nation's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. But the unemployment rate of our youngest military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan hovers at a stunning 29 percent.
SAN DIEGO -- Two dentists and two Navy dental corpsmen are working on the mouth of John Gardinier, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and now lives in Tijuana near the clinic where he can get methadone for his drug addiction.
"It's no good to have teeth that are rotten," Gardinier, 64, had said as he waited to be treated at the dental services area at the 25th annual Stand Down in San Diego for homeless and hard-luck military veterans. The relief effort brings together dozens of government agencies, nonprofits and volunteers to provide veterans with a variety of health and social services.
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A bill to put veterans to work preserving and restoring national parks and other federal, state and local lands has become mired in a political fight, facing a procedural vote Wednesday in the Senate that could leave the legislation's future in doubt.
Democratic sponsors charge that the Veterans Job Corps bill is being held up by Republicans who refuse to allow any legislative victories to the Obama administration. Republicans counter that a GOP version of the legislation would lower veterans' unemployment without deepening the deficit.
The Democrats' bill is based on a proposal for a $1 billion program outlined by President Obama during his State of the Union address, but has been amended to include a number of Republican-sponsored provisions, including measures that would improve veterans' access to Internet tools to find jobs, and make it easier for troops leaving military service to get transition training for civilian life.
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By James Dao
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to be prescribed opioid pain killers than other veterans with pain problems and more likely to use the opioids in risky ways, according to a study published Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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.
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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.
WORCESTER — In the years after John A. Doherty left the Air Force, he was diagnosed with chronic depression, worked a series of what he calls “meaningless jobs” and struck out at three job fairs.
No more, he claims. Mr. Doherty, 36, landed a bed at the Veterans Inc. shelter for homeless veterans in Worcester three months ago and, about three weeks ago, started a temporary full-time job at Eaton Corp. assembling computer server cabinets.
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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.
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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.
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Colleges sign on for Joining Forces national initiative
With nurses often at the front lines of medical care, there's a movement in the Chicago area and across the country to ensure that nursing students are better trained to tend to a new generation of patients who are military veterans.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the National League of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and other industry groups are calling on nursing schools to take a pledge to do more to educate students on handling veterans and their families. The pledge is part of Joining Forces -- a campaign championed by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to support veterans. Hundreds of nursing schools have already signed on, according to nursing groups.
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$1 billion program would focus on conservation
By Steve Vogel
President Obama will announce details Friday for a $1 billion Veterans Job Corps that the White House says will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years on projects to preserve and restore national parks and other federal, state and local lands.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki on Thursday described the program as "a bold new effort" to lower the high unemployment rate for post-Sept. 11 military veterans, which stood at 13.1 percent in December. The government estimates that 250,000 post-Sept. 11 veterans are unemployed.
For 22 years, Shirley Booze attributed her husband’s violent nightmares and depression to “mental fatigue.”
It was clearly more than just everyday stress that was affecting the Army veteran, but Booze had no other way to classify his emotional isolation.
“It was like he was in a foxhole and trying to protect himself,” she said.
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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 Michael Melia, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn.--As a truck driver for the U.S. military in wartime Iraq, Ed Young racked up 7,000 miles, facing a constant threat of attack that left him struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Four years later, he is driving long hauls again, but now in the U.S. as one of a growing number of veterans turning entrepreneur. The Navy veteran who had seen his post-war life spiraling out of control says his Connecticut-based car transportation business has helped to put him on the road to recovery.
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.
New York Daily News
October 10, 2012
Be Our Guest
Anyone who believes that our country’s methods are adequate for helping veterans re-adapt to society as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down need look no further than at the following data: In the year 2012, 211 members of the United States Armed Forces took their own lives.
At least 53 of them committed suicide in July and August. That is more than the total number of battlefield deaths in those months. This is a crisis that has gone largely unaddressed in this political cycle, and it’s unacceptable.
October 8, 2012
CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- A new $10 million, three-year study will investigate whether daily doses of a common dietary supplement could help curb the number of suicides among military personnel and veterans, researchers said on Monday.
The study, set to begin in South Carolina in January, is part of the Defense Department's heightened focus on suicide prevention as the number of service members attempting to take their own lives has risen.
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%).
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Baltimore VA center offers help to victims of attacks and harassment in military
By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun
Machele Fredericks had to face her attacker every day.
She was in the Air Force. He was a fellow service member on the base. And he said that if she told anyone what he'd done, he'd kill her.
"You didn't hear much of people getting raped in the military back then," Fredericks said. "At least I didn't. So, you know, it was like fear every day: 'I hope he's not at the gate today.'
For Johnnie Larmore, a veteran of three combat tours in Vietnam, living with post-traumatic stress disorder means bursts of anger followed by wells of depression.
Last week, the Port Angeles man left a recently expanded treatment program at VA Puget Sound American Lake Division in Lakewood. He calls it “the best staff and the best facility” he’s seen in his 41 years seeking help coping with Army combat-related PTSD.
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By Agence France-Presse
The number of suicides in the US Army rose by 80 percent after the United States launched the war on Iraq, American military doctors reported on Thursday.
Civilian employers are reluctant to hire them, they say.
By David Zucchino
WASHINGTON -- Matt Pizzo has a law degree, can-do attitude, proven leadership skills, and expertise in communications and satellite technology from his four years in the Air Force.
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.
Life Improvement Following Traumatic Brain Injury (LIFT) is an interventional pilot study to test the effectiveness of a telephone-based and in-person Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) intervention for treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) following Traumatic Brain Injury.
Participants are randomly assigned to receive one of the following: 1) Telephone-based CBT, 2) In-person CBT, or 3) Usual care (control).
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The Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide website is an online book by Dr. Glen Johnson, a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Clinical Director of the Neuro-Recovery Head Injury Program in Traverse City, MI. The website is setup like a book with links to chapters, and the information is focused specifically on TBI and is given very concisely in laymen's terms.
The goal of this online book is to better prepare the person with the head injury and family for the long road ahead.
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