Post-Traumatic Stress’s Surprisingly Positive Flip Side (The New York Times) — Before the blast, he drifted. He spent a lot of his free time playing video games. He is different now. The bombing, the P.T.S.D. and the challenges he faced changed him. And he thinks he has changed for the better. “This whole experience has helped me to be more open, more flexible,” he told me. “I am branching out to activities that I was once uncomfortable with.” The name for Beltran’s change is post-traumatic growth. And the classes he takes are part of a $125 million Army-wide program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which is intended to help soldiers become more resilient and to help them recognize how the trauma of combat can change them for the better.
Combat PTSD: Understanding the menace of memories (The Washington Times) — A study assessing the incidence of PTSD in troops leaving Iraq found that soldiers not involved in fighting had a PTSD incidence rate of 4.5%. For those in intense combat once or twice, the incidence rate more than doubled to 9.3%. The number is 13% for troops in three to five combat situations. More than five exposures and the occurrence rate of PTSD shoots up to 20%. The study’s “silver lining” is that after five or more combat experiences, 80% of the troops studied did not report symptoms of PTSD. Still, the number of troops with them is significant. The Military Health System reported 39,365 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007 were given a diagnosis of PTSD.
Chronic Headaches Common In Soldiers After Concussion, Survey Shows (HuffingtonPost.com) — Army researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Headache, examined nearly 1,000 soldiers with a history of deployment-related concussion and found 20 percent had suffered frequent headaches diagnosed as “chronic daily headache” for three months or more. Of those, a quarter had the headaches every day. More soldiers with chronic headaches had symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than those who did not suffer frequent headaches. Concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury and is commonly followed by headaches. But little was understood about how many military personnel were experiencing the intense head pain daily, or close to it, for months on end.
Program offers support to families of veterans with PTSD (9WSYR.com) — “As far as I knew, everything was fine for awhile and slowly but surely we found out that he was having problems,” Ilene told NewsChannel 9. “One of his jobs at one point was to collect bits and pieces. How do you come back the same person you were?” Her son came back with PTSD and eventually “hit bottom.” Even a trip to the supermarket had its challenges. “He was walking through Wegman’s and those coco pop things went off and he ducked for cover,” Ilene said. Ilene turned to the VA’s “Family to Family” program for help. The program’s designed specifically for caregivers of vets diagnosed with mental illness, because understanding and dealing with its negative perception can be difficult.
PTSD not solely a battlefield issue for college students (DailyCollegian.com) — For UMass students with PTSD, the campus offers several services that provide resources and medical support. The Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH), a branch of UHS, offers treatment and, according to CCPH project coordinator Nupur Jain, employs clinicians who specialize in PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Veterans have several options for support on campus, including the UMass office of Veteran’s Services and veterans’ registered student organization VeteranONE. The Everywoman’s Center provides counseling services and maintains a 24-hour rape crisis hotline for victims of sexual assault.
PTSD, Workplace Safety Questions Jump After Incident in Afghanistan (BNA.com) — Beth Loy, a principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free, confidential consulting service based in Morgantown, W.Va., said one of the most difficult challenges for employers involves having to deal with misconceptions and stereotypes about veterans and the possibility that they are affected by PTSD. “But oftentimes PTSD is very easy to accommodate.” For example, an employee diagnosed with PTSD might need an accommodation as simple as an electronic scheduler, a noise-cancelling headset, or sound barriers placed around a cubicle, she said. “Many individuals with a diagnosis of PTSD work without any type of accommodation,” Loy said. “If an employer contacts us, we can talk about myths, stereotypes and say, ‘Here is [an accommodation] that was low-cost and easy to implement. It’s not as difficult as you might think.’?”
COMMUNITIES IN ACTION
Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration (CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com) — The USO of North Carolina and Charlotte Motor Speedway, with support from the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, will honor the service of Vietnam Veterans with an incredible Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration on March 31 for the military members and their friends and families. The event is a long overdue tribute to the more than 216,000 North Carolina residents who served in Vietnam, some 1,600 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.
Financial struggles common among military families (CBSNews.com) — A 2010 military survey found that 27 percent of service members said they had more than $10,000 in credit card debt, while 16 percent of civilians do. The study also found more than a third of military families have trouble paying monthly bills, and more than 20 percent reported borrowing money outside of banks. The unemployment rate among military spouses is about 26 percent, according to a report from the nonprofit group, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Survey Gives Glimpse Into Minds of Recent Veterans (NYTime.com) — The 2012 edition of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s annual survey of its members came out on Monday. The largest such survey by the group to date, its results provide some interesting insights into what’s on the minds of recent veterans today. Not surprisingly, the survey found that employment, mental health, disability benefits, health care, education (including the G.I. Bill), suicide and families — in that order — were the top concerns of the more than 4,200 members who responded.