PTSD Combat is no longer being updated.

Find Ilona blogging at Magyar Etimológia and Etymartist.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Attleboro, MA Covers Combat PTSD Story

Since I began focusing my research on combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder in our Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans last September, one thing that has jumped out at me time after time is this fact: small town coverage of this issue is really to be commended.

Sure, on the national level we hear the reports of how many soldiers have been killed in action on any given day; but, we very rarely hear or see how those directly affected by the wars are faring. This is where the local coverage really picks up the slack. Here's another story that ran in yesterday's Attleboro, MA Sun Chronicle.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Sun Chronicle:

Sgt. 1st Class Russell Anderson survived mortar attacks and roadside bombs during his year leading Army Reserve troops and escorting fuel tankers along Iraq's insurgent-infested highways.

But Anderson may have found a more persistent enemy in the nightmares, occasional jumpiness and sensitivity to noise he's encountered since coming home. "People see that you look healthy, so you must be healthy," said Anderson, 55, who served in the Army both during Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom. "They don't see what you've been through."

Anderson was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder after first attempting to write off stress as part of readjusting to civilian life. The Norton resident spoke about his experiences in the made-for-TV documentary Hidden Wounds about the war's psychological effects. The program will be telecast May 29 on New England Cable News.

Anderson's story is one that many of our veterans, but not all of course, can identify with.

Of more than 144,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have sought medical assistance from the VA after returning from the war on terror, more than 40,000 have complained of mental health-related problems. Of those, about 20,000 have received diagnoses of possible post-traumatic stress.

According to the Web site of the National Center for PTSD, a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, feelings of anxiety, nightmares and depression are often reported by soldiers who have undergone combat-related stress.

Even the passage of time does not necessarily dull the pain. Some World War II veterans interviewed by The Sun Chronicle said they still experience nightmares 60 years after the fighting stopped. ...

[T]o the casual observer back home, the long-term effects of stress on a recent veteran are, for the most part, invisible. Many who suffer from the after-shocks of combat say members of the public often don't believe them or can't grasp the effects the war has had on them. "There's certainly a lack of understanding that these feelings and these symptoms are real," said David Autry, deputy national commander for public affairs of Disabled American Veterans. In addition, Autry says many affected veterans are subjected to prejudice because of stereotypes equating post traumatic stress with violent or erratic behavior.

Anderson, who continues to receive medication and counseling, said he struggled with his decision to go public, although he has received a number of supportive e-mails as a result of the documentary. He still wonders whether he made the right choice for himself. "There's a lot of stigma attached to this," he said.

Troops who come forward in this brave way, sharing their uncomfortable and personal struggles, are doing a great public service; although others may wish them to tone it down, keep these things private, raising public awareness on this issue helps to relate to us what some of the needs are of our returning troops.

Only weeks after [his] unit arrived in camp near Tikrit, a mortar round exploded near one of Anderson's men, blowing off his foot. Despite being subjected to incessant attacks, Anderson managed to bring all of his soldiers home alive.

While it felt great to get back home, Anderson, who works for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., found that he had not entirely left the war behind. Bad dreams, hostility and other symptoms made themselves felt. Before long, they began to interfere with family relationships. Anderson's girlfriend, Cathy Coln, said Anderson seemed troubled, and at times seemed to treat her "like one of his soldiers."

The turning point came one day when Anderson began to feel severe tightness in his chest -- so strong that he was convinced he was having a heart attack. After being rushed to the hospital, however, doctors could find nothing physically wrong.

Based on Anderson's combat history, physicians suggested that he look into getting help with possible combat-induced stress. The incident was more than enough for Coln. "She gave me an ultimatum," Anderson said. Anderson was referred to the VA through a veterans outreach center, one of thousands across the U.S. designed to deal with a variety of service-related problems.

Anderson said initially he wasn't scheduled to receive counseling for three months -- until a Veterans Administration nurse pulled strings. Lack of resources for veterans health care is an increasing complaint among veterans' advocates, particularly in the area of mental health. "The Congress last year spent $27 billion on veterans' health care," said the DAV's Autry. "But it spent $29 million on pork barrel projects."

Autry said veterans' mental health care appears to have a low priority in comparison with treating physical injuries and that his organization routinely hears from veterans complaining about delays in getting appointments. With thousands of new cases adding to existing patients' needs for continuing care, Autry said veterans groups worry that the Veterans Administration will be unable to keep up with the demand for services.

The more citizens who become interested and involved in advocating for better VA funding, the better it will be for our veterans, their families, and society as a whole.

Documentaries like Hidden Wounds aim to see that more people at least hear the PTSD coping veteran's side of the story. The show is scheduled to be telecast 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Memorial Day on New England Cable News.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Want to stay connected? You can subscribe to PTSD Combat via Feedburner or follow Ilona on Twitter.
Later/Newer Posts Previous/Older Posts Return Home

2011: Jan Feb
2010: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2009: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2008: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2007: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2006: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2005: Sept Oct Nov Dec

Legal Notice

The information presented on this web site is based on news reports, medical and government documents, and personal analysis. It does NOT represent therapeutic prescription or recommendation. For specific advice and information, consult your health care provider.

Comments at PTSD Combat do not necessarily represent the editor's views. Illegal or inappropriate material will be removed when brought to our attention. The existence of such does not reflect an endorsement.

This site contains at times large portions of copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This material is used for educational purposes, to forward understanding of issues that concern veterans and military families. In accordance with U.S. Copyright Law Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. More information.