This was the best DoD Roundtable I have been part of due to the participants open discussion about tough issues for veterans! Retired U.S. Army Maj. Ed Pulido and Capt. Josh Mantz, Real Warriors Campaign, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) and Ken MacGarrigle from the VA's Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom Program Office spoke to us about their personal experiences and why it is critical for early intervention for service members returning from the battlefield with these problems. They did note that “honoring” these protectors of our freedom with special recognition such Veterans Day celebrations, events such as last week’s “Stand Up For Heroes” and welcome home atmosphere were critical in the healing process! They compared the current treatment of veterans favorably to the treatment of Vietnam era veterans. DoD campaigns and information are getting better and access for those who need help is readily available.
The “Real Warrior Campaign” according to Major Pulido,
“…my mission now through the Real Warriors Campaign is to let our noncommissioned officer and enlisted personnel and our officers know that we can't leave anyone behind in the field of battle. And with that, I'm so glad that I'm a part of this great campaign to know and understand that we also cannot leave our families behind in the field of battle. And if we're able to do that and moving forward and utilizing our resources in our community, we'll make a difference in the lives of those that have served and sacrificed so much.”What is the most common misconception for PTSD, TBI and Deep Depression? All agreed that “you can not get help” is the biggest problem for many! That PTSD is a stigma and the events that caused it just won’t go away! Expectations are key according to Captain Mantz and he said that PTSD is managed but not cured. They felt that the military community has made strides to reduce barriers and the stigma attached. There is no “magic pill” to cure those with PTSD. But is it PTS or PTSD? Quite a discussion occurred over being identified with a Disorder versus just Post Traumatic Stress? Captain Mantz thought that having Disorder on the end gave it a very negative connotation! It was not a medical issue for the name but for a soldier (or any service member) it can cause issues to be identified with a disorder. He felt it made the situation more normal in soldier language and mentality without the D. “I think that from a soldier's perspective, not a clinician's perspective, but from a soldier's perspective, calling it post-traumatic stress kind of defines it in a way -- and normalizes it a bit.” It seems that DoD might consider changing to PTS if that helps service members better deal with their mental health after returning from the battlefield!
Three therapeutic requirements for returning veterans: Individual counseling and services for the service member; second, peer to peer support systems and third community outreach through faith based systems, schools (opening doors to veterans on Veteran’s Day to tell their story is a great one) and other welcome home venues. But what about veteran’s families? The first line of defense according to the team! Spouses and families also need counseling and it is available according to Mr MacGarrigle at Vet Centers around the country! Spouses are critical to efforts and I think I will write a second blog about this particular part of the Roundtable!
Here are some great resources for you! Whether they are for yourself, a family member, a friend, a peer, a community group that needs more information or anyone that you think could help spread the word about veterans!
A new VA Blog outreach! VAntage Point
Director of the VA, General (ret) Eric Shinseki: "Instead of waiting for veterans to find us, we're going to seek them out where they already are -- which is, increasingly, online."
Facebook for Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE)
I am a friend and follow this one!
There is a locator on the home page to find the closest one to you! Community based!
Real Warrior Outreach Center
866 966 1020
This Roundtable was a great discussion and an audio is available! I would highly encourage you to go to DoDLive for an audio or transcript! Thank you to all of veterans who have served! It is not just a day, it is every day!
Photo Credit: Author and grandson at Memorial Day parade
Photo Credit: Vet Center Home http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/
Photo Credit: VA Advantage http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/