Resources Support Inspiration
Vol. 3 Number 6 • June 2016
PTSD The Fight On Capitol Hill
Fighting PTSD Signs & Symptoms
Riding With A Friend “The Wall”
Fitness’s Role In Transitioning To Civilian Life
Enlisted To Entrepreneur
A Soldier’s Last Words www.HomelandMagazine.com
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Homeland Publisher Editor-In-Chief Mike Miller Contributing Writers CJ Machado Vicki Garcia Carolyn Erickson Vesta Anderson Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat Brendan Foerster NY Myke Public Relations CJ Machado Thomas McBrien Linda Kreter Graphic Design Trevor Watson
Greetings and a warm welcome to HOMELAND Magazine! Please take some time to get to know the layout of our magazine. Homeland Magazine focuses on real stories from real heroes; the service member, the veteran, the wounded and the families that keep it together. Our magazine is driven by passion, vision, reflection and the future. The content is the driving force behind our magazine and the connection it makes with service members, families, veterans and civilians. Homeland is about standing your ground, resilience, adaptation, inspiration and solidarity.
We are honored to share the work of so many committed and thoughtful people.
Homeland Magazine is published monthly. Submissions of photographs, Illustrations, drawings, and manuscripts are considered unsolicited materials and the publisher assumes no responsibility for the said items. All rights reserved.
We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of HOMELAND Magazine.
Homeland Magazine 9528 Miramar Road, Suite 41 San Diego, CA 92126
With warmest thanks, Mike Miller, Publisher
HOMELAND is inspirational, “feel good” reading; our focus is on veterans, military and civilians alike. I believe HOMELAND is where the heart is, and our publication covers a wide variety of topics, and issues about real life and real stories.
Contact Homeland Magazine at: email@example.com
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inside this issue 26
6 Riding With The A Friend “The Wall” 8 The Fight On Capitol Hill
13 Honoring Captain Alfred “Fred” Platt 15 Enlisted To Entrepreneur 16 Fitness’s Role In Transitioning To Civilian Life
18 PTSD Signs & Symptoms 24 Operation Engage America 32 Military Spouses: Changing The World
25 A Soldier’s Last Words www.homelandmagazine.com
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BY NY MYKE
RIDING WITH A FRIEND
“THE WALL” Every year I ride to DC to meet my friends and the founders of the Rolling Thunder to remember our POW/ MIA (Prisoners of War & Missing in Action). This is the 33rd year that I’ve made the ride but this trip was extra special because I rode with a friend. Not just the friends who rode their motorcycles with me but a friend I took with me. Last week I flew to Houston, Texas for the funeral and Memorial service of Captain Alfred G. Platt, a patriot, a war hero, one of the smartest and most interesting people I’ve ever known, and who I’ve had the privilege of calling my friend for over 30 years!
Fred’s accomplishments and awards are too numerous to mention from the Silver Star, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, 3 Purple Hearts and many more honors. He flew in Vietnam and in “The Secret War” in Laos as a FAC, in a small O-1 “Bird Dog” bringing in air strikes. Fred didn’t just bring in air strikes though, he flew so close to targets he was shot down 11 times. The last time he broke his neck and after a year in hospitals he was medically retired, but that didn’t stop Fred. Always in pain with wires hooked up to his back, so he could sleep, Fred lived a life of service to his country and his fellow warriors. He was Commander of China Post 1 of the American Legion and was dedicated as well to his fellow Raven FACs and still had time to do many other important things. There were hundreds at his funeral from all over the country and all over the world! His ashes will be spread in places far and wide from The Mekong Delta to some more notorious places, and I’ve been blessed to have been allowed to take some with me to The Wall! Fred never stopped fighting, which is the hallmark of a warrior; he always believed in this country and he knew the warfighters didn’t lose in Vietnam, the politicians did, as usual. So, I think he’ll like being in the company of heroes who gave their lives and I know they’ve welcomed him. My only regret is that I didn’t spend more time with my friend Fred Platt, but I enjoyed our meaningful ride together, so hopefully he has found himself in the company of so many other great American heroes he’ll be able to
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comfortably rest in peace! Well probably not; you see Fred wasn’t just involved with the things he believed in, he was committed, and he always will be! As I look back over the years I see the struggles to survive as the most prevalent human condition. Throughout all the history I ever learned about it’s always been the suffering of people through famine or disease or the oppression of tyrants and power hungry leaders from Kings to Czars to the Islamists and Dear Leaders of today that leads to constant and ongoing warfare. There is nothing that is clearer or more obvious about the human condition than the fact that if you are not prepared for war you will be taken over by a stronger people who are. It’s not about fear, it’s about not being stupid and vulnerable. There will always be nations or as in today’s barbaric war by Islamists against our civilization, savages, who will destroy us if we aren’t able to destroy them. So why then are we as a nation not building our military instead of allowing its deterioration as we did during the Clinton years and for the last 7+ years of Barack Obama? We should be restoring our defenses to their mightiest capabilities, taking care of our vets better than our Congressmen, and teaching our children that it’s irresponsible not to be capable of defending themselves. I see Memorial Day as a day to begin reflecting on those who are serving us now and our responsibility to them and their families to make sure they have everything they need to do their job, that they are respected, not just by a few gestures
of fellow citizens but by the entire nation who must understand that peace without victory is just an illusion. As I do every year when I make the ride, I thought about how much we owe and how that debt can only be repaid by honoring what it was that they paid for; the honor and the wellbeing of our nation and the idea of freedom that America was founded upon, with a great reverence for our Creator. One nation under God, also means a nation that must be willing to fight to protect the gifts we’ve been blessed with, a gift of ideas that are worth fighting for, voting for, and working for! It’s also meaningful to me and my family that we have riders who’ve been with us for many years who we can communicate with from time to time not just to ask you for your business, but to thank you and to just talk about riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and not just what we ride or where we ride but why we ride. Sometimes it’s not easy to define that, but I knew exactly why I ride the minute I thought of taking Fred with me, because I know he’d love the freedom of riding a Harley across this great country as much as I do, with our shared passion of being American! Hope you had a wonderful and meaningful Memorial Day! Written by, New York Myke, San Diego Harley-Davidson Owner, Patriot and Veteran Advocate
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BY VESTA ANDERSON
The Fight on Capitol Hill In 2007, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matt Keil was serving as an infantry squad leader during his second deployment to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). Mid-deployment, Matt returned home for a two-week stint to marry his best friend, Tracy Keil, before returning back to Iraq. Just 43 days after saying his vows, a sniper’s bullet struck Matt in the neck. It severed his spine and left him a quadriplegic. Instantly, Matt’s and Tracy’s life together was forever changed. Although Matt was no longer in a combat zone, he and Tracy knew they were facing a new battle – recovery. Still, they never expected that fight to lead them to Capitol Hill. Since 9/11, 2.4 million brave service members have deployed around the world in support of GWOT. Improvements in military medicine and technology save warriors from potentially fatal injuries, only to return them home to America’s broken promise of providing the benefits they earned and deserve. Of the more than 52,000 service members who have been physically wounded in combat to date, it is estimated that between 1,800 and 2,000 veterans suffered an injury that makes it impossible for them to have children. The solution? Fertility treatment – specifically in vitro fertilization (IVF) – became the only option for many injured warriors to start a biological family.
IVF was initially covered in the health care offered by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But when the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 was signed into law, it removed IVF from approved treatments administered by the VA for separated veterans, leaving only active-duty service members covered under the DoD. Many would learn of this change too late. “We were just swallowing the fact that he was never going to go back to work,” Tracy says, explaining their early retirement decision was made without understanding they were losing the fertility care benefits they earned. “This is a direct result of a combat injury,” says Tracy. “Don’t tell me that his service wasn’t good enough for us to have a chance at a family. Because we’ve already lost so much. I just want to have a family with the man that I love.” According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the average cost for a single IVF treatment averages at $12,000 per cycle. However, according to the National Infertility Association, per-cycle success rates are based on a variety of medical factors—some of which can be further impacted by the type of combat injury sustained by the veteran—such as weight, sperm count, and ovarian reserve. If families need multiple cycles, IVF expenses can sometimes reach upwards of more than $50,000.
“Don’t tell me that his service wasn’t good enough for us to have a chance at a family. Because we’ve already lost so much. I just want to have a family with the man that I love.”
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Congress has left this expense to our nation’s injured heroes for more than two decades since the 1992 law passed. The irony is insulting. Injured veterans have been left to pay for the very thing they sacrificed their health to protect – family. “These veterans have made a tremendous sacrifice for our country, and we owe it to them to have the opportunity to start a family. In addition to battlefield trauma, for many of these brave veterans and their families, enduring the stress and anxiety of not knowing whether they can afford costly IVF treatments can be very difficult to bear,” said Sean Foertsch, government and community relations director at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). Still, Congress underestimates the spirit of these warriors and their supporters. Advocates have urged lawmakers to pass a bill recently introduced to Congress that would require the VA to cover fertility treatment for those veterans who received combat- or training-related injuries. Last month, Matt and Tracy joined WWP and other affected veterans on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of needed fertility benefits and to ask the government to uphold the promise made to veterans by passing the bill into law. There have been other bills proposed to lift the VA ban on IVF treatment, but no agreement was made between legislative parties. Like its predecessors, to become a law this bill is required to not only pass both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, but also be approved by the President. It’s a process much like the modern story line for a pinball machine. As long as Congress keeps the ball in play, the game will never end. The Keils refused to wait for Congress to honor its promise. Pulling more than $32,000 from their personal savings, the Keils paid for something no wounded veterans should have to… “The title of ‘dad’ or ‘mom’ is probably the best title that any person that walks this earth could have,” says Matt. While he and Tracy now have those titles, there are others still fighting for them. You can join their fight. Contact Congress now. Visit the Wounded Warrior Project Action Center at https://goo.gl/dhdXMt.
About Wounded Warrior Project The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. The WWP purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To learn more about WWP and the Benefits Service program, visit woundedwarriorproject.org. (Photos courtesy WWP)
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Symbols of America’s Heroes
Veterans tribute tower
and at Miramar National Cemetery
Through the efforts of the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation, the Veterans Tribute Tower and Carillon will soon join other Symbols of America’s Heroes at Miramar National Cemetery: Avenue of Flags Memorial Walkway Prisoners of War Monument
The Foundation works year-round to honor our Veterans’ sacrifices. It maintains the Avenue of Flags, sponsors the annual Veterans Memorial Service, and conducts other programs and patriotic events. Your tax-deductible contribution can help sustain the Foundation’s important work at Miramar National Cemetery. Please visit the Foundation website at www.miramarcemetery.org and click on “Contribute” or send your contribution to: Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation 1245 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 The Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization and a 509 (c)(1) public charity. Tax ID #65-1277308. 12
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Honoring Captain Alfred “Fred” Platt - U.S. Air Force Retired San Diego icon and local Harley-Davidson business owner, New York Myke, Rode to “The Wall” in support of the ‘Rolling Thunder’s’ mission and his own personal dedication to a beloved friend. The ‘Rolling Thunder’ is dedicated to raising our consciousness on the POW/MIA issue. Their goal is to “Help correct the past and to protect future veterans from being left behind should they become Prisoners of War-Missing in Action.” Rolling Thunder, INC. are also committed to helping American veterans from all wars. Every Memorial Day weekend, Riders from across our great nation rally in DC to support the Rolling Thunder’s mission. Every member of the ‘Rolling Thunder’ donates his or her time because they believe in the importance of addressing the POW/MIA issue.
New York Myke has been riding to “The Wall” for the past 33 years, however this year’s Ride was dedicated in honor of his recently passed and close friend, Captain Alfred “Fred” Platt, U.S. Air Force, Retired. After 745 combat missions and being shot down 11 times, no wonder Capt. Fred Platt earned the nickname “Fred ‘MAGNET ASS’ Platt.” Although, Platt is eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery, he was a “true” Texan and insisted that he be buried on Texas soil, where a military funeral was performed on May 18th at Houston’s National Cemetery. Hundreds of friends, comrades and family attended, including dedicated and loyal friend New York Myke from San Diego, CA. When NY Myke was “blessed” by receiving some of Platt’s ashes, he knew this year’s Ride to “The Wall” would be dedicated in his friends honor. A 1958 graduate of San Jacinto High School, Platt graduated from The University of Texas in 1963 and then on to Air Force Officer Candidate School. During the Vietnam War, Platt was determined to participate in combat air strikes in Southeast Asia to defend and protect our ground troops that were dying in rapid numbers. Disappointedly, he initially was sent to traffic school because there weren’t enough slots open for pilot school. This fiery “Cowboy,” (a name originally given by his fellow comrades), had a burning desire to serve in Southeast Asia with the men that were givin’ it all for their country. At first he was told he couldn’t fight with his fellow servicemen because he was an officer. Infuriated with the bureaucracy, Fred took leave in 1964 to write a study on why officers weren’t allowed to serve in Southeast Asia. The study impressed the chain of command so much, they instead sent his Commanding Officer to Southeast Asia. The CO was not pleased. www.homelandmagazine.com
Platt’s tenacity, eventually came to fruition and he was sent to pilot school where he earned his wings and was commissioned on his 23rd birthday, Feb 4, 1964. Ironically, five years later, on Fred’s 28th birthday, he was shot down for the first time in Laos.
During his 745 combat missions, “MAGNET ASS” Platt was shot down 11 times and was rescued from behind enemy lines three times. In his final crash landing, Platt was left paralyzed from the neck down and eventually with great perseverance, a year later he was able to walk again.
While stationed in Arkansas learning to fly B-52s, he realized he was not going to be sent in for combat missions. Frustrated, yet still determined to fight with his compatriots, Platt instead volunteered to go over as a Forward Air Controller. It took him only 10 days to complete the six-month course and he went directly from flying the B-52s to flying the O-1s (“Bird Dog” propeller aircraft). “The O-1,” he explained, “is the air boss who controls all air sorties. Flying around finding targets on your own or going to an area which is preplanned for targets.”
Platt was awarded a Silver Star, 3 Purple Hearts and 3 DFCs (Distinguished Flying Crosses), amongst many other decorations. He received 48 decorations while serving in Southeast Asia and was recommended for a collection of other medals, which were downgraded or dropped due to an unjust physical conflict with a Colonel while he was still recovering from his injuries that almost ended up in a wrongful court martial. His amazing story is depicted in author Christopher Robbins book, “The Ravens,” which tells the story of “The Men Who Flew in America’s Secret War in Laos.”
Platt finally made it to Southeast Asia to protect and serve with his brothers at war. Shortly after his arrival, a CIA recruiter came to his base and told him, “We want you.”
New York Myke made his Ride to “The Wall” and honorably served his brother Platt by distributing his ashes alongside his fellow brothers. A sacred wall dedicated to all the great men fallen during the Vietnam War. May peace and unity be found within the names of his fallen brothers and fellow American Heroes.
He became a member of the specialized secret group operating in Laos called “The Ravens.” Platt stated, “We worked closely with the Air America people, but were considered a separate Black Operation and not under direct Air Force control. We worked for a feudal tribesman, who worked for the U.S. government and was an operational head who specked out operations. His troops kept North Vietnam from taking over the South.”
Homeland Magazine would like to pay tribute to an extraordinary man and great patriot, deceased Capt. Alfred “Fred” Platt, U.S. Air Force Retired. An American veteran that was determined to serve our country for the love of his brothers and to preserve our freedom. His determination and perseverance will never be forgotten. God Bless you always.
Platt explained that Air America was an offshoot of the Flying Tigers. In Laos it was the civilian airline that hauled supplies. “Roughly 5 percent of Air America was doing the Black Ops, taking road-watch teams and dropping them off deep in enemy territories,” he recounted. “They flew highly valuable people and cargo.”
By CJ Machado & Thomas McBrien Homeland Magazine
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ENLISTED TO ENTREPENEUR By Vicki Garcia
Get Out There and
ith the advent of the internet you’d think the “old-fashioned” effectiveness of business networking has been left in the dust. Not true! Face-to-face contact is, and always will be, the number one way to grow your business. I’m currently coaching a veteran entrepreneur who is highly skilled in what he does. But, he’s uncomfortable meeting new people. He has to get over this if he is to succeed. Shyness is a luxury an entrepreneur cannot afford. Visibility Builds Trust Often the most competent competitor doesn’t win. Ask 100 people what is the best burger in town, and many of them will say McDonald’s. Because
there is one on every corner, they are perceived as the best. They have visibility. Visibility builds trust. Hide behind your computer, and you will be the competitor who loses. Business groups will urge you to show up consistently. This is because they know that half the battle is being seen, becoming a familiar face and reintroducing your business over and over again. Networking gets easier the more you do it. You never know what you’ll find or who you will meet. Attracting new business, forging alliances, opening up opportunities...all are waiting for you if you will just get out there.
8 Networking Tips out your hand and say “Hi, I’m (your name). What do you do?
Instead, network with the people around the display tables.
2. Don’t sit with your friends. Sit with a table of strangers and converse with all of them.
5. Get to know the organization’s decision makers and power brokers. Be helpful to them.
8. Besides looking for customers, also look for people you might team with, or who could be good referral sources.
3. Once you find a promising organization, volunteer to help at the check in table where you will meet everyone who arrives.
6. Find out who determines the speakers. Your trustworthiness will grow rapidly if you speak.
4. Look for first timers. Walk up to them, stick
7. Don’t waste your money on display tables.
Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today & President of Marketing Impressions. Look for trusted advisors, or apply to be a B2B vendor for veteran entrepreneurs at www.veteranentrepreneurstoday.org.
1. Networking is not for making a sale on the spot. If you’re all about selling, people will avoid you.
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Interview BY BRENDAN FOERSTER
More than exercise, fitness’s role in transitioning to civilian life
For active duty service members’ fitness plays a critical role in being able to do the job to the best of one’s ability, whether you are a Special Forces operator or a logistical staff member. But what about for veterans and the challenges faced during the transition from active duty to civilian life? HOMELAND recently caught up with Tee Major to talk about the role fitness can play in the transition from active duty to civilian life, fitness tips for veterans and his Militant Athletes Extreme Physical Training (MAX PT) program. MAX PT is a military-inspired workout that is tough enough for the military athlete but also doable for anyone looking to kick start a new fitness routine. The program was created and developed for U.S. and Coalition Armed Forces that combines strength, cardio and core movements into intense 6-minute circuits. Major is the founder of TeeMajor.com, the creator of MAX PT and a FITFUSION.com trainer. He is also a long-time Military Fitness Trainer for the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coalition Forces and served as a civilian fitness trainer during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and spent eight months as a personal and group trainer for the U.S. Navy on Coronado Island on the North Island Base. 16
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The military life is one of structure and routine. The absence of being told where to be and what to do is probably one of the hardest things to get used to during the transition from active duty to civilian life.
HOMELAND: How has your work with the military influenced your fitness programming and guiding principles? TM: Every military branch has a creed and is something the soldiers within each branch live and die by every day. Each creed consists of several core values such as discipline, physical and mental toughness, proficiency in tasks and drills, which resonated with me and helped shape the way I train and live my everyday life. Armed service members have job requirements, one of which is to stay physically fit even if deployed in austere conditions. They should be able to train with little equipment, little time, and small spaces if necessary. So my workouts are quick, efficient, task oriented and develop mental and physical toughness.
HOMELAND: How can fitness, and your approach to fitness, help service members with the transition from active duty to civilian life? TM: The military life is one of structure and routine. The absence of being told where to be and what to do is probably one of the hardest things to get used to during the transition from active duty to civilian life. Establishing a daily fitness routine will help veterans stay in shape and give a bit of structure to the day. Starting any kind of new routine can be overwhelming so I try to preach starting with one day and one exercise at a time and building upon that. HOMELAND: What kind of workouts would you give, or recommend, to veterans?
TM: Regardless of your status, active duty or veteran, my overall approach doesn’t change. The training I deliver depends on the desired outcome. My special operators or recon guys are required to constantly carry extra weight in the form of vests and gear. So, when we train, I tend to use weighted vests and bodyweight exercises with added resistance to build strength and muscle endurance. We also focus on injury prevention to keep them in the battle. Others, such as logistical staff, have very different job functions so their training tends to be more focused on overall strength, flexibility, and mobility. The MAX PT program on FITFUSION.com is a great place to start if a veteran is looking for a military inspired workout, but there are also several functional-inspired workouts on my YouTube channel – these are great examples of how I typically train my veteran clients. HOMELAND: What tips would you give to veterans on maintaining and improving their overall well-being?
Starting any kind of new routine can be overwhelming so I try to preach starting with one day and one exercise at a time and building upon that.
TM: Move purposefully, not habitually. Many people get stuck doing the same routine in the gym so mix it up a bit and make sure you are performing movements that help you perform in your life. With bodyweight movements, they can be done virtually anywhere. Get outside for a hike and do 5-10 pushups every 5 minutes or go for a walk/run on the beach.
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PTSD Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat, MD
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a severe and on-going emotional reaction resulting from exposure to extreme stress or trauma. It can be caused by childhood or adult emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse; prolonged or extreme neglect; witnessing abuse or a serious accident; sexual assault or rape; incarceration; being involved in natural disasters or witnessing a traumatic event. Veterans with PTSD usually have witnessed people being injured or dying, or had experienced physical harm themselves or participated in events where they felt as if their lives or the lives of others were in danger or they had no control over what was happening, and not having proper support after the event.
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Signs and Symptoms of PTSD Those suffering from PTSD are more likely to suffer from anxiety, and are more likely to being depressed. One study of military sexual trauma survivors found nearly 46% of female and more than 28% of male survivors suffered from depression; they also have trouble with anxiety, and memory problems. Others emotional symptoms including feeling emotionally cut off from others, constantly on guard, irritated, or having angry outbursts. They have sleeping difficulties, nightmares, vivid memories or flashbacks of the event that make them feel like it’s happening all over again. They are also at higher risk of committing suicide. Physical symptoms include stomach or bowel problems, headaches, backache, chronic body aches and being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, heart palpitations. Sleep disorders are very common. Survivors of sexual trauma may also see changes in their sexual responses such as lack of desire, painful intercourse, or lack of orgasm. Sexual experiences may be interrupted by angry reactions, anxiety, fear, or unexpected memories of the incident. They are most likely to having trouble sleeping: trouble falling or staying asleep; bad dreams or nightmares and eating disorders, having problems in relationships: feeling alone or not connecting to others, and staying in abusive relationships, having problems with alcohol: drinking to excess or getting drunk to cope with memories or unpleasant feelings; drinking to fall asleep. Veterans with PTSD may think it is a kind of spiritual punishment; some may lose their trust and faith completely. Not having trust faith only compounds the inability to respond to stressors and aggravating emotional and physical conditions. Sometimes these symptoms don’t surface for months or even years after the event occurred or after returning from deployment. They may also come and go.
Military Sexual Trauma – MST as A Cause for PTSD. As per former Congresswoman Jane Harman, “Women serving in the US military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq. In the case of sexual assault and rape, the enemy eats across the table at the mess hall, shares a vehicle on patrol, and bandages wounds inflicted on the battlefield.” The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released an independent study in 2010 that reports an estimated 23% of Veterans describe having experienced sexual trauma while on active service. That is double the rate for civilians, which is one in six, according to the US Department of Justice. These figures are only a fraction of the reality since sexual assaults are notoriously under-reported both within the military, and amongst civilians. Victims of MST often have the perception that no serious action will be taken on their behalf; are more likely to be ridiculed and ostracized by fellow soldiers; being called a liar, whore, or slut, accused of being gay, and sometimes demoted, or dishonorably discharged under false pretenses. Being penalized for reporting incidents while the offenders go unpunished, having nowhere to turn, not wanting to lose their job or rank, most of these men and women suffer in silence, many go AWOL out of a sense of desperation, abuse drug and alcohol to mitigate their pain, and many become homeless. Veterans returning home from a war often have PTSD, and when this is compounded with MST, the effects of these traumas are substantial.
Treatment Approaches Each case of PTSD is unique therefore treatment needs to be tailored for each patient. Even Veterans who did not realize that they had PTSD years after they have been home can benefit. Veterans themselves, who feel like a failure if they acknowledge that they have PTSD because of shame, not wanting to appear weak, can hinder unfortunately receiving treatment. Some are also plagued with survivor’s guilt.
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Those suffering from PTSD are more likely to suffer from anxiety, and are more likely to being depressed. One study of military sexual trauma survivors found nearly 46% of female and more than 28% of male survivors suffered from depression; they also have trouble with anxiety, and memory problems.
psychotherapy modalities. Patients may need to work with their doctors or counselors and try different types of treatment before finding the one thatâ€™s best for dealing with their PTSD symptoms. Veterans since the Vietnam War have used marijuana to help deal with their PTSD. But this has not been without controversy since marijuana is considered an illegal substance by the Federal government. But with time it was noted that it has helped them deal with their PTSD symptoms as well with their anxiety disorders and chronic pain, reducing the use of stronger prescription drugs with their side effects as well as saving taxpayers money. On July 22, 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a directive allowing Veterans to use medical marijuana while participating in VHA substance abuse programs, pain control programs, or other clinical programs, as long as they live in a state where medical marijuana is legal. But VA providers are prohibited from completing forms giving recommendations but it could be obtained from an outside source. As of last year, a patient can even discuss the use of medical marijuana with their VA doctors without fear of repercussion. Congress and the Senate are presently considering bills on the subject. www.homelandmagazine.com
What Should Loved Ones Do? PTSD can also change family life making them feeling scared, frustrated and angry about what is happening wondering if things will ever go back the way they were. Ways to help loved ones with PTSD include: 1.
Learn as much as you can about PTSD.
Be there for them when they want someone to talk to or just be
Getting help yourself from family members, support groups, etc.
Offer to participate in their care such as going to doctor visits with them, help them keep track of medicine and therapy there when they donâ€™t feel like talking. Involve them in family activities as often as possible.
VA Resource for Veterans with PTSD Moving Forward is a free online course designed for Veterans and service members who are facing challenges such as managing stress, balancing school and family, relationship problems, adjustment issues, coping with physical injuries and financial difficulties. A free mobile app is available for users of iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and can be downloaded from the App store.
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VA Resource for Veterans with PTSD Moving Forward is a free online course designed for Veterans and service members who are facing challenges such as managing stress, balancing school and family, relationship problems, adjustment issues, coping with physical injuries and financial difficulties. A free mobile app is available for users of iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and can be downloaded from the App store. The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and helps Veterans in crisis and their families and friends anonymously connect with qualified, caring VA responders. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 Send a text message to 838255 Chat online Understanding PTSD Treatment Booklet www.ptsd.va.gov/public/understanding_TX/booklet.pdf National Center for PTSD This website provides information, resources, and practical advice for Veterans, their family and friends, and the public. www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp
VA’s PTSD Program Locator
Explore eligibility for health care using VA’s Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out about available treatment options. www.va.gov/directory/guide/PTSD.asp
Vet Center Combat Veterans can bring their DD214 to their local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veterans who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service. www2.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter_flsh.asp Research into ways to prevent PTSD is ongoing. In the meantime, since we cannot presently prevent what is happening – especially when it comes to the casualties of war, stricter rules, education, and accountability for those who commit “friendly fire” crimes need to be set in place. When someone experiences a trauma, it takes a toll on the entire family. It prevents the individual from living their life fully, and being a productive citizen; at a high cost to society as a whole. San Diego County has the highest rate of homeless Veterans in the nation. We can increase the chance of a good outcome for those who are presently in the forces as well as our Veterans with an early diagnosis, prompt treatment, and the development of strong social support inside and outside of the forces. Hopefully our wounded warriors will not become just another statistic.
Dr. Carolle Jean-Murat, MD has worked extensively since 1991 with female Veterans who suffered from PTSD due to sexual trauma during their military experience—MST, to include in-depth assessments, providing specialized alternative treatments, reviewing their medical records, and testifying on their behalf at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She has been working with male Veterans as well since 2011 in many different capacities. She is the medical director of the new True Healing and Wellness Institute in San Diego working closely with the VA to offer comprehensive programs for both male and female Veterans suffering from PTSD.
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Howard and Jean Somers are the parents of California Army National Guard SGT Daniel A. Somers, who took his own life in June, 2013 after struggling for nearly ten years with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury and Gulf War Syndrome. Since Danielâ€™s death and the subsequent publishing of his suicide note, Howard and Jean have dedicated themselves to increasing the awareness of mental health and transition issues affecting service members, Veterans and their families. They regularly provide the family perspective to those involved in creating policy in these important areas. 24
HOMELAND / June 2016
Daniel was caught in the morass that was the Phoenix VA. As parents of a married Veteran, Howard and Jean were excluded from any dialogue that concerned Daniel’s medical condition. They did not know how to approach or speak to Daniel, and had no idea how to help him get the help he needed or where to turn to get help for themselves. Because of their experiences during Daniel’s suffering, they founded Operation Engage America in January, 2014. OEA’s mission is to connect members of the military, Veterans, first responders, and their loved ones who are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury and other transitioning issues, with appropriate resources in their local communities. The first OEA resource fairs took place in San Diego and Des Moines in June, 2014. It has now grown to seven cities and the goal is to expand nation wide. OEA’s mission is to empower the Veteran community to move past Post Traumatic Stress to a life of Post Traumatic Growth and a thriving future. In particular, the goal of this year’s events is to enable Veterans and their caregivers and families, who are too often forgotten and overlooked, and have significant issues themselves, to successfully reintegrate into the community and thrive in their daily lives. There will be more than 100 resource vendors at the San Diego event on June 18. OEA partners with the VA nationally, TriWest Healthcare regionally, and 2-1-1 San Diego and San Diego County locally. There will be a 5K Fun Run/Walk prior to the event at the Liberty Station Conference Center in conjunction with Team Red White and Blue. There is no charge for the Run/Walk or the event, and everyone is encouraged to attend.
“I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This” ~A Soldier’s Last Words
he fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term. You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.
I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time. My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again.
Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing. You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of. To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.
HOMELAND / June 2016 25
Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered. Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak. However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge. Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing withthose families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.
And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility. Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so. I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way. The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing
things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me. Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried I am free. I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me. Daniel Somers
It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.
HOMELAND / June 2016
Mentorship for children in military families who deserve our thanks and support. Enroll a child or become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Call (858) 746.9173 SDBigs.org/OperationBigs
HOMELAND / June 2016 27
I engaged the enemy in numerous gun battles. I was close to someone that was killed or injured. Fear and death was all around me, I became numb inside. When I returned home, did you really expect me to pick up my life right where I left off?
HOMELAND / June 2016
Not all wounds are visible!
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HOMELAND / June 2016
Did you miss the article on Royce Williams? Unbroken? Service Dogs? American Sniper? Military Life? Fighting PTSD?
Resources Support Inspiration
Vol. 3 Number4 • April 2016
From PTSD and Sniper Fire, to Dogs That Heal Reboot Your Life After The Military Tax Tips for Service Members and Their Families Can Military Service Make You A Millionare
WAR COMES HOME the legacy Changing Veterans’ Lives HOMELAND / April 2016 1
You can now catch up on all your favorite articles, breaking news, resources, jobs for vets, educational opportunities events & more.
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Military Spouses Focus on Their Own Mission: Changing the World By Craig Zabojnik USAA Content provided courtesy of USAA
In the 13 years Leia Johnson has been married, she has watched her husband, Scott, an Air Force pilot, deploy all over the world. That’s given her a mission all her own. “As a military spouse, I am acutely aware of grass-roots peace and community-building in places like South Sudan and sub-Saharan Africa,” says Johnson, a USAA member since 2008. “While things happen in places that seem distant to many Americans, they are directly affecting us because we send troops there, and we provide military aid and funding.” But with two young sons at home and a husband who deploys often, Johnson felt a career outside the home, even in charity work, would be difficult. That is, until she helped a friend raise money to improve a maternity ward in Africa.
HOMELAND / June 2016
In the five years since, she has established her own nonprofit and helped build a maternity ward and two schools, in addition to supporting several economic empowerment projects. Most recently, Johnson climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in support of another cause near to her heart — preventing violence against women. The six days she spent earlier this year hiking up the highest mountain in Africa, battling snow and altitude sickness, brought her to the summit on International Women’s Day. “Scott was also gone for nine of the 15 days that I was away,” Johnson says. For child care, she relied on her mother and military friends who freely help when duty calls.
“Being a military spouse forces you to rely on people who aren›t family in ways that can be pretty uncomfortable at first, but you learn quickly that the military is its own kind of family,” Johnson says. “When I think about the projects that we do globally, it›s not any different in my mind. We are all connected.” Now that she’s marked one of the world’s most famous peaks off her bucket list, Johnson says she’s focused on staying home with her children and raising money and awareness from the sidelines. “Climbing metaphorical mountains is where I can do the most good for the most people right now,” Johnson says.
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