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July/August 2020

PTSD and The American Civil War PTSD is not a new phenomena

Lucas Clark a Window Into PTSD

PTSD in WWI & WWII Shell-shock - PTSD by another name.


A Daughter’s First-Hand Account of her Dad’s PTSD

Brandon Corbin from Childhood Dreams to Nightmares

Photo Credit: Marjorie Doherty

TABLE OF 08 CONTENTS July/August 2020

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Benefit Update


Brandon Corbin


Lucas Clark


PTSD and The American Civil War


Beyond Traditional Therapies






Coffee Table Coach


PTSD & Clear Mind Therapy

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“Will you join us in this community-wide effort to serve those who have served us?” - Lisa Groleau | Veteran, Bill Marsh Sales Manager, Charlie Golf One Board Member

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GATHER Media LLC Hannah Bouwmeester - Owner Traverse City, MI 49696, (231) 492-7870 PAMELA MCCORMICK Marjorie Doherty Rachael Sherman Michael W. Roof Amanda Renkiewicz Gaurav Roy Lin Opgenorth Hannah Bouwmeester Christopher Moran Jayden Designs hannah@gatherveterans.com Visit gatherveterans.com/ subscribe-today to subscribe. Subscription Rates: One Year, 6 issues, $14.95. Allow six weeks for first issue to be received. Note: Veterans can pick up a free copy at various locations. Please email hannah@gatherveterans.com for details in your area. Note: Not all areas serviced.

Copyright @2020 GATHER Media LLC. All rights reserved. Individual works also copyrighted by their originators. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. We do not assume any liability for errors or omissions. GATHER Media LLC does not necessarily endorse any of the attractions, products or services contained within.

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ADAPT AND OVERCOME I have always been an overcomer. My challenging childhood along with many opportunities to “pick myself up by the boot straps” and keep going in my adult life have created a pretty tenuous spirit within me.


owever, during this time of sheltering at home, I have to admit, I found my edge. You know the one, you look over the it and a great abyss seems to be ready and willing to swallow you up. It was dark, it was unknown, and it was not welcome. Even though I am not a veteran myself, I have still learned the very crucial skill of adapting and overcoming. Having been raised by a narcissistic mother who was not beyond a fist or two in your face to living on the streets and trying to figure out how to shower to get cleaned up for work, I have faced many a situation that required me to get creative and think my way out of a seemingly locked box. This new world we live in is another opportunity for each of us to learn to adapt and overcome. Having recently looked over that edge and faced that fear of the unknown, I vowed I would not let that black monster of fear win. And I haven’t. I still don’t know what the future holds and you probably don’t either, but this I do know, I will keep putting out GATHER Veterans and

bringing you content that makes you look forward to the next issue. I would highly encourage you to subscribe if this resource is helpful to you! In this issue we are tackling the reality of PTSD and psychological trauma suffered by many veterans. We hear about these challenges all the time, but now with Covid19 and the Black Lives Matter protests, I feel we have all had just a peek into living in the trenches of what can be potentially very scary times. Now, don’t get me wrong, I won’t minimize what soldiers who have been in real war have suffered, however, whenever one is traumatized by an event, these things can result. I hope you take the time to read these compelling and insightful articles. It is our hope you not only learn how to adapt and overcome your own personal “edge of the abyss”, but also figure out ways you may be able to help others do the same. In the trenches,

Hannah Bouwmeester Publisher

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Benefit Update By Michael W. Roof

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I truly hope everyone has been staying safe through all the COVID-19 protocols. Our office opened back up full-time on June 15th. Our staff, like so many others, experienced the lack of personal interactions with clients. Each of us thrive by helping other veterans and their dependents at the Department of Veterans Affairs.


he COVID-19 pandemic has hit those already struggling from mental health issues with a deeper level of anxiety, stress, or depression. While most veterans feel more comfortable around other veterans, as we have a sense of what they have been through, the COVID-19 isolations have kept people at home where they are forced to deal with their demons alone. If you are struggling, I hope you will utilize some of the resources shared within this issue. Here are some updates pertaining to our current situation. COVID-ER Financial Assistance In response to the high number of people out of work and suffering financial distress, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) created the County Veteran Service Fund Emergency Relief (CVSF-ER) grant. This grant is to help pay for home repairs, medical expenses, buy groceries and personal care items and other needs determined emergent. The MVAA also partnered with Meijer to provide grocery

vouchers to veterans. Vouchers of $50 or $100 are used to purchase food, paper products, laundry and household cleaning products, health and beauty care items and pet foods. Check with your local Veterans Affairs office to see how you can receive CVSF-ER grant money to assist you in meeting your needs. Mental Health Counseling Those struggling with mental health and the high costs of counseling, there might be an alternative if you served in any combat zone and received a military campaign ribbon (Vietnam, Southwest Asia, OEF, OIF, etc.) then both you and your family are eligible for Vet Center services. VA Vet Centers offer a wide range of psycho social services to eligible Veterans, Service members, and their families in the effort to make a successful transition from military to civilian life.  They include: · Individual and group counseling for Veterans, Service members, and their families

· Family counseling for military related issues · Bereavement counseling for families who experience an active duty death · Military sexual trauma counseling and referral · Outreach and education including PDHRA, community events, etc. · Substance abuse assessment and referral · Employment assessment & referral · VBA benefits explanation and referral · Screening & referral for medical issues including TBI, depression, etc The Colonel Dema T. Craw VA Clinic located in Traverse City at 701 US Hwy 31 South is one of many clinics across the state that offers Mental Health services including medication management, individual and group counseling such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is no requirement to be a combat veteran, but you must be enrolled in VA healthcare to utilize services at any VA Clinics. For more information, visit or call your local Department of Veterans Affairs office.

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Brandon Corbin From Childhood Dreams to Nightmares By Amanda Renkiewicz

Iraqi hummer ran over IED in Mosul Iraq. Brandon’s 2nd tour.


hile a popular belief says that angels live among us, we know for a fact that there are hidden heroes by our sides. Our veterans are the unsung guardians of our lives and freedoms. Their journeys are incredibly touching, difficult to imagine, and inspirational in the extreme. One local hero is Brandon Corbin, who first became interested in the military when our country went to war with Iraq. While as a child he had seen military movies and dreamt of being a soldier, it

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Photo Credit: Rachael Sherman

became a reality as he reached adulthood. “I decided to go into the infantry, because my mindset was if I am going to do this I am going to do it right, and be in the fight,” Brandon explains. “I felt that I needed to serve and do my part for my country.” Brandon’s military background is impressive. He served in the Army as an 11B for thirteen years and went to basic training through Alpha company 1-50 Battalion in Fort Benning, GA. From there, he received

orders to the 2 Infantry Division 3rd Brigade (Stryker brigade) out of Fort Lewis, WA, and deployed twice with them to Iraq. Six months later, he received orders to be a Drill Sergeant. After his time on the trail, he was given orders to Fort Richardson and the Airborne brigade, and assigned to the 3-509th battalion. With them, he deployed to the Afghanistan RC East region. When he returned, he spent a year running the Arctic Warrior Combative Academy teaching hand to hand techniques. Following orders to Fort Jackson, SC, Brandon was a Master Fitness Instructor, and then assigned as an Instructor at the Initial Military Training Leadership Development course. His term of service was completed on April 1, 2016. While his official military experience ended, the recurring trauma of being a soldier doesn’t go away. Brandon suffers from PTSD that lingers from his three deployments. “The

first time, we reacted to numerous elements while being ambushed. My platoon lost one soldier during this deployment to suicide. We received indirect fire my entire time during that deployment,” he recalls. “My platoon’s last duty during the first tour was to protect an Iraqi Army training center. During that time, we came under mortar fire while I was on guard tower duty. We had rounds hit our main building, but luckily the majority of mortars they fired were duds. I will never forget the sounds and flashes of that event. During my second deployment, we encountered EFPs (Explosive Formed Penetrator) type of IEDs and VBEDs (Vehicle Borne Explosive Device). We have reacted to many casualties of these bombs that targeted Iraqi citizens, Iraqi Army/Police and some of my fellow soldiers. And midway through that tour, sniper became more prevalent; we had a soldier from our company hit by a sniper while out in the sector.”

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” G.K. Chesterton

December in Fob Salerno, 3rd tour.

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Brandon continues, “With that being said, I still cannot drive over anything in the road, no matter if it’s just trash or roadkill or even potholes. Dreams are still powerful reminders of everything that happened. I avoid congested areas to the best of my ability. People’s hands are very important to me to see when out in public. Even just on walks, I’m still looking for the best place to take cover. My brain never shuts off with all the risks I perceive.” When asked what Brandon recommends for fellow veterans who suffer from PTSD, he quickly answered. “The sooner you can find help, the better the results. Find a group of veterans since they’re going through the same situation. Regardless of how much we

never want to bring it out to the surface and as strong as our characters are, everyone has tough moments. Don’t wait to be at the bottom to find help when it seems so far away. It’s hard to become vulnerable to our past events, but believe me, this is a fight that’s easier to fight together. As we do for our country, it’s one team, one fight.” As Brandon looks to the future of his veteran community, he hopes that his fellow officers don’t slip through the cracks. “The faster a veteran becomes engaged in the community, in their own care, and through gainful employment, the smoother their transitions become.” This advice is something he follows daily, and allows him to move through life with gratitude and honor.

Kelley Murphy, mother to Brandon’s boys, harvesting pumpkins during the Fall Harvest.

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Photo near Rahman Kheyl Afghanistan, 3rd tour.

Squad photo at Combat Outpost (COP) Rahman Kheyl Afghanistan, 3rd tour. Brandon was Drill Sergeant while at 2-54 in Fort Benning, GA.

Observational post for mortar firing positions, 1st tour, Mosul Iraq.

Five of Brandon’s seven children. Alexis, far left. Kirsten in the middle holding Brandon, Jr., Kirsten’s boyfriend, Matt, far right. Matt just graduated basic training himself! Far left bottom row is Mayson and middle is Aybel.

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Lucas Clark

A Window Into PTSD By Amanda Renkiewicz

Photo Credit: Rachael Sherman On guard with one of the Afghani Army soldiers we worked hand in hand with in Kunar Afghanistan. Op Bari Ali.


eet Lucas Clark, a 30 year old Veterans Affairs officer. His job is to help veterans get connected to the VA by making their office a one-stop-shop. By providing more resources and connections for their veterans, he can refer people to the right outreach centers, from housing to employment. As a child, young Lucas always wanted to be a cop at Hallow-

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een. He was constantly striving to do services for others, although his frequent calls to the 911 dispatch center would get him in trouble with his parents. Many of his family and role models had served in the military, including his dad, grandparents, great grandparents, and uncles. He knew from the start that he wanted to join and do something meaningful with his life.

Originally, Lucas was interested in joining the Coast Guard. After looking into training and researching the program, he went to enlist and was surprised to learn that there was a two year wait list for swimmers from Michigan. Undeterred, he went to the Army division and told his story. He received a recommendation to be an army diver. “What do they do?” he asked with interest. “Honestly, I don’t know, I’ve never met one,” replied the recruiter. With that lukewarm response, Lucas instead became a cavalry scout. He was misled by his vision of riding a dirt bike or dune buggy through the desert and having a generally thrilling time. “I didn’t see one dirt bike the whole time I was deployed,” he admitted with a smile. Memorial Day parade 2012, Alden, MI, shortly after leaving the service.

On guard, Kunar Afghanistan, OP Pirtle King.

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Enjoying one of my few passions, grilling!

His experience in the Middle East was difficult. In Afghanistan, his vehicle struck an IED. He woke up on the ground later, having survived, but being wounded enough to suffer from PTSD and memory issues. After completing his time in the military, he struggled for three months as he searched for a job. His financial problems worsened until he reached out to the VA, getting involved and back on his feet. Lucas admits that shelving his pride and asking for help was a challenge. “Everyone wants to be self-sufficient. No one wants to ask for a handout or trust in others after their experiences,” he said. Despite his own reservations, he knew he needed to seek help by seeing a psychologist, who he still meets with weekly. By making therapy a priority, he gathers non-biased help and insight into how he can move on. His encouragement for others is to do the same. “Their story is my story,” he explained empathetically about his fellow veterans.

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“I believe I’m alive for a reason,” Lucas said. He devotes much of his time to public speaking, providing support for other veterans, and being involved in the community and veteran events. “Maybe one person needed to hear what I had to say,” he said. “Maybe my story mattered for that one person, and if that person gets help after hearing my story, then my mission was successful.” “People care!” Lucas said strongly. “There are resources for veterans out there. We are worth the help and the effort. We matter. Trying to better your life genuinely sucks,” he added with a laugh. “I know it’s cliche, but life is a rollercoaster, and the downs can last a very long time. But they last as long as you let them.”

Fishing in the Clam River, summer 2019.

Providing overwatch for route clearnace missions. Kunar Afghanistan. OP Bari Ali.

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PTSD and The American Civil War Written By Gaurav Roy


sychological trauma has been with us humans in one form or another for thousands of years. It used to be with us when humans used sharp stones for hunting, and it’s still with us after thousands of years. A few literary accounts had also covered posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even before it was considered as a diagnosis. Books such as Henry IV, The Iliad, and A Tale of Two Cities have described traumatic experiences, symptoms and its aftermath.  What’s in the Name? There were 150,000 disease-related deaths and 50,000 battle-induced deaths during the American Civil War (1861-1865) , according to Google. The deaths caused by diseases and the ongoing war were accounted for; however, there were no statistics that could provide an estimated number of deaths that were caused by psychiatric casualties. 

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PTSD was known by different names in the past. The physicians used to call it by names such as soldier’s heart, sunstroke, nostalgia, or irritable heart. A Promise! At the height of the civil war, surgeons figured out the impact of emotional distress on the psychiatric symptoms amongst soldiers. The surgeons concluded that the only way to reduce the death induced by “nostalgia” was to furlough the affected soldiers. Indeed, the promise of going home, far from the horrific scenes of the battleground, proved to be great medicine for affected soldiers, according to https:// warfarehistorynetwork.com/.  The number of psychiatric casualties kept on increasing year-after-year during the civil war. In the last year of the war, the situation became so grave that the Surgeon General Moore was requested by Medical Director Carrington to establish a stand-alone hospital to treat mania

and dementia among the soldiers. Likely, many of the psychiatric cases were suffering from “soldier’s heart” or one of the other diagnostic predecessors of PTSD.

the soldiers still alive in half-dead conditions and writhing in enormous pain. At that time, amputation was the only effective way to prevent the wounds of soldiers from getting infected.

Nostalgia was found to be interrelated with homesickness. A few accounts even went as far as equating both of them as two sides of a coin. In 1864, J. Assistant Surgeon Theodore Calhoun wrote that nostalgia was just a fancier term for homesickness. As per the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, homesickness developed into something far more morbid. Thus, it was reported as nostalgia during the war.

American society could not fathom the enormous mental issues that the war veterans had to face. Veterans turned to alcohol for numbing the pain and horrific memories of the war.

A Long Way to Home! When the wounded soldiers returned to their homes, their family members only felt that the war changed returning veterans because of what they had to face during the war. Families often didn’t understand the level of mental damage that the soldiers had to endure because of the war.

In the end, many of the civil war veterans had to be placed in mental asylums as their family members were unable to manage their behavior at home. It is noted that PTSD was not formally recognized as a diagnosis until after the Vietnam War. PTSD came into mainstream attention and became a diagnosis only because of various social movements such as the Veteran and Holocaust survivor advisory groups.

The Civil war saw far more advanced weapons compared to that of the past. Rifles and muskets that were employed during the civil war were pretty sophisticated. The newly invented soft lead bullets shattered the bones of the affected soldier. On the other hand, the war tactics were still the same, and hence, the new weapons inflicted far more damage to the soldiers. Thus, the civil war was far more lethal and the fatalities far bloodier. Long-lasting Effect At the end of the war, the battlegrounds were littered with human remains, with a few of

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Beyond Traditional Therapies Written by Lin Opgenorth

30% of men and women who have spent time in war zones experience Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and an estimated 1/3 never fully recover. Those who do recover are looking at an average three year recovery period if they seek medical help and a five year average recovery time for those who choose to go it alone. But don’t lose heart. Help is available.

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The most common treatment for PTSD, according to the American Psychological Association, consists of a combination of four established medications accompanied by psychotherapy. Medications include Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluoxetine (Prozac), and Venlafaxine (Effexor). All are antidepressants belonging to a group of drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine uptake inhibitors. Simply put, they carry messages between brain cells that contribute to well-being, mood, appetite, behavior, and the sleep-wake cycle. Four specific therapies are used individually or in combination in the battle against PTSD. The first is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and focuses on the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The second is Cognitive Processing, which aims to help sufferers learn to challenge and modify beliefs related to the trauma itself. Cognitive Therapy entails modifying the manner a patient evaluates traumatic memories to interrupt patterns that interfere with daily life. Finally, Prolonged Exposure Therapy focuses on facing what the patient is avoiding: memories. These mainstays of psychotherapy, however, have recently found greater success when partnered with less medically invasive alternatives. While alternative treatments are often given short shrift compared to the combination of tried and true drugs coupled with Therapy, many have found relief or general improvement as a result of pursuits outside the medical community. Consider, for example, the ancient art of acupuncture. The theory that energy flows within the human body can be traced back to China before the Common Era. Tradition teaches that energy in the body can be channeled through twelve pathways or conduits by placing needles in points believed to open into these channels. Studies from the Samuel Institute reveal “sustained, positive effects” in the area of pain relief. In addition, coupling acupuncture with progressive relaxation techniques has also resulted in sleep disorder improvements.   Another alternative option, Art Therapy, encourages people with PTSD to express traumatic experiences, particularly something too difficult to put into words. According to the American Art Therapy Association, these programs purposely dive into the minds of those struggling with psychological trauma. Besides art, therapists are trained in human development, psychological theories, and counseling; thus, their training assists in the assessment as well as the development of effective

treatments. These techniques have been especially useful when coupled with behavioral therapies and have seen success in the field of counseling.     Better sleep, stronger concentration, and less irritability have often been attributed to the practice of Yoga, particularly with brain-injured patients. According to Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman in her article, Ways Yoga Helps Veterans With PTSD, we discover: 1. It calms the nervous system. 2. It helps with social integration. 3. It reveals body habits and patterns for holding stress or navigating pain. 4. It reintegrates mind with the body (as body disassociation is not uncommon). In short, Yoga is a peaceful practice that centers people through simple movement, stretching, mediation, and practical breathing exercises.   Finally, the power music has on one’s emotions and psyche has long been recognized. But recently, information regarding the scientific benefits of music has jumped by leaps and bounds. So much so, that it cannot be fully examined in this brief space. However, evidence suggests that Music Therapy reduces stress and anxiety in patients suffering from depression and PTSD. Clinical studies indicate improved function and fostered resilience in people living with PTSD. An article entitled Psychomusicology, published in 2017 offers an in-depth look at an alternative treatment of promise for those wishing to dig deeper.   In addition, prayer, meditation, and Reiki, a pseudoscientific medicine using palm healing, have also been successful for some patients. Perhaps the most important brain healer, diet, which is not commonly considered therapeutic, is another alternative requiring additional examination. Any of these auxiliary methods added to traditional Therapy may bring relief to PTSD sufferers, and therefore, deserve more than a passing glance.

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in WWI & WWII Written By Gaurav Roy War brings tremendous destruction along with it. People experience physical and emotional trauma because of the war. Later on, it leads to a condition that is recognized today as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), also known as “Shell-shock” during World War I. Major symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, anger, severe anxiety, among others.

A New Name? During World War I, doctors saw an increase in the number of soldiers suffering from increasing anxiety and feeling like they were constantly on edge. The symptoms described as “feeling anxious” and “constantly on edge” were termed as Soldier’s Heart during the American Civil War.   The increase in the number of similar cases during WWI led to a consensus among the doctors that a formal psychological treatment was required to treat Shell-shock. The term “Shellshock” was coined by the WWI soldiers themselves as they believed that it was caused after being exposed to an artillery bombardment. The Lancet also mentioned the term “Shellshock” in its journal dated Feb. 1915, just six months after the Great War began.   

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Taken by Surprise The army hospitals were brimming with soldiers suffering from tremors, fits, and blurred vision, and the military establishments were surprised because of this. World War I led to an unprecedented toll on the veterans, and they had to live with the symptoms for the rest of their lives.    The scale at which the veterans were experiencing psychiatric trauma hadn’t been seen before. It also led to a formal definition of - Combat Stress Reaction - which helped uncover more facts about the modern concept of PTSD.    Treating the Psychologically Wounded A variety of treatment methods were adopted to treat the soldiers during World War I. Soldiers were allowed to rest for a few days before returning to the battle zone. The soldiers with severe symptoms were treated to increase their functioning abilities so that they could contribute to productive civilian activities. In Europe, hydrotherapy or electrotherapy was used in conjunction with hypnosis for the treatment of soldiers. 

Incomprehensible Loss The United States participated in World War I from April 1917 to November 1918. Hence, the participation of American soldiers was only for little over a year in the Great War. However, its costs were severe and deeply imprinted all over the 20th century and the lives of Americans that fought in World War I.   Challenges of PTSD in World War II  Both American and British soldiers described their traumatic experiences of World War II as combat fatigue, battle fatigue, and combat stress reaction. The soldiers believed that these conditions were caused because of long deployments.   The bombs and weapons used in World War II were compar-

atively larger then what was used in the previous wars. WWII also brought new tactics like placing soldiers into smaller combat groups instead of larger ones. It led to a reduction in social interaction among the soldiers, which had acted as a barrier against the psychological impacts during previous wars.   Psychological Screening During World War II, medical professionals had screened over a million soldiers for psychiatric diseases. It didn’t help in controlling the growing number of soldiers suffering from PTSD. Even doctors were taken aback by the staggering increase in psychiatric casualties in war, as they had already screened an enormous amount of soldiers for psychological abnormalities.    The situation was so grave that even the soldiers who fought quite bravely in WWI were impacted by the onslaught of psychiatric trauma during WWII.    How did PTSD Impact WWII? As per the National Center for PTSD, almost 50% of all military discharges of WWII were attributed to combat exhaustion. It has also been reported that 37% of all World War II veterans have sought psychiatric treatment.

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A Daughter’s First-Hand Account of her Dad’s PTSD. By Lin Opgenorth

Daddy was seventeen when he first saw war. Uncle Sam was urging young men to fight for their country, and his friends had already answered the call. Somehow, contrary to their dreams for their only son, his parents signed him up: no sense in battling the inevitable. It was a decision that would affect all of our lives. Fortunately, he would return from war, but his battles would be far from over.

The first home I remember was in the barracks: a series of identical units built especially for returning military after WWII. But before long, Mom and Dad bought a small, two-bedroom home in the country. Our two-acre plot of land sported a small orchard of pear, apple, and cherry trees, as well as a large garden laden with raspberries, strawberries, carrots, radishes, lettuce, and the like. Despite her youth, Mom was a great cook; and we were never without a dog, a cat, chickens, and occasionally rabbits and geese. But even in this idyllic, pastoral setting, Daddy’s inner war simmered.   Most nights, after work, Daddy visited the local tavern, conveniently located across the street from his place of employment. It became his home away from home, and Mom took to joining him there. But alcohol didn’t relieve the migraines Mom tried to combat with scalding compresses in a darkened, quiet room or the undercurrent of trauma and struggle that often felt like a minefield to two little girls.   Despite the hazy shadows of gloom that sometimes hung about our house, Daddy was our beloved hero. He kept us giggling with silly poems made up on the spot and crazy antics at the dinner table. Bread slices became a deck of cards he dealt to each player, and chicken drumsticks stirred the cream into his coffee. Flapjacks flew from a pan to our plates like acrobats shot from cannons, feats of daring, all performed without a net. Then, without warning, anger would arrive, arguments would ensue, and joy would be lost.

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Our house fire, an almost total loss, was the last straw. They called it a nervous breakdown. Our sweet daddy disappeared from our lives, and our little brothers didn’t understand. Neither did we. A new, deeper melancholy took residence. Mom tried to carry on. But we heard the whispered phone calls and the echoing sobs in the night. Psychotherapy led to prescription drugs, and added to his alcohol consumption, creating an ever-deepening cycle of addiction.     “Lucky,” a nickname Daddy gained in the Navy, was admitted to Wood Hospital, a veterans treatment center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Along with occupational therapy, drugs, and psychotherapy, doctors administered shock treatments with the intention of kick-starting Dad’s brain through electric shocks.  In the meantime, with money scarce, our little tribe was surviving on government food com-

modities: powdered milk and eggs, cornmeal, peanut butter, cheese, and cans of beef. Our humble residence was a three-room, upstairs apartment where my three brothers rotated between the roll away cot and bunk beds, while my sister and I shared a mattress on the floor. Mom searched for work without success. Now in junior high school, I fell into despair and considered running away or taking my own life. But I earned fourteen dollars babysitting and bought a collie pup that gave me purpose. Christmas garnered a few new clothes and a pair of four-dollar, used ice skates as well. Grandmothers are the best.   Daddy returned to us gradually. Over the years that followed, fraught with deep valleys and monumental struggles, we welcomed him enthusiastically each time he found his way home. Then one day, Daddy simply chose to quit smok-

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ing. He gave up alcohol and all drugs except painkillers. He was adored by his grandchildren, and they spent hours at his side. His wit, humor, and wisdom touched each one. But rough living had taken its toll. Plagued by pain and declining health, Daddy died just before his 50th wedding anniversary. He was 69. Mom followed four years later. Since Daddy’s passing, we’ve learned a lot about PTSD, as it is now called. But it’s important to recognize that it is not suffered by an individual. Instead, it wreaks havoc on family and friends. In truth, it affects whole communities who miss out on the contributions special people like Dad could have made. PTSD battles are real, but our family is confident the internal war can be won.


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Coffee Table Coach

Freedom From the Narrative

By Hannah Bouwmeester

Tired of living in a self-imposed prison? Exhausted listening to the same record playing over and over again every day? You know the one, that unconscious playlist we all have. “You’re not good enough.” “Your family would be better off without you.” “Why are you such a failure?” “You can never do anything right.” “Why can’t I connect with those around me?” “Why do I feel so isolated and alone? What is wrong with me?”

fueled by the controversial and the presence of an antagonist? You know what I mean, you post something positive and uplifting on social media and get a smattering of likes and maybe a few comments, but you want to get a ton of mileage out of a post, just post something inflammatory and controversial, sit back, and watch the comments fly!

This tendency to gravitate to the negative is a universal human problem. We can have several people tell us what an amazing job we have done with some task or project and it only takes one person criticizing one thing and we are sent spiraling into selfdoubt and discouragement.

Why is this a problem? Our very physiology and DNA is affected by the thoughts we allow into our mind and what we ruminate on in our soul. What? Our DNA? YES! With the advancement of science and the study of how our thoughts can affect our health and add either positive or negative chemicals to our DNA (Epigentics), it has been proven that our thoughts can turn on or off certain genes and cause dis-ease in our bodies or promote health.

Negative narratives surround us on a daily basis. The nightly news shines the spotlight on the most base and evil behavior with very little air time given to the positive being done in the world. Why do we seem to be people

When we spend our life focused on the negative internal or external narratives, we are inviting disease, psychological issues, emotional imbalances and the like into our life. We need to cultivate an awareness of what is going

on in our minds on a moment by moment basis in order to begin to challenge the narrative and find peace and wholeness again. As a trained coach with experience in nutrition & health, business, and emotional therapy, I am very familiar with the struggle from both a personal perspective as well as working with many people trying to gain the victory over daily negative narratives. For myself, I can attest, it IS possible to transform your thinking and begin to adjust the narrative so you can rise above the selfimposed ceiling you may be dealing with personally as well as professionally. Be sure to check out the Sept/ October issue for practical ways to begin the transformation process. In the meantime, if are sick of the same old record and the same old bad results, email me at beautifulbalancecoach@ gmail.com for more information about personal practical helpTODAY. Until next time.

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Clear Mind Therapy By Dr. Christopher Moran

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Your brain is made up of a complex network of 86 billion very fragile nerve cells (neurons) housed within a hard case (skull) and floats around in a bath of salt-water (cerebrospinal fluid). Normally these neurons all talk to one another, relaying information to all appropriate areas of the brain. This results in understanding the environment in which we live, correctly interpreting communication from other people, and responding appropriately with our emotions, words, and physical movements.

This highly functioning and complex machine called the brain is extremely fragile and easily injured, resulting in short-circuiting of the complex networks that control all aspects of our day to day function. Imagine the concussive forces going through your body and brain (enclosed in a hard skull) from a bomb blast or the repeated firing of a weapon at close quarters. We have all experienced “seeing stars” after “getting our bell rung” playing contact sports or H2H / CQB training and hitting our head on the deck. A person may experience symptoms like headaches, difficulty understanding what others are saying, loss of motor coordination, or tingling in the hands or feet. We may become irritable or find it hard to concentrate or sleep. But not all symptoms come only from physical trauma. Sensory information is also received and sent to higher centers within the brain. If this sensory information in the form of hearing, seeing, touch, taste, or smell is associated with a traumatic event, this sensory input can be enough to seriously and adversely affect the way the brain functions. The trauma may cause nightmares, emotional distress, and even cravings for foods and substances that are harmful to the body and brain. These symptoms are often given

names like PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction, short term memory issues, or another diagnosis describing emotional imbalance. First lines of treatment usually involve drugs or talk therapy, which may be effective in some instances when symptoms are acute, but more often do not get to the root cause of the problem. Let’s dig in a bit. Nightmares and reliving traumatic events as if they are happening over again are functions of a deep part of the brain called the amygdala. This part of the brain is where memories bubble up but do not communicate appropriately with higher centers of the brain, causing serious distress. This lower part of the brain is not reached by talk or logic. Often referred to as the “reptilian brain,” light and sound is the only sensory stimulus that the amygdala understands. Addictions are uncontrolled cravings for a sense of pleasure within our nervous system. The body’s pleasure centers may be stimulated temporarily by drugs, alcohol, or even foods that act as toxins within our system. Symptoms of anxiety and panic may stem from an overactive “fight or flight” response when the frontal lobe of the brain is injured and fails to suppress these thoughts as it normally would. 

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What then are other treatment choices shown to be effective in treating traumatic brain injury? One treatment that has been researched extensively for the last 70 or so years is biofeedback. Brain-based neurofeedback is used for training the wounded mind and gently trains the brain back to more normal function while watching a movie as a supercomputer monitors brain wave activity through EEG sensors and rewards the brain when it is functioning properly. In time, this regular brain activity becomes the “new normal” and permanent. It is also essential that the brain and nervous system have adequate oxygen available to decrease inflammation within the brain and for normal nerve activity. Sufficient oxygen is accomplished through Exercise With Oxygen Therapy (EWOT). Once used by only a small community of elite athletes, astronauts, and special forces, EWOT has been shown to

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enhance brain and body function by exercising while breathing air through a mask that alternates between slightly higher or lower in oxygen than usual. Much can be accomplished in as little as 15 minutes. A healthy, nutritious diet also plays a significant role in brain health. Often referred to as the “GutBrain Axis,” what we put into our mouths has a direct effect upon brain function, digestion, and stimulation of the vagus nerve. When not functioning optimally, the vagus nerve may cause symptoms like gastric reflux (GERD), diarrheaconstipation, and even bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel (SIBO). There are treatments available which, when used in conjunction with treatments from other doctors, can make all the difference when healing from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, anxiety, depression, memory issues, and even addictions. For more information, contact Dr, Moran at 231-943-2100.

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GATHER Veterans Magazine July/August 2020  

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