PTSD Is Not a Failure, Simply What War Does to Our Senses

Photo courtesy of Navy Safe Harbor online.

It’s a gift to be able to distill a complex issue into a few words. Dr. Tracy Hejmanowski, a clinical psychologist at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville Deployment Health Center, has that gift.

Here’s how Dr. Hejmanowski describes post traumatic stress disorder in a Department of Defense article by Navy Safe Harbor Public Affairs:

“The stigma remains somewhat because in military and warrior culture, strength and bravery are most important,” said Hejmanowski. “Contrary to what some believe, PTSD is not a failure to deal with traumatic events – it is simply what war does to our sense of self-identity and our humanity. I’ve worked with some of the most highly trained and experienced warriors who have made peace with their demons from war and came out stronger from the process.”

The story featured Navy Lt. Chet Frith who was diagnosed with PTSD after a one-year deployment to Iraq. He currently works as a non-medical case worker for Navy Safe Harbor, which provides care for seriously injured Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and their families.

“I used to be part of the problem,” Frith recalled. “I didn’t believe PTSD was a real condition, and honestly, I thought people were making it up.”

Frith shared his story about recognizing his PTSD symptoms and seeking help in the DoD article. For more information on the Navy Safe Harbor is online, or by contacting safeharbor@navy.mil or 877-746-8563.

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A Military Mom: Don’t Take the Small Things for Granted

Here’s a second contribution from Momma B – also known as Elaine Brye. She has four children and writes a blog: 4 star military mom. All are serving in the military – one in each branch – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Elaine Brye's four children who are rarely home at the same time.

BY ELAINE BRYE

As a military mom it is not only the big things that get to you-it can be the every day things that most take for granted. For example getting all four of mine in one place at the same time is quite a challenge. As I sit on our hilltop farm and look out on a holiday I can see clusters of families gathering together-not my kids. I may be lucky to get a double or a triple but very seldom do I get a home run of everyone together.

It’s funny – when they were home all the time –  I think they got the basics of hand-to-hand combat completed in my living room. I would head to town and war would break out. The battles raged, casualties abounded including lampshades and then the phone would ring. ” Kids, I am on the way home, anything else we need?”

Immediately they sprang into action just like Thing1 and Thing 2 (out of Dr. Seuss) – in this case – also Thing 3 and Thing 4 – and all worked together to put things back in order.  A few days later I might ask, “What happened to this lamp shade? ” to be met by silence. Of course all of this has only recently been disclosed now that the statute of limitations has run out.

They work hard to see each other when they can, but that little thing of normal life together is a thing of the past.

When they were home, I knew their friends,their comings and goings, and supported them in their activities. I sat on so many bleachers  that I developed bleacher bottom – an increase in girth directly attributed to hours sitting in the car or the bleachers.

Now, the questions remain unanswered – what did you do at work today, where are you, when will you be home? OPSEC (Operational Security) reigns supreme and I find myself reading the news to figure out if my kid might be there. The not knowing – and being less a part of their lives because of it – those are little things I took for granted in years gone by.

Momma B's first grandchild.

I have to say the one thing that really has upped the ante when I think of the little things is my grandchildren. During my sons’ first deployments they were newlyweds. Their wives stepped it up and bravely held down the home front. They dealt with all the things that can go wrong.

As it says in Mrs. Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will happen when he is out of town-or on deployment.

But this time around – well – it is different. There is a little girl left behind. Six months old when Daddy left and she will be a year old when he comes home. The first tooth, the first steps – no amount of technology can replace missing those milestones. When we talk about personal sacrifice,  it can be the little things that mean so much.

Less than 1 Percent: Who Serves in the U.S. Armed Forces

Darryl St. George, a Navy corpsman with Weapons Company of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., reads a book as the sun rises over a temporary base nicknamed "Patrol Base Suc" in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. Photo by David Gilkey/NPR.

Meet a former history teacher who now saves Marine lives on Afghanistan’s front-lines or a Marine on patrol who worries that American’s interest is falling away.

All week, National Public Radio has been broadcasting the stories of individuals who joined the military to fight in America’s wars. Family tradition, patriotism, a sense of purpose – there many reasons for military service cited in  NPR series,  “Who Serves.”

Beyond the personal stories is the large picture, NPR offers a graphic look By the Numbers: Today’s Military. There are maps that show where military members are stationed. And, there are plenty of graphs like one on gender. The Air Force has the lowest ratio of men to women, 4 males for every 1 female. The Marines have the highest ratio, 15.1 males for every 1 female.

If you’re in military, why do you serve? Email me your story at bobrien@wusf.org  if you’d like to share it on the blog.

If you’re a civilian, did you consider joining and what contributed to your decision not to? Share your story by emailing me at bobrien@wusf.org.

Service Members Sing Star Spangled Banner for July 4th

The video is produced by SSG Joash Buenavista of the Armed Forces Network – Iraq using voices of more than 150 service members representing all branches: Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. Closing remarks are provided by Major General Jeffery Buchanan.

Happy Independence Day to all – a day and freedoms we’re all able to celebrate thanks to their service and sacrifice.

In Their Own Words: Military Bloggers and Diary Writers

There are no known photos of Civil War soldier Cyrus Forwood, Delaware archivists used photos of Civil War re-enactment soldiers to illustrate his story.

Most in the military community are aware of Milblogging.com an aggregating website that lists more than 3,100 military blogs. But, it’s more than just a list. It’s a leading military-related blog portal but also accepts stories, hosts discussion boards and notifies members of interesting new submissions.

Military blogging in some form is not new, Check out the writings of a Delaware soldier who kept a daily diary 150 years ago. Diary writing is the precursor to blogging. And congratulations to the archivists in Delaware for sharing his story. You can follow Cyrus’ posts on Twitter @CyrusForwood.

Cyrus Forwood – A Delaware Soldier in the American Civil War
As part of the State of Delaware`s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration, the Delaware Public Archives is using this blog to repost notes and observations Forwood wrote in his diary during his time as a soldier–day-by-day.

Here are some other new additions to Milblogging.com:

Husband / Father / Sailor Deployment Journal
Written anonymously using an “Answer Key,” this is the daily account of a 14 year Navy Reserve sailor who has been deployed to Afghanistan. Strictly adhering to the rules of OPSEC, it is a raw account of the ups and downs of deployment.

Navywifechronicles
On April 23, 2010, my husband was in a car accident while deployed in Iraq. Needless to say, this day has changed our lives. I write about how we’re picking up the pieces, Navy life, adapting to the civilian world, & silly things our kids say.

Boundless
A general [military] lifestyle blog, I frequently share my photography/design, recipes, & adventures. I`m fairly new to this military life, but I enjoy sharing my perspective + tips and tricks to making the challenges presented fun and humorous

The Camouflage Keyboard
Strange, unbelievable, mundane, and life-changing happenings from a reservist mobilized to active duty overseas.

Semper Fi Parents
A chronicle of my daughter`s time in the USMC, as well as articles of interest to any thinking of joining the Marines, articles about Marine Corps history, boot camp training, military news, etc.

Household Six: Dual Military, Veteran, and Military Spouse Expressions
Personal views and opinions on military service, as well as other misc. subjects to include current events.

Ramblings from a Retired Shooter
A Journal based on my thoughts, experiences, and opinions based on combat experiences and journey with PTSD and other injuries.

Life in a Sandbox
Day to-day life of a soldier on a deployment.

If you have a favorite blog that highlights life as a military family or civilians working to understand military life, please share it. I’ll post a list of favorites over the July 4th weekend. Send your submissions to: bobrien@wusf.org.

MacDill Air Force Base Marks an Early Memorial Day

MacDill Air Force Base personnel remembered their fallen comrades during an early Memorial Day ceremony.

By Alex Cook

Memorial Day isn’t until Monday, but members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines held a ceremony on MacDill Air Force Base Thursday honoring those who have died serving their country.

The mood was somber as the military formation gathered under the American flag. A 21-gun salute pierced the silence, followed by a lone bugler playing Taps.

Colonel Lenny Richoux, commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, led the tribute by presenting a wreath in honor of those who gave their lives for their country.

“All who have worn the uniform know we swear to support and defend the Constitution and we’ll pay the ultimate price – make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Richoux during his speech. “These great Americans and thousands like them who heard the calling of their nation gave all they had so that we can enjoy this beautiful day in Tampa Bay in the great state of Florida, in these United States, the greatest nation on the planet.”

A steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center sat on display as a reminder of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have claimed the lives of almost 6000 service members over the last decade.

Florida Military Receives Additional Property Tax Break

Military families living in Florida who already receive a state homestead exemption could also qualify for additional property tax breaks.

Soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division patrol a small village during an air assault mission in eastern Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2008. (Photo by Spc. Mary L. Gonzalez, CJTF-101 Public Affairs)

In November, voters passed Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution creating the additional homestead exemption for active duty military, military reserves, U.S. Coast Guard and its reserves, and the Florida National Guard who deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, or New Dawn.

This new exemption is not a set dollar amount, instead it is a percentage based on the amount of time the service-member was deployed during the previous year.

The new military service exemption applies to 2011 property taxes, but applications must be received by the June 1, 2011 deadline.

A SUMMARY OF NEW EXEMPTION (courtesy of the Pinellas County Property Appraiser) although it applies statewide:

Who qualifies?

  • A service member who currently receives a homestead exemption; AND
  • Who was deployed during 2010 on active duty outside the US, Alaska or Hawaii; AND
  • Who served in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, OR New Dawn
  • This exemption is state-wide, so contact the Property Appraiser in your county.

A service member’s spouse or designee, or a representative of his or her estate, may file an application on behalf of an eligible service member.

A PDF copy of the Florida Department of Revenue application form is available here.

In addition, another, separate constitutional amendment will be placed on the ballot in 2012 that would expand the availability of the combat-related disabled veterans discount to veterans who are over 65 and who entered the military while a resident of another state. Currently, the discount is only available to veterans who were residents of Florida when they entered the military.

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