Archive for the Health Care Category

PTSD – When war lasts a lifetime! (Jay H Berman)

By, Jay H. Berman, “Guest columnist.”

Publisher, Ron Tenin on twitter @rpt62960

 

Severe trauma in some form is experienced by significant numbers of individuals at least once in their lifetime, according to The American Psychological Association, The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), & The PTSD-Alliance amongst many others. Mental healthcare providers agree that most rebound from the trauma fairly quickly. Not so for too many who were in combat.

PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is NOT a phenomenon that was born in Vietnam. In the aftermath of WWI & WWII American’s heard the names, “Shell-shock & Battle-fatigue.” Vets of war in Korea must be included in the discussion. Fast forward to S.E. Asia & the dreaded disease is now known as PTSD. The U.S. government refused to acknowledge this fact for a disgraceful period of time, (which for the afflicted is one day)!

Finally, too late for our brave warriors of that terrible time, the U.S. government eventually accepted what Vets & their loved ones already tragically knew. This is factual history, disheartening though it may be. But the result of prior refusal to acknowledge the plight of Vets suffering from war’s devastation in this manner continues. There are Vietnam Vets still residing on the streets of America!

It must be noted that most individuals after experiencing extreme trauma do not develop PTSD. These include horrific vehicular accidents, exposure to weather that culminates in tornados, hurricanes, flooding or worse, severe abuse, other acts of violence & the list goes on.

Although not every Vet develops PTSD, as a nation we have a moral obligation to familiarize ourselves with it. We have a duty as citizens to reach out to our Vets & help in any way possible. We must insist that our government does a better job of providing U.S. Vets with all they need.

I’m here speaking for myself & no one else. These are my values – they may or not be yours & I accept that. With proper respect for 1st. responders, teachers, dedicated healthcare providers & so very many other great American’s, – our military men & women are priority one in my opinion.

What is PTSD & why can it last for a lifetime? Symptomology is characterized by flashbacks – [reliving the experience accompanied by audio& /or visual application(s)], depression, acute anxiety, episodic uncontrollable rage, appearance in some cases of psychotic features, isolation, eating disorders, racing thoughts, & tragically for huge numbers of those so afflicted – results in homelessness, domestic violence, unhealthy sexual behaviors &/or addiction, (in any of its forms).

Small percentages of mental healthcare providers are specially trained to diagnose & treat PTSD. This contributes to a lack of care whose result is long term illness. Over-lapping symptoms may cause misdiagnosis & again, non-application of helpful treatment. These are two extremely important factors, because they are solvable with the will to do so. PTSD is treatable.

Unfortunately, the nature of this still misunderstood mental illness is that it may be arrested only to return later.

A buddy of mine who served honorably in Vietnam returned home in one piece & resumed civilian life. He married, pursued a respectable profession & contributed to his community. Nearly three decades later he became symptomatic. Today he is better. But, severe stress continues to trigger symptoms. He copes as best he can, sometimes requiring hospitalization. A courageous man, he gets back on his feet each time – fighting the good fight.

This is what I hope you consider today.

I thank Ron Tenin for graciously allowing me the opportunity to address his audience. This is his blog & an excellent one.

Jay is on twitter @BermanJ1





Military Sexual Assaults Reflect a U.S. Societal Cancer? By, Jay H Berman

Military Sexual Assaults Reflect a U.S. Societal Cancer?

By, Jay H. Berman – Feature Guest Columnist for www.ronrambles.com

Creator/Publisher Ron Tenin

On twitter: Ron Tenin@rpt62960

 

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon reports, 12,100 of the 203,000 women & 13,900 of the 1.2 million men on active duty had experienced sexual assault in 2012. Our government would never lie to the American public – so these figures are accurate, right?

“Is this observer of over 5 decades of US politics cynical? Damned right I am!”

The failures of the systemic military culture created & fostered by top leaders, both in uniform & civilian are at fault! Our courageous warriors, the best & bravest among us bar none, deserve our undying gratitude & respect. The greatest percentages of men & woman wearing the uniform serve with honor & dignity. Those who tarnish this reputation should face severe penalty. But, I lay blame at a societal culture that has infected our military & nearly all walks of life.

With sincere respect for the abused & their loved ones – this clearly is no laughing matter. I am not ashamed or afraid to admit that I possess personal first-hand knowledge. So my snide opening remark is aimed at authorities whose irresponsibility has led over decades to a reprehensible culture being allowed to fester. The cancerous growth grows ever larger, as millions never report these heinous crimes. As a survivor & the former editor & Board Member of the ptsd-alliance, I don’t speak as a voice of authority or professional expertise – rather, a voice of concern & painful experience.

Curiously, military & government officials alike admitted that the aforementioned number of assaults was a marked increase from such reports in 2010. POTUS publicly displayed an image of anger, declaring Congress must take immediate action! Of course, he is right, we should all be very angry.

But, this disease must be confronted with a commitment that justice be served. Top brass have been negligent in this duty. Reportedly, Defense Sec. Hagel is stridently addressing the matter.

Additionally, & in the longer term more importantly, a nation-wide effort has to be made to open our hearts & minds with great compassion for the abused! This is imperative & absolute if healing is to take place. Additionally, we must remake our culture . . . both civilian & military, gender or sexual orientation, all ethnicities & religious beliefs, all value systems & political persuasions, from every demographic profile both personal & professional.

Here is why . . .

It is pointless citing endless studies & statistics I’ve pored over regarding this awful subject. My point is that harsh brutal truth-telling is our one primary missing ingredient. People who are abused are afraid to report the crime. The criminal justice system fails to provide protection for the innocent. They are blamed as “willing participants.” Parents, teachers, & clergy disallow the victim to feel empowered to come forward. They are faced with rejection, scorn or worse.

I had a dear friend – a woman whose uncle lived next door & sexually assaulted her repeatedly when she just a child. Her mother, upon hearing her daughter accuse him, was physically slapped & punished for telling such a horrific lie. She was made to suffer in silence until well into adulthood, when a complete mental breakdown finally culminated in the truth coming to light. No one but the abused woman herself was punished – emotionally scarred for life.

Insofar as my own story, I never came forward until too many decades passed. Instead, I lived with nightmares & turned to drugs & alcohol to dull the pain. No one could have convinced me that I’d have been believed & protected. This is true for children, adolescents & adults, (including seniors) – both male & female.

“No, I have NOT watched too many episodes of Law & Order S.V.U.”

When survivors are no longer afraid to come forward, when they no longer face retribution for doing so, when offenders are properly brought to justice, then, & only then will we as a nation be in the process of changing the decades long culture of burying our collective heads in the sand!

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

– Author Unknown

“This famous quote I learned in Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m eternally grateful, Jay – on twitter @ BermanJ1

 

Resources:

– Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics

– F.B.I. Bureau of Crime Statistics

– S.N.A.P. – Survivors Network of Abused Persons by Clergy

– Ptsd-alliance.org

– Document: Pentagon Report on Sexual Assault in the Military in 2012





 

By, Jay H. Berman
Alzheimer’s and other dementia related disease cost this country as much as $215 billion a year. The past week witnessed a report showing these findings. But a study involving some new drugs show we might prevent Alzheimer’s. 100 families worldwide are taking part in a daring experiment.

Each member of these families has a 50%-50% chance of getting a rare genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s in the mid 40s, 50s and 60’s age brackets. Scientists have chosen three drugs that could stop some of them from having the disease. In the drug trials which started last month, family members are receiving either active drugs or a placebo.

Brian scans and other biomarkers will let researchers decide which drugs look best. From there they continue with those to see if they can prevent Alzheimer’s, or slow its progression. These drugs target a protein that some scientists think is the cause of Alzheimer’s. However, not only in families with a rare mutation, also when it strikes later in life.

Other drugs have failed to halt Alzheimer’s, & scientists believe they may have been given too late. Studying families, researchers learned that the brain decay of Alzheimer’s disease begins decades before symptoms begin to appear. Scientists see this as a possibility to prevent brain cells from dying and preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia.

As the most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s has always been thought of as age related brain disease. Scientists may have to revisit that perception based upon these new findings. However, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that not only does ongoing research provide information it is likewise succeeding in producing new breakthroughs. Loss of cognitive functioning created by the disease is known to become so severe it interferes with normal everyday activities. Although there is no known cure – scientific medical research is bringing hope formally absent.

As we learn more about the disease, the role of genetic factors has become more & more evident. Genetic links have been recognized in early & late onset of Alzheimer’s. Although early onset is uncommon compared to late age, it is significant & symptoms showing up in individuals in their 30’s & 40’s is now known to be caused by mutations in one of three genes inherited from one parent or the other.

Other genes may increase the risk for late onset & further study seeks to assess what role these play. In searching for added risk factors, understanding more about these genes helps scientists test for enhanced treatment & strategies for prevention, before symptoms appear. This has not yet been accomplished to the degree to which we wish – but at this time more is known & there has been unprecedented success in evaluation& overall comprehension going forward.

Researchers know that clinical trials shall determine our ability to establish what prevents or delays cognitive decline. The N.I.H. [National Institute of Health] with more than 50 research projects – support early drug discovery & early clinical development on new treatment compounds.

Although there is still no all inclusive fail safe proven method of preventing the disease, the research is encouraging & ongoing. Prevention strategy now includes the strong evidence that reduction to risk of heart disease may also lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The most important factors in the prevention of both diseases are the same. They include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight & morbid obesity, & diabetes.

Targeting people at high risk of dementia are being addressed with new programs. These include a multidimensional approach that incorporates physical activity, social activity, healthy diet & cognitive stimulation. Simply meaning, it’s recommended to exercise one’s brain.

Let’s keep active, in all the manners described above, & very possibly reduce the risk of developing this disease!

 





The Backlog in V.A. Disability Claims is worse!”

“The Backlog in V.A. Disability Claims is worse!”

Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, is the man being held accountable for the Veterans Administration problems. He is also the man who was given his job by a beleaguered Pres. Obama. The most pressing problem in particular is the backlog of a huge growing inventory of claims for disability compensation; filed by wounded or ill veterans. Nearly 600,000 claims qualified as backlogged, according to both the N.Y. Times & other major media outlets. Backlogged claims are defined by the V.A. as those pending for over 125 days.

Imagine a wounded warrior unable to fully re-adjust to civilian life being without support from their government. Not for a couple of weeks or even thirty days -no . . . but for as much as four months & more!

This observer is asking the question, “why is this not at the top of our list of priorities as a people?!”    

“I’m going on record right now, in declaring my bitter anger, disgust & mistrust of our elected leaders – aka Hermes of hubris.” Instead of doing what is morally correct – Wash. embroils itself in partisan politics over the I.R.S., Associated Press & Benghazi. “These are vital concerns, no doubt, but above & beyond our concern for Americans finest? Hell No!”

The number of delayed processing of disability claims is worsening & so are complaints. Last year, veteran’s advocates tried to make the backlog a campaign issue, but, failed. Now, criticism grows louder & yet louder still. Concerned Veterans for America created a Web video calling for Shinseki’s resignation; they sponsor an online petition signed by more than 9,000 people. (R) Congressman Duncan Hunter is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq & Afghanistan. He has taken up the fight calling for action. A letter signed by 67 senators urges Obama to resolve the problem.

Yet, The White House has expressed support for Sec. Shinseki, (a former four-star general). (R)Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee called the Secretary honorable & trustworthy; but raised questions about the secretary’s staff. He called for the firing of Under-secretary Allison A. Hickey, who oversees disability compensation. The Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, (I) Bernie Sanders of Vermont, praised Mr. Shinseki for setting a deadline to end the backlog by 2015.

This also leaves us with the following additional catastrophic dilemma. That is the question of stateside suicides. Combat vets who are home & left dangling in the wind due to the V.A. backlog. These brave warriors are taking their own lives in unprecedented horrifying numbers.

Our Commander in Chief has failed his battle scared troops. Is such severely harsh criticism unfair? Well, Obama chose the man running a V.A. that clearly has failed – & he steadfastly chooses not to replace him. Now, you decide.

 

 





THE AWFUL TRUTH? U.S. GOVERNMENT FAILS TO CARE FOR IT’S MILITARY COMBAT VETS! (Jay H Berman)

 

 

Millions of Americans stand tall & steadfastly support returning combat vets from the ravages of war. But the plain truth is that the government who sent them off to distant lands has failed them. The U.S. war machine that torments its adversaries with ferocity heretofore unknown to mankind – does not ably supply its wounded warriors with a successful transition back to civilian life. This amounts to a morally contemptible & spiritually bankrupt military that is unable or unwilling to take proper care of its own!

Statements as harsh as these must be supported by proper verification lest they be relegated to the ranting of a madman. The following documentation shall provide more than ample supply of credible evidence in support of these outrageous accusations. I have extracted in large part materials taken directly from the archives of U.S. government agencies & organizations.

 

Among others, a giant multifaceted grass-roots non-profit nationwide program has both corporate & individual support. This is known as Operation Home-Front & Wounded Warrior Project. Large U.S. corporate sponsors provide necessary supports for volunteers in all fifty states who do the work that our government fails to. They provide counseling, housing, peer support, financial resources, reintegration programs, educational opportunities, business assistance, & family supports. Why do organizations such as these exist in the first place, & why must they operate on such a huge scale? It is exactly because the government’s military structure is not getting the job done.

 

The work of this non-profit & many more like them are only urgently needed as a result of abject failure on the part of the U.S. Dept. of Defense & the Veterans Administration. Failure to properly & effectively take care of its own can be witnessed through a variety of lenses. The aforementioned organization has been hailed by these very agencies as, “doing great work.” Is this not in & of itself an admission of guilt without intending such? For, why else are the people of this nation forced to supply that which its government promises & then reneges on that promise?

 

Some point out that the military is doing all it can. They place blame instead on lack of adequate funding via the Congress of the U.S. While this must be taken into consideration, for its truth clearly has merit, funding alone does begin to tell the whole story. It is true that both the D.O.D. & the V.A. have expanded & improved certain aspects of vital services. However, the military was woefully unprepared for the unusually high percentages of returning combat vets requiring extensive services. Just as we were unprepared to wage war – we were even less prepared for its aftermath.

 

The quagmires abroad are duplicated in design by a causal relationship. So that here in America a quagmire likewise exists that is the direct result of returning troops & facilities woefully inadequate & unprepared to meet their needs. Today, we witness homeless vets in numbers never before seen,& 40% or more are suffering from a mental illness. Suicides, addiction, domestic violence, unemployment, financial hardship, harmful sexual indiscretion, abusive relationships, & other forms of dysfunction permeate the community of returning combat vets & their families.

 

As drone attacks cause civilian casualties abroad, our government’s policies likewise inflict irreparable harm on afflicted civilians here at home! Paralysis, amputation, loss of vision &/or hearing, PTSD, major depressive episodes, severe anxiety disorders, insomnia, violence & inability to function & resume normal civilian activities are now all documented as the domestic result of our military interventions in Iraq & Afghanistan.

 

When we speak of the cost of war – usually raw data provides numbers of casualties& financial resources spent. These wars have a further long term consequence for the American people. The sights & sounds of lingering horrors brought back home within the minds & bodies of those who sacrificed all. For references to provide support for this summation & all of its particulars go to:

– D.O.D. / Dept. of Defense website

– V.A. / Veterans Administration website

– Veterans Health Administration website

– Stars& Stripes online editions, (Newspaper of the U.S. Military).

– Operation Home-Front

– W.W.P. / Wounded Warriors Project

– P.V.A. / Paralyzed Veterans of America

ptsd-alliance.org

– The N.Y. Times archives

– Forbes Magazine archives