Scuba, Parrots, Yoga: Veterans Embrace Alternative Therapies for PTSD

on Sunday, 18 September 2016.

Veterans swimming with whale sharks this month at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta as part of their therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

ATLANTA — Thomas Harris slid into the cool, salty water of a 6.3-million-gallon tank at the Georgia Aquarium here and let himself float limp as kelp.

Mr. Harris, a former Army medic, gazed through a diving mask at a manta ray the size of a hang glider doing slow somersaults above shifting schools of silver fish. A 21-foot whale shark brushed silently by, inches from his face, its broad, spotted back taking up his entire view. Immersed in the moment, he forgot about the world.

This is not a weekend hobby. It is part of his therapy for the post-traumatic stress disorder he has been grappling with after his tours in Iraq. And like Mr. Harris, more veterans are turning to these sorts of outside-the-office treatment.

The broad acceptance of PTSD after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has posed an unexpected challenge. Acknowledging PTSD has only spurred a wide-ranging debate over the best way to treat it.

Traditional medical approaches generally rely on drugs and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. But this combination has proved so unpopular that many veterans quit before finishing or avoid it altogether. This has given rise to hundreds of small nonprofits across the country that offer alternatives: therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.

Please Don't Thank Me for My Service

on Saturday, 07 March 2015.

Hunter Garth, 26, a veteran who fought in Afghanistan: "I pulled the trigger.  You didn't. Don't take that away from me."  by Matt Richtel, The New York Times.

HUNTER GARTH was in a gunfight for his life and about to lose.

He and seven other Marines were huddled in a mud hut, their only refuge after they walked into an ambush in Trek Nawa, a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan. Down to his last 15 bullets, one buddy already terribly wounded, Mr. Garth pulled off his helmet, smoked a cheap Afghan cigarette, and came to terms with what was happening.

I'm going to die here with my best friends, he recalled thinking.

I didn't know any of this, nor the remarkable story of his survival that day when I met him two months ago in Colorado while reporting for an article about the marijuana industry, for which Mr. Garth and his company provide security. But I did know he was a vet and so I did what seemed natural: I thanked him for his service.

No problem, he said.

It wasn't true. There was a problem. I could see it from the way he looked down. And I could see it on the faces of some of the other vets who work with Mr. Garth when I thanked them too. What gives, I asked? Who doesn't want to be thanked for their military service?

New PTSD Perspective

on Monday, 01 February 2016.

What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?

An unexpected bond between damaged birds and traumatized
veterans could reveal surprising insights into animal intelligence.

 Charles Siebert,  JAN. 28, 2016

Nearly 30 years ago, Lilly Love lost her way. She had just completed her five-year tour of duty as an Alaska-based Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer, one of an elite team of specialists who are lowered into rough, frigid seas to save foundering fishermen working in dangerous conditions. The day after she left active service, the helicopter she had flown in for the previous three years crashed in severe weather into the side of a mountain, killing six of her former crewmates. Devastated by the loss and overcome with guilt, Love chose as her penance to become one of the very fishermen she spent much of her time in the Coast Guard rescuing. In less than a year on the job, she nearly drowned twice after being dragged overboard in high seas by the hooks of heavy fishing lines.

Illinois Joining Forces

on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in News

Illinois Joining Forces (IJF) is a network of public and not-for-profit organizations working together to improve services to Illinois’ military and veteran communities.  Our goal is to increase awareness and connectivity among our member organizations so that we, and those we serve, can better navigate the system of support.

IJF member organizations collaborate via Working Groups and update their services and events on this online platform.  Illinois veterans, service members, and their families can use IJF to find and connect with the right resource – or use our site support teamprovided by the Illinois Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Military Affairs to assist in connecting.

Kevlar for the Mind: Helping Professionals for Veterans

on Wednesday, 04 February 2015. Posted in News

Like the decade following the end of World War II, the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been marked by a tremendous influx of veterans into the classroom.

Traditional "brick and mortar" and virtual universities and schools are frantically trying to keep pace with the opportunities afforded to troops through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

And these opportunities range from technical and scientific fields as found in the Professional Program for Veterans and Military Personnel at California State University to business as exemplified by the Master of Business for Veterans degree at the University of Southern California.

Social Work with Service Members

on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in Counseling

A free online 5-course training module available for all social workers. It includes community resources, evidence-based practices, military cultural competency, military sexual trauma, and social work with military children. This course will not be limited to social workers who specifically work with veterans and military families, but also private practitioners, clinical social workers, agency social workers, policy practitioners, educators, and researchers. View Training


How PTSD Became a Problem Far Beyond the Battlefield

on Sunday, 27 December 2015.

Soldiers wait out a sandstorm in Iraq. (The inclusion of the soldiers pictured in this story should not be construed to indicate that any of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.)

 Though only 10 percent of American forces see combat, the U.S. military now has the highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in its history. Sebastian Junger investigates.


The first time I experienced what I now understand to be post-traumatic stress disorder, I was in a subway station in New York City, where I live. It was almost a year before the attacks of 9/11, and I’d just come back from two months in Afghanistan with Ahmad Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance. I was on assignment to write a profile of Massoud, who fought a desperate resistance against the Taliban until they assassinated him two days before 9/11. At one point during my trip we were on a frontline position that his forces had just taken over from the Taliban, and the inevitable counterattack started with an hour-long rocket barrage. All we could do was curl up in the trenches and hope. I felt deranged for days afterward, as if I’d lived through the end of the world.

An Important Voice from the Past Still Relevant

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014.

Jan C. Scruggs is the founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and is responsible for the construction and placement of The Wall on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  

In 1978 he started the fund by contributing $2200 of his own money for a memorial to be erected in memory of the 58,000 lives sacrified during the 20 year U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Scruggs was a combat infantryman who was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He saw significant action during his tour in 1969-1970 and was wounded in action. Upon his return and recovery, he began a crusade for Vietnam Veterans that is as relevant and poignant today as it was August 5, 1978 when he wrote an article for the Washington Post.  

From its inception. The Wall was intended to not only memorialize those who sacrificed their lives but also to foster a healing about the war.  It does both.  The healing process continues today.   For over 32 years, The Wall has been the most visited memorial in the world.

Click on Continue Reading to read Scruggs' article.

Homeless Female Veterans---The Story

on Friday, 20 February 2015.

From Religion and Ethics Newsweekly


Former Army Captain Jaspen Booth opened a house for homeless woment and Vets and named her organization "Final Salute".  

Watch the video story by clicking here.