Law Signed Declaring National Vietnam War Veterans Day

on Friday, 31 March 2017.

An act of Congress honoring Vietnam veterans with a day of recognition was signed into law by President Trump on Tuesday, per a White House press release. March 29 is now designated as National Vietnam War Veterans Day by the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 according to Gateway Pundit. The U.S. flag is to be flown in commemoration of those who served in Vietnam.

The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. The bill passed the Senate last month and the House last week.

Swords into ploughshares: Veterans find opportunities in farming

on Thursday, 18 June 2015.

WASHINGTON – Dan Mikulecky had an epiphany during his 2004 deployment to Iraq with the Montana National Guard.

He had joined the Guard for college, but wasn't sure the direction he wanted to go in life post-deployment. Being out in the Iraqi countryside, however, it became clear to him: he wanted to return to rural Montana and become a farmer.

When he got back to the U.S., Mikulecky received a preferential veteran's loan, agricultural training and financial advising through Northwest Farm Credit Services. He purchased land in Rudyard, Montana and grow it into a thriving wheat and grain farm.

"The hours from the service and the hours that you put into agriculture are very closely related," Mikulecky said. "Yeah, it's a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, but we're self-starters, always trying to go the extra mile."

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.

Stanford Scholar Helps Veterans Recover from War Trauma

on Tuesday, 02 December 2014. Posted in News

Stanford Report 

September 5, 2014

Newly published research by Stanford scholar Emma Seppala shows how meditation and breathing exercises can help military veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Adam Burn practicing yoga

Adam Burn, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, practices yoga techniques to help combat stress. A Stanford scholar has found that breathing-based meditation dramatically reduces PTSD in veterans.

BY CLIFTON B. PARKER

For several years, Emma Seppala, associate director of Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and lead author of the article, has been studying the effects of breathing-based meditation practices on veterans suffering from PTSD.

"This is the first randomized controlled study on a form of meditation or yoga for veterans with PTSD that has shown such long-term, lasting effects," she said in an interview.

PTSD, which affects about one in five veterans, is typically triggered by the experience of a terrifying or life-threatening event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts and emotions. Returning vets suffering from PTSD have extremely high suicide rates, Seppala said.

VA Releases Report on Nation’s Largest Analysis of Veteran Suicide

on Friday, 05 August 2016.

More than 55 Million Veterans’ Records Reviewed From 1979 to 2014 From Every State in the Nation

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today released its findings from the nation’s most comprehensive analysis of Veteran suicide rates in the United States in which VA examined more than 55 million Veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The effort advances VA’s knowledge from the previous report in 2012, which was primarily limited to information on Veterans who used VHA health services or from mortality records obtained directly from 20 states and approximately 3 million records.. Compared to the data from the 2012 report, which estimated the number of Veteran deaths by suicide to be 22 per day, the current analysis indicates that in 2014, an average of 20 Veterans a day died from suicide.

A link to the report may be found here.

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.

BY SEBASTIAN JUNGER

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.