Monday, December 31, 2012
I was accepted and completed my first two semester of graduate school . While this is an accomplishment in itself it is a big stress especially for us with TBI's and PTSD. I would find myself becoming very agitated at myself for not understanding material I thought was simple. I would seclude myself and then get over anxious about a paper or required reading. I am now working with a Speech Pathologist as well as an Occupational Therapist who will teach me not how to study but how to learn with and use my disabilities to my advantage. I will keep you all posted on the skills that I learn so that maybe you can benefit from them too.
I was notified that I had received a disability rating of 70% for PTSD. This stunned me, scared me and really kind of put me in the dumps. I understood what PTSD is but to actually have someone tell you that you have it and that it impacts your life so substantially it requires medical help is a hard pill to swallow. But I took this as a sign that I as a counselor have the unique ability to empathize with my veteran clients because I too have seen the horrors that are associated with war. I continue to learn coping methods and my own symptomology just so that I am self aware. I was accepted into the Vocational Rehabilitation services with the VA and am excited to have them help with school.
New family and new beginnings
My daughter and her four children (ages 8,6,3,2) left Arizona and moved into my modest 3 bedroom home. I have not had small children in the house for years and the noise that is associated with them was quickly remembered. While it is a big change that I my Fiance' and her 11 year old son have had to take head on its been a experience I would never change. It is good to have family that will help out no matter what the cost and equally great to be able to be this involved with my grandchildren as they grow up.
Old friends and new friends
I am amazed that I have the friends that I have. Each and everyone of them are a treasure that I hold tight. My best friend Jerry and his wife Nancy have kept me sane through many trials this year and I am honored to call them friends. As I move towards my 20th month of retirement (not that I am counting) I can't help but feel like it seemed so long ago that I was wearing ACU's and holding morning formations.
I hope you all have a wonderful New Years celebration and hold tight the memories of your year. My friend and I were talking yesterday about what a great journey our lives have been and that we should never take that for granted because we have comrades, friends and Soldiers whose journey was cut short. RIP John Hallett, Tom Troy, Bill Jacobson, Clint Gertson, Graham, Dennis Williams and all my boys I will see you on the high ground
Death Dealer 7, Out
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
So here it is I received a 70% disability rating for PTSD. When I read the findings I found it was pretty spot on in description. But then my brain starting going and I started thinking
1) Do I tell anybody I have a "disability".
2) As a soon to be Clinical Social Worker how will it affect my career as well as the thoughts that my professional peers may have?
3) Do I tell people that I have PTSD and if I do are they going to think that I might "explode" or go off and kill people (I was a sniper for a majority of my career).
4) and last but not least why can't I get my retirement pay and compensation pay at the same time? That is BS because I worked for 21 years to be able to receive that money every month the compensation is just that compensation for the crap you have to endure.
5) So I have a 70% rating, what does that mean? What entitlements are out there for those with a rating like this?
So I ask you all what did you do or think when you got your rating? Tell me what you think about my questions are the valid or am I just being pessimistic about the whole thing.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
My question is:
Saturday, August 25, 2012
|CPT John Hallett Afghanistan 2009|
|SPC Dennis Williams, Driver Afghanistan 2009|
|SFC Sawyer with his niece Emma and his 20 month old son Daniel|
picture courtesy of Iraqiwarheros.com
"Just wanted to write you a letter and say I love you and miss you very much. Things are going good here and I don't want you to worry. I remember you told me I could write you about things here that were happening and how I felt during the situation and the things I did. Well I figured that now would be a good time to tell you about something. It is therapeutic right?
I have been reading a lot going to bed around 0100 or 0130. It is funny how when I am home I never really buy anything for myself and now that I am in Afghanistan I am Amazon biggest customer. I always have that feeling that I should read all the books I can in case, well, you know.
I wanted to write you and tell you about what happened on 25 August. This is probably the hardest thing I have had to do, actually write to you about it.
The patrol we were on went to the Shah Wali Kot district center to do a Key Leader Engagement with he leaders then conduct an assessment of the medical clinic in the village. We left that morning at 0800. I had two medics in my MRAPand cross loaded CPT Jenkins and SFC Sawyer into CPT Hallett's Stryker. We departed the FOB and headed north to Shah Wali Kot. When we got there I got out with CPT Hallett and we talked a little bit (he was sick) as we walked up to the district center to meet with the police chief and ask about the clinic that was about 1/2 mile away. We left and went to the clinic and we were there for about hour. During this time CPT Jenkins and SFC Sawyer look at the facility and even treated a few people that were there.
|CPT Cory Jenkins|
As we mounted back up to head to the Forward Operating Base (FOB) I had move forward in my MRAP and got onto the road. We had 2 Mortar vehicles, the HHC commander, my vehicle and CPT Halletts vehicle so five total vehicles. 51 was already ont he road and pushed forward, the road was very narrow and the strykers could not pass me so I called CPT Hallett and said the order of movement would be 51, me, HHC 6, A66 9CPT Hallet's vehicle and 52 picking up the rear. We left and headed to the OB. As we were driving I heard a big "Boom" and the radio came to life. HHC 6 called me and said "IED hit" I immediately looked in the rear view mirror and saw a huge pillar of smoke rising in the air. I immediately told my driver to turn around and drove past HHC 6 towards the the vehicle that was hit by the IED. I saw it was A66. The scene was horrific the vehicle was flipped over and the back end now faced the direction we were traveling.
Out of the back door I could see a leg hanging out like someone was lying down in the back. I dismounted and ran to the vehicle. I did not know if anybody was with me but I knew we had little time if we were going to save anyone. My biggest fear was that it was going to explode. In retrospect I should have been worried about the enemy ambushing us with small arms fire. But I did not think about it. I ran up to the vehicle and the fire inside was spreading and the smoke was rolling out of the vehicle. I got inside and someone was yelling for help. I could not see any further than about 2 inches in front of my face. I was choking from the smoke and could feel the fire on my face. I heard someone yelling and could see SPC Pannel crawling through the smoke towards me his head was bleeding so I grabbed his vest handle and pull him out of the stryker. At this time SPC Chaney (my company medic) and SSG Banuelos (my HQ PSG) took care of him and began to take off his gear. I went back to the stryker to find my friend and commander CPT Hallett.
I saw an arm under the back part of the Stryker and knew that was CPT Jenkins. I got back into the Stryker now with SSG Banuelos with me and the .50 cal rounds were now starting to cook off and we could hear them exploding outside the Stryker. SSG Banuelos and I tried to get SFC Sawyer out of the vehicle but the fire was intensifying and I knew that it would be only minuets before the AT-4 (Anti-Tank Missile) would explode causing in effect more casualties. So I pulled everyone back away from the vehicle. I was mad because I could not find CPT Hallett............
SPC Pannell was air medevac'd I I helped carry him to the bird shielding his face from the flying debre and placed him on the bird.
When I got back I started to think about what happened and that CPT Hallet's vehicle was in the spot of the convoy I was supposed to be in. I feel bad like maybe I had something to do with this tragic event and was the cause of many deaths that day. I gathered the company and told them the news as I fought to hold back my tears. After things had settled down I sat and watched while members of the company started to pack up CPT Hallet's belongings, my thoughts went to his new born daughter that he was talking about at dinner the night before.
I can't explain how I felt losing my friend. How helpless I felt watching that Stryker burn and knowing my friend and other Soldiers were in it. I still think about this at night went it is quiet and I know that I could not have saved them without jeopardizing the lives of even more Soldiers. Did I do the right thing? Did I do EVERYTHING I could? I have held my feelings in for this long and try to remain strong and focused for the Soldiers and the leaders of the company, but I never thought it would be this hard again. After Iraq and all the fighting we did in Mosul I thought I had become hardened by battle but the feelings just resurface with every death.
But I am doing it baby and I could not have asked for a better group of Soldiers and Leaders. I just wanted to write you and let you know what happens and courage our young men display every day they are here. The impossible tasks that they are asked to perform everyday. But they put there fears aside and continue the mission.
Even through this ugliness goes on I still know that I have an angel waiting for me at home. I want you to know that I WILL be home soon and give hugs and many kisses.
This is a letter I know that there were many hero's that day and I write this a tribute to all of those involved. Thank you all for letting me tell you about an event I still think of everyday.
|LT Kim XO, me, and CPT Hallett NTC|
Saturday, August 18, 2012
I remember John calling me on a Saturday and asking me to meet him at a Denny's in Lakewood for breakfast so that we could discuss our plans for training and to share our philosophy of leadership. I will talk more about John later. In this post I just wanted to share a remembrance of SGT Troy O. Tom.
SGT Tom was one the first Soldiers I met when I toured the company my first day and I just remember his huge smile. A soft spoken leader who rarely raised his voice because his actions spoke even louder. He led by example and touched many of us with his genuine concern and love of his Soldiers and the respect of his leaders.
SGT Tom was killed on August 18, 2009, he would be the first Soldier that A Company 1-17th would lose during the deployment. 3rd Platoon "Dirty Pirates" were attached to another company in the Arghandab Valley. I rememeber sitting down to write his mother a letter, one of the hardest things I have had to do.
SGT Tom thank you for you service and you will never be forgotten...Attu 7
|Xavier Mascareas/The Daily Times|
|SGT Tom being carried to his final resting site.Xavier Mascareas/The Daily Times|
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
As a graduate student working towards my Masters Degree in Social Work degree I can honestly say that I truely want to help Veterans and their families. I also believe that it is important that a Vet help a Vet because there is a common bond between the two "SERVICE". I am reminded of a saying that "For those who fought for it, freedom has a taste the protected will never
|1SG Gene Hicks Helmand, Afghanistan|
(CNN) -- Things probably should have turned out differently for Samantha Schilling. The stories she tells have dark beginnings and could have had, under different circumstances, dark endings -- as so many stories for those in the military do. Schilling, now 31, served in the U.S. Navy from 1999 to 2003. She was never deployed but worked as an information systems technician at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
"I'm determined to be able to be helpful to others," she said. "Helping others helps me. ... I think therapy can help people adapt to civilian life again instead of maladapt. People who have PTSD and other (issues) can maladapt and cause trouble in the civilian world."
But some former active-duty service members aren't waiting for help to arrive. Veterans have turned to psychology to become mental health professionals, and they're filling in gaps in veteran care that government and civilian efforts have left open. And while they are still rare, programs to train them are slowly emerging at universities and nonprofit organizations around the United States.
"It's just going to increase and increase"
Although he still carries burdens from his deployment, since his return, he hasn't forgotten about his military family. Some, he knows personally; others, he's only met through that beeping laptop. He has dedicated his life to helping veterans connect to one another and improve their mental health.
Kyle works as a peer coach at Vets Prevail, a free online forum and multistep mental health program. It was founded in 2009 by a small group of professionals, almost all of them veterans.
"They haven't experienced it"
Monday, August 6, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
But this is not a new issue, in 1841, Dorothea Dix brought to the Massachusetts Legislature attention that the sick and insane were "confined in this Commonwealth in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, beaten with rods, lashed into obedience." After touring prisons, workhouses, almshouses, and private homes to gather evidence of appalling abuses, she made her case for state-supported care. Ultimately, she not only helped establish five hospitals in America, but also went to Europe where she successfully pleaded for human rights to Queen Victoria and the Pope.
In 1841 Dr. John Galt took over the superintendence of the Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, the first publicly supported mental state hospital. It was a triumph for the time because it was the first publicly supported hospital dedicated to the sole treatment of the mentally ill. Dr. Galt, a pioneer in his time in the treatment and the rehabilitation of those suffering from psychological disorders introduced Moral Management Therapy This taught, as Dr. Galt said, that the mentally ill "differ from us in degree, but not in kind" and are entitled to human dignity. Dr. Galt introduced therapeutic activities and talk therapy. He was probably alone among contemporary asylum superintendents to advocate that the psychiatric hospital undertake in-house research and claimed to treat African-American patients on an equal footing with whites. Dr. Galt used restraint very sparingly (one year restraining none) and sought a calming medication to replace restraint. He dispensed opium liberally to patients in a foreshadowing of our twentieth century neuroleptics. In 1857, Dr. Galt was the first to advocate deinstitutionalization and community-based mental health care. Dr. Galt and Eastern State Hospital introduced all the components of the modern psychiatric hospital -human dignity for the mentally ill, therapeutic activities, talk therapy, calming medication, in-house research, deinstitutionalization, and community-based mental health care.
With these great advances in the care of those with mental illnesses seen almost 141 years ago, the United States and Idaho have regressed greatly due to simply put money. In the 1970 and 1980’s Ronald Reagan was governor of California he systematically began closing down mental hospitals, later as president he would cut aid for federally-funded community mental health programs. It is not a coincidence that the homeless populations in the state of California grew in the seventies and eighties. The people were put out on the street when mental hospitals started to close all over the state.
Perspectives & Analysis of Policy:
Idaho currently has two psychiatric hospitals State Hospital South in Blackfoot which provides inpatient treatment for adults and children. The hospital works in partnership with families and communities to enable clients to return to community living. The second state hospital is State Hospital North located in Orofino which is a 55-bed psychiatric hospital that provides treatment for adults in psychiatric crisis. The hospital is intended to be of short to intermediate duration with the objective of stabilizing presenting symptoms and returning the patient to community living in the shortest reasonable period of time. The commonality of these hospitals is to provide treatment for short durations of time and get them back into the community, a Band-Aid to the real problem, consistent care and consistent treatment.
The economic downturn has made an impact on the state of Idaho and the mass unemployment has exacerbated and caused deep cuts in the economic support of public money to the care and treatment of those with mental health issues. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter recommended budget for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's mental health services division during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, is about $32.4 million. That's down 4.6 percent from the current fiscal year and a full 19 percent less than in 2008 two years after he took office. The division of Health and Welfare has laid off or left unfilled 35 full-time positions to assist adults with mental health problems, and another 14 positions to help Idaho youth. About 450 people in the past year have been referred to out of state mental health programs or to private providers amid the staffing cuts and budget holdbacks in 2009 and 2010.
Impact of Policy & Analysis:
Currently, Idaho has no published policy on the treatment of those with mental illnesses. Idaho uses many out of state resources to minimize the cost of dealing with the mentally ill. An example can be drawn from the use of the Oregon’s suicide hotline. Since Idaho does not currently have a hotline, people in crisis are directed to call the Oregon help center. Why? Simply put the state government does not have any financial obligation nor does it need to provide trained counselors or professionals to staff a state center. The State of Idaho provides state funded and operated community based mental health care services through Regional Mental Health Centers (RMHC) located in each of the seven geographical regions of the state.
The idea of deinstitutionalizing mental health care and the treatment of those who suffer from mental disorders was a well-intentioned idea, the failure to provide outpatient care that revolved around the idea of recovery and the ability to return and function in society is easily one of the biggest failures of the 20th century. Today, in many states including Idaho, the continuation of closing hospitals or limiting the number of beds by administrators and politicians are creating a problem that they either do not want to face or chose not to care. In many cases it is easy to point out problems but a harder task to offer suggestions that will change the direction social services will provide those who need the help. There are many possibilities that politicians and administrators can look at. Some of these are: