Gerald Vest: Warrior Describes his Healing & Recovery in Integrative Health Center    
 Warrior Describes his Healing & Recovery in Integrative Health Center0 comments
picture20 Oct 2010 @ 02:11, by Gerald Vest

Mission Statement:

The Fort Bliss Restoration and Restoration Resilience Center restores optimal functioning and battle-readiness to neurophysiologically, psychologically, and spiritually challenged post-deployment Soldiers and their families
using integrated state-of of-the-art treatment to stimulate maximum resilience.


I am very proud and honored to share SSG Hooty's article on his experience being diagnosed with War Post Traumatic Stress and assigned to the Ft Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion and for treatment in our Ft. Bliss Restoration Center, the US Armys premier integrative health program that returns the majority of its Wounded Warriors fit for duty. However, many of our wounded soldiers, like Hooty, have other medical or physical injuries and can no longer meet the physical requirements and are Medically Boarded out of the Service.

SSG Hooty is an exceptionally bright, courageous, humorous, open and encouraging leader. I believe that this article will help other soldiers and their families seek treatment and resources for their serious injuries identified as War Post Traumatic Stress. Thank you for sharing your experiences, knowledge and wisdom with us and our readers. You are the Best, Hooty!!!

Jerry

Note: Picture is Hooty and Sharon, one of our clinical social workers.

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Why is there a certain negative stigma against soldiers being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Troops that are coming home from a long and tiring war in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home to the very people who they are defending and those people are judging our troops for having been effected by the war in a way they will hopefully never have to understand as deeply as our troops do. Mention PTSD at a party or in conversation with friends and watch the flags raise up above their heads. Troops and PTSD is considered a sensitive subject in some groups and in most not even mentioned at all. Americans automatically accept the worst case scenario and are quick to place the blame. “Oh, it’s the PTSD! Just leave him alone.

I was diagnosed with a chronic case of PTSD in 2008 from action that happened in 2004. I went 4 years undiagnosed and confused about what the problem was. Did I suspect it was PTSD? YES! Did I go get help? NO! Why? To be in the Army and reach out for help with mental issues is hands down, a sign of weakness. You’re looked at differently among your peers, you’re treated differently, and people feel like they have to walk on egg shells around you and in some cases this may be true. I was given the opportunity to go through a sort of exclusive treatment facility in Fort Bliss Texas. The treatment center is called the restoration and resilience center (R & R Center). It’s the only one (as of right now) of its kind anywhere in the world. The program was 6 months and not only did I learn tons of things about PTSD and how to help keep it under control, I also learned that I wasn’t the only person going through this. I met all sorts of other soldiers from an array of military occupations across the Army that were suffering the same way I was. They all had dealt with all the things I was dealing with in my life- Divorce, Anger, frustration, lack of sleep and in some situations- Flashbacks, black outs, very aggressive mood swings. All of which in some cases turned into other issues like drug abuse, alcohol abuse or marital abuse. Truth be told, we were all messed up pretty bad which doesn’t surprise me because the center was very exclusive to those who were suffering the worst from the problems they were having. All in all my experiences there were very beneficial to me. I learned all sorts of different things I could do to keep a level head when things get bad. [link]

Now flash forward and I’m out of the Army, way out of my comfort zone and all these issues were piling on top of me. I had no solid source of income, I had no place to live, I was homeless with 2 dogs and 2 kids to worry about. I had no idea what I was going to do. I flipped out. I had a very angry and violent outburst and I realized after I calmed down that I had no one to blame for it but myself.
Most of the people I talk to who have been diagnosed say the same thing. They feel like they are treated differently because of what they experience and to be honest, every one of the guys I was in the center with all lead pretty normal lives. We all complained about the nightmares and sleepless nights among other things, but we never really let it bug us. We all lived like regular people with what we have, we all talked about the fun times we have with our kids, some of us went out as a group to different places we normally can’t go to alone like bars and food shopping in the dreaded Wal-Mart. The point was we had to rely on each other because we felt out of place in our own city. Our home- America; was not the same place we left behind when we boarded the planes to go to war. We served our country valiantly. Most of us were crazy enough to go back 2, 3, even 4 times. We don’t regret what we did. We just want to feel normal.

Stop blaming everything on the war, it’s easy to point fingers at the effects of war. America has this vision that every soldier that comes back has an issue and just blame the war, they give the media fuel to blast the military for “letting this happen”. Is the Government to blame? Yes, but only to a certain extent. I hear about it all the time, soldiers get in trouble and sure thing their first line of defense their lawyer uses is “My client may have PTSD”. I see it in the news and in the papers and you see it too. People use the disorder as a crutch.

Fort Carson Colorado a man working with the mental health system up there told Associated Press that the Army told him and other specialists up there to misdiagnose soldiers with “anxiety disorder” rather than PTSD. As horrible as that is- the ONLY treatment the entire world has to battle PTSD is a little white horseshoe shaped building in Fort Bliss Texas that houses a hand full of social workers (DAMN good ones too!) and some alternative medicine personnel that help the healing process along immensely.

More needs to be done but as a nation we have really stepped up our game on the war against PTSD. The Army as a whole have opened their eyes and last I heard were building another PTSD center up in Fort Carson Colorado and plans were in the works for another on the east coast. PTSD has shadowed the military and society for centuries. It’s only now that we are doing something. As it will take time to get where we need to be with it, I have faith that as an American nation we’ll get there together because that’s what we do. All or none!




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