Battling the Storm Within

Friday, October 31, 2014

Military sexual trauma as a risk factor for increased mental illness and poverty for veterans

With more than 250,000 women having served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the need for specifically tailored physical and mental health services for female veterans is especially dire. While both male and female veterans experience significant challenges upon their return from service, including high rates of homelessness, the prevalence of military sexual trauma (MST) presents a particular challenge for female veterans.

The experience of MST correlates to a high risk of mental illness: 20 percent of female veterans in the VA health system have been diagnosed with a mental illness as a result of MST. Additionally, a recent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study reported that veterans who had experienced MST had 2 or 3 times the likelihood of having a mental illness.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Woman goes undercover to expose sexual harassment -VIDEO

Sexual Harassment - Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment.

A key part of the definition is the use of the word unwelcome. Unwelcome or uninvited conduct or communication of a sexual nature is prohibited; welcome or invited actions or words are not unlawful. Sexual or romantic interaction between consenting people at work may be offensive to observers or may violate company policy, but it is not sexual harassment.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sleep Study at Army Hospital Makes Case for Nightmare Disorder

The symptoms were common, but until this month, Army doctors did not have a good definition for the mix of nightmares and nighttime outbursts troops sometimes report after living through traumatic events at war.

Unlike civilians who have general nightmares, combat veterans would relive critical moments in their dreams. Soldiers who'd been trapped in burning vehicles, for instance, would feel their terror again.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

COLUMN: Understanding mental illnesses, suicide

In the wake of Robin Williams’ tragic death, and in preparation for International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (Nov. 22), I have been engaged in a number of personal and professional discussions regarding the nature of suicide and the view some have that this is a “selfish” act. In an effort to honor the lives of those who completed suicide, and the families left to struggle with the lifelong impact of such a painful loss, I want to take this opportunity to describe what my work as a mental health counselor has led me to believe about suicide including the events leading to such a final act.

I suspect many of you at one point or another have already read suicide prevention articles or pamphlets or sat in on presentations regarding the “warning signs” of suicide. Williams certainly fits the national profile of one most likely to complete a suicide – white, middle-aged, male and a history of mental illness. I believe it is of particular importance to note the “middle-aged” part of this description.


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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Marital Rape: Who Will Push The Cause Of Victims?

Though a hardly talked about topic, rape is a problem in many matrimonial homes. The unfortunate scenario in this case is that the victims live with their abusers and are often too scared to voice out their pain, for societal, cultural and other such reasons. Catherine Agbo and Ruth Choji, Abuja and Solomon Ayado, Makurdi, write...

In July 2013, one Maryam Yahaya made a confessional statement to the police in Plateau State that she killed her husband, Lawal Bala, by stabbing him with a knife on his neck while the deceased was sleeping in his bedroom in his home at Layin Sidi, Gangare, in Jos North local government area of the state, shortly after he returned from his business.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

PTSD linked to soldier's 3 suicide attempts, family says

The family of a soldier from Halifax is afraid for his life as he struggles with what he believes to be an undiagnosed case of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kim and Steven Dixon say their son, Cpl. Thomas Dixon, has tried to kill himself three times since June. Most recently, he tried to end his life in an Edmonton military jail.


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Friday, October 24, 2014

Abolish sovereign immunity

Sovereign immunity means: is a legal doctrine by which the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution. In constitutional monarchies the sovereign is the historical origin of the authority which creates the courts.

In the past few months, this country has been rocked by the unfolding horror story at dozens of veterans hospitals. There have been reports of veteran deaths due to malpractice, serious mismanagement at all levels of Veterans Affairs and the resignation, in disgrace, of the VA secretary. In the court of public opinion, the VA has lost considerable credibility.
Yet in a civil court, active duty military service members cannot sue for harms they suffered resulting from VA medical center malpractice or other government negligence. Why not? Because the government can do no wrong. This is the central reasoning behind the sovereign immunity doctrine, an arcane rule that largely prohibits active duty military from suing the United States government.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

U.S. must do more to reduce homelessness among female veterans

Ginger Miller served in the U.S. Navy as a bosun's mate, receiving a medical discharge for an in-service accident. Although her service skills didn't readily transfer to civilian life, she never dreamed she'd end up homeless, living on the streets for three years with her 2-year-old son and husband, a former Marine suffering from PTSD who also could not find work.

This snapshot of just one woman, one family, isolated and alone, is emblematic of a persistent national tragedy that is largely preventable and completely unacceptable.


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'Invisible wounds' follow veterans home

For a generation of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, adjusting to life after combat presents its own set of challenges and wounds.
Many of them may not be easily visible.
Veterans say readjusting to civilian life after the anxiety and intensity of war takes time, effort and sometimes the support of other vets and care providers.


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Making It Easier To Fire Executives Won’t Fix The VA

Last summer, Congress and President Obama, reacting to the scandals at the Department of Veterans Affairs, rushed through a law giving the Secretary of Veterans Affairs a speedier process with which to fire underperforming executives.  Problem solved? Not so fast. There’s a wee thing called due process – which has created a loophole for bureaucrats in the crosshairs to retire instead of being fired.
The law’s drafters seem to have forgotten something every first year law student knows, Goldberg v. Kelly, the 1970 Supreme Court case that requires the state to allow for due process before terminating a benefit.  For the VA executives, that benefit would be their pay, and due process would be the opportunity to challenge the basis for the termination.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

As disability awards grow, so do concerns over the veracity of veterans’ PTSD claims

The 49-year-old veteran explained that he suffered from paranoia in crowds, nightmares and unrelenting flashbacks from the Iraq war. He said he needed his handgun to feel secure and was worried that he would shoot somebody.

The symptoms were textbook post-traumatic stress disorder.But Robert Moering, the psychologist conducting the disability examination at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa, Fla., suspected the veteran was exaggerating. Hardly anybody had so many symptoms of PTSD so much of the time.


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Did safety net fail suicidal Marine vet?

Jeremy Sears in a Facebook photo
Jeremy Sears in a Facebook photo

Jeremy Sears is the kind of combat veteran that America desperately wants to help -- a Marine who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yet the safety net designed to support returning troops seems to have failed in his case, according to his wife and veterans advocates.


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

14,000 Sexually Assaulted Male Soldiers Will Mostly Stay Silent

14,000 Sexually Assaulted Male Soldiers Will Mostly Stay Silent

Photo: AP
Over the last few years, sexual abuse in the military has become a wildly discussed topic. A 2012 report found that 26,000 soldiers had experienced sexual assault.

A recent article from Mother Jones featured photos of brave women who risked everything to tell stories of their assault, and raise awareness.

And while these women are incredibly brave for stepping up, are we forgetting about their male counterparts who are forced into the same horrific experiences?


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Military sexual assault still a shameful secret

Military sexual assault still a shameful secret

It is time for a male taboo, buried deep in military culture, to be exposed and acknowledged for what it is, says a war psychiatrist who consults on military sexual trauma.
Alexandre Kamnerdsiri says secrecy surrounds the occurrence of ­male-on-male sexual assault in military units, particularly in times of combat, high stress and isolation.
The assault and the subsequent secrecy not only cause the victims ­distress but can impact on their mental health. This can compound combat stress and have dire consequences for the rest of their lives.

Dr Kamnerdsiri will be addressing the Asia-Oceania Federation of ­Sexology conference in Brisbane next week. Born in Thailand, he served in the Greek army and is currently based in France.
From his position on the educational committee of the International Society for Sexual Medicine, he promotes research into all forms of military ­sexual trauma.
He says male-on-male assaults in the military are greatly under-reported.


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Editorial: More Heads Need to Roll at Veterans Administration

Air Force pararescueman conducts tactical field training

Military personnel and veterans are watching events at the Veterans Administration after a report found 24 veterans died waiting for medical care. Photo shows an airman on a training exercise in California, in October 2014. Photographer:Senior Airman Rachael Kane

We agree that the three hospital administrators in Dublin, Georgia, Pittsburg and Central Alabama must go, along with the Washington-based procurement official cited in a damning Inspector General’s report.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

US Marine Jeremiah Arbogast: male rape in military is 'about power' - (Video)

" The hostility and venomous response the topic of sexual trauma and rape in the military brings up, especially with men from my era, is revealing. This opposition speaks to their guilt and toward the truth that stays hidden." ~~ Diane

Who is at risk? EVERYONE!!! Military sexual assault does not discriminate against race, religion or gender.

There were 3,553 sexual assault complaints reported to the Defense Department in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, from October 2012 thru June 2013. That is nearly a 50 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. ----- New York Times, November 2013

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

PTSD: not just a military problem, any traumatic experience, or multiple traumas, can cause post-traumatic stress disorder - (Video)

Kalina Christoff felt overwhelmed and pressured to accept medical procedures she didn’t want during the birth of her first child, a “dehumanizing” experience that led to anxiety and flashbacks. Jenn Baerg ended an abusive engagement, then had panic attacks and anxiety as she relived being molested by a family member during her teens and early 20s.

Christoff and Baerg are the other faces of post-traumatic stress disorder. Their struggles are less well known than PTSD among military personnel, war veterans and first responders, whose dramatic stories make good headlines. But studies show certain groups, like mothers with birth trauma, sexual assault victims and members of First Nations, often have higher rates of PTSD than the military.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

How Big Government Bonuses Rule the Beltway, Despite Systemic Bureaucratic Failures

Big government bonuses took center stage this year after a litany of reports revealed that Veterans Affairs officials had been receiving millions of dollars in performance incentives despite unfathomable failures inside the department, including months-long and falsified waiting lists for wounded veterans to receive medical care. Now, the department has said, three of its officials are in the process of being fired and a fourth has retired.
But that’s just one example of what appears to be a multitude of government agencies whose executives are or were reaping big financial rewards through a bonus system drawn from taxpayers with no accountability guidelines.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 10: The U.S. Capitol building is seen on the evening of June 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images


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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ex-chair: VA steers Gulf War illness panel from science.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking new members who offer "fresh perspectives" for an advisory committee that researches illnesses tied to the first Gulf War.

James H. Binns, a Phoenix business executive who was the committee chairman until last month, said the new perspectives being sought by the VA will move the committee away from established science.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

5 Myths About Domestic Violence

5 Myths About Domestic Violence

Posted: Updated:


Many of us, on reading the recent news about Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Ray McDonald, have thought, "How could anyone do that? What was he thinking?" It turns out the truth about what goes through an abusive man's head is not what you'd expect. Prepare to be surprised.


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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pentagon Promises to Try to Cut Pay and Benefits Again


Soldier holds a stack of cash.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said Tuesday that the Pentagon will continue pressing to trim military pay, pensions, and housing allowances despite rejections by Congress.

The Pentagon will also try again to reform the Tricare health care system and kill the A-10 attack aircraft despite nearly universal opposition from veterans service organizations, Work said at a Council on Foreign Relations forum.


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Monday, October 6, 2014

Veterans Affairs Department Fires 4 Senior Executives In Response To Scandal

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Veterans Affairs Department said it is firing four senior executives as officials move to crack down on wrongdoing following a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care, and falsified records covering up the delays.

The dismissals are the first since Congress passed a law this summer making it easier for veterans who experience delays to get care outside VA's nationwide network of hospitals and clinics. The law also made it easier for the agency to fire senior officials suspected of wrongdoing, shortening their appeals process to 28 days.  Read more...


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Report: Services for female veterans fall short..

The Veterans Affairs Department and other government agencies are not doing enough to help women who served in the military, even as their number is rising dramatically, according to a new report.

The report by the Disabled American Veterans, identified serious gender gaps in virtually every program serving veterans, including health care, job training, finance, housing, social issues and combatting sexual assault.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Are Children Impacted by a Parent with TBI or PTSD?

I can relate to this article being a veteran parent with PTSD. Great video here's part of it.. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Each year there are a reported 1.7 million civilian brain injuries in the United States. In the military from 2000 through 2012, more than 266,000 service members sustained a TBI. Brain injury has become known as the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most brain injuries are mild, and most people recover in a matter of weeks. provides military-specific information and resources on traumatic brain injury to veterans; service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, and Reserve; and their families.

Here is the link to his article about how children are impacted with parents with PTSD and TBI

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Report: Military hospitals show broad disparities in patient care


A comprehensive review of the military health care system finds that overall, the military health system is functioning on a par with private-sector care, but patients face broad disparities in appointment wait times and quality of care — and have little way of finding out how their Defense Department hospital or clinic measures up regarding safety or potential harm to their health.
The review, ordered in May by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to determine whether the Pentagon provides safe, effective care to active-duty beneficiaries, retirees and family members, found that by and large, the system provides “good quality care that is safe and timely” and is comparable to civilian care.


Raising Awareness of Military Sexual Trauma

Report Reveals Illicit Romance leads and insider info in Veterans Affairs Contract