Archive for December, 2010


A story by Bob Woodruff and Ian Cameron on Sunday’s ABC Today with Christiane Amanpour reported that nine thousand returning servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan have been homeless.  The director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America calls that a conservative number.

And women veterans are the most vulnerable. The Department of Veterans Affairs believes the high number of homeless is the  result of “combat stress, brain injuries from IEDs, repeated deployments, and rising use of drugs and alcohol. For many families of servicemembers it becomes simply too much — family breakups are one reason why women are becoming homeless faster than men.”

The Vice Chief of the Army, General Peter Chiarell, sees multiple deployments and PTSD as primary causes of homelessness.

The Multigenerational Ripple of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Category : Uncategorized | Blog

This past Sunday Time Magazine ran an article on how dogs are helping many veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cope with their PTSD.  Vets like Brad Fasnacht have found that having a dog as a constant companion makes it possible for him to leave his home, enter crowded places like grocery stores, and even mitigate anxiety attacks.  His dog wakes him up from nightmares by licking his face.

Farsnacht says his dog has changed his life.

After another vet experienced huge relief from having a dog, he founded a nonprofit, Pets2Vets and promises service men and women in need that his group will get them a pet within a month.

The article centers on the research of Sandra Barker, a psychiatry professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.   In 1998 she published a study that found thirty minutes with a dog was two times more effective in reducing patients’ anxiety than “standard therapy involving music and art.”  In March she published another study indicating dogs have a “buffering effect” on their human companions, as measured through cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Walter Reed and other military medical centers have begun placing dogs on hospital floors.

I understand the invaluable comfort , acceptance, and security a dog can provide—qualities critical to a veteran trying to reintegrate into civilian life.  Throughout my childhood–from the years when my world began imploding when I was five, through the seemingly endless years of silence that followed, into my early adult years when my denied trauma began manifesting in anxiety and nightmares—I always had a pet dog.   During countless times in those years my dog provided what little sense I had of being safe and good.  When, in my late twenties, when my behavior became self-destructive, my dog’s adoring gaze was my only anchor.  I knew all too well the truth of the bumper sticker “May I be half the person my dog thinks I am.”

So, yes, I know how essential a dog can be to a traumatized person.

But it is critical that we distinguish between coping and healing.

A dog may interrupt a nightmare  by licking our face, but the nightmare will return.

It is a disservice to our veterans suffering from moral and emotional trauma to compare thirty minutes with a dog to the potential of music and art to heal.   What are we comparing?  Someone just sitting down for the first time  with  a pen or a piano?  How long does it take before a traumatized person begins to experience the transformative power of art?  Sure, thirty minutes with a dog provides some immediate relief, but the relief does not go deep.  It does not transform.

If even one veteran finds healing from music (as did WWII veteran Senator Daniel Inouye) or from art (as did Si Lewen- as I will talk about in an upcoming post), or from writing as did William Manchester- we must not discount the power of art.   We cannot make sweeping statements about what can or cannot heal someone.  Each person must have available to them all the options for healing so they can discover for themselves what speaks to their soul.   Our job is to open the doors, to make options available, to let the veteran know we long to bring them back into community.  In its last paragraph, the article quotes a veteran: “People ask about the dog, and it’s kind of forced me to talk to them, which is something I didn’t want to do.”  That’s the dog’s greatest value- facilitating connection.  Connection transforms and heals. Art has bound us together for millenia, connecting us to the humanity within ourselves and within our neighbors.  So bring on the dogs and let them break the ice for our veterans, but let us not think that breaking the ice is sufficient.  We all need to submerge ourselves in the process of bringing our veterans home.

The Multigenerational Ripple of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
مبلمان اداری صندلی مدیریتی صندلی اداری میز اداری وبلاگدهی فروشگاه اینترنتی گن لاغری شکم بند لاغری تبلیغات کلیکی آموزش زبان انگلیسی پاراگلایدر ساخت وبلاگ بوی دهان بوی بد دهان