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3
Feb

This article by Tara Parker-Pope in the January 19, 2015 New York Times  provides a comprehensive overview of recent research indicating that writing has physical as well as emotional health benefits.

 

Writing Your Way to Happiness

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.

It may sound like self-help nonsense, but research suggests the effects are real.

In one of the earliest studies on personal story editing, researchers gathered 40 college freshman at Duke University who were struggling academically. Not only were they worried about grades, but they questioned whether they were intellectual equals to other students at their school.

The students were divided into intervention groups and control groups. Students in the intervention group were given information showing that it is common for students to struggle in their freshman year. They watched videos of junior and senior college students who talked about how their own grades had improved as they adjusted to college.

The goal was to prompt these students to edit their own narratives about college. Rather than thinking they weren’t cut out for college, they were encouraged to think that they just needed more time to adjust.

The intervention results, published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, were startling. In the short term, the students who had undergone the story-changing intervention got better grades on a sample test. But the long-term results were the most impressive.

Students who had been prompted to change their personal stories improved their grade-point averages and were less likely to drop out over the next year than the students who received no information. In the control group, which had received no advice about grades, 20 percent of the students had dropped out within a year. But in the intervention group, only 1 student — or just 5 percent — dropped out.

In another study, Stanford researchers focused on African-American students who were struggling to adjust to college. Some of the students were asked to create an essay or video talking about college life to be seen by future students. The study found that the students who took part in the writing or video received better grades in the ensuing months than those in a control group.

Another writing study asked married couples to write about a conflict as a neutral observer. Among 120 couples, those who explored their problems through writing showed greater improvement in marital happiness than those who did not write about their problems.

“These writing interventions can really nudge people from a self-defeating way of thinking into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself,” said Timothy D. Wilson, a University of Virginia psychology professor and lead author of the Duke study.

Dr. Wilson, whose book “Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,” was released in paperback this month, believes that while writing doesn’t solve every problem, it can definitely help people cope. “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it,” he said.

Much of the work on expressive writing has been led by James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas. In one of his experiments, college students were asked to write for 15 minutes a day about an important personal issue or superficial topics. Afterward, the students who wrote about personal issues had fewer illnesses and visits to the student health center.

“The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go,” said Dr. Pennebaker. “I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.”

At the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, life coaches ask clients to identify their goals, then to write about why they haven’t achieved those goals.

Once the clients have written their old stories, they are asked to reflect on them and edit the narratives to come up with a new, more honest assessment. While the institute doesn’t have long-term data, the intervention has produced strong anecdotal results.

In one example, a woman named Siri initially wrote in her “old story” that she wanted to improve her fitness, but as the primary breadwinner for her family she had to work long hours and already felt guilty about time spent away from her children.

With prompting, she eventually wrote a new story, based on the same facts but with a more honest assessment of why she doesn’t exercise. “The truth is,” she wrote, “I don’t like to exercise, and I don’t value my health enough. I use work and the kids to excuse my lack of fitness.”

Intrigued by the evidence that supports expressive writing, I decided to try it myself, with the help of Jack Groppel, co-founder of the Human Performance Institute.

Like Siri, I have numerous explanations for why I don’t find time for exercise. But once I started writing down my thoughts, I began to discover that by shifting priorities, I am able to make time for exercise.

“When you get to that confrontation of truth with what matters to you, it creates the greatest opportunity for change,” Dr. Groppel said.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
7
Dec

The transmission of trauma from parent to child is beginning to receive attention. Judith Shulevitz of the New Republic wrote “The Science of Suffering,” a comprehensive story that reports on the latest research. (http://bit.ly/14z8h4C) It details how research is now countering the traditional belief that family dynamics explained the “vicarious traumatization of the next generation.” The actual explanation lies in the genes themselves.

“…researchers are increasingly painting a picture of a psychopathology so fundamental, so, well, biological, that efforts to talk it away can seem like trying to shoot guns into a continent, in Joseph Conrad’s unforgettable image from Heart of Darkness. By far the most remarkable recent finding about this transmogrification of the body is that some proportion of it can be reproduced in the next generation. The children of survivorsa surprising number of them, anywaymay be born less able to metabolize stress. They may be born more susceptible to PTSD, a vulnerability expressed in their molecules, neurons, cells, and genes.” (my emphasis)

Shulevitz highlights the work of Rachel Yehuda, the “go-to person on the molecular biology of intergenerational trauma, although she may never have pursued this line of research were it not for the persistence of the children of trauma victims themselves.” Those last few words are important, because they underline the role we adult children of veterans must take in enabling the families of today’s newest generation of veterans to get they help they need and deserve.

Because while this article is magnificent for bringing attention to the lasting impact of trauma, it does not even mention children of veterans. It seems that though our country has come a long, long way in recognizing that combat creates trauma, we have yet to acknowledge that the veterans’ trauma reverberates through their families, and so through all of our society.

It is up to us, the adult children of veterans, to continue speaking our stories and contacting people like Dr. Yehuda to insist that she another researchers include children of veterans within their studies. We children of WWII veterans, of Korean War veterans, of Vietnam War veterans offer a rich and deep pool of lives lived, the cases waiting to be studied and learned from.

To not study us continues the denial of the significance of our parent veteran’s trauma as well as our own. To not study us makes it that much harder for families of our veterans to find support within their communities– local and national. And in the meantime, young children are suffering.

 

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
15
May

Let us hope this upcoming change in the DSM-5 will encourage more veterans to seek disability benefits for PTSD and make it easier for them to receive such benefits.   This opinion piece was in the May 14, 2013 issue of Time Magazine.

An Easier PTSD Diagnosis

Read more: http://nation.time.com/2013/05/14/an-easier-ptsd-diagnosis/#ixzz2TOtH92O1

Being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder could get easier following the upcoming annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association where the group’s fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) is slated to be released in San Francisco.

DSM-5 has new guidelines and criteria for many psychiatric diagnoses. There is already lots of controversy about this latest revision.

Here I’d like to focus on the diagnosis with most relevance for military service members and veterans: PTSD.

Essentially the new criteria make it easier to meet the criteria for PTSD, by eliminating so called Criterion A-2, and by adding symptoms that make a PTSD diagnosis more likely.

Criterion A-2 is the requirement that people experience extreme fear, helplessness and horror at the time of a traumatic incident.

This is a good change.

When the bomb goes off or they are shot at, most well-trained service members do not experience helplessness or horror. They are well-trained; they drag their wounded buddies to safety, lay down suppressing fire, and continue with the mission.

But they still may have intrusive memories: seeing their friend’s heads blown off, or the dead children in the vicinity of the bomb blast.

In the past, they did not strictly meet the criteria for PTSD, so they might get a related diagnosis like anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified (NOS).

Added elements recognized in the PTSD diagnosis include: cognitive difficulties; depressive symptoms; and strong body reactions to smells or other triggers reminding them of the event.

The big questions to me are

– How and when these changes will affect the disability system?

– Will the military and VA adopt the new changes? If so, when?

– If adopted, will veterans who previously did not meet the earlier criteria for PTSD be re-evaluated?

To add to the complexity, many service members receive multiple disability evaluations. They may receive a medical evaluation board (MEB). Then they may receive one or more TDRL (temporary disability retirement list) evaluations through the military. Then another one or more through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Which diagnostic criteria should be used for each evaluation?

According to the APA, the changes are voluntary and to be implemented over time.

However, that’s not a good enough answer for service members and their families stuck amid the disability process.

The PTSD diagnosis has always been surrounded with controversy (proof: I’m hosting a workshop on Controversies in PTSD at the APA).

One controversy that received a lot of attention last year is whether the diagnosis should be changed to Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. I’m in favor of that change. Another one is whether PTSD sufferers should be eligible for a Purple Heart medal. I’m ambivalent on that. It’s grist for a future post.

In the more immediate term, the military needs to decide what, and when, to do in terms of deciding when it will change the criteria. The Army already relaxed its PTSD criteria in April 2012. But more needs to be done. To do right by our troops, the view from here is that both the Pentagon and VA should embrace the new criteria without delay.

Read more: http://nation.time.com/2013/05/14/an-easier-ptsd-diagnosis/#ixzz2TOseezqx

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
17
Apr

We stand in a circle, holding hands. The person to my right squeezes my hand, I squeeze the hand of the person to my left. The squeeze becomes a pulse traveling the circle, each person’s hand and arm contracting and expanding. Faster and faster, until no time elapses in between beats. We are a complete circuit of energy.
We are twelve adults preparing for a play. We are veterans and family members of veterans. The audience will be civilians. Just as children learn through play, so is our play teaching us, transforming us. And, when the audience sees us, our play will transform them.
But in our play, we will not be acting. We will be playing ourselves. And the audience will be no ordinary audience. They will have a role as important as ours on the stage: they will witness and own the stories we perform.
On April 25th, 26th, 27th, and May 2rd, 3rd, and 4th we are putting on an Austin production of the Telling Project. Jonathan Wei created the Telling Project in 2008 to enable connection between veterans and civilians. And what better way to do that than for civilians to come together to hear veterans and family members tell their experiences.
Less than one percent of the US population has served in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The other 99 percent may think that service has nothing to do with them. Or that there’s no way they can understand. Or they may not think about it at all. Yet our soldiers, sailors, and airmen fight in our name. They serve us, whether or not we agree with the decision to engage in the war. We must understand the consequences of that engagement. Because, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “…all life is interrelated… We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
In our rehearsals, we have come to reside in that mutuality. I have experienced connection on a deep, deep level that I did not anticipate.
Our cast includes five veterans whose combined service spans twenty years: Steve Metz, Army and National Guard, served in Desert Storm, Bosnia, and Iraq; Regina Vasquez, Marines, served in Okinawa; Jennifer Hassin, Air Force, served in England; Malachi Muncy, Army/National Guard, served in Iraq; and Anisa Moyo, Army, served in Iraq. Family members include Laura Muncy, the wife of Malachi Muncy, Laura Hammonds, daughter of Martin Milczanowski who served in Viet Nam, and myself, daughter of Reuben Levinson, who served in Europe in WWII. This is an amazing group of people. Steve Metz created the documentary “Year at Danger” and the book Zombie Monologues. Regina Vasquez founded Fatigues Clothesline, the online community of survivors of MST. Jenn Hassin is an artist and creator of Letters of Sacrifice. Artist Malachi Muncy works with Combat Paper Project and Peace Paper as well as helping veterans and active service people at Under the Hood Cafe in Killeen. Anisa Moyo is a writer. Laura Muncy is an artist. Laura Hammond founded Daughters of Vietnam Veterans, and I founded Veterans’ Children.
I did not know what to expect from the script other than somehow Jonathan and his fellow writers Charlotte Gullick and Chris Leche would create something from the hours of individual interviews they had done of us. The script stunned me. It interweaves our eight stories into theatre where some of us prepared for war, went off to war, left behind loved ones; where others of us had loved ones go off, lost loved ones, never expected to see loved ones again. Universal stories emerge from our lives. Every war story is contained in and foretold by The Iliad and The Odyssey.
We do not tell our stories separately, as if mine starts and ends here, then yours starts and ends, then the next. We tell one story, the story of what follows war. Jonathan, Charlotte, Chris, and Schandra Madha intertwined our stories so that while they become one story, each person’s truth stands out distinct and exceptional. The magic of the Telling Project is that it conveys the paradox of our truths coexisting. How it intertwines multiple stories reveals the collective mythology that Jonathan aspired to reveal within the minds and spirits of veterans and their families. We, ourselves, are making new the ancient myths, the ancient archetypes from which we do not seem able to free ourselves.
From being a part of this, my own life makes more sense, the pain of my childhood receding because it is not mine alone. The trauma that had isolated me for decades now connects me. Under the guiding wisdom of director Stacey Shade-Ware, we learn to breathe and speak from our diaphragms, making funny sounds, silly faces, mirroring those of our fellow cast members. We have reunited with a family we didn’t know existed. And we are part of an even greater circle.
Look closely into your family history. Was your father a veteran? Your grandfather, aunt or uncle? Everyone has a veteran in their family. That relative, no matter how distant, connects us now and always to all veterans. We are part of a web of mutuality. We can help heal just by listening. Just by listening.
This is our sacred duty.
Come listen.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
4
Feb

This article, from Friday’s New York Times, describe the value of veterans turning to writing. And just as it can be valuable for the veteran, so it can be for veterans’ spouses and children.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
31
Aug

When I was growing up, I gave little thought to the fact that my father was a veteran of World War II. The fathers of all my friends were also veterans. Forty percent of Americans during that war were directly involved in the war effort.

In the past few years, many books have appeared about how children of World War II veterans absorbed our fathers’ war through their silence. These books reveal how that war, despite all the veterans’ efforts to lock it away, became the invisible member of the family, a force that shaped not only the relationships between our fathers and us but our world view and future relationships. Yet for all the horrors of World War II, as many of its veterans themselves will tell you, it was a cake walk compared to what today’s troops have faced and continue to endure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are many key differences, but as Marguerite Guzman Bouvard’s new book, The Invisible Wounds of War:Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan fiercely reveals, the most salient one is how few of our citizens are bearing the burden of today’s wars: one percent. One percent.

That difference is at the heart of all the other differences, especially the extreme nature of our new veterans’ trauma. I believe it is useless to compare pain and suffering, because, as Victor Frankl articulates in Man’s Search for Meaning — the book he wrote as a reflection of his imprisonment in Auschwitz — each human being has their own threshold of hardiness. The Invisible Wounds of War has convinced me that our young veterans suffer another level of trauma from that of veterans of prior wars.

American troops in World War II most typically fought for nine months, some for two years. They knew who their enemy was. The rules of war applied. And their nation supported them not just with words but with deeds: rations, victory gardens, work in manufacturing weapons, constant attention.

Today’s troops have known three, four, even five deployments. They have come home, known the joy and anguish of reconnecting with family, only to leave again. Their enemy is invisible and omnipresent, taking the shape of even children. So many are returning now, that even though we are fully aware of the phenomena of PTSD, our Veterans Administration is so overwhelmed, that accessing mental health care often takes two or more years.

Because only one percent of us have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, very few of us know such details, because very few of us know a veteran. Bouvard introduces them to us.

Noah Pierce enlisted in 2002, at age seventeen, his mother, Cheryl, unable to dissuade him. He participated in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, serving on the front lines, entering Iraqi homes, witnessing the deaths of close friends and innocent civilians. Cheryl began to recognize his anguish. She wrote him that war created a new morality and that if he ever had to kill someone, it would not be murder.

Yet as much as she tried to support him while he was deployed, she was “unprepared for the changes in her son” when he returned. After his homecoming, when she thought his war had ended, she watched a new one begin. Bouvard quotes from a letter Cheryl wrote to the members of Congress: “Even though (my son) came home physically, mentally, he never returned home. Noah had PTSD and was a prisoner of war in his own mind and left untreated, the PTSD progressively worsened.”

Unable to receive the help he needed from his local VA, Noah committed suicide to end his anguish. Cheryl has become an activist, working for the implementation of mandatory counseling for all returning troops within six months of completion of their service.

An awful pattern of psychic damage emerges from the many veterans and their families that Bouvard profiles. In war, our service men and women helplessly witness brutal deaths of close comrades and innocent Iraqi and Afghanistans. They suffer sexual harassment and even rape by superiors. They become both agents and victims of violence and death and then return home to a nation not informed or interested in engaging with their suffering. Their training often prevents them from admitting the need to seek counseling. When they do, they encounter a Veterans Administration completely overwhelmed and inadequately resourced. Our bad economy does not offer the jobs and support, they need.

The veterans’ spouses, parents, and children become the new front line, advocating for the veterans and fighting for them to have access to indispensable mental health care. Every day in this country, a veteran commits suicide, a terrifying fact. The families fight, every moment, to keep their son or daughter, their husband or wife alive. On that front line, even when their veteran survives, the family becomes traumatized.

Entire families are suffering, most of them very alone.

Because they are the one percent.

The Invisible Wounds of War delivers their stories– those of the veterans, their mothers, their fathers, their spouses, their children– to create a full portrait of the consequence of these wars. Rather than presenting the interviews themselves, Bouvard expertly weaves the individuals’ words into an overarching narrative of war’s devastation of the spirit. She introduces these people in their full humanity, so we know their unique gifts, characteristics, and shattered dreams. As excellent and succinct as the introductory overview of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is, I wish the book began immediately with the veterans’ stories, as they are the key to engaging even the most clueless of readers. (I also wish there was an appendix of the referenced programs and nonprofits that individuals have created around the country.) Bouvard’s writing makes it all but impossible to read of the costs our wars have had for these veterans and not feel compassion. And outrage.

Stirring outrage in the reader is the greatest achievement of The Invisible Wounds of War. Those of us in the 99 percent not at risk in these wars must feel outrage for what our depending on a volunteer army has done to those who volunteer. If our government had instituted a draft after 9/11, would these wars have continued for the past nine years? The stories in The Invisible Wounds of War show us, without one word of commentary, how immoral our country’s reliance on a volunteer army is. We are collaborators in our military making cannon fodder out of our service women and men. So the 99 percent of us need not worry about our sons or husbands being called to war, those who go because of wanting to serve our country or because a recruiter enticed them with deceitful promises become subject to multiple deployments that seal their fate. And the rest of us avert our gaze.

This book opens our eyes wide. See the devastation. Done in our names. Done so we can keep shopping and watching “Survivors.” Feel the outrage, and get out there and help these families.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
9
Jun

As the New York Times reported today, the suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel has “eclipsed the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago.” Yesterday, the Pentagon released numbers that reveal a service member is committing suicide every day.

Few people realize that the number of veterans of Viet Nam who have died from suicide exceeds the number of troops we lost to combat during that war. As of 2005, some 100,000 veterans had committed suicide, while 58,000 troops died in Vet Nam. Unlike even that awful war, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are claiming our troops through suicide even before the wars have ended.

While we could argue endlessly about the causes- such as repeat deployments, extreme conditions, losing friends to horrifying IED blasts- what is critical NOW is to take action, to intervene immediately with evaluations and counseling, with the full range of healing modalities to provide coping tools and community to our troops. We must wake up and recognize the crisis these suicides are signaling. Our troops are despairing. They feel hopeless and isolated, with no recourse. And their despair will become our own, our nation standing at the precipice of moral disintegration if we do not rescue those who have sacrificed their souls in our names.

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7
Jun

Broad shoulders and broader smiles, twinkling eyes, strong muscles yet gentle hands, wise, kind, and good. Steadfast and easy going. This is the iconic image we Americans hold of the GIs who left their small towns and tight knit city neighborhoods to travel across the Atlantic or Pacific to fight in the Second World War.

It has been thirteen years since the savage opening scene of Saving Private Ryan spilled men’s blood, anguish, horror and guts into our vision. 1998 was also the year Tom Brokaw published The Greatest Generation— and we quickly turned away from the reality Steven Spielberg exposed to adopt and carry forward the term “Greatest Generation,” fiercely clinging to our belief that the participants of the battles of D-Day, Guadacanal, Huertgen Forest, Iwo Jima, the Bulge, that the liberators of the Nazi concentration camps, that the POWs put the horrors behind them when they came home. The greatness of their purpose and the celebration of their country rescued them from their memories.

Carol Schultz Vento’s The Hidden Legacy of World War II pierces that myth to reveal not only the devastation that the war wrecked on the veterans’ spirits but the enormous toll it took on their families. Vento’s remarkable portrait, meticulously researched and substantiated, of the trauma the war created for its combatants will open a new chapter in our understanding not just of WWII but of the consequences of all wars. Because if even this good and just war that few would argue we should not have fought, exacted the price of all future repose and happiness, can any war be good and just? If no war has a victor, who benefits from waging war?

Vento has a special set of credentials for writing this book. Her father was Dutch Schultz, a WWII veteran who became legendary for his role as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, landing behind enemy lines o make the D-Day landings less deadly for the GIs landing on shore Popular culture selected Dutch as an exemplary hero, his deeds becoming the stuff of The Longest Day and Stephen Ambrose’s Citizen Soldiers. Yet like so many children of WWII veterans, at home, Carol experienced and observed a man anything but a hero. An alcoholic who could not summon the emotional energy a family and marriage require, Schultz left his wife and two daughters, his trauma making it impossible to be a good husband or father, to create for his family the sweet life Carol saw every other family living– at least in the television shows.

While The Hidden Legacy of World War II begins by presenting Vento’s own moving family history as the example of how her father’s broken spirit had drastic domestic repercussions, these specifics speak the truth of her generation of baby boomers. My father was also a veteran of World War II, an army surgeon who landed behind the troops at Utah Beach. I, too, had a broken family, a traumatized childhood, and only in the last ten years have I come to understand how our history connects back to my father’s war. We children of WWII vets have been the witnesses to our fathers’ and, in some cases, mothers’ invisible wounds. As children, we knew something was terribly wrong, and in our innocence and isolation, we thought it was ourselves. Only in the last several years has a zeitgeist emerged of baby boomers recognizing how our family’s tragedies, sorrows, and estrangement flowed from the war. How our fathers did what they hoped most not to do: bring the war home, into the bosom of their families.

The Hidden Legacy of World War II benefits from Vento’s having been educated as a lawyer and political scientist. Though the fulcrum of her book is her father’s and her own personal story– the heroic deeds, the haunting memories that followed and persisted, the domestic turbulence and stunted relationships– Vento supports her thesis of such a narrative arc being the norm rather than the exception with formidable and convincing research. She provides impressive data and many examples of other heroes whose lives disintegrated, of other children from broken families who have suffered depression, numbness, pervasive anxiety. One powerful fact she unearthed is that “almost half of medical discharges during World War II were for psychiatric reasons, the common diagnoses being psychoneurotic disorder and/or personality defects.” She goes on to describe how the Veterans Administration treated WWII veterans suffering “neuropsychiatric disturbances,” a chilling history. Yet for all the facts and data the book incorporates, its fluid writing and passionate voice makes the reading effortless.

Some may ask what point is there to rewriting the history of the effects of WWII on its combatants. “Let the men continue to bask in their glory while they can. Let us not diminish their deeds.”

In just the last ten years WWII veterans have been increasingly diagnosed with PTSD. I know men who are unable to sleep at night, so disturbed are they by their nightmares, intensified by old age and retirement. What we owe to them is the opportunity to heal that they have never had so they might know a good night’s sleep and the recognition that they need no longer bear the burden of being great.

And we owe it to those we have sent off to war in the last eight years to acknowledge that all combat veterans suffer, even WWII veterans. We must allow them to be human, to see that the wounds they carry are a testament to how very human they are.

As Vento writes at this powerful book’s conclusion,

“Children, like my sister Rosemary and I, who didn’t realize that their fathers’ war had had a major impact on their families, will never be counted as among the “collateral” damage of World War II, and the truth of what the Greatest Generation’s combat veterans brought back from war will never be adequately measured. There is no reverse time machine, no applying today’s knowledge to the past, but recognition that World War II families fought similar battles on the home front will eliminate the isolation disconnect of veterans’ children from their experience of the aftermath of the oft titled ‘good war.’ And it will hopefully stand as a cautionary tale to give military children of today’s wars attention and support when their fathers’ war comes home to stay.”

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29
May

Today President Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to the late Jan Karski who fought the Nazi as a member of the Polish Underground. At great risk to himself, he was smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto to document the conditions and then witnessed Jews being herded into boxcars.

Dr. George Tievsky, one of the veterans profiled in my book, Gated Grief, told me about meeting Karski, who taught at Georgetown University after WWII.

He told Dr. Tievsky about carrying first to London and then to FDR photographs, the first incontrovertible evidence of the Nazis’ genocide of Europe’s Jews. “He told me he went to London to tell Anthony Eden about the extermination plan. He said Eden got up, went over to the window, lifted the curtain slightly (there was a black out), turned around and said, ‘Mr. Karski, has it ever occurred to you that when Jews come they bring their anti-Semitism with them?’

“When Karski came to America to tell Felix Frankfurter and Brandeis about the camps, they first told him he was lying, then apologized and said they couldn’t believe what he was saying. FDR told him the U.S. would win the war and reconstitute Europe and help rebuild Poland, but his final words to Karski were, ‘I’m not going to worry about the Jews; this can’t be a war for the Jews.’ ”

Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter told Karski, “I am unable to believe you.”

Years later, he said that governments abandoned Jews, and that while thousands of individual Europeans helped save Jews, “no one did enough.”

Meeting Jan Karski lifted the spirits of Dr. Tievsky. May he continue to inspire us all to “act with courage when conditions are at their worst and to become messengers for truth. He calls each of us to act on behalf of oppressed peoples everywhere.”

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26
May

As you will see in the video of the movie, “Let There Be Light,” some psychologists and psychiatrists back in 1946 had some pretty good ideas about what veterans suffering combat trauma needed to heal. But the military decided the treatment was too expensive and so terminated the program and censored the movie that documented it.

If we are willing to put our country into debt to wage war, we owe it to our veterans and their families to find the money to heal them.

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مبلمان اداری صندلی مدیریتی صندلی اداری میز اداری وبلاگدهی فروشگاه اینترنتی پاراگلایدر زیورآلات آگهی استخدام آگهی رایگان تبلیغات کلیکی آموزش زبان انگلیسی پاراگلایدر ساخت وبلاگ