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Another Great Vietnam War Memoir

By , August 16, 2014 12:52 pm

I’ve just written a review of a book I very highly recommend. Thought I’d share it with my readers, for I found it to be quite inspiring.

Blue-Eyed Boy- A Memoir

By Robert Timberg

Brilliant and Courageous Look at the Haunting Legacy of the Vietnam War

This was my first experience reading Robert Timberg’s work. I have now become a huge fan.

The author does not hold back in baring the ungodly personal cost he has paid, as well as exploring the ongoing effects of America’s longest and most unpopular war. This book brought back memories of my time in high school during the sixties.

A dark cloud loomed over our campus then, as I knew so many of my bright-eyed male classmates were soon to be drafted. Vietnam was just a ghostly concept, so distant yet encroaching upon our youthful high spirits.

Timberg was a Naval Academy graduate, a Marine and a short-timer in Vietnam, with just thirteen days left of his tour of duty, when his life was forever changed in a flash. Instead of going on his scheduled Rest and Recuperation (R&R) to Tokyo, he was ordered to do duty on an Amtrac that would be moving through hostile territory.

The Amtrac he was riding on rolled over a land mine, resulting in Timberg being horribly burned; his face and arms were scorched.

To say that from that day on that Timberg literally “went through hell” is an extreme understatement. I found myself struggling to read the vivid details of the treatments and surgeries he had to endure. Yet I had to keep reading in order to begin to understand how he was going to find the strength and courage to endure his new state of being.

Timberg was a newlywed when he went to Nam. Fortunately, his wife Janie was made of strong stuff. But for her love and loyalty, Timberg may not have survived. As a former wife of a Nam vet myself, I related to her heartache and the challenges that go along with loving someone who serves in a war zone. Coming home is no picnic either. The readjustment problems are formidable.

This book has many different aspects to it. We learn a lot about fellow Naval Academy graduates and Vietnam veterans such as Oliver North, John McCain and James Webb.
Timberg does a great job informing the reader of the behind-the-scenes political machinations that occurred during and after the war. Many of which are hard to stomach, but add to our understanding of that time in history.

I was truly amazed by the depth and breadth of Timberg’s story. I particularly appreciated his brutal honesty about his behavior that led to troubles in his marriage. I felt such empathy for his long-suffering, devoted wife.

Timberg is to be admired for his inspiring accomplishments in the field of journalism. He’s a man of tremendous determination. He’s also an extraordinary writer and this book, while very serious, contains many comical situations and observations.

This book is a very important contribution as our country still struggles to make sense of the Vietnam War. There are legions of us still in that camp.

Very, very highly recommended reading!

There Are Job Opportunities for Veterans in the Maritime Industry

By , July 29, 2014 2:42 pm

I’ve recently been made aware of an industry that veterans may find appealing to those who are looking for what may be exciting, fulfilling (yet sometimes dangerous) work.
(The following info comes from The Maritime Injury Guide Website)

The maritime industry seems to be an excellent fit for many veterans, and even those currently enlisted who are looking for a way to continue to use what they’re learning. While serving our country is an admirable occupation, many veterans are left wondering how and where to apply their skills once they leave the military.

Many veterans are prime candidates for the maritime industry. With their time spent being part of a team coupled with specialized experience in certain job functions that can be applied in the maritime field, there are several opportunities that are a good fit for veterans.

Veteran Skills Matched With Maritime Work

Although there are quite a few differences in merchant marine vessels and military vessels–such as most merchant marine vessels being privately owned–there are also similarities. For example, many of the laws governing merchant marine vessels are enforced by the United States Coast Guard.

Jobs aboard merchant marine vessels are similar to the occupations veterans performed while in service, such as engineering, deck work, and even steward work.

There is a wide array of jobs in the maritime field that are possibly perfect matches for veterans. For example, many veterans have experience with transportation and would be an excellent asset in the maritime industry’s transportation network. Other job matches for veterans include:
• Electronics
• Subsea Operations
• Crane and Cargo
• Repair and Maintenance

There Are Risks That Veterans Should Be Aware Of

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial fishing and jobs related to commercial fishing were the third deadliest job in 2012. In fact, there were 32 fatalities in commercial fishing alone in 2012. The statistics shouldn’t dissuade veterans from working in the maritime industry, but instead give a realistic picture of the risks involved in maritime work.

In order to avoid injuries, veterans should understand the reasons that accidents and injuries, and take as much precaution as possible. To learn more about the job options for veterans:

Call toll free: 1-877-363-6148 or visit:

http://www.maritimeinjuryguide.org

Email: TJenkins@MaritimeInjuryGuide.org

Detaching from the World’s Troubles Helps PTSD

By , July 28, 2014 2:23 pm

I’ve always been an avid reader. This can be a two-edged sword. Of course, it’s a good thing to be aware of what’s going on in the world. But for those of us who are living with and hopefully, recovering from our PTSD, we have to be careful of becoming victims of “mean-world syndrome.”

I first heard the term when I was in college. And I think it’s important to talk about the topic. Especially today when the world seems so “out of control.”

What is Mean World Syndrome?

Mean World Syndrome is a phenomenon where the violence-related content of mass media convinces viewers that the world is more dangerous than it actually is, and prompts a desire for more protection than is warranted by any actual threat. Mean World Syndrome is one of the main conclusions of cultivation theory.

The term “Mean World Syndrome” was coined by George Gerbner, a pioneer researcher on the effects of television on society, when he noted that people who watched a lot of TV tended to think of the world as an unforgiving and scary place.

Individuals who watch television infrequently and adolescents who talk to their parents about reality are said to have a more accurate view of the real world than those who do not, and they are able to more accurately assess their vulnerability to violence and tend to have a wider variety of beliefs and attitudes.

“You know, who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behaviour,” he said. ‘It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.”

So in light of these conclusions, I believe that it’s imperative that those of us who have already had to deal with life-threatening situations, must try to keep things in perspective.

To survive in this crazy world, I’m using the concept of “detachment” that I learned long ago in Al-Anon. For those things over which I have no control, I need to ‘let go and let God (or if you don’t believe in God, perhaps the Universe) handle things. It’s a much healthier and sane way to live, than to be constantly feeling that the “sky is falling.”

That’s my thought for today. And on that note, I’m going to get away from the computer and go take a walk. For right now, the sun is shining, the sky is in its proper place, and I’m at this moment, safe…

I pray you are too.

Thoughts on Being a PTSD Blogger

By , June 30, 2014 6:01 pm

Lately I’ve found it’s becoming harder and harder to post something every week. Somewhere in my reading and my life in college as a Creative Writing Major, I heard a quote by a famous female writer, whose name escapes me at the moment.

She noted, “When I’m writing, I’m not living. And when I’m living, I’m not writing.”

So I’ve been taking a bit of a “mental break” from being so focused on that damned PTSD! I’ve just been living my life- doing the usual reading, housekeeping, working in the yard, and of course, taking care of hubby and our menagerie.

And yet when I don’t post regularly, there’s a nagging feeling of guilt that somehow I’m letting my readership down. So here I am, back at it. And what am I thinking about writing today?

There are several random topics roaming around in my head:

• What’s going to happen with the disaster in Iraq?
• How’s the mess with the VA going to be solved (or will it?)
• Will there ever be a cure for PTSD?
• How many marriages will dissolve this year due to PTSD?
• What has happened to all the divorced spouses (like myself) of combat vets? Where do they go for nurture and  support?  Why do we hear so little about them?

So here I am-back at the keyboard, musing on these deep thoughts. And for all of you out there living with PTSD, or hoping to learn more about it along with me, stay tuned as I explore these topics in future postings.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves. And do like I’ve been doing. Live a little, and try taking it “one day at a time.”

Vietnam Wives- A Must-Read Book for Combat Vet Spouses

By , June 24, 2014 3:34 pm

I’ve been re-reading one of the books that has been instrumental in the healing and my ongoing recovery from PTSD.
Vietnam Wives- Facing the Challenges of Life with Veterans Suffering Post-Traumatic Stress (Second Edition) was written by Aphrodite Matsakis, a highly respected PTSD expert. This book is most profound and illuminating.

I am currently writing a review of this awesome book, and am finding it hard to find the words to accurately convey what this book has done for my life. That is because it is the first book that I feel was written “for me and about me.” But of course, it was also written for the thousands upon thousands of other  “Vietnam Veteran Wives.”

Here are a few highlights from the Introduction:

“To write about the Vietnam veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is to write about pain, rage, and brokenness, aspects of the human experience which our Hollywood-infected culture is loath to acknowledge.

To write about you–his wife–is to write about another kind of pain, rage and brokenness.

This book is about the Vietnam veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and you, his wife–people who have had the courage to bear the many scars which life can deal to people who have been deeply affected by traumatic events of by prolonged and severe life stresses.

To all of you Vietnam wives who think that your suffering is unique, I wish to reassure you. You are not alone.”

These words by Matsakis were exactly what I needed to hear, back in the late 80′s, when my marriage and my world were imploding. They were like balm to my shattered spirit and my suffering soul.

I believe all combat vet spouses and family members can learn from and be moved along in their recovery, by this amazing book. Dr. Matsakis remains one of my personal heroes.

Stay tuned for more…

 

More to Learn about the Harmful Effects of Alcohol Abuse

By , May 9, 2014 3:29 pm

May is Mental Health Month. In light of that fact, I’m posting a book review I’ve written on a booklet that is very eye-opening about the damaging effects of alcohol abuse. Let’s face it, the problem is all too common and often affects combat vets and their families.

I’ve written before of how much Toby Rice Drews, a well-respected alcoholism expert, has personally helped and enlightened me with her many books on the subject.

It continues to amaze me that most physicians continue to miss the many signs of alcoholism. That’s why it is so important to become educated on the signs and symptoms of this insidious and devastating disease. Most of us will know, and/or care about an alcoholic, sometime in our lives.

The 350 Secondary Diseases/Disorders to Alcoholism-

by Toby Rice Drews  (paperback booklet)

I’ve read most all of Toby Rice Drews books and think she is one of the most knowledgeable alcoholism experts around today.

This booklet provides vital information on the numerous diseases associated with alcoholism, and is part of Drew’s best-selling “Getting Them Sober” series of helpful, practical books that help advise families of alcoholics as well as professionals concerned with the disease of alcoholism.

In the Introduction, written by LeClair Bissell, M.D., it’s noted “When doctor and patient are working together to discover the cause of an illness, both often fail to consider that alcohol may be a major contributor.”

Unfortunately, medical schools are not preparing their students to look for the subtle signs of an early drinking problem.

Bissell warns “Since we can’t trust the professional to be well-informed, it may be left to the patient and the concerned family to question whether or not a problem exists in its own right or whether alcohol is at the root of it.”

Here are some of the listings of diseases/disorders associated with alcoholism:

• Chronic Neuropsychiatric Disorders
• Brain problems resulting from diseased liver function
• Myopathic Disorders (muscle abnormality)
• Liver and Pancreatic Disorders
• Gastrointestinal Disorders
• Respiratory System Disorders

Also noted are the many Psychiatric Disorders associated with alcoholism, such as:

• Depression
• Denial
• Anger
• Guilt
• Shame
• Sociopathy

All of the categories included have listings of the many symptoms that are indicative of said disorder. Continue reading 'More to Learn about the Harmful Effects of Alcohol Abuse'»

Mind Your Health- It’s Mental Health Awareness Month

By , May 2, 2014 2:43 pm

For 65 years, Mental Health America and their affiliates across the country have led the observance of “May is Mental Health Month” by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings.

The 2014 May is Mental Health Month theme is “Mind Your Health.” Their goals are to build public recognition about the importance of mental health to overall health and wellness; inform people of the ways that the mind and body interact with each other; and provide tips and tools for taking positive actions to protect mental health and promote whole health.

Taking a screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

Here are some unsettling facts:

  • 1 in 5 American adults will have a mental health condition in any given year.
  • Only 41 percent of them will receive services.
  • About 10 percent of the American adult population will have a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar.
  • 18 percent have an anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Here is more info from their website:

Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are real, common and treatable. And recovery is possible. But not all of us think about our mental health enough.

If you’ve had trouble sleeping lately, if you’ve been experiencing racing thoughts, or if you’re just curious – the screens offered can help you understand more about your mental health. Take all four and discuss the results with a provider.

To take a free screening test for Anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, go to:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net

 

 

 

 

 

Another Great Book for Loved Ones of Alcoholics

By , April 18, 2014 3:01 pm

I like to share the works of experts in their field. In light of April as Alcohol Awareness Month, I’m continuing to post about this subject that affects so many millions of us, and too often our combat vets. This book is a must read for the loved ones of alcoholics in order to better understand their bizarre behavior, and its negative effects on loved ones.

 

Getting Them Sober- Volume 4 Separations and Healings

– Toby Rice Drews, Recovery Communications,  Inc.

 

I’m so grateful to have found the education about alcoholism that Toby Rice Drews provides. This book continues her excellent “Getting Them Sober” series.

In the Introduction, Drews writes:

 “If we’re in a relationship with an alcoholic, we think about leaving—for an hour, for a day, or forever. When we do think about leaving, our decision-making powers get “muddied up” by other issues. For instance, we spend hours wondering ‘if we did enough,’ or ‘if we hadn’t done such and such, would it be different?’ We spend even more time obsessing about what they’re doing and how to stop them. Not that it isn’t human to do this, but the problem is, we can’t stop ourselves from obsessing—even when we want to.”

Anyone who has loved an alcoholic can relate to this devastating dilemma. Drews has a name for living with chemical insanity. It’s called “crazymaking.” In other words, if you’re a normal person, living with alcoholism can make you “crazy.” This book explains: Continue reading 'Another Great Book for Loved Ones of Alcoholics'»

April is Alcohol Awareness Month- Myths and Realities of Alcoholism

By , April 11, 2014 10:47 am

It’s a sad, but well-known fact, that many combat veterans abuse alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate their PTSD. Today I’m reposting an article about alcoholism, in hopes that it will help educate my readers:

 

I believe it’s safe to say—all of us know an alcoholic. They may be a “hidden” alcoholic, while others are obvious. Doug Thorburn, an expert on alcoholism and addiction, has written an eye-opening book titled Alcoholism-Myths and Realities—Removing the Stigma of Society’s Most Destructive Disease.

I’ve mentioned here before that I am a huge fan of Thorburn’s work. I often revisit his books and gain new insights. In Chapter 1, he writes:

Alcoholism is the most misunderstood of all diseases. This is rather surprising, since 1 out of 10 people has this disease and we are all directly or indirectly affected. Yet the doctors and psychologists whom we trust to treat diseases and mental disorders are almost completely untrained in understanding and diagnosing the affliction.

Thorburn also notes that psychologists are schooled in the idea that childhood trauma and other negative environmental factors can cause alcoholism even though the evidence shows that such influences only shape its course.

Facts about alcoholism:

  • Secondary diseases are usually diagnosed long before alcoholism is identified, even though the latter is the root cause and primary contributing factor to at least 300 other illnesses and other disorders.
  • Emergency room medical personnel treat symptoms of addiction, including accidents, in an estimated 50 to 80% of admissions, yet rarely test for alcohol or other drugs in the system.
  • Most people balk at calling someone an alcoholic even if some of their behaviors are bizarre or destructive.
  • Epilepsy, diabetes, leprosy, tuberculosis and other diseases were attributed in past centuries to character defects such as a lack of morals or witchcraft until their true causes were identified.
  • Over one hundred years after the stigma of the last of these diseases was largely removed, those labeled as alcoholics continue to suffer disgrace.
  • Almost all with addicted family members in rehab, are ashamed. Continue reading 'April is Alcohol Awareness Month- Myths and Realities of Alcoholism'»

Some Surprising Facts and Help for Suicidal Combat Vets

By , April 4, 2014 5:33 pm

I’ve just spent well over an hour visiting the AmVets website, and reading their terrific magazine “American Veteran.”

There is an article in the Fall 2013 edition, spotlighting Tom Donwen, who is Chairman of the Suicide Prevention Committee. Donwen served in the United States Navy from 1957 to 1960 as an Air Traffic Control Operator. He was stationed and served in Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands for one year and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California.

Donwen joined AMVETS in 2007, because he was retired and wanted to do more than “play golf.” He had several friends who were already members of AMVETS and he’d always had a soft spot for veterans, especially for Vietnam veterans, given the treatment they received coming home.

Donwen holds several titles within the AMVETS organization, but decided to focus primarily on the prevention of veteran suicide.

“We’re losing 22 veterans a day to suicide. In my time in AMVETS, I have talked with hundreds of vets who have no idea help is available.”

He also notes that:

“Around 70 percent of veterans committing suicide are of between the ages of 50-59. I believe they have been dealing with their demons for such a long time and they get tired of having to cope with that. They just can’t handle it anymore. We lost 54,000 veterans in Vietnam and since then over 85,000 have died from suicide. It’s an absolute disgrace!”

He has worked tirelessly to spread the message throughout the veterans community about the assistance available for the men and women who are having a hard time. He uses materials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and bracelets or brochures he and his team have made to spread the message.

The program was started in 2010 and was named Operation Save Just One. Since then there is over 10,000 California AMVETS working together to hand out materials and speak with veterans to let them know they are not alone. Continue reading 'Some Surprising Facts and Help for Suicidal Combat Vets'»

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