Another way veterans are getting screwed — crying time again.


The more I look the more I find.  In reliable sources.  More ways that my beloved veterans are getting screwed over that nobody knows about. I know what I am doing and I collect facts–of science and of history — and I find myself too often in crying mode. Not that the controversies are necessarily new ones.  Sigmund Freud said a long time ago that a lot of psychiatry seemed to be the neurology you did not yet know. I have been treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for a long time.  I was incredulous, shocked to my limits, when I first tried to take care of these wonderful, brave, and once fearless men, who would have crying meltdowns and end up in my arms. The best thing I did was to learn Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and to decide I was professional enough to do it “my way,” not according to verbatim directions, but adapting it to folks’ needs. Using EFT has put me on the spot plenty of times; with the VA, even prisons, where I have been told more than once that it robs people of “free will,” which is of course, complete and total rubbish.  Patients are awake, alert, and voluntarily tap on their own acupuncture meridians.  I have heard at least one hypnotherapist tell me it is “kind of like a light trance,” but patients could not, in my estimation, be more awake and alert.

It makes people, especially my dear veterans, feel better. I could help with feeling better, but I have never pretended to make their lives perfect. I have seen their drug problems coming from active duty, and treated them, so I know such things can and do happen.  But it’s not that either. In daily function these folks often still complain of recent memory problems.  Often they still have poor sleep.  Some alcohol use. PTSD may be the neurology we don’t know yet.  The emerging neurology of tau protein.  If this sounds familiar, it should. In the stirring movie Concussion where Will Smith played an African physician Dr. Bennet Omalu, who had been raised without American pro-sports worship, the effect of constant banging-into-people caused Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). It is reasonable to think that this condition probably exists frequently in combat or combat-like situations.  The percussive pressure from gunfire and heavier weapons assaults the brain through the eardrums as well as resonating the whole skull like a tympani.

Now, Dr. Daniel Perls, a neuropathologist who was instrumental in the acceptance of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, has found this in our veterans.  In an earlier study, he found evidence with various tests in living veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  In more recent work, he has found that tau protein in post-mortem (PM) brain examinations.  PM brain exams have long been the gold standard for making neurological diagnoses.  I used to love my rotation when I was in training as a neurological surgeon, driving to places that did not have their own neuropathologist, (for example, the wilds of South Dakota) to look at sliced brains of dead people, including little slices under the microscope, looking at closed medical records that told the history of their lives.  It was always a fantastic and amazing story. I started falling for that kind of story in France, where I loved to go to the (big, national) neurology rounds in Paris.  They would tell a life story and then bring out the brain afterward. This is how we discovered what parts of the brain did.

My French neuropathology professor told us to be grateful to the French “poilus,” those brave World War I veterans.  Because when they died with a piece of their brain blown out, that was how we learned what that piece of the brain was supposed to do.  Now we have Dr. Perl’s current work, nicely explained here. “Traumatic Brain Injury.” “Post-concussive syndrome.”  Anyone who tells you they know how to treat — let alone cure — this is, as far as I can tell, lying. Ever since Abraham Lincoln, the abridgment of civil rights in the military has been a controversy in these United States.  An attempt was made to change things with military law during the second world war.  Nobody can deny that military justice is not the civilian system but is different.

There is no informed consent for combat.  Nobody knows what can happen.  In World War I we could not warn our fighting force about what holes in their heads would do because we did not know yet.  Now, we don’t know how much air pressure from something exploding nearby it takes to give somebody symptoms we don’t know how to treat. Add to that the fact that the military lies a lot to its personnel.  I have seen many veterans who told me they were informed at “out processing” that PTSD did not exist at all, was a myth, and only happened if you weren’t strong enough to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”  Some even told me this information came from Chaplains.  I don’t think these folks were making things up. Gen. George S. Patton slapped a soldier who was hospitalized for psychoneurosis, accusing him of cowardice. The incident nearly ended Patton’s career. During WWII, Gen. George S. Patton slapped a soldier who was hospitalized for what was then called “psychoneurosis,” and accused him of cowardice. The incident nearly ended Patton’s career.  The scene was included in the Oscar-winning movie biography starring George C. Scott.

I understand the idealization of patriotism.  My grandmother told me to take care of America.  She told me how she loved seeing Lady Liberty when her boat (from Russia) came to New York harbor.  But the longer I take care of veterans, the more I read and understand, the more I learn how our precious American veterans have been deceived going into war.  Combat finds ways to become more destructive than we know because human beings get new ways to get hurt. We veterans should be the most powerful of pacifists.  When Harry S. Truman said “War is Hell,” that was an understatement. Please share this or at least send a link through your social media accounts, and help me any way you can to get the word out.  Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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