I am a veteran.
Military. American. U.S. Army. Medical Corps.
This is truth.
Along with being a fairly knowledgeable physician with over 30 years experience, it still seems incredible and unbelievable to at least some of my patients. It is not in their experience to know women who appear on the surface to be feminine and attractive who have been in the military. Admittedly, these things were never brought up until I lost a massive amount of weight (half my body weight) but there they are.
Every time I get a chance, I thank a veteran with a handshake for defending – in these very words — “this great nation.” This seems to be a custom that has crested, for I have not met anyone else who does this lately.
Even though I tell people I am a veteran, too, almost nobody thanks me back.
I get blazing mad whenever one of those knee-jerk “patriots” cry, “You don’t support our troops!” if anyone should criticize the military, our government’s foreign policy or any specific wars, invasions or other actions we’ve taken in this brave new millennium.
I was in the peacetime United States Army. Since my honorable discharge, I’ve served several Veteran’s Administration medical facilities in several states, and in private practice, I’ve made a special study of the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – which the military routinely denies even exists and doesn’t even try to treat in many VA facilities.
Yes, I was in the Army, and No – I wasn’t in combat. Nevertheless, with the idea of war always hanging over my shoulder, my life was different. I never really understood the “grunts” — the infantry without appreciable rank — who wanted nothing more than to see “action.” Read more on Can’t We All Just Get Along?…
I remember vividly and will never forget when a home-made bomb blasted the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was April 19, 1995, and I was in the midst of morning rounds at a major hospital’s inpatient psychiatry unit.
A lot of people were “decompensating” — going psychotic, had beliefs the world was coming to an end and needed extra medicine.
They called it the worst homegrown terrorist attack on U.S. soil up to that time in our country’s history.
I thank the basis of my personal belief system that I was not closer to the explosion at that time, and that I was not personally involved in the later and more catastrophic attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. Read more on Which Should You Choose — Therapists Or Friends?…
The old guys were right.
I mean the really old guys, the ones who wrote over one hundred years ago. The guys like Freud and Janet who said that mostly everything that shapes people’s lives seems to be trauma — whether or not modern authors agree.
I have seen an anorectic whose trauma was a passer-by in a crowd who told her that she was too fat for anyone to have sex with, and then keep walking. I have seen a sufferer of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) who was told she was filthy when she was a kid. She later became so excited about cleanliness she missed nights of sleep to tidy the living room.
But although very real causes of pathology, these seem too trivial to be real traumas for most people.
Others are too horrible to be denied. Read more on PTSD From Sexual Trauma — Learning That Life Is Not Always Fair…
When we talk about sending troops out to fight with numbers that have lots of zeros on them, chance are that nobody is thinking about how the lives of the survivors will never be the same.
Recently, ABC News made an attempt, a praiseworthy attempt, to help people see at least a little of what the human devastation means. “PTSD” stands for “post-traumatic stress disorder,” which leaves lives devastated. People come out with devastated personal relationships, often unable to maintain marriages, unable to maintain jobs, with sometimes a high potential for violence. The devastation all too frequently progresses to suicide.
Adding to this the fact that the bureaucratic institutions do not generally encourage or even permit the most efficient means of treatment, we have a domestic mess and a domestic mortality of veterans, the very people who put their lives on the line, that is nothing short of horror.
I was in my psychiatric training. My supervisor and clinic director had booked me to see a patient. I was often booked for some very difficult patients, because I am good at this sort of thing. But he warned me about this particular patient.
“She is not a patient we want to follow in this clinic. Just see if she needs medicines, and give her a little bit. The psychologist will do the work.”
I thought he had to be kidding, as I prided myself on being an all-around psychiatrist, and I wanted to take care of everything psychiatric. Especially while in training, under the malpractice coverage of the University, with their supervision.
“They say she has multiple personality disorder. We don’t believe in that diagnosis. We leave it, as much as we can, to the psychologists that do. This patient is a mess. Lots of commitments, lots of suicide attempts, lots of restraining orders. Let the psychologist do it. Stabilize her quickly on medication, and get her out of here, with monthly checkups, then bimonthly.
Read more on Multiple-Personalities — Rare, but they happen…