On May 23rd, Nancy Martin-Crisco wrote a heart-rending response to a blog I posted on May 18th (“How to get PTSD. Twice. Worse.”) that you all should read. Her son Christopher was diagnosed with PTSD after service in Afghanistan. After a few months stateside, he was redeployed to Baghdad. It was NOT good for him. Addiction, divorce, separation from his child, depression, anxiety, anger mangagement issues, problems with relationships, poor focus, still PTSD, a feeling of worthlessness and shame because he’s here, with us, discharged because of his addiction after 10 years in the Army, instead of with his fellow soldiers, who he feels he has let down……….
CHRISTOPHER BLAMES HIMSELF. How utterly and totally unfair that is. Christopher, the changes that you experienced in yourself that you find so damn hard to understand ARE NOT YOUR FAULT.
If the Department of Defense was a private business, they would be subject to a mega-billion-dollar lawsuit. Their leaders KNOW that redeployment of mentally disabled patients will contribute to further mental health risks, and to a rich harvest of downstream personal tragedies, BUT THEY DO IT ANYWAY.
The Martin-Crisco family has personal, special acknowledge of the further risks that can stem from the redeployment of a neurologically wounded soldier. They KNOW what is at stake for other soldiers in the same boat. It is especially poignant to hear, then, that the same scenario is being repeated for another family member. In Nancy’s words:
“My cousin’s son is about to be redeployed (to Iraq) and is listed with (the) VA as being 30% disabled due to PTSD. She’s (Nancy’s cousin is) beside herself. I’ve advised her to camp out on her Congressman’s doorstep. That’s my approach right now while I’m trying to gain more accessible psychiatric care for our son…”
In the end of her comment, Nancy calls you and me to action. She is pleading for help.: “What’s being done about it? What are you and your readers willing to do? Please understand, I’m just one mom, but I AM one mom.”
Posit Science scientists are now working hard on the development of a new class of therapeutic tools designed to help returning soldiers who suffer from PTSD, diffuse brain trauma attributable to IED blast exposure, direct trauma from head injuries, and other war-related causes. That is the main focus of MY attention. Once the validity of these new tools is demonstrated, I hope that some of you will ultimately help us bring them to these individuals sorely in need of help. I’ll tell you about those trials and their outcomes at this site, as they roll out over the next several months.
Outside of the scientific arena in which we operate, I can suggest several other courses of action that you and I CAN take that could be helpful.
- If Nancy or her cousin’s family does not receive a response from their Congressperson’s office, I would suggest that they formally warn them that without action, they will offer their testimony to the office-holder’s opponent, whatever their political party, in the next congressional election — and that they will help find grandparents, parents and soldiers from other families in the same District who will contribute to their testimony. Without follow-through, their Congressperson DESERVES to be tossed out of office, irregardless of political party. Without a response from your Congressperson, KEEP YOUR PROMISE.
- You and I can help Nancy contact other parents of young men and women with a similar history, and enlist them to demand action from the Representatives in THEIR Congressional districts, with the same basic warning. EVERY Congressperson should have these young citizens on their conscience, until they ALL receive the help that they need while they are still in, and after they are discharged from military service in these war zones. If your Congressperson doesn’t have the moral integrity to address these needs, help throw the bum out.
- Finally, you and I may know a person with a military past (or from a traumatized civilian past) who carries these invisible wounds around within their skulls. Help them understand that their brain is plastic, not steel. Help them understand that their brain just wasn’t designed to endure what theirs have experienced, without being significantly altered by it. Help them understand that the same plastic processes that have led to their brain’s operational distortions, instabilities and losses provide a valid basis for believing that the right forms of intense, therapeutic exericises can help them re-normalize their neurological abilities, and restore them to a more normal life.