Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Veteran Affairs Launches New PSA on Suicide Prevention for Veterans

God Bless the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, who recently launched a 24/7 confidential crisis line for veterans.  Already 13,000 actively suicidal veterans have been rescued!

March 15, 2011

VA Launches New PSA on Suicide Prevention for Veterans
Confidential Crisis Line Provides 24/7 Access to Help
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to Veterans in crisis and their families in a new public service announcement to raise awareness about suicide prevention resources, such as the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
As more Veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the critical need for mental health care is rising,” said Sonja V. Batten, assistant deputy chief patient care services officer for mental health.  “VA is increasing its efforts to reach out to Veterans in need and their families, to inform 
them about available services and programs.”

The new television spot encourages Veterans in crisis to call the crisis hotline number at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and then push 1 on their telephone keypad to reach a trained VA mental health professional who can assist the Veteran 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  
Suicide is preventable,” said Batten. “Every Veteran suicide is tragic and regardless of the numbers or rates, one Veteran suicide is too many.  We feel the responsibility to continue to spread the word throughout the nation that suicide prevention is everyone’s business.”
So far, more than 379,000 people have called the hotline, and more than 200,000 of these callers have identified themselves as Veterans, family members or friends of Veterans. The hotline has led to more than 13,000 rescues of actively suicidal Veterans.

The hotline also operates an online Veterans Chat program, which provides Veterans, their families and friends with the ability to communicate anonymously online in real-time with a trained VA mental health professional.  Veterans Chat can be accessed through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s web page athttp://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/Default.aspx.
Through the hotline and Veterans Chat, VA can connect Veterans and their families with important services, including suicide prevention coordinators, as well as general inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services at VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics. 
The hotline, which is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, was started in 2007 as a partnership between VA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  

Monday, 14 March 2011

Charlie Sheen and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...

I promised myself I wouldn't follow the "Charlie Sheen Circus", but here I am, analyzing his behaviour in my unprofessional blonde manner - it's simple:  he shows the classic symptoms of ptsd.  Obviously, none of his former treatment has addressed his early traumatic experiences which is why he's still hooked on destructive outbursts and negative conduct.

Charlie, do yourself a flavour: and all those who love you and need you (kids): get help.  Call Dr. Phil, seriously Dude.

A Private Security Contractor: Just my Humble Opinion....

I am a combat veteran.
Everyday, I live, I breathe, and I think Iraq. I think of every aspect of that place. It is my life...more so than many of the so-called experts who rant and rave about it. I have walked the streets of downtown Baghdad, I have trudged through the darkness that so much of my life has seemed to become. And I am frustrated. It is hard to battle on behalf of the ungrateful, the misled and the uninformed.

The Iraqis and the rest of the World are just as guilty as the Americans in this. It infuriates me to no end to have tried so hard, to have put myself and the ones I have led into the line of fire in danger...and now know that I have been forsaken by the ones I am here to save. They turned their heads when I asked questions. They would say, "there are no terrorists and still no freedom". Unfortunately, the Iraqi people only responded to force, violence, dominance...it has been their life for so long. Our cultures and religions alone only widen the gap between our struggles over there.

Those of us who have stepped up to fight, are few...the Army and police there are small, and struggling to grow. They encouraged and endorsed Security Contractors, like myself, to do the job with them. We were the hope of a nation ever leaving our control. We were their saviors ..........all the way to their detriment.

But more than anyone, I sometimes see futility in my actions. I fight, I kill, I scar myself emotionally, psychologically, and in some ways physically...and as I lay in the dark at night, I wonder what it was all for. Fortunate or unfortunate, you decide. I was marked to see the face of satan during my tour. I wonder if the Iraqi people will ever get it together or if the country will collapse on itself whether I was there or not. It makes me angry, and a big part of me is content to let it fall apart. Part of me doesn't care what happened to that God-forsaken city after I left it.

I came away knowing one thing:  Freedom isn't free: You fight for it.  You must be prepared to die for it.  Everyday that we are over there in the stench, the chaos, the hell, we are there to show the meek, the mild, the children, the women, the oppressed, that we are there to liberate them. As is the motto of my old Special Forces Unit, the 19 SFG(ABN) : DE OPPRESSO LIBER ...look it up.

Symptoms of PTSD Following a Shooting or Explosion while in combat:

There are a number of traumatic situations and events that can lead to the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. However, exposure to a shooting or explosion may place someone at a particularly higher risk for developing symptoms of PTSD, then say a person watching a building burn down or a person seeing a fatal accident.
Exposure to an explosion and/or shootings, can be particularly difficult to cope with for a number of reasons:

  1. In combat, when the potential for traumatic devastation is eminent and explosions and shootings are expected and anticipated, they are however, unpredictable. 
    With that being said, situations that are perceived as unpredictable are much more likely to bring on high levels of helplessness, anxiety, and fear. 
  2. The more frequent the explosions and shootings are the more intense the symptoms will become. (I lived through 6 explosions in Iraq. Twice my vehicle rolled. Each time the panic and anxiety intensified ten-fold).
  3. In addition, situations like this may leave a person feeling as though there is nothing they can do to protect themselves in the future or that their security awareness zone increased as their personal safe space has decreased.
  4. During an explosion or shooting, there is an extreme threat to a Combat Veterans life. This can drastically change his or her outlook on life. Even though in combat one is trained to expect the unexpected, in terms or life and death situations, the human mind still clings to a commonly-held assumption that we are safe, or beliefs like "bad things won't happen to me."  It is then that the combat veteran's perception of the unexpected and anticipated become destroyed and questioned.
  5. In addition to feeling as though your own life is in danger, during an explosion or shooting, a Combat Veteran is more likely to be exposed to the death or injury of others. This may bring up feelings of horror, magnifying the impact of this type of traumatic event.
In the aftermathof a explosion or shooting, a combat veteran will usually experience a number of symptoms that would be considered part of an acute stress or PTSD. Some of these stressors or triggers may be: (Note: these are only some of the symptoms that may arise following an explosion or shooting . It is also not uncommon to experience symptoms of depression and worry.)
  • Frequent and intense nightmares about the event.
  • Intrusive thoughts or memories about the explosion or shooting that are easily triggered by things in your environment (for example, newspaper or television news articles, television shows and movies, conversations about combat or war).
  • Attempts to avoid triggers that remind you of the explosion or shooting . This may especially be the case for places where you feel you could be in danger of experiencing a similar event again (for example, unfamiliar places or crowded places, noisy places).
  • A high level of fear and anxiety upon hearing sounds that are similar to an explosion or shooting. (such as a car backfiring or fireworks.)
  • Feeling constantly on edge or always on guard, almost as if there is danger lurking around every corner.
  • Insomnia and having difficulty sleeping. (For example, you may feel overly alert, and as a result, wake up in response to even the slightest of sounds or smells.)Click Here!


My Safe Haven...a Poem for all veterans

What secret Heaven would it be
To lay my heavy head upon the 
Beautiful breast of a lady kind and warm
To let my  hot tears flow onto her chest
As she stroked her fingers on my  brow
And whispered that I was safe from harm

To know that no matter what I told her
Of the things I have had to do
She would love and comfort me
With a heart strong and true

I am not that person who pulled the trigger
And shot that little boy
Neither am I the being who polished my gun
And called it my favourite toy

I did what I was called to do 
In the name of Freedom and Glory
And now that it's over they tell me
Not to worry...

I am forever changed:  their faces 
Come to me at night and haunt me
I call to God for forgiveness and to the 
Devil not to taunt me

She kisses my forehead and tells me
To let it be
But I can't, it's in my veins, my thoughts
And everyone I see

So this is what I must live with
It is the price I must pay
To know that she and you are safe
In this world that winds away...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

General (Civilian) PTSD compared to Combat PTSD

It is imperative to respect and recognize the fundamental differences between General post-traumatic stress disorder (found in the civilian population) and Combat post-traumatic stress disorder. General PTSD is experienced by infants, children, adolescents and adults in civilian environments, while Combat PTSD is experienced by military personnelprivate military contractors, employees of NGOs, medical staff and administrative staff in combat environments or environments where armed conflict is prevalent.

Although both general PTSD and combat PTSD survivors experience trauma, the reactions, symptoms and responses differ according to the nature of the traumatic event experienced.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder which is triggered by a traumatic event. PTSD presents itself when a person has experienced or witnessed a life-threatening situation, extreme fear(terror), shock or horror. 
PTSD symptoms may present themselves most often within 3 months of the traumatic event. Some cases of PTSD only present themselves years or decades after the original event.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Combat PTSD

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), occurs from a sudden blow or jolt to the head.  Brain injury often occurs during some type of trauma, such as an accident, blast or a fall. Often when people refer to TBI, they are mistakenly talking about the symptoms that occur following TBI.  Traumatic Brain Injury is the injury, not the symptom.

How serious is my injury?
A TBI is basically the same thing as a concussion. A TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. These terms tell you the nature of the injury itself. They do not tell you what symptoms you may have or how severe the symptoms will be.
A TBI can occur even when there is no direct contact to the head. For example, when a person suffers whiplash, the brain may be shaken within the skull. This damage can cause bleeding between the brain and skull. Bruises can form where the brain hits the skull. Like bruises on other parts of the body, for mild injuries these will heal with time.
About 80% of all TBI's in civilians are mild (mTBI). Most people who have a mTBI will be back to normal by 3 months without any special treatment. Even patients with moderate or severe TBI can make remarkable recoveries.
The length of time that a person is unconscious (knocked out) is one way to measure how severe the injury was. If you weren't knocked out at all or if you were out for less than 30 minutes, your TBI was most likely minor or mild. If you were knocked out for more than 30 minutes but less than 6 hours, your TBI was most likely moderate.
What are the common symptoms following a TBI?
Symptoms that result from TBI are known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Few people will have all of the symptoms, but even one or two of the symptoms can be unpleasant. PCS makes it hard to work, get along at home, or relax. In the days, weeks, and months following a TBI the most common symptoms are:
feeling dizzy
being tired
trouble sleeping
vision problems
feeling bothered by noise and light

Cognitive (Mental)
memory problems
trouble staying focused
poor judgment and acting without thinking
being slowed down
trouble putting thoughts into words

Emotional (Feelings)
anger outbursts and quick to anger
anxiety (fear, worry, or feeling nervous)
personality changes

These symptoms are part of the normal process of getting better. They are not signs of lasting brain damage. These symptoms are to be expected and are not a cause for concern or worry. More serious symptoms include severe forms of those listed above, decreased response to standard treatments, and seizures.

Do I have the symptoms that follow a TBI or PTSD - or both?
You may notice that many of the symptoms that follow a TBI overlap with the common reactions to trauma. Because TBI is caused by trauma and there is symptom overlap, it can be hard to tell what the underlying problem is. In addition, many people who get a TBI also develop PTSD.
It is important to be assessed because:

  • people with TBI should not use certain medications
  • no matter how mild or severe the injury itself was, the effects could be serious

Although TBI screens are used, a screen is not used to diagnose TBI. Even if your TBI screen is positive, that does not mean that you have a TBI. It means that you should be assessed further.
Diagnosing a TBI is hard because there may not be any physical signs of injury. Details of the trauma may be hard to pin down. Sometimes right after the injury the effects are so brief that they are not noticed. You may go to the doctor some time later when details of the injury are not as clear. TBI can occur in confused times of crisis, such as combat. In the heat of events the injury may be ignored. Many of the symptoms that can result from a TBI are the same as the symptoms of PTSD. For these reasons, the best way to diagnose a TBI is an interview by a skilled clinician.
Are there effective treatments?
Many people recover from TBI without any formal treatment. Problems that linger may clear up in a few weeks. You may notice some problems more as you return to your normal routine. For example, you may not realize that you get tired more quickly until you return to your regular chores, work, or school. Even so, people usually get better after a head injury, not worse. Professional treatment for the symptoms that follow TBI usually involves rehabilitation to improve functioning.
To treat TBI and PTSD, the good news is that effective treatments for PTSD also work well for those who have suffered mTBI. This includes two forms of therapy: Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure (PE).
What can I do to cope?
The best way to deal with symptoms following TBI:
  • go back slowly to your normal routine, a little at a time. How much time you spend at work, with family, with others, or exercising depends on what feels comfortable. 
  • Pace yourself, and be sure to get all the rest you need. 
  • Avoiding alcohol and not taking any unnecessary medications is a good idea, to help allow the brain to heal.
If your symptoms get worse, or if you notice new PCS symptoms, this is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to "tough it out" often make the symptoms worse. Symptoms are your body's way of giving you information. A broken bone or a torn muscle hurts so that you won't use it and it has time to heal. PCS symptoms are your brain's way of telling you that you need to rest it.
Research suggests that 1 week of relaxing at home and then a week of slowly doing more after leaving the hospital is best for most patients. Most patients who took this advice were back to normal at work or school in 3-4 weeks. Most patients who weren't told what to do took 5-12 weeks to get back to their normal routine. They also had more PCS symptoms than patients who returned slowly to their routines.
Accept and deal with the stress of the injury
Be aware that having a head injury adds more stress to your life, not just bumps and bruises to your head. The trauma itself, being in the hospital, and going back to work or school and normal routines are all things that add stress to most patients' lives. You may have some trouble with work or school at first, and even though it is normal, this may be stressful and frustrating.
Another main cause of stress after a TBI is worry about the symptoms you have. Thinking and worrying about your symptoms can make them seem worse. Doctors who treat TBI agree that the single most important factor in recovery is that you know what to expect and what to do about the symptoms. You should remember that the symptoms are a normal part of getting better. They will likely go away on their own.
Involve Family
Any level of TBI can disrupt families. Roles and responsibilities change when a family member is hurt. From the start, families needs to be involved and informed about TBI. By supporting the family, patient outcomes can be improved and burnout prevented.
Return to school or work slowly
Returning to school or work is often the biggest challenge after TBI. This is because PCS symptoms can get in the way of meeting your work and school demands. For example, trouble focusing and memory problems may make it harder to learn new things in school. Or fatigue may limit your being able to handle work demands. Keep in mind when trying to return to work or school that the process will be slow. Don't expect yourself to perform right away as you did before your TBI. Instead, you should slowly resume responsibilities as you are able. Slowly increase your workload and hours. Only increase them when you feel fully ready.
TBI and Veterans
The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF) have resulted in increased numbers of Veterans who have TBI. The main causes of TBI in OEF/OIF Veterans are blasts, motor vehicle accidents, and gunshot wounds. The Department of Defense and the Defense and Veteran's Brain Injury Center estimate that 22% of all OEF/OIF combat wounds are brain injuries. This is compared to TBI in 12% of combat wounds that occurred in Vietnam.
Veterans seem to have symptoms for longer than civilians. Some studies show most will still have symptoms 18-24 months after the TBI. Also, many Veterans have more than one medical problem, including: PTSD, chronic pain, or substance abuse. From 60-80% of service members who are hurt in other ways by a blast may have a TBI. These other problems make it harder to get better from any single problem. Veterans should remember, though, that their TBI symptoms are likely to last only a limited time. With proper treatment and healthy behaviors, they are likely to improve.

Veteran Affairs (VA) is working to make sure that TBI care is easy to access. VA is using a TBI screening tool to begin the assessment process. VA has put in place the Polytrauma System of Care to treat Veterans with TBI who also have other injuries. Veterans with the most severe wounds are being treated at one of the 4 Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers or one of the 21 Polytrauma Network Sites. Patients with less severe wounds may get treatment at local VA Medical Centers. No matter where a Veteran goes first, there is no "wrong door" for treatment.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Insight from an Iraq Veteran - Transition from Combat to Civilian Life

The stressful and frustrating transition from combat life to civilian life isn’t easy, and can be made more difficult by financial stresses, unemployment, relationship crises, physical wounds such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), and untreated mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
After navigating and negotiating the dangers of combat, there are hundreds of people returning home to find figurative land mines while trying to transition back into civilian life, returning to or applying for jobs, applying for benefits, or simply reaching out for help.

Every person who has been in combat is significantly changed as a human being and about one third or more of returning vets experience a more severe PTSD. This interferes with our lives, our work and our relationships.

I know to be fact after having served 12 years in the Military, that I have the training to be in the combat zone, but having been in combat has diminished my perception of civilian life, and civilian people. Now, I feel like I don’t have the training or the know how to be a civilian again.
One of the problems with our perception as combat vets is that we feel that there is no safe place anymore and that we won't be understood by families and friends. One of the fears that I still carry, and the fear of a lot of combat veterans is that if I tell you what I really did over there, you’re not going to like me anymore or you're going to judge me. I currently have friends who call me "the merc" simply because I worked as a security contractor in Iraq and Kosovo. And from trying to reach out and navigating around the comments and perceptions made by friends and family, I find it more and more difficult to open up and take the step to transition and heal. I feel that If I tell you the brutal truth and the reality of what happened while deployed, you simply wouldn’t understand. So I can’t say what I really feel and this prevents me and thousands of others who have seen war from transitioning back into civilian life. This prevents us from healing.

Written by a private security contractor veteran from Iraq.

Deployment to a Combat Zone and its Affect on Our Families

The effects of deployment on families:

Families often deal with stresses such as frequent moves or the absence of a parent. Deployment to war creates additional issues for a family to handle, especially regarding post traumatic stress disorder veterans.
Families face a number of challenges before, during, and after deployment. This emotional cycle of deployment begins when news of deployment is released to the family. It starts with a short period of strong emotions, such as fear and anger. As departure grows closer, a period of detachment and withdrawal may occur. This can happen to prepare for the person being physically gone.

During the deployment family members have a range of feelings and experiences, including:
  • Concern, worry or panic
  • Loneliness, sadness
  • Added family duties and responsibilities
  • Learning new skills, making new friends
  • Fear for their service member's safety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Financial difficulties
  • Dealing with problems on their own
  • Understanding what your loved ones have been through
  • Concern over being needed and loved

A childs reactions to a parent's deployment will vary with each child. Any persons reactions depend on their age, maturity and any other behavioral or mental health problems a person might have. The mental health of the at-home parent often affects their child's distress level. This is especially true for young children. If parents successfully handle the stress of deployment, their children are less likely to have mental health or behavior problems.
What happens after the deployed person returns?

Experiences during deployment have helped make families and the deployed person more responsible:
  • You have grown but you have also faced many challenges. Remember, readjustment following the return from every deployment takes time. Reunions can be happy and stressful. There is usually a "honeymoon" phase shortly after demobilization, but it will probably be temporary.
  • Children have grown.
  • A deployed person has been through traumatic experiences. You have had to face new situations in your deployed persons absence. You might also feel angry because you had to handle so much on your own while they were away.
  • Family members at home have changed, too. You may have developed new relationships.
  • You may be feeling pride in what you were able to accomplish while your service member was away. 
  • For some couples, issues of infidelity may have arisen. Partners may need to talk about each other's commitment to the relationship.
  • Family members are affected by the reactions to common stressful situations that occur after a deployed person spends time in a war zone. Understand that these reactions often have more to do with deployment to war than with the family, and remember that it takes time to readjust.
  • Certain symptoms seem to have the greatest impact on relationships. The most troublesome for newer Veterans following time in Afghanistan and Iraq seem to be sleep problems, dissociative symptoms (problems with knowing who or where you are), and sexual problems.

Parents and other family members of deployed person must make the same readjustments as the deployed person.
They, too, must realize that everybody has grown and changed:
  •  Their relationship with the deployed person will also be different. While they take time to get reacquainted, they will need to be aware of boundaries. It's easy for family members who have cared for a deployed person in the past to fall into old patterns. They want to take care of their loved one again in ways the person no longer needs or wants.

Impact of PTSD and other mental health problems on families
Many deployed persons returning from deployment to the recent conflicts are reporting family adjustment issues:
  • Some deployed persons report shouting with, shoving, or pushing current (or former) partners.
  • Some deployed persons say that their partner or children are afraid of them.

When the common reactions to war don't get better over time, or get worse, it may indicate more serious problems. If reactions are impacting life at home, work or school it is time to seek assistance for post traumatic stress disorder.

The effects of war can extend far beyond the deployed person and /or their family. Children and families can struggle with changes resulting from an absent parent or spouse. Families can also face problems when the deployed person returns and everyone has to deal with post traumatic stress.
The mental health of the at-home parent plays a key role in how children cope with deployment. The mental health of the deployed person returning from war also affects the children and indeed the whole family. The needs of the entire family are important.

Warzone-Related Stress Reactions: What Families Need to Know (PDF). From the Iraq War Clinician Guide.

Recovering from the War: A Guide for All Veterans, Family Members, Friends

Learn about what your veterans faced, the normal effects of war, how Post-traumatic stress disorder affects families, and how to recover from ptsd.
"A book every veteran will want to give his or her spouse, and every spouse will want to give his or her veteran. A systematic investigation of the costs of war for active duty service members, veterans and their families, including information on how to recover from combat trauma. The examples are from Vietnam, but the experience is universal: I am reading your book right now. I picked it up in Kuwait coming back from leave. It has been very good ... I have learned a lot. I just want to say this book of yours is just awsome it brings tears to my eyes as I write this to you. I wish I had it long time ago. I have to tell you that I truly believe as a kid of a vet that we, ourself, end up with ptsd. I act so much like my father it is scary. -Iraq "IED hunter" combat engineer."

"I am writing because I recently read your book, and it brought to light a few areas that were lacking in my Family Readiness Group discussions and re-integration training. My platoon leaders and platoon sergeants have all read the book, and (against copyright laws, sorry) we have photocopied appropriate excerpts for all soldiers to read. I have 26 of 100 soldiers still married (deployed at 38 of 100, 2nd deployments are tough on young couples) and I plan on personally buying each of them a copy of your book and mailing it to the spouse before we re-deploy.  Thank you so much for your help.-T R, Captain, writing from Iraq."

Friday, 11 March 2011

Tai Chi for Relaxation and Stress Management

I have been practising Tai Chi for several months and I find that it lowers my stress levels and improves my mood.
In all the forms of Tai Chi there are movements that involve briefly standing on one leg, which may improve balance; circular movements of the shoulders and wrists which improve suppleness and circulation; learning the sequence of the set movements may improve cognitive function such as concentration; the social atmosphere can sometimes forge friendships and alleviate loneliness and anxiety; and the exercise itself can boost a person's mood and alleviate depression. (Chen, Y.K.: Tai-Chi Ch'uan - Its Effects and Practical Applications, pages 10-12. Newcastle Publishing, 1979)
All forms of Tai Chi have been noted by YK Chen as regulating body weight, improving cognitive, lung, digestive and heart functioning as well as improving skin tone and bone structure.
Research on Tai Chi in general, carried out at the University of Toronto by by Dr. Dahong Zhou, shows that Tai Chi provides moderate exercise which is equivalent to brisk walking. Dr. Zhou also mentions that Tai Chi in general reduces stress levels and emotional problems while improving "concentration, attention, composure, self confidence, and self control". Zhou indicates that Tai Chi generally reduces hypertension, relieves chronic headaches, dizziness and insomnia, has benefits for people suffering with mild arthritis and rheumatism, improves breathing and blood circulation and is "an excellent exercise for the mind." His research shows that due to the low intensity of most forms of Tai Chi, that as an exercise regimen it does not lead to fatigue or stress. (Zhou, Dahong, M.D.: The Chinese Exercise Book, pages 19-22. Hartley & Marks Publishing, 1984)
Click Here!

Children Coping with Parents Deployed to War

Children face many challenges because of a deployment to war. Deployed parents need to explain to their children where they are going, and how long they will be away. 
As one Dad deployed to Iraq phrased it:
"We need to take time to talk to our children about our feelings, what we do on our job, and what we think of our job. Help them know where we will be and plan ahead to keep in touch with them regularly and often.
Children also need to understand what will happen when the we return home. The amount that children can understand and how they cope depends on their age and how mature they are."

The effects of deployment on children.
Researchers have found that children with deployed parents tend to worry more and be afraid and sad. During war, a child may feel their world is less safe and predictable. Children may fear that you, the parent or other loved family member who is deployed may die in the war. Even if no close family member is affected, they may still feel unsafe.
  • Preschoolers (3-6 years) might think their parent was deployed because "I was bad." They may react with toileting issues, thumb sucking, sleep problems, clinginess, and separation anxiety. They may also be touchy, depressed, aggressive, or complain about aches and pains.
  • Very often, preschool and school-age children also worry about the safety of the parent at home. (One deployed Dad says that his Oldest Son assumed the role of the provider of safety. He assumed the father figure role during his time away from home.)
  • School age children (6-12 years) may perform more poorly in school. They may become moody, aggressive, or whiny. They may get stomachaches, headaches, etc.
  • Teens may become angry and act out. They can also withdraw or act like they don't care about things. Adolescents may also not like new family roles and responsibilities after the deployed parent returns home.
Children may play at war, acting out both sides, and creating good outcomes where the "bad guys" are beaten. This does not mean that they are comfortable with or understand real events. Children play best and most creatively when they feel safe. When they feel real threats or the danger of losing a parent, their play is more likely to be anxious and sad. Play doesn't really give them the answers they need for their fear and worry. Children need adults who can help them work through their fears.
Teenagers may deal with anxiety by engaging in risky and/or illegal behaviors. Teens may be better able to understand these events, but even they still need to be assured and comforted.
Is my child okay?
Make sure you are available for your kids. Be there to listen. Pay attention to how your children are playing. If games end with emotions like sadness, aggression, or worry, help your child work out more positive solutions. Above all, kids need to be sure that we will take care of them as best as and as well as we can.
These are some things to watch for:

Bad temper, difficulties being soothed
Tearfulness, sadness, talking about things that scare them
Anger toward people, picking on minority groups
Getting irritated and fighting with others
Changes in sleep patterns, trouble sleeping
More clinging behaviors at home, not wanting to go to school
Physical complaints (stomachaches, etc.)
Wanting attention
Things to do to help children cope with war.

  • Provide extra attention, care, and physical closeness.
  • Understand that they may be angry (and perhaps rightly so).
  • Limit exposure to news, especially when news repeats and is violent. Younger children should be shielded from this kind of news as much as possible. It will needlessly increase their worry of events they don't understand.
  • Respect your child's timing and ways of coping. Very young children may want to close their eyes or just go out and play. Don't confront children or force them to talk about things when they don't want to.
  • Keep an open door for the absent parent or loved one. Talk with him or her as often as possible, and for important dates like birthdays, holidays, etc. Talk about what it will be like when that person returns and what it would be like if they were here now. This is really important for younger children who may not understand why their loved one is not here.
  • Help your children develop and enjoy fun activities. Distraction can make time go by faster.
  • Stick to routines and plan for upcoming events.
  • Suggest positive and creative ways of coping for older children and adolescents (create scrapbooks and videos, write letters, take photos).
  • Discuss things. Let kids know they can talk about how they feel. Accept how they feel and don't tell them they should not feel that way.
  • Tell kids their feelings are normal. Be prepared to tell them many times.

Talk to help your children deal with war
Take the time to talk about war and deployment. Remember that talking can only make your family stronger. Don't ignore the subject. Do not minimize your child's concerns or stressors. Many parents would like to ignore the situation because thinking about war makes them feel vulnerable and powerless to protect their children and most parents feel that if we bring it up and discuss it is a negative thing. Talking about it ONLY helps and strengthens your family.
Children need a real message about what is happening around them. Children are very good at knowing when things are being hidden from them. Be truthful and honest regardless of the age of your child, but without overburdening, or overwhelming them.
And most importantly, provide lots of love and support.

Make sure that you, the parent-at-home, has support and assistance to cope with your partner's deployment.

With thanks to the Department of Veteran Affairs for contributing to this information.

Relax and Cure Trauma

  1. If you are stressed or depressed, one of the most amazing ways to feel better, is to make time to relax. If you need help right now, then find out how to be trauma free in 7 days or less here....
  2. Prepare to relax. Once you have accepted that there are negative stressors impacting your life, it's important to make room for relaxation amid all those busy things you're doing. Adding relaxation to your day will improve your productivity, not lessen it; while not adding relaxation into your life can lead to burn out, fatigue, stress-related illnesses, and constant insomnia. Ways to prepare for adding relaxation back into your routine include:
    • Let go of guilt. Many religious and cultural beliefs instill the value of hard work very deeply. Over time, and increasingly so with the advent of smart technology that keeps us hyper-wired 24/7, many of us have come to believe that being "on-the-go" constantly is the only way to prove our value. Having an unrealistic interpretation of "hard work" will end up wearing you down – hard work is giving your tasks the attention they deserve at the time they deserve, not letting it bleed into all hours of your day!
    • Accept that sleep is a very important part of life. During sleep, your mind continues learning in ways that are not possible during waking hours. Sleep restores and refreshes your body in myriad ways that do not occur when awake. Do not be tempted to devalue the worth of sleep. Moreover, the alleged ability of some people to thrive on four hours sleep per night is the exception, not the rule – most of us need the 6-8 hour sleep cycle for full restoration.
    • Recognize that finding your own optimal ways to relax may take time, and some trial and error. Don't give up – keep searching until you find the right combination of activities that relax you and rejuvenate your enthusiasm for living fully.
  3. Practice breathing techniques. Slow down your breathing and actively concentrate on it. This is always the easiest way to self calm, provided you remember to resort to it.
    • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
    • Inhale deeply, count to five, then exhale slowly, counting to five. Do this ten times to relax your muscles and nerves. Always relax on the out-breath.
    • For an excellent remedy to cure stress from trauma Click Here!