COMBAT VETERAN'S FORUM

Volume 2 Issue 2                                      FEBRUARY, 1997




  1. COORDINATOR'S COMMENTS : --by Bolivar P. Martineau, MD MS
  2. FALL SOCIAL A SUCCESS:--by Trooper Ted Rovelli
  3. EDITOR'S NOTE--by tbass



COORDINATOR'S COMMENTS : PTSD (Post Trauma "Shock" Disoder) by Dr. Bolivar P. Martineau

When a soldier is exposed to an inescapable trauma he experiences SHOCK not Stress. In stress the individual life is not threatened physically. He may experience "burn out", but this is a reversible process.

In shock the individual is threatened with physical destruction. This experience becomes "crystallized" and is irreversible. In facing overwhelming combat experience one is in a state of shock. The soldier functions at a lower intellectual capacity, becoming an automaton, not wanting to remember what just happened, not wanting to think about what will come tomorrow, just wanting to survive "one day at a time."

When there is an overwhelming traumatic episode in which there is no escape that moment becomes a "crystallized reaction." It is the freezing of time, place, and physiology. It is a "stopped clock" at that psychological, physiological. and environmental moment. This becomes a snapshot of that event or chain of events. The Combat Soldier carries this "Slice of Life " with him "for the rest of his years."

To understand this "moment of truth," we must comprehend that what we are seeing is a total human being reacting in a total catastrophic environment, at a specific moment in time. Then we may be able to become aware of the total picture.

Any episode in the environment, sight/sound/smell/touch/heat/etc, can trigger the complete accompanying physiological and psychological reactions. Any psychological process, nightmares/sleep terror/auditory hallucinations/etc, can trigger the accompanying physiological states and environmental perceptions, etc. All of these processes originally incorporated in the "crystallized reaction" are intimately interwoven in the veteranís psyche. The stimulus which triggers one phase will trigger all the others as in repetition compulsion. It is like an "All-or-None" allergic response.

This is why combat veterans who have experienced overwhelming trauma become "walking time bombs". That crystallized reaction has become deeply ingrained in the individual's Self System. He carries it with him for the rest of his life. This becomes a grave social issue because we don't know what external or internal stimulus will act as the triggering mechanism.

The combat veteran has to constantly guard against "loosing control" for his behavioral response can become an "All or none" explosive reaction, even towards trivial events. This is why many combat veterans are constantly tired, drained, weakened, having no future, and trying to maintain themselves "One Day At A Time."

Thus for the combat veteran it is important to leave a "safe environment," take psychotropic medications and have greater insight into their condition in order to achieve a better quality of life.


FALL SOCIAL A SUCCESS by Trooper Ted Rovelli

The Fall Social for the Combat Veteran's Group was held on September 14, 1996 in Ward 15-A of the Carl Vinson VAMC.

Approximately 100 members and guest were present for the Covered Dish Lunch. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food that was brought for the occasion. Brotherhood is a word we have all heard. The definition in a Webster's dictionary is: a Group of Men joined Together in Some Interest, Work, or Belief. That is exactly what I saw at this social event. I hope we continue working as a group to help each other. Perhaps we can have Socials more often.

May God Bless Everyone.


EDITOR'S NOTE by tbass

Social Success: We have socials so that we can build community, feed each other, get out, have a good time, and practice interacting with others "In A Socially Acceptable Manner." We have been successful at this.

We have come a long way since the first socials. Then only Combat Veterans were allowed to attend. Many of us were skeptical of being in mixed crowds, Vets and Non- Vets.

The Christmas Social was a brilliant success at accomplishing all of the above mentioned goals.

Everyone who participates in the socials receive benefits from that participation. Not the least of the these benefits are the great food preparations offered.

To point out how successful this program, The Combat Veteran's Group therapy and its socials, have been I'd like to cite the impression that we made recently. This impression was expressed in a letter from the committee that came to the Carl Vinson VAMC to introduce the Product Line scenario of Veterans Health Care.

We were impressive enough with our participation in their presentation that they met with us, as we requested, on Ward 15-A, after their own presentation. When they left our meeting, they promised to take our proposals in consideration for program development.

They, also, held up the possibility of funding for an Out-Patient Program for Combat Related - PTSD at the Carl Vinson VAMC. A PTSD Therapy Program we have tried to keep going with bake sales, flea markets, and Love Offerings. in the past.

Our PTSD Out-Patient Program may finally get the recognition, and legitimacy it deserves.

This, my friends, is Success.

Now we need to get more of our members to actually participate in the Full program as it is presently. We need to be prepared for the changes that the additions to this program will bring. Good Changes; Needed Changes.

Good Work. We can ALL be proud of how far we have come; Let us continue the journey together. Come to the meetings; your being there helps you and helps others.

Remember to come to the Valentine Social, Saturday, February 22 at 10:00AM. Bring a Covered dish if you can, but come anyway. We need you, and we want you there.