Sunday, September 18, 2011

Combat-Induced PTSD: Affliction of the Mind and Soul

The following is a guest post from Shane Allen Weber, who is the author of Galactic Quest.

I was in the U.S. Army for a little over 10 years, and I have been to Iraq with the 1st CAV DIV on two separate occasions -- both times for more than a year. *(See notes at end of this guest post.)

What is it that causes a grown man or woman to become afraid of the littlest noise or a shadow that they see out of the corner of their eye?

What is it that causes such hate and rage that spills over into their daily lives?
It is an affliction that most warriors suffer from for centuries and we are just now beginning to understand what causes it but have no cure for -- and it is called PTSD.

I am a combat vet who like most combat vets has an affliction that affects everyday life.

Some have lived with this affliction for decades and have never asked for help or even know that they have this problem.

Is life easy for us who have no visible wounds who have deep running scars? No, it is not because no one can tell what is wrong or even if there is something wrong with you just by looking.

Most people don’t see the pain and the emotion of these soldiers who live in constant torment and that of their families.

I go to group therapy where there is a mixture of war vets as far back as the Vietnam era. These guys and gals were the hardest hit by an ungrateful nation upon their return. They were looked at as something less than human.

Not only did they have to relieve the nightmare of the jungle in their minds all the time but they also had to deal with a country who hated them and a VA that was broken and slow at best.

I have had the pleasure of meeting one of the head shrinks that worked with combat vets during the Vietnam era. He told me and some of the others about how these vets were experimented on with electroshock therapy and other painful procedures.

They were treated no better than lab rats, and then when funding ran out, these war vets were tossed to the side to fend for themselves.

I found this to be very appalling, and I was sickened with the thought of my predecessors being treated no better than trash to be thrown to the side.

There has been a great deal of improvement in the treatment of all soldiers in the modern era. The VA works faster to get the compensation to the new batch of disabled veterans due to the “War on Terror.”

The only thing that has me kind of mad is that some Vietnam vets are still waiting for this compensation for the wounds they suffered during their time at war.

There are guys in the group therapy that I currently attend that have diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange. They have filed many claims through the VA for these conditions and have to wait a year to two years just to hear back on the decision that the medical board makes.

The worst part is the extra wait time that could be tacked on because they try and appeal the decision made by the board.

We talk about a great deal of things in our group. But we rarely ever talk about the underlying problems of our PTSD because these wounds are just too painful, and even if you do get the story out, it is going to still be there haunting you.

This is a fate most of us wish we could escape but cannot.

One of my most painful moments in the Iraq war has been immortalized on Ft. Hood. When I go on post I have to drive by the 1st CAV DIV memorial just to make sure that it is being taken care of.

I would hate for the elements or some inconsiderate person to harm this symbol of my first tour to Iraq. I still remember the day that this statue commemorates almost as if the day were just happening. It all appeared to happen in slow motion.

(The statue at the memorial represents a moment frozen forever of MPs and their medic helping to save a little boy’s life after a mortar attack. These mortars were meant for us and they ended up hitting three children and one adult.)

The emotional pain that PTSD causes for a family can be too much to bear at times. It is very common for the spouse to want to divorce or leave the person with the affliction.

If not kept in check in the family environment, PTSD could be a very dangerous thing.

I have read or heard about too many horror stories of the soldier coming home and killing his family without being aware of what was going on at the time because of the blackouts that can happen.

This blackout period is called “lost time.” To the person who is afflicted this point in time never existed. This tends to cause a great deal of legal problems for these men and women.

Some of the Vietnam vets in my group have had quite a few run ins with the law. The good thing that has come out of this is that there is a movement to try to form special courts to deal with the soldiers who have this disease.

In conclusion, PTSD is something that will affect the person who has it for the rest of his or her life. Their families will have to learn to cope with their loved one having PTSD or the family member will end up leaving the PTSD-afflicted person.

I can personally attest to this because there have been several times where my wife was ready to pick up and leave me. But once she has a little alone time she is fine and we talk about what had happened, and when necessary my wife attends my private therapy sessions.

The biggest thing to remember is that our warriors are still human even though they may act like monsters at times. We did not ask to have this problem thrust upon us, but it is what came along with the service to our country. This is the price that some pay to have served their country voluntarily.

*These statements are based off the observations and stories I have gotten from all my PTSD groups and single therapy. I left all statements generalized because of privacy to the people who spoke of these topics during these therapy sessions. No names were released and will not be release for any reason to protect the privacy of those involved.

Remember: Never take articles at face value. Always do research into whatever it maybe that you are reading about. Some information may be dated or may be different for a separate group of vets. I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read this post. I hope that it helped in some way.

Here are links to learn more about Shane Weber and his writing:!/pages/Books-By-Shane-Weber/163271153701047

And for help with PTSD:

“From the Corners of a Wounded Mind” by Theodore Knell --

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the eBook novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS. Phyllis is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients to attract more business. Read her posts at the company's social media marketing blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Help Save Our Troops

(Reprinted from

In the September 12th New Yorker article “Coming Apart” by George Packer, I learned a disturbing piece of information:

A former Navy SEAL has come up with a manufacturing strategy to make “armored” vehicles much more resistant to IEDs and other attacks – BUT the former Navy SEAL cannot bid on undertaking this important mission the Pentagon has said it wants done for Humvees because BIDS ARE NOT BEING ACCEPTED.

(As Mitch and I wrote in the novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS, “IEDs are not an electronics problem. They’re an engineering problem.”)

The information on this situation is only part of Packer’s overall article, which is an essay on the American public’s attitude since 9/11.

Let me explain this “armored” vehicle situation in more detail:

Packer begins his New Yorker article with the story of former Navy SEAL Chris Berman, who was hired in 2004 by the private security company Blackwater.

Berman volunteered to go on a “food-escort detail” to Falluja, “but at the last minute his place was taken by one of his friends, Scott Helvenston.”

Helvenston and three other Blackwater security guards, riding in a Mitsubishi Pajero, were ambushed and killed on their way to Falluja. While waiting to escort Helvenston’s coffin back to the U.S., Berman began drawing designs for armoring the Pajero so that Helvenston and the other three men might have survived.

Berman opened a factory in Kuwait that successfully produced an armored vehicle for security companies working in Iraq. He closed this factory in 2008 to focus on the project he’d moved onto five years after 9/11:

His new goal was to do something about the lightly armored Humvees used by U.S. military personnel. Surviving a blast while riding in these is also a major “armored” vehicle issue.

According to Packer, “For several years, the Pentagon has had plans to rebuild Humvees used in the war, and improve their armor, instead of buying new ones.”

In 2007 Berman started the company Granite Tactical Vehicles and developed a model design to improve the armor on existing Humvees. BUT there have been no government bids on this supposed Pentagon project. This is because, according to Packer:
[T]he government kept putting off requests for bids, in part because the main Humvee manufacturer, a large corporation in Indiana called AM General, appeared to have enough clout in Congress to get the process delayed, staving off competition.
Packer goes on to say that ”the rumored date for accepting bids is now this fall.”

I’m not an engineer – I cannot say that Berman’s design is the best (although Packer says: “People who knew the business said that Berman’s design was among the best.”).

What I can say is:

Let’s get out the word about this situation to people (such as our House and Senate representatives and any friends you may have in the Pentagon) to “motivate” the Pentagon to open bids right now – and quickly choose a good design – to get much better protection for the Humvees.

If you do help spread the word, please email me at with the subject HELP SAVE OUR TROOPS to tell me you helped.

I’ll email you back a free ePub copy of the novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS that you can read on a computer after downloading the free ePub-reading software from

Will you help?

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the eBook novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS. Phyllis is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients to attract more business. Read her posts at the company's social media marketing blog.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Aftermath of 9/11: Need to Recognize PTSD in Deployed Troops and Others

On this day, the 10th anniversary of the horrendous attack on the U.S., it is important to also honor and commemorate the men and women of our military who have sacrificed their lives or their limbs or their minds to help protect us from terrorist attacks.

And it is because of incredible coordinated efforts between the U.S. intelligence community and the military community that, only a few months before this 10-year anniversary, the “architect” of this horror was killed in his compound in Pakistan.

But this victory – and the numerous foiled terrorist plots to date – come at a high price. And sometimes this price is not recognized until it is too late – until the person whose PTSD has been undiagnosed kills himself or herself.

PTSD can result from any personal trauma, not just military service.

People who suffered from the loss of someone in 9/11 or from watching on TV as the towers collapsed or from doing rescue work as first responders or for months afterwards may have undiagnosed PTSD.


Please be on the lookout for people displaying symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Learn about these symptoms now.

This past Tuesday I was privileged to be on a Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable that featured Major Jeff Hall and his wife Sheri.

Hall repeatedly refused to get help upon the return from his second deployment even though something was terribly wrong. But when he seriously contemplated suicide, Sheri Hall took matters into her own hands and saved her husband’s life by going to his commanding officer.

Now husband and wife are part of the Real Warriors Campaign for active duty military personnel and veterans to get help before it is too late.

The Real Warriors Campaign was launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). Check out this source for help now at

And listen to the interview with the Halls or read the transcript for the 30-minute bloggers roundtable. Learning this information may save the life of someone you love.

Book recommendation:

I highly recommend Theodore Knell’s compelling memoir of his 22 years as a British Special Forces soldier. With narrative and poetry he expresses what this sacrifice does to a person’s soul. If you do not understand why PTSD can drive people to commit suicide, this book may help you. (You can read an excerpt now.)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the eBook novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS. Phyllis is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients to attract more business. Read her posts at the company's social media marketing blog.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In 1939 on Sept. 1st Germany Invaded Poland

Ever since I lived in Munich, Germany, from September 1970 to May 1972 as part of the American occupying force to prevent German military aggression, the date of September 1st has been particularly meaningful to me.

It was this day in 1939 that German military forces marched into Poland, plunging much of the “civilized” world into war.

And it is the day that ultimately sealed a death decree against millions and millions and millions of people – including Jews, Gypsies, Poles, homosexuals, Communists, Socialists and pacifists as well as members of the armed forces of numerous countries.

Most Americans have seen countless movies and television shows about World War II. And I suspect there will be new movies and televisions shows about this subject for many decades to come.

It is important, in my opinion, to stop for a few moments once a year, on September 1st, the back-to-school period in America, and contemplate some of the awful events that succeeded that date as well as contemplate the incredible bravery of those people who chose right over wrong.

On this first day of September 2011 let us salute the current and former members of all our U.S. military branches and all our first responders and all the people who put their lives on the line to protect others.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the eBook novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS. Phyllis is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients to attract more business. Read her posts at the company's social media marketing blog.