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PTSD & TBI (silent and misunderstood killers)

Veteran's Corner

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and  Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) afflictions have been with us for eternity. This is recently being exponentially recognized due to today’s war on terrorism involving troops returning from multiple extended dangerous tours of duty. It afflicts those experiencing or witnessing life or death encounters for prolonged durations, especially from IEDs (improvised explosive devises), courtesy of Iran and Russia. 

Many victims become reclusive, relying on drugs and alcohol to relieve their demons. In WWI and WWII it was called “shell shock,” in Vietnam, it was called “Vietnam Syndrome,” and recently, it was described as PTSD and TBI. 

This is not unique to the military. It also afflicts the civilian population experiencing constant stressful trauma, car crashes, the death of a loved one or a serious injury. Due to COVID-19, I expect some of today’s heroes, our front-line health care workers, will fall into this category, as well as some of our vulnerable civilian population. Today, most of our attention is focused on the diagnosis and medical treatment of the coronavirus. VA hospitals and civilian medical facilities rely mostly upon medical, psychological and pharmaceutical cures (opioids to numb the brain).  Medical facilities are too slowly realizing such regimented treatments can produce little or no improvement, often with deadly results. 

There are alternatives. Some VA clinics have reportedly been outsourcing veterans to farms so they can interact with animals and nature — and that’s a good start in getting them on the road to recovery. Veterans must realize they are important to us and to themselves. Their lives are worth living. A private local Tri-state entrepreneur, who shall remain unnamed, is currently building state-of-the-art veteran clinics because he cares. Private facilities are uniting service animals with veterans. 

Today’s veteran suicide rate is a completely unacceptable — one vet every 80 minutes, 24/7. In my opinion, the often overlooked prescription is constant interaction among vets, therapy animals and nature (gardening and farming would help, too). The Veterans Administration needs to grasp the effectiveness and fund such cost effective and productive programs. Unfortunately, federal bureaucracies have a dismal track record with such progressive initiatives. 

Also, I think, vets should have the option, without restraints, between opting for private or VA care. Veterans put their lives on the line for us. They deserve the best conventional or non-conventional care possible — whatever works, works. 

God bless you, patriotic readers, and your families. I will offer future commentary regarding this subject. Stay tuned and stay safe.

Millerton resident Larry Conklin is a Vietnam veteran, and a member of both the Millerton American Legion Post 178 and the Couch-Pipa VFW Post 6851 in North Canaan, Conn.

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