Archive for December 2015

Warrior Connection – 12.27.15

Sunday, December 27th, 2015
The December 27 edition of Warrior Connection was a  discussion with author - investigative journalist Bob Koehler on PTSD and also peace- social justice issues based on his column for this week.
 

LOVE SOUTH OF HEAVEN

By Robert C. Koehler

Write about love, as in love thy enemy, and the social recoil sounds like this:

“There is no nexus at which we can speak with ISIS. Singing Kumbaya while being led to a beheading can’t work.”

Or this:

“Any thug who threatens a cop gets what he deserves. One bullet or ten — I could care less. If a thug will threaten a cop or a prison guard, he will kill or maim me or mine without hesitation for very little reason. You want to give these thugs ‘civil rights’ — I want to give them a funeral. My way insures me and mine do not get killed or maimed. Your way insures I probably will.”

These are responses to recent columns, in which I have tried to address the American and global hell created by the belief that violence, rather than endlessly begetting itself and spewing consequences far beyond conventional perception, actually solves problems in something other than the shortest of short terms. This is tricky. “Love thy enemy,” or words to that effect, may be the foundation of Christianity and every other major religion, but they’re utterly misunderstood and belittled in the realm of popular culture and I doubt they’ve ever been taken seriously at the level of government.

It’s what they do in heaven. Sing Kumbaya, play the harp, love the other dead people (who, of course, went through a vetting process to get in similar to what we impose on refugees from Syria or Iraq). Here on Earth . . . come on, get real. The cynics cry “Trump! Trump!” because he tells it like it is, the way a junior high bully would. It’s simple. It’s linear. A bullet for a thug and the thug is dead. Problem solved.

Of course, a bigger problem is also created, but to relate this problem — ISIS, for instance — to one’s own actions, or the actions of one’s country, is way too complicated, so the cynics choose to stay simple.

How do we counter this simplistic-mindedness?

“The usual way to generate force is to create anger, desire and fear,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, peace activist. “But these are dangerous sources of energy because they are blind . . .”

Let’s pause mid-quote and summon the memory of our own impulsive emotions, our own anger and fear and blindness. Now let’s arm those emotions. Whether or not we’re “justified” in what we do next, the person on the receiving end is certain to have lost his or her humanity, at least for a terrible instant.

But what could happen next is so much worse: When these emotions become collective, the result is mob mentality. And when they become institutionalized — buried deep in the nation’s soul — the inevitable result is war . . . and war . . . and war. And it’s self-perpetuating. The dehumanized enemy strikes back, perhaps with horrendous actions, which of course justify what we do next. Eventually one side or the other “wins” and “peace” prevails for a moment or two, but it’s always a broken and temporary thing, requiring armed guards at the perimeter. This is peace with fear.

And it’s a way of life, humanity’s normal: being perpetually armed, perpetually terrified, perpetually blind.

But Hanh’s quote continues: “. . . whereas the force of love springs from awareness, and does not destroy its own aims. Out of love and the willingness to act, strategies and tactics will be created naturally from the circumstances of the struggle.”

The force of love springs from awareness. What, oh God, does this mean? What, especially, does it mean beyond personal acts of big-hearted decency? Is love always distorted, often beyond recognition, when it is institutionalized?

Consider, for instance, the idea of the “penitentiary.” With roots in the word “penitent,” it was conceived by early 19th century prison reformers to be a place of resurrection — spiritual rebirth — for wayward souls. Maybe there was always a moralistic lunacy attached to the concept. In any case, it’s no accident that the concept degraded over the decades to the word “pen” and the incarcerated have pretty much lost all their humanity.

“Prison must be something they fear, not just a momentary . . . way station on the road to the next crime,” my correspondent, quoted above, a former prison guard (I think), wrote in his reply to my column from last week, in which I discuss an inmate’s beating death by guards. “Today’s prisons are a joke. The guards live in fear of the inmates — not the other way around. . . . Beatings are all that will keep some inmates in line. Who ever said there is no such thing as a bad boy was a lunatic. There are bad boys — more than you want to contemplate, and all they understand is superior violence.”

I quote him in order to let his words percolate next to those of Thich Nhat Hanh. “The force of love springs from awareness.” Again I ask, what does this mean? What does it mean in a world where violence is the answer to so many of our problems and a large percentage of the population is angry, fearful — and armed? What does it mean in a war- and prison-dependent economy, stoked by a too-often clueless media with a financial stake in more of the same? What does it mean in a world where cynicism rules?

I reach out to the planet’s peacemakers. I know there are millions of you, enduring hardship and risking your lives to free us, to free the planet, from our self-inflicted hell.

“The careless habits of mind and heart that allow us to pollute and waste also allow us to treat other human beings as disposable,” the editors of Commonweal wrote last June, commenting on the papal encyclical “Laudato Si.” “‘A true ecological approach,’ (Pope) Francis writes, ‘always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’”

I would add: the cry of the refugees, the cry of the warriors, the cry of the inmates, the cry of the police, the cry of the prison guards . . . the cry of all humanity. Let us listen, let us reach out, let us look one another in the eyes no matter how difficult this proves to be.

 Robert Koehler is an award—winning, Chicago—based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2015 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

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Warrior Connection – 12.20.15

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

The December 20 Warrior connection was a discussion on how to make the best of the Christmas - New Years holidays given the unique stressors military families encounter.

Life After Trauma #22 - Effects of living in a war zone

Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are civil wars that are different from each other in many ways, but similar in others. They may be different in tactics, weaponry and terrain, but the traumatic scale they bring to our troops are the same. Everyone who has gone there has been effected in some way. Physically, emotionally and even morally through the trauma of warfare. 
In a civil war, there is no real way to tell the good guys from the bad. There  will be times when you get into a battle and find  the enemy you killed were people you thought were your friends. You realize you are living among an unseen enemy where you can never trust anyone other than those in your own unit. (P. 68,69 TNEW.) 
This kind of revelation causes unit cohesion, but it also causes you to become hyper-vigilant. You never know when or where the enemy will show up again as it tends to put you on high alert all of the time. It is hard to turn hyper-vigilance off once you’ve used it.

Upon returning home, you will watch people more carefully, sit in Restaurants with your back to the wall whenever possible and even show caution when seeing a dead animal or a cardboard box on the side of the road, never knowing if it is an IED that‘s about to explode.
The friendships you make in combat zones are good and necessary for troop cohesion, but they can work against close family relationships, if you’re not careful. You need to keep in touch with your loved ones back home who are supporting you. Remember…“They who stand and wait are also serving.” If it were not for my dad praying for me through my days of close calls and near misses in the “meat grinder” area of Vietnam, I would have never made it back home again. P. 177, 223-224 TNEW.

Upon returning home, you may experience nightmares, keeping distance and mistrust of everyone, depression, hypertension, difficulty sleeping, a need for isolation and irritation over the smallest of matters. Divorce rate for Vietnam veterans is well over 90%. That’s not a good record to hold. A good marriage is not a 50% - 50% partnership. It is a 100% - 100% full participation if it is going to work and thrive. A good spouse is the best thing you’ve got working for you. I also take my family to church . It’s a great place to worship God, and a good place to hang around good, decent, honest people, for the most part!  I’ve found that who I hang around has a lot to do with my habits and lifestyle. 
All of these symptoms can cause a miserable life,  along with problems to your marriage, career and basic happiness.

You are an American Patriot and you deserve better than that. Those I served with did not study the concepts of “no greater love than this…that a man would lay down his life for his friend, They lived it. Many continue to suffer today because they served their country yesterday. They can never escape their past, in the future and some things will be with us forever. We’ll just have to do the best we can, and vigorously fight an enemy we can’t see. 
(PTSD.)
First admit you might have a problem and you might need to seek help.
 Involve your spouse in your recovery. They supported you while you were gone, they want to help and support you now. 
Inquire for help through  Vet Centers 910-703-0699, the local Veterans Administration Office and other caring Health Care Professionals. 
Most problems I have experienced since Vietnam are caused by my adrenalin disorder. When something “triggers” an adrenalin rush, I have a panic attack. Increased heart rate, nervousness, tunnel vision, ect.
I have to use my “Coping Skills” (P.234 TNEW) I’ve developed over the years to help me calm back down. Some things like using a nasal inhaler will help neutralize the adrenalin effects. I have written about these Coping Skills in my book “The Never Ending War” (L M Clark) because they help. They have been instrumental in saving  my life, marriage, and sanity. It’s not about selling a book as much as it is about getting help to hurting people. It’s getting information and tools to help them obtain a healthy and productive life for them and their family. This book is helping change lives for the good everywhere, I know because they tell me through phone calls and e-mails. It is reaching people with help and hope. 
 We with PTSD are mentally wounded, bleeding and beat down. We feel like lying down and playing dead so everyone will leave us alone. We can’t stop or give up because our enemy will have no mercy on us. We have to remember that there are many people fighting for us, and we can’t let them fight alone. We have to get ourselves up and rejoin the fight. There is still some warrior spirit left in us, and we can’t help ourselves or anyone else if we give up and retreat from the battle. Get the tools, resources, and the will we need to beat PTSD, and we can do this thing if we will push on.

Semper Fidelis
Ray Clark

Life after Trauma #26 - Suicide prevention

The holiday season usually brings an increase in suicides or attempts.  It is a sad commentary that we have so many suicides among our Military personnel , Veterans and their families. There is a lot of discussion as to what the cause and effects suicide has on the individual and their families and I thought I‘d give you mine. 
As a Marine combat veteran who has fought suicidal thoughts for more than forty years, I think I have some ideas on how to cut down on the loss of so many of our national hero’s. 
1. One of the contributing factors associated with suicide is the consumption of “substance .” What is the related Substance I’m talking about?  It is alcohol and drugs.  Special significance must be placed on  pharmaceutical drugs. Weather they come from the V.A. or  purchased over the counter, mixing drugs and alcohol can be a deadly combination. Drugs are for a specific purpose and come with a prescribed usage. Abusing the directions or mixing them with other substance can have a damaging or deadly effect. 
Substance “abuse” may or may not be a contributing factor in the persons life, but just the mere fact that alcohol is being consumed by the depressed person is one of the major culprits that causes the person to think irrationally. They become more depressed, lonely and disconnected from society. The potential for suicide is drastically increased when you mix alcohol and drugs. When you are consuming alcohol and drugs of any amount, you begin to fall “under the influence“ of what you are consuming. You will say and do things that you would not do under normal circumstances. There is also the risk of auto accidents, tickets and increased insurance premiums causing more problems to your career, marriage and self esteem. 
This kind of “mixing” substance may push you over the edge as you become more depressed and detached from those around you.

Suicide is undoubtedly the most selfish thing you can do to those you love, and who love you the most. It slams the door shut in the face of everyone who cares about you and leaves them with a lifetime of wondering why you left without first reaching out to someone who could help you.

When Americas Foreign and Domestic enemies read about our military  dropping out on the fight against terrorism, I’m sure they are pleased and smile because they will never have to worry about you again. You have actually contributed to their success by eliminating yourself from the battle.
P. 125  TNEW

If you are depressed or discouraged, please reach out for help. There are a lot of people waiting to hear from you. They want to help, but you must make the call.  Many of us have wanted to drop out of the race at one time or another, but didn’t. We pushed on in spite of our pain because we knew there were a lot of young people coming behind us and they were looking for us to set a good example for them. They’re now looking at you. 
I was taught as a Marine to attack the attacker. When the enemy shows up and attacks you, hit him back twice as hard. It’s simply what good warrior’s do.  Semper Fidelis means Always Faithful. (Always)  That’s not a cute little saying, it’s a way of life. Stay faithful to God, Country and Corps.

  1. Leave a legacy for someone to follow.
  1. Nothing is too bad that it can’t be fixed.

To call for help…
Jacksonville Vet Center 910-577-1100
Durham V.A. 888-870-6890
Boots on the Ground 919-907-0577

or

Danville Illinois VA chaplains emergency response team 1 800-320-8387  then "0" for operator and request on duty chaplain.

or 1 800- 273 - TALK then press "1" 

We also discussed brand new medical data report just issued.  (IT IS ATTACHED FIR POSTNG TO WEB SITE)  

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Warrior Connection – 12.13.15

Sunday, December 13th, 2015
The December 13 edition of Warrior Connection was a discussion between co-hosts Ray Clark and Doug Rokke with John Boch of GSL Defense Training on self defense- family protection- awareness and then force- on-force training for civilians. www.GSLDefenseTraining.com. We discussed situational awareness and how to protect your family and yourself during various threat situations as you go about your daily life. Sadly if you dial 911 looking for help police response may be or  will be to late so this provides you some idea of how to protect your family within legal frameworks.
 

Critical Threat Management

Comprehensive Force-on-Force training to overcome a violent attack

Course purpose

GSL Defense Training’s Critical Threat Management course integrates multiple layers of practical, defensive tactics to help keep you and your loved ones safer.

If you have the misfortune of being involved in a life threatening encounter with a criminal predator, you will need a different set of skills and experiences than are available from even the best concealed carry class, or any day at the range.

Criminal attacks can take the form of attempted armed robbery, battery, home invasion, mugging, or even just a fine, upstanding young gang member given a promotional opportunity and you’re the lucky victim that represents prestige and a promotion for him (or her).

Acting competently, lawfully and responsibly in dangerous and stressful situations is uncomfortable, emotional, challenging – and at times just plain scary. Force-on-Force training is not something that most people will want to do, but the skills we’ll teach you will help you avoid a bad situation and if it comes to you despite your efforts to avoid it, this training will help you prevail in a violent situation and keep your loved ones safe as well.  And this is just one of a tiny handful of training schools across the nation offering this training to civilians like you.

GSLDefenseTrainingCTM2

Remember, you don’t chose to be a victim.  You wouldn’t knowingly invite bad people into your life.  Criminal attack is forced upon the innocent by lawless individuals or groups and you are the first responder that can help yourself or those you love.

This class is designed to help you understand the behaviors of those wanting to do you harm and help you decipher the signals you are sending out to the predators – and teach you the signals you should be sending out.  We tell you the areas in your life where you will be more likely to be attacked and how to avoid victimization there.  We teach you how to look after your safety and those around you, as well as how to treat some of the injuries that can occur in these events. 

GSL Defense Training’s Force-on-Force class offers you exactly our name – defensive training – in context and in a way that everyone involved can be safe in class and safer in life.

GSLDefenseTrainingCTM3

What does Force-on-Force training offer?  

It allows safe moving and shooting in dealing with bad guy aggressors, scattered among innocents.  These are not stationary paper targets, but living, breathing, thinking targets that can “hurt” you, inflicting a pain penalty for failure in the form of airsoft pellet strikes.  This pain penalty helps students learn the value of situational awareness, good tactics, and good decision making to make the best of a bad situation.

This cutting-edge, state of the art advanced training offers many benefits, which is why it is so popular with law-enforcement and the military.

Stress inoculation

  • Familiarizes you with your body’s reaction to the experience to a degree as you experience fear
  • Experience with the physiological and psychological changes: diminished coordination, tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, tachypsychia (altered perception of time), cognitive dissonance (remembering things out of order), selective memory loss, and other effects of stress

CTMFail1

Mental preparation

  • Creates mental “note cards” or experiences to draw on
  • How to handle stressful situations, witnesses, injured victims, law enforcement, media, and more

Mindset issues

  • Never give up!
  • Fight through the pain.

Tactics

  • Use of sound tactics in the form of concealment, cover, and movement
  • The importance of movement
  • De-escalation and disengagement
  • Effective carry techniques
  • Importance of maintaining reactionary gap / Tueller Drill
  • Communication skills
  • Basic, intermediate and advanced situational awareness strategies
  • Positive threat identification
  • Pre-incident indicators
  • Pre-assault cues
  • Avoidance

Asymmetric tactics

Interactions with perpetrators,witnesses, responding police officers, and the media

Gun Handling and Concealed Carry

You will see what works and what doesn’t in gear and clothing, carry techniques and positioning of gear.  Students will be encouraged to “carry” in this course as they plan to carry in everyday life. 

One-handed, instinctive shooting and shooting on the move 

GSLDefenseTrainingCTM4

Unarmed self-defense tactics and Krav Maga combatives

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Warrior Connection – 12.06.15

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Warrior connection was a discussion regarding ongoing problems and revelation that dod did not comply with it's own regulations to include toxic exposure information in medical records.

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/benefits/health-care/2015/11/01/deployment-environmental-reports-not-health-records/74377338/

Deployment environmental reports not in military health records

By Patricia Kime, Staff writer 3:41 p.m. EST November 1, 2015

A U.S. soldier walks through smoke and dust after bomb technicians destroyed an apparent al-Qaida hideout inside a cave in 2008.(Photo: Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

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For more than three years, the military services have been allowed to ignore a Defense Department order requiring the inclusion of environmental assessments of combat environments in troops' medical records.

The Pentagon in 2006 published an instruction requiring the services add occupational and environmental risk assessments generated for locations during a certain period into medical records of troops who served in the affected place and time.

Some veterans have developed illnesses they believe may be related to exposure to pollutants released by open air burn pits, heavy metals found in fine dust, exposure to chemical weapons and parasites.

Since at least 2012, however, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness waived that requirement, and a memo written in 2013 extended the waiver for another two years, with acting Undersecretary of Defense (P&R) Jessica Wright saying the reports, known as Periodic Occupational and Environmental Monitoring Summaries — POEMS — are summaries of "population-level health risks," and not an indication of exposure to individual service members.

According to Wright, including the information in medical records could sway troops to link any illnesses they may have to their deployment environment, which may lead to "biased assessments of exposure and health risk" and possibly provide "support for disability claims for chronic illnesses that may not be due to exposure."

To troops and veterans sick with respiratory illnesses, cancers and unexplained diseases they think are related to pollution, chemicals or other environmental hazards in Iraq and Afghanistan, the memo, initially released online by the law firm Bergmann & Moore, is an outrage, a concerted effort to squelch the truth about deployment environmental hazards, from burn-pit pollution to dust laden with heavy metals.

"This is a rationale for denying not only patients, but also their physicians, ready access that DoD — and any reasonable American — should consider relevant to diagnosis and treatment," said Peter Sullivan, father of a Marine who died of an unexplained illnesses in 2009 following a deployment to Iraq. He is also director of the Sgt. Sullivan Center, a nonprofit that advocates for research on military environmental exposures.

"It feels like a slap in the face," said a retired Air Force master sergeant who suffers a debilitating lung disease and requested anonymity because she works for the federal government and fears retribution for discussing the subject. "We put our lives on the line over there and these are the people trying to deny me disability."

The original instruction required the services to file any applicable POEMS "in the medical records of each individual for which the exposure applies," or archive them so they are available to "health care providers and redeployed personnel."

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Maj. Ben Sakrisson said the information is available upon request and also is being published online in the Military Exposure Surveillance Library, with plans to post more "upon completion and after clearance for public release."

But the retired airman and others say few troops or medical personnel even know what a POEMS is, and even fewer know to ask for them.

"I never heard of them until I returned from Afghanistan the last time, and I was in the medical field," said the master sergeant, who said she began having respiratory problems after a deployment to Iraq in 2004.

Sakrisson said that since POEMS are not records of individual exposures, they do not provide confirmation of one.

DoD "initially directed placement of POEMS in the individual medical record as a means of having the data available to health care providers and others to provide greater knowledge of ambient environmental conditions and possible health concerns," he said.

"The department later determined not to place a copy of the POEMS in individual medical records because they are valid only on a population basis."

Retired Army Lt. Col. Rick Lamberth, who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times and worked near burn pits and in locations where chemical munitions were manufactured, disagreed, saying it would be helpful to have the deployment risk summaries in his medical records.

"It would substantiate what you are saying to your doctor and you wouldn't have to tell your background story over and over," said Lamberth, who says he has sleep apnea, unexplained rashes and respiratory inflammation that produces so much mucus that he chokes in his sleep.

Smoke from an oil and brush fire darkens the sky over the city of Bayji, Iraq, on Jan. 22, 2005. (Photo: Spc. Elizabeth Erste/Army)

Thousands of troops have reported medical problems they believe are related to living and working near burn pits used for waste disposal in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as exposure to dust, fine particulates, chemicals and parasites in the region.

The Veterans Affairs Department established a burn-pit registry to track the health of these individuals; as of Oct. 21, a total of 49,980 active-duty troops and veterans have begun the process of enrolling in the VA Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.

Many participants report health conditions ranging from asthma and emphysema to high blood pressure, insomnia and rare lung disorders.

"The pollution over there is so terrible. We knew that, and it seems like they should have been tracking it from the beginning," Lamberth said. "Now for them to deny including what little documentation they have in our medical records ... how fair is that? How is that justice?"

Sullivan, who has asked House lawmakers to initiate an investigation, noted that "not coincidentally," the same office responsible for the waiver "also has a record of minimizing the gravity and prevalence of deployment-related illnesses that appear to be connected to occupational and environmental exposures."

The services still must include any data on individual exposures collected through personal sampling monitoring or medical examination, according to the instruction, DoDI 6490.03.

But Sakrisson said not everyone is monitored during deployments and there may be no personal documentation for many.

DoD is moving to improve its capability to monitor exposures where warranted, Sakrisson added, but "the science and technology has not progressed to make individual environmental monitoring possible in some cases and practical in other cases."

The department is developing an initiative that would track environmental exposures for new accessions from recruitment through retirement, but that program, scheduled to being within the next year, is of no use to veterans or those currently serving.

What exactly sickened many troops who served in the Middle East remains the topic of medical research. Burn pits were used to dispose of items ranging from medical and human waste to plastics, computers and items known to release cancer-causing agents into the air. Other studies have indicated that the fine dust particles in the region contain heavy metals that can cause diseases.

But data from the air quality monitoring for the region is scant.

A 2011 Institute of Medicine report said current literature and research lack conclusive evidence linking burn pits to poor health in troops and veterans.

Many of the POEMS available online state that little air sampling information is available to rate the long-term health risks for some locations.

Other POEMS indicate that levels of particulate matter in certain places during certain periods could potentially cause reduced lung function and asthma, but they do not mention the potential for more severe illnesses like constrictive bronchiolitis, a rare lung disease diagnosed in some troops, or cancer.

Sakrisson said DoD stands by its decision to post the POEMS online and not include the "lengthy summaries" in individual medical records.

"We agree [troops] have a clear right to know what the environment was like in their deployment locations, which is why we ensure the POEMS available and accessible," he said.

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