PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress

Rest in Peace Commander Richard Woltman.  3/14.  You will be forever admired, missed and loved by all who knew you and those yet to learn from your great example.

Haunted by memories, a veteran seeks help
Returning from tours of duty, veterans with PTSD have places to go to get care

by Brittany Wait
November 10, 2011
On their first Fourth of July together, Nancy Woltman remembered looking up at the sky waiting for the first firework to go off, and it did. Seconds later, a high-pitched bang hit her eardrums. In that moment, she looked down and found her husband on the ground. It took him back to when he carried an M60 machine gun and his unit came under fire in Vietnam.

It’s not uncommon to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, about 7 percent of the general U.S. population will develop PTSD in their lifetime, according to the Department of Defense. PTSD is an anxiety disorder developed after experiencing trauma like a natural disaster, terror attack, accident or assault. More commonly, a person will develop signs of PTSD after returning from war. That’s what happened to Richard Woltman.

He was drafted into the Army to fight in the Vietnam War in 1964. When he came home, he soon realized how much the war had changed him. Not only that, but civilians treated him as the enemy he was trained to fight. “It was like going from being the top of the heap in battle against the enemy to coming back we were just thrown under the bus,” Woltman, 70, of Hauppauge, said.

Now, the government and Northport VA Medical Center understands the disorder and can help returning veterans. When he returned home, he met Nancy, the love of his life, got married and had two children. At the time, she didn’t know what PTSD was. She heard people, like her husband, who developed this were “nuts.” Instead of ignoring his actions, she tried to better understand what he experienced by flipping through grotesque photos with him.

It took him 24 years to realize he couldn’t live with the nightmares, flashbacks and high level of stress. “Asking for help is the big change I made, I finally asked for help,” he said. Woltman went to the Northport VA Medical Center for help with his PTSD and has received counseling at the Babylon Vet Center since then. Once he attended regular sessions, he said, his anger died down.

The most effective treatment helps the person explore how the trauma has negatively affected his or her thinking in a more balanced way, according to Dr. Ganesan Krishnamoorthy, program manager of the residential PTSD treatment program at the Northport VA Medical Center.

Many times treatment helps the person transform a catastrophic memory into something they can talk about, he said. In 2010, more than 408,000 veterans received treatment for PTSD at the VA, up from 255,000 in 2006, according to the VA.

Recently, an interactive role-playing online simulation, called Family of Heroes, was made available for veterans’ families to learn how to adjust to post-deployment life, including how to identify PTSD and suicidal intent. It can be found at

For the new generation of returning veterans, there is also a mobile application called PTSD Coach, which provides updated information, treatments, tools for screening, skills to handle symptoms and helpful links.

Also, there’s a 12-week program at the VA, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, that teaches families how to communicate with loved ones with a mental illness. Northport resident Nancy Hollinshead worked with local veteran groups and the VA to jump-start the free program. She took a similar class in Patchogue to better understand her 21-year-old son who is bipolar, and is now certified to co-teach the class.

“It’s a life-changing class,” Nancy Hollinshead said. “It’s all about teaching family members how to better cope, also understanding that they can’t fix everything.” The class covers depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD and other illnesses. The next class, starting March 6, is almost filled, but they are looking to offer a second class.

Each case of post-traumatic stress is different as far as traumatic experience. Woltman has nightmares from Vietnam because of what he saw, but a soldier who served in Iraq or Afghanistan could hit the ground when a car backfires because of flashbacks of improvised explosive devices going off.

To this day, when Woltman walks into a room, he scans the perimeter to find the safest way out, having his back to the wall. He often has flashbacks; reliving the time he lost 36 friends in a firefight in Vietnam on Dec. 5, 1965.

The soldiers’ names are carved on the Vietnam Wall in Washington. “I know exactly where; panel 3E between 125 and 132 rows,” he said.

“It’s something that you can never forget,” Woltman said. “It will always be with any veteran that has been in combat. Other veterans will forget what they did, but combat you can’t forget what you went through, what you did…”

Even though he said counseling helped relieve his symptoms, “the fear, it’s always there.”


Medal of Honor Recipients Speak Out About Post Traumatic Stress

“Don’t let the enemy defeat you at home”

Medal of Honor Recipients Promote Mental-Health Support

Army generals speak out about their PTSD

When I came Home”  “I wanted to be a functional Human being”.. here are links to the article/interview, video documentary of homelessness in New York City located in Youtube and Google Video.

De Oppresso Liber, Combat Faith Lay Ministry:

The Mother’s Son

by, Rudyard Kipling

“Fairy Kist” From “Limits and Renewals” (1932)

  • I have a dream—a dreadful dream—
  • A dream that is never done.
  • I watch a man go out of his mind,
  • And he is My Mother’s Son.
  • They pushed him into a Mental Home,
  • And that is like the grave:
  • For they do not let you sleep upstairs,
  • And you aren’t allowed to shave.
  • And it was not disease or crime
  • Which got him landed there,
  • But because They laid on My Mother’s Son
  • More than a man could bear.
  • What with noise, and fear of death,
  • Waking, and wounds and cold,
  • They filled the Cup for My Mother’s Son
  • Fuller than it could hold.
  • They broke his body and his mind
  • And yet They made him live,
  • And They asked more of My Mother’s Son
  • Than any man could give.
  • For, just because he had not died,
  • Nor been discharged nor sick,
  • They dragged it out with My Mother’s Son
  • Longer than he could stick….
  • And no one knows when he’ll get well—
  • So, there he’ll have to be:
  • And, ‘spite of the beard in the looking-glass,
  • I know that man is me!

Why are veterans homeless?

Contact Information

333 ½ Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003-1148
Toll Free: 800.VET.HELP
Fax: 202.546.2063
Toll Free Fax: 888.233.8582

“In addition to the complex set of factors affecting all homelessness — extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care — a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

A top priority is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment which is free of drugs and alcohol.

While “most homeless people are single, unaffiliated men … most housing money in existing federal homelessness programs, in contrast, is devoted to helping homeless families or homeless women with dependant children,” according to “Is Homelessness a Housing Problem?” in Understanding Homelessness: New Policy and Research Perspectives, published by Fannie Mae Foundation in 1997.

Doesn’t the Department of Veterans Affairs take care of homeless veterans?

To a certain degree, yes. According to the VA, in the years since it “began responding to the special needs of homeless veterans, its homeless treatment and assistance network has developed into the nation’s largest provider of homeless services, serving more than 100,000 veterans annually.”

With an estimated 400,000 veterans homeless at some time during the year, the VA reaches 25% of those in need ... leaving 300,000 veterans who must seek assistance from local government agencies and service organizations in their communities.”

This link is to the Transition Assistance Program to provide information, resources, links and down-loadable guides for the active and reserve military as they re-enter civilian world.

This link will take the reader to current issues in Legislation:

Here are some sites/links that will direct the reader to information concerning PTSD:

Blue Star Mothers have written a down-loadable PTSD guide with resources located on this page:

DOD Help Line 1-800-796-9699

U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) 1-800-237-1336

IAVA – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

Homeless Veterans Treatment Programs – 1-888-725-3000

Military Onesource: 1-800 342-9647

American Legion


Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 1-800-VFW-1899

Yahoo Groups about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Site Map

The last link just above this sentence will take the reader to the National Alliance to End Homelessness: “VITAL MISSION – END HOMELESSNESS AMONG VETERANS” The NAEH site is full of information , resources, advocacy, plans short term and 10 year plan to end homelessness and suggestions as to what we as individuals on up to level of government can do to address this chronic problem in America.

1 in 4 homeless is a vet, study says

By Kimberly Hefling – The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Nov 8, 2007 10:16:21 EST

Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the U.S., though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.

The Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from VA and the Census Bureau. Data from 2005 estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

In comparison, VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.

Some advocates say such an early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

“We’re going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous,” said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.

While services to homeless veterans have improved in the past 20 years, advocates say more financial resources still are needed. With the spotlight on the plight of Iraq veterans, they hope more will be done to prevent homelessness and provide affordable housing to the younger veterans while there’s a window of opportunity.

“When the Vietnam War ended, that was part of the problem. The war was over, it was off TV, nobody wanted to hear about it,” said John Keaveney, a Vietnam veteran and a founder of New Directions in Los Angeles, which provides substance abuse help, job training and shelter to veterans.

“I think they’ll be forgotten,” Keaveney said of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. “People get tired of it. It’s not glitzy that these are young, honorable, patriotic Americans. They’ll just be veterans, and that happens after every war.”

Keaveney said it’s difficult for his group to persuade some homeless Iraq veterans to stay for treatment and help because they don’t relate to the older veterans. Those who stayed have had success — one is now a stockbroker and another is applying to be a police officer, he said.

“They see guys that are their father’s age and they don’t understand, they don’t know, that in a couple of years they’ll be looking like them,” he said.

After being discharged from the military, Jason Kelley, 23, of Tomahawk, Wis., who served in Iraq with the Wisconsin National Guard, took a bus to Los Angeles looking for better job prospects and a new life.

Kelley said he couldn’t find a job because he didn’t have an apartment, and he couldn’t get an apartment because he didn’t have a job. He stayed in a $300-a-week motel until his money ran out, then moved into a shelter run by the group U.S. VETS in Inglewood, Calif. He’s since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

“The only training I have is infantry training and there’s not really a need for that in the civilian world,” Kelley said in a phone interview. He has enrolled in college and hopes to move out of the shelter soon.

The Iraq vets seeking help with homelessness are more likely to be women, less likely to have substance abuse problems, but more likely to have mental illness — mostly related to post-traumatic stress, said Pete Dougherty, director of homeless veterans programs at VA.

Overall, 45 percent of participants in VA’s homeless programs have a diagnosable mental illness and more than three out of four have a substance abuse problem, while 35 percent have both, Dougherty said.

Historically, a number of fighters in U.S. wars have become homeless. In the post-Civil War era, homeless veterans sang old Army songs to dramatize their need for work and became known as “tramps,” which had meant to march into war, said Todd DePastino, a historian at Penn State University’s Beaver campus who wrote a book on the history of homelessness.

After World War I, thousands of veterans — many of them homeless — camped in the nation’s capital seeking bonus money. Their camps were destroyed by the government, creating a public relations disaster for President Hoover.

The end of the Vietnam War coincided with a time of economic restructuring, and many of the same people who fought in Vietnam were also those most affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs, DePastino said.

Their entrance to the streets was traumatic and, as they aged, their problems became more chronic, recalled Sister Mary Scullion, who has worked with the homeless for 30 years and co-founded of the group Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia.

“It takes more to address the needs because they are multiple needs that have been unattended,” Scullion said. “Life on the street is brutal and I know many, many homeless veterans who have died from Vietnam.”

VA started targeting homelessness in 1987, 12 years after the fall of Saigon. Today, VA has, either on its own or through partnerships, more than 15,000 residential rehabilitative, transitional and permanent beds for homeless veterans nationwide. It spends about $265 million annually on homeless-specific programs and about $1.5 billion for all health care costs for homeless veterans.

Because of these types of programs and because two years of free medical care is being offered to all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Dougherty said they hope many veterans from recent wars who are in need can be identified early.

“Clearly, I don’t think that’s going to totally solve the problem, but I also don’t think we’re simply going to wait for 10 years until they show up,” Dougherty said. “We’re out there now trying to get everybody we can to get those kinds of services today, so we avoid this kind of problem in the future.”

In all of 2006, the Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that 495,400 veterans were homeless at some point during the year.

The group recommends that 5,000 housing units be created per year for the next five years dedicated to the chronically homeless that would provide permanent housing linked to veterans’ support systems. It also recommends funding an additional 20,000 housing vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans, and creating a program that helps bridge the gap between income and rent.

Following those recommendations would cost billions of dollars, but there is some movement in Congress to increase the amount of money dedicated to homeless veterans programs.

On a recent day in Philadelphia, case managers from Project H.O.M.E. and the VA picked up William Joyce, 60, a homeless Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair who said he’d been sleeping at a bus terminal.

“You’re an honorable veteran. You’re going to get some services,” outreach worker Sam Santiago told Joyce. “You need to be connected. You don’t need to be out here on the streets.”

8 Responses to “PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress”

  1. olotliny Says:

    Navy Times, January 1, 2007 (pages 12-14) “Unseen Scars”, “Tricare’s mental health coverage can be complex”, “Families play pivotal part of healing process”

    Military OneSource 1-800-342-9647, over seas: (800)-3429-6477 (third direct link to site, above) (Walter Reed Army Hospital) has a video “For Soldiers and Families” (to help with adjustments..) (Tricare) has a free DVD, “Getting Home: All the Way Home” (American Counseling Association)

  2. olotliny Says:
    The Veterans Study Program at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) provides assistance to veterans, while also conducting research to expand general knowledge about your readjustment needs. Our division is comprised of over 10 experienced psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and social workers dedicated to offering care to veterans.

    Persons who have experienced a stressful event commonly undergo a range of emotional and behavioral changes. Ignoring these experiences increases your risk for more severe readjustment problems in the future. If you are not feeling like yourself, now is a critical time to seek assistance.

    Our Mission:

    The experienced staff at the Veterans Study Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center is dedicated to providing quality care and support for our participants while developing and expanding our field through focused research.

    Do You Qualify?

    We are currently enrolling veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF). You may qualify for this study if you are a veteran who is having difficulty adjusting to daily life as a result of the stressful experiences during combat.

    Some common signs of readjustment needs:

    o Irritability
    o Difficulty sleeping
    o Always on guard
    o Bad memories
    o Less interest in activities
    o Problems with relationships
    o Anxiety

    If you are interested in assistance, you may be eligible for our treatment study. Study participants are provided with counseling at no cost, and/or may join the clinic at the James J. Peters VAMC.

    Why participate?

    If you have readjustment needs as a result of combat-related stress, you have the opportunity to seek assistance, as well as to help many others who are going through a similar experience. Research is important for the understanding of combat-related stress, so that we may learn the best ways to support people who are dealing with these issues.

    What Is Involved?

    Study participants are randomly placed into one of two counseling conditions, both involving weekly appointments with a clinical psychologist for 10 weeks. The first counseling condition is Prolonged Exposure (PE). In therapy, participants will speak about and confront their trauma with the psychologist. This is a short, intense therapy that has been clinically proven to reduce symptoms of stress. The second condition is Minimal Attention (MA), or phone counseling. In the MA condition, the clinical psychologist provides support and encourages coping skills through weekly phone calls.

    For more information about participation in the study, please feel free to contact research assistant Amanda Bell at (718) 741-4000 ext. 6587 or by e-mail at

    Contact Us

    For more information, or to set-up an appointment, please contact our research assistant Amanda Bell:

    e-mail: phone: (718) 741-4000 ext. 6587


    We Are Located At:

    James J. Peters VA Medical Center
    130 West Kingsbridge Rd
    Bldg 107, Rm 125A
    Bronx, NY 10468
    Phone (718) 741-4000
    Fax (718) 741-4775

    Once you are in the lobby of the VA, make a left down the hallway. Follow hallway all the way until you are facing the vending machines. Take the entrance on the right side and follow the breezeway. Make a right (follow the arrows to building 107) and then follow the hall to the left. Look for a row of offices in Room 102 on your left. See Amanda Bell in Room 103.

  3. olotliny Says:

    Click to access HeartsOnTheHomeFront.pdf

    The above link is a file from the Marine Parents site. It is called: “Hearts on the Home front” Phase #1 Turning your heart toward home. Workbook course.

  4. olotliny Says:
    On the Edge?
    The media smears returning vets.
    by Steve Russell
    02/15/2008 12:00:00 AM

    IN THE LAST several weeks I have learned a great deal about myself, thanks to all the wonderful media reports about serving and returning war veterans. For example, I have learned that I might want to kill my wife because of the trauma of war. Or, if I have no beef with my family, that I might go after my neighbors instead. Or if there are no other handy targets for my aggression, I might go after myself.

    While waiting to appear on a talk show, I learned that combat veterans are “all a little bit on the edge.” One brilliant commentator even suggested that combat soldiers and private security contractors tend to be the types of individuals that have a propensity to harm others and commit acts of violence.

    As if I was not sufficiently depressed after absorbing these diatribes (perhaps it was just those suicidal tendencies), I also learned that the term “hero” no longer applies to hundreds of thousands of veterans who have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, according to a Men’s Health magazine I read while getting a haircut, only miscreants who jeopardize fellow soldiers by deserting their units in wartime exhibit true courage. Although I don’t feel the term is fitting for myself, I never imagined the term “hero” could be used interchangeably with the word “AWOL” in a mainstream magazine.

    Hollywood has also done its part to help educate our fellow Americans about those of us who served. Films like In the Valley of Elah, starring Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Tommy Lee Jones, Redacted by Brian De Palma, MTV’s Stop Loss, or even the Oscar-nominated documentary No End In Sight will reassure my neighbors that even if I don’t kill them or myself, I have surely committed horrible atrocities against women and children and never really did find any of those bad guys that my nation decorated me for killing to save the lives of others.

    As I have pondered these grotesque assaults on Iraq and Afghan war veterans and wartime civilian contractors in recent months, the picture has become quite clear. If our successes in battle cannot be argued against, then the subtle undermining of our honor and integrity seems to be the next best thing. It really is the oldest political game in the book. Muddy the facts. The fact that an American civilian is five to six times more likely to murder you than a returning vet does not matter. Don’t bother with the data that shows an increase in domestic suicide since 2000 that exceeds the military rates in the six-year period following. And forget the notion that there really are millions of young men and women that believe in service, sacrifice, and mission. If some of us are a little “on the edge” these days, it’s not because of the war but because of the assault on our reputations.

    It has been a great honor to serve my country and to serve in this war. While we must help those in the most serious need and provide them with the care they deserve, it is also time to treat the 1.5 million veterans of this war as the honorable Americans we really are.

    LTC Steve Russell, US Army, (Ret.), a central player in the hunt for and capture of Saddam Hussein, is the founder and chairman of Vets for Victory. He is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    © Copyright 2008, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

  5. olotliny Says:

    FKBP5 “Genes and PTSD”
    A traumatic event is much more likely to result in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults who experienced trauma in childhood – but certain gene variations raise the risk considerably if the childhood trauma involved physical or sexual abuse, scientists have found. The research was conducted with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and others.

    “Untangling complex interactions between genetic variations and environmental factors can help us learn how to predict more accurately who’s at risk of disorders like PTSD. It can help us learn which prevention and treatment strategies are likely to work best for each person,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.

    Results of the study were reported on March 19 in a special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association devoted to the influence of genes on health and disease, by Elisabeth Binder, M.D., Ph.D., Kerry J. Ressler, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues from Emory University and other facilities.

    “These results are early and will need to be replicated, but they support the hypothesis that combinations of genes and environmental factors affect the risk for stress-related disorders like PTSD,” Ressler said. “Understanding how gene-environment interactions affect mental health can help us understand the neurobiology of these illnesses.”

    The gene in question is active in the biochemical make-up of the body’s stress-response system. Results of the study suggest that early-life abuse can result in particularly potent changes to this system as it develops – depending partly on whether or not the variations are present in the gene.

    Inherited variations in multiple genes, which have yet to be identified, are estimated to account for 30 to 40 percent of the risk of developing PTSD. The gene identified in this study is one likely candidate, although others are almost certain to emerge.

    To conduct their study, the researchers surveyed 900 primarily African-American people 18 to 81 years old, from poor, urban neighborhoods. As is common in impoverished environments, many of the people in this study had experienced severe traumatic experiences in childhood and had later experienced other kinds of trauma as adults. The researchers also examined the genetic make-up of 765 of the participants.

    They found that having a history of child abuse – which was the case for almost 30 percent of the people in this study – led to more than twice the number of PTSD symptoms in adults who had later undergone other traumas, compared to traumatized adults who weren’t abused in childhood. But the history of child abuse wasn’t enough, by itself, to lead to the increase in symptoms; the increase appeared to depend on whether or not certain variations in the stress-related gene also were present.

    Likewise, the gene variations by themselves didn’t appear to affect the risk. The combination of the gene variations and past child abuse were the key ingredients for the doubled PTSD symptoms when a subsequent trauma occurred.

    The scientists also detected protective variations in the same gene. People who had these resiliency variations didn’t have a substantial increase in PTSD symptoms after a trauma in adulthood, even if they had been abused in childhood.

    The gene is called FKBP5, and the protein it produces helps regulate the amount of binding that takes place between stress hormones and their receptors on cells. Binding between the hormones and the receptors leads to cell functions that help regulate response to stress, a process that may be altered by variations in the gene.

    The researchers showed that this process was changed in ways that led to excess stress-hormone reactivity in study participants who had both the risk version of the gene and PTSD symptoms.

    “This finding helps us understand the neurobiology of PTSD. It’s equally important to understand how to decrease the high rates of childhood and adult trauma that inner-city populations suffer,” Ressler said. “PTSD rates in U.S. inner cities are as high as among war veterans.”

    In addition to NIMH, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Center for Research Resources, also of the National Institutes of Health, provided funding for the study. Other contributors included the Emory and Grady Memorial General Clinical Research Center and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

    For more information about posttraumatic stress disorder, visit the NIMH web site at

    Binder EB, Bradley RG, Wei L, Epstein MP, Deveau TC, Mercer KB, Tang Y, Gillespie CF, Heim CM, Nemeroff CB, Schwartz AC, Cubells JF, Ressler KJ. Association of FKBP5 Polymorphisms and Childhood Abuse With Risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in Adults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 299 (11): 1291-1305. March 19, 2008.

    The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) mission is to reduce the burden of mental and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior. More information is available at the NIMH website.

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website.
    Press Contact(s)

    Susan Cahill
    NIMH Press Office
    More NIMH Science News about:

    * Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

    Press Resources

    * Mental Health Topics
    * Statistics on Mental Disorders
    * View Scientific Meetings
    * Information about NIMH
    * CRISP: NIH research database of current and completed research
    * PubMed Central: An archive of life sciences journals
    * News from the Field: Research findings of NIMH-funded investigators, from EurekAlert

    Why is it that when a group of soldiers share a horrific battle experience, some are able to work through it and get on with their lives while others suffer the persistent anxiety, emotional numbness and bomb-blasted nightmares of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? The answer, researchers have long believed, is that an individual’s response to trauma — whether in battle, or as result of a natural disaster, a violent crime or some other horror — depends not only on the intensity of that trauma but also on a complex interplay of past experiences and genetic factors. A new paper, published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, provides remarkable support for this explanation and identifies a specific gene that influences susceptibility to PTSD.

    The study, led by a team at Emory University, looked at 900 adults — most of them low-income and African-American — seeking medical care at two clinics in Atlanta. A history of trauma is common in poor, urban populations, and the researchers found that 80% of the subjects had been exposed to trauma, with the great majority exposed to multiple traumatic stressors in their lives. “Over a third said they had a friend or family member murdered,” says Dr. Rebekah Bradley, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Emory. About 30% had been abused as children — a well-established risk factor for developing PTSD.

    When the subjects were evaluated — with a psychiatric questionnaire — for symptoms of PTSD, 25% met the criteria for the disorder. “That’s a rate almost as high as among returning combat veterans,” says Bradley, who also directs a PTSD treatment team at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

    The research team collected saliva samples from each subject and looked at a gene known as FKBP5, which influences the body’s response to the stress-related hormone cortisol. “When it’s working right, it helps to down-regulate the stress response system,” explains Dr. Bradley. Different individuals have slightly different versions of this gene, varying by a single nucleotide (or letter in the DNA alphabet). The researchers found that four variants of the gene were associated with an increased rate of PTSD in individuals who also had a history of child abuse. Other variants seemed to confer some protection or resilience. Between 26% and 33% of the subjects had one of the high-risk gene patterns, between 17% and 24% had a pattern associated with resilience to developing PTSD, with the largest group somewhere in the middle.

    All told, these tiny differences in the genetic code seem to make the difference between whether an individual with a childhood history of abuse rises above it or struggles psychologically when exposed to traumas later in life.

    The PTSD study adds to a growing body of research showing that genes influence whether or not an adult who experienced childhood abuse later develops mental illness. “What we’re finding across the board is that what we’ve inherited makes us more or less vulnerable to the impact of childhood abuse,” explains Dr. Bradley. “Certain genes can either amplify or dampen the impact of the abuse.”

    The study raises the question of whether soldiers going into combat or others who work in high-risk situations could some day be screened for vulnerability to PTSD. “It’s possible that super-high-risk groups might want to do this kind of screening — special forces, for example. But right now the science isn’t there yet,” says Dr. Thomas Neylan, Director of the PTSD Program at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and, he adds, it may be impossible to predict vulnerability with precision.

    Neylan also points out that the research may have implications for developing drugs to treat PTSD. The role of the FKBP5 gene suggests that it might make sense to target the specific molecules that regulate the body’s response to stress, he says.

    Both Neylan and Bradley say the research underscores the powerful interplay between childhood trauma, genes and mental health. Childhood abuse is a risk factor for multiple mental illnesses, including depression, eating disorders and substance abuse, as well as PTSD. “If we could simply reduce childhood abuse,” says Bradley, “it would have a major impact on mental health.”

    Find this article at:,8599,1723204,00.html

    A third study found that adults who experienced abuse during childhood and who also have variations in the FKBP5 gene were at greater risk for symptoms of PTSD as adults. The gene is related to the stress response which, in PTSD, appears unable to turn itself down after a trauma or series of traumas, explained study co-author Rebekah G. Bradley of the departments of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

    The study was conducted in a low-income, urban population of Atlanta where 25 percent of participants reported symptoms consistent with PTSD — high even when compared to rates experienced by recently returned combat veterans from Iraq.

    The stress-linked gene variations “may predict both risk and resilience to PTSD among survivors of [childhood abuse],” Bradley explained. “The gene was not related to depression,” she added.

    Still, putting genomics into everyday medical practice is in its infancy, Scheuner’s study suggested. Her team at the RAND Corporation found that the healthcare workforce is woefully unprepared for the dawning genetic area, especially as more tests are developed for common diseases.

    “We need to educate the workforce about the role of genetics in disease and risk assessment and the potential for new therapeutics, and we need to think about training more genetic professionals who have a background in adult medicine,” Scheuner said. “We need to understand how this information is going to fit into the way we practice medicine, how it makes a difference for patients, and how best to deliver services.”

    More information

    There’s more on genomics at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

  6. olotliny Says:,0,376936.story

    The sad saga of a soldier from Long Island

    9:37 PM EDT, July 5, 2008

    The March 2003 image became one of the most iconic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq: that of a bespectacled American soldier carrying an Iraqi child to safety. The photograph of Army Pfc. Joseph Dwyer, who was raised in Mount Sinai, was used by news outlets around the world.

    After being lionized by many as the human face of the U.S. effort to rebuild a troubled Iraq, Dwyer brought the battlefield home with him, often grappling violently with delusions that he was being hunted by Iraqi killers.

    His internal terror got so bad that, in 2005, he shot up his El Paso, Texas, apartment and held police at bay for three hours with a 9-mm handgun, believing Iraqis were trying to get in.

    Last month, on June 28, police in Pinehurst, N.C., who responded to Dwyer’s home, said the 31-year-old collapsed and died after abusing a computer cleaner aerosol. Dwyer had moved to North Carolina after living in Texas.

    Dwyer, who joined the Army two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and who was assigned to a unit of the 3rd Infantry Division that one officer called “the tip of the tip of the spear” in the first days of the U.S. invasion, had since then battled depression, sleeplessness and other anxieties that military doctors eventually attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The war that made him a hero at 26 haunted him to the last moments of his life.

    “He loved the picture, don’t get me wrong, but he just couldn’t get over the war,” his mother, Maureen Dwyer, said by telephone from her home in Sunset Beach, N.C. “He wasn’t Joseph anymore. Joseph never came home.”

    Dwyer’s parents said they tried to get help for their son, appealing to Army and Veterans Affairs officials. Although he was treated off and on in VA facilities, he was never able to shake his anxieties.

    Inadequate treatment

    An April report by the Rand Corp. said serious gaps in treatment exist for the 1 in 5 U.S. troops who exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression following service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Half of those troops who experience the disorder sought help in the past year, the report said, and those who did often got “minimally adequate treatment.”

    “He went away to inpatient treatments, none of it worked,” his father, Patrick Dennis Dwyer, said. “And the problem is there are not adequate resources for post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

    After a PTSD program in Durham, N.C., turned Dwyer away because of a lack of space, Maureen Dwyer said her son received inpatient care for six months at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, beginning last August. After doctors discharged him in March, she said, his anxieties returned with such intensity that Dwyer’s wife, Matina, 30, took their daughter Meagan, 2, and moved out five days later.

    Maureen Dwyer said her son married a month before his deployment. She said her son began experiencing serious depression soon after his vehicle in Iraq was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2003. She said his problems continued after his deployment ended and he returned to an Army facility in Texas.

    The El Paso shooting was only one of several incidents there, according to interviews. He had a number of driving accidents when, he later told his family, he swerved to avoid imagined roadside bombs; he once crashed over a curb after imagining that a stopped car contained Iraqi assassins. After a July 2007 motorcycle accident, his parents tried, unsuccessfully, to have him committed to a mental institution.

    Warning signs

    After his Iraq deployment ended and with increasing urgency, Dwyer’s friends urged him to give up his firearms. His parents worried about his practice of pushing furniture against the interior walls of his Texas home, arming himself with knives and sleeping in a closet. He told his family he was suspicious of counseling. He complained that prescribed drugs were ineffective. They say he turned to sniffing Dust-Off computer cleaner to drug himself to sleep. Pinehurst police said abusing that aerosol contributed to his death.

    “I know I don’t need to be carrying a weapon,” Dwyer told Newsday in a 2005 interview. “And I’m scared of going home without having one, even though I know probably nobody’s going to attack me.”

    Dwyer’s mother said he left the service in March 2006. Unable to hold a job, he lived with his wife and daughter on a Veterans Affairs disability check, while being in and out of psychiatric care.

    “Talking to him, he knew he was going to die,” Maureen Dwyer said.

    A lack of services

    After her son was discharged from Northport, Maureen Dwyer said she was especially concerned because there were no VA mental health facilities near his Pinehurst, N.C., home.

    Five days after arriving home, Dwyer left the house to buy more Dust-Off. While he was away, his wife gathered a few belongings, called Maureen Dwyer to tell her she was taking their daughter and left.

    On June 28, Dwyer called for a taxi to take him to the hospital, but he was too weak to open the door. Breaking through, Pinehurst police Lt. Michael Wilson — who said he had been to the apartment before for earlier incidents — found Dwyer on the floor, coherent but unable to walk. Within minutes, Wilson was dead.

    “All of a sudden his eyes got fixed and he just stopped responding,” Wilson said.

    Dwyer, dressed in his Army uniform, was buried Wednesday at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery, after a Roman Catholic funeral. The cemetery is about an hour’s drive from where Matina and Meagan now live in North Carolina.

    Maureen Dwyer, who broke into sobs as she spoke about her son, said she agreed to be interviewed despite her grief because she said she hoped to bring attention to the disorder.

    “Every second that goes by, there is another soldier just like Joseph,” Maureen Dwyer said. “Another family can’t go through this. All the politicians talk so great about the soldiers, about patriotism, but mental illness is something they are not putting enough into.”
    Here is the address of: Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery for those who would like to send their heart felt condolences to the Dwyer family for all they have suffered and lost.

    Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery
    400 Murchison Road
    Spring Lake, NC 28390

  7. olotliny Says:

    Army Passes on PTSD Trial Treatment
    July 14, 2008
    Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

    There are several effective treatments for patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, but the road to recovery can be slow, costly and emotionally agonizing.

    Exposure therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, talk therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy re-expose the patient to the trauma until the brain resolves it through repetition. These methods are effective, but one Columbus, Ga., psychologist thinks there might be a better way to treat this crushing disorder, and he’d like to try it out on 40 Fort Benning Soldiers and their families. The Army, however, is saying no.

    Harold McRae is no stranger to PTSD. He’s worked with hundreds of Soldiers suffering from the illness over the past 35 years, treating combat veterans from every major American conflict since World War II. Though traditional treatments are successful, McRae said he is not satisfied with the emotional toll they take on his clients.

    “I kept thinking, there’s got to be a better way without re-traumatizing people,” McRae said. “We’ve got over 40,000 cases of PTSD and no matter how fast we work, we’re still in trouble.”

    Tapas Acupressure

    Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Eddie L. Roberts spent decades after the Vietnam War blaming himself for coming home alive when some of his Soldiers didn’t.

    “I couldn’t forgive myself,” Roberts said.

    The stress became unbearable and in 2003 Roberts sought McRae’s help. McRae suggested they try an energy psychology treatment called Tapas Acupressure Technique, or TAT, to treat Roberts’ PTSD. It was successful, Roberts said.

    “I was suffering for a long time,” he said. “Now I don’t suffer. Talking about it doesn’t bother me anymore.”

    TAT is a healing method that utilizes a form of energy psychology developed in 1993 by acupressure and acupuncture specialist Tapas Fleming. According to her Web site,, Fleming discovered she could ease her patients’ allergy symptoms by placing her fingertips on specific pressure points about the face. Practice, study and advice led her to incorporate additional pressure points into her technique. Fleming soon realized she could tap into and relieve her patients’ emotional stress by using acupressure.

    As it relates to trauma, TAT helps patients let go of the past and eradicate fears and phobias by restructuring neural pathways that have been damaged by stress, McRae said. It does this, he said, without putting patients back in touch emotionally with the trauma.

    McRae said TAT has been so effective in treating his clients that he wants permission from Fort Benning officials to begin a trial study on active duty Soldiers stationed there who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also wants to treat their spouses and children, as he’s seen firsthand the effects severe emotional trauma has on the entire family.

    “I see real upset wives in my office every week trying to understand their husbands,” McRae said.

    McRae is calling the trial the “Courage to Change Project: A PTSD recovery program utilizing education and TAT at Fort Benning, Ga.” It won’t cost the Army a nickel, McRae said. But as McRae recently found out, cost isn’t what concerns the Army or Fort Benning.

    No endorsement

    McRae met Wednesday with administrators and doctors from Benning’s Martin Army Community Hospital as well as Army attorneys to discuss his proposed TAT trial. Though the meeting was cordial, the outcome was discouraging for McRae.

    “The assistant hospital administrator made it very clear they could not endorse it,” McRae said. “It was not scientifically validated, and they could not endorse it.”

    Martin Army Community Hospital spokeswoman Terry Beckwith stated in a release they appreciate McRae’s good intentions, but any programs offered to military members must meet strict guidelines that fall in line with approved treatment programs.

    “Officials at Martin Army were only made aware of the TAT project within the last two weeks,” Beckwith said. “Due to HIPAA laws we are unable to provide names of military members and spouses to participate in a research project. Until such time as the United States Army Medical Department has reviewed and credentialed his (McRae’s) proposal, we cannot commit to participating.”

    McRae admits TAT is not scientifically validated and it has not been approved by the federal government, but he remains confident it will work.

    “I think it’s a powerful model that will help people, but I certainly understood the military’s position,” McRae said. “It’s not even a real disappointment. We just can’t go that route.”

    He said he’ll likely run an advertisement in the Ledger-Enquirer calling upon Soldiers and their families dealing with combat stress. He’ll offer the 10-day treatment program to approved Soldiers for $25 per family.

    “I think if I do that and then it works, which I’m certain it will, then through word of mouth the veterans have somewhere they can go outside the Army situation,” McRae said.


    According to Pentagon statistics, the number of cases of Soldiers with PTSD rose by roughly 50 percent in 2007. Repeated deployments and long-term exposure to extreme stress have had a profound emotional impact on men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many are coming home stressed and depressed, unable to return to their jobs and incapable of interacting normally with their spouses and children.

    The Army requires newly redeployed Soldiers to attend 10 half-days of classes, covering such topics as domestic violence, anger management and suicide prevention as part of its reintegration program. Spouses are invited to join one of the sessions to discuss issues within the marriage. The program also touches upon PTSD, teaching Soldiers warning signs and offering possible solutions.

    “Martin Army Community Hospital and the United States Army Medical Department along with Tricare, our military health care system managed care contractor, provide a very robust behavioral health program as well as social work intervention and counseling to all eligible beneficiaries,” Beckwith said. “Additionally, the U.S. Army offers a full range of counseling services through the Army One Source Program.”

  8. olotliny Says:

    I read an article today from the Wall Street Journal on a program from “Puppies behind Bars” that trains service dogs for different jobs-one of which is for daily assistance for Veterans who have post traumatic stress. Very impressive and needed. Champion dogs for heroes. The dog is trained and has to pass testing and certification. The dog mentioned in the story – Tuesday learned 82+ commands to assist with daily living and responds to the anxiety cues/clues of their person–helping them to normalize their breathing, creating a barrier between their person and the agitating sensory stimuli… Check out the article and site. What a great program. The WSJ has a video embedded in the story–just watch the interaction-it’s real.
    “To apply for a service dog, please contact Puppies Behind Bars at 212.680.9562 and we will refer you to the appropriate service dog school with whom we have a partnership.”,2933,534986,00.html?test=latestnews
    WWII Vet Doggedly Works to Get Canine Service Dogs for Wounded Warriors
    Monday , July 27, 2009
    By Phil Keating and Serafin Gomez
    MIAMI —
    No one knows first hand the horrors of war more than World War II hero Irwin Stovroff.
    That’s why when Stovroff — who was held for one year in a Nazi POW camp before being freed by allied forces — learned that the U.S. government didn’t supply service dogs for wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the 85 year old decorated hero from Boca Raton, Fla. made it his mission to overhaul the policy.
    “It is a shame.” Stovroff says about the lack of an official federal program that pairs up battle-injured veterans with guide and therapy animals that can greatly improve their rehabilitation. “I wanted do something about it.”
    Stovroff has raised nearly $2 million dollars to help train and match up service canines with wounded combat vets. Stovroff is also pushing lawmakers for federal funding to finance the program that he says has received lots of bi-partisan praise.
    Stovroff is not someone who shirks away from a tough mission.
    Stovroff is not just a World War II vet, but a Navy Cross recipient whose own personal tale reads like a Hollywood movie.
    After Stovroff was shot down behind enemy German lines on his 35th bombing flight, he had to hide his Jewish faith from his captors to survive, even throwing away his dog tags before his plane crashed.
    His latest mission is to bring awareness and support.
    “The dog can become his eyes. He can become his legs. He can bring him anything he needs.” Stovroff told Fox News with his golden retriever, Cash, lying by his side. “A dog is probably the best thing that can happen to these soldiers.”
    Stovroff says that the dogs help the injured soldiers, not just in a functional way, but therapeutically.
    “They need a guide (but) they need the help and love of a dog as well,” he says, petting Cash.
    “Benjamin is awesome,” says Navy veteran Joseph Worley about his golden retriever.
    Worley who lost most of his left leg, and severely injured his right one in a 2004 roadside bomb in Fallujah, Iraq says that his service dog is much more than a pet, but a “vital” support system.
    “He braces to help me stand up. He brings me my shoe when I put my prosthetic on. He stabilizes me when I walk,” Worley says.
    However, it can be expensive to train these canines. Costs to train a service dog can run between $30,000 to $50,000 per dog, Stovroff explains, the reason behind his lobbying Congress for extra help.
    But his efforts are beginning to pay off. Earlier this month, Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) introduced legislation to help train guide dogs and other service animals for wounded veterans.
    According to a release by Klein’s office, The Wounded Warrior K-9 Corps Act would establish a grant program for organizations that provide wounded warriors and disabled veterans with service animals. On the Senate side, their newest member Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has also put out a similar bill.
    For wounded warriors this means not just a lifeline, but a friend.
    “He is a completely trust-worthy companion that does not judge anything. He is willing to help you, and its entire life is based off making you happy,” says Worley.
    “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
    Anatole France
    Measure Provides Service Dogs to Vets
    July 25, 2009
    McClatchy-Tribune Information Services has an article about a bill providing $$ for service dogs for Veterans that has been approved and added into an existing Defense Authorization bill.

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