Monday, July 26, 2021

Meet our translator: Marine Veteran Juan A. Quiroz


BIG NEWS - The Soldier's Guide to PTSD is being translated into Spanish! Accessibility for mental health is important. How excited we are to welcome our newest team member, USMC Veteran Juan A. Quiroz. It took two months to find the right translator for our project, and we reviewed dozens of applicants. Juan gets it, and we can't WAIT to share his work with you. To introduce himself, here is a message from Juan to you:

"I'm Juan A. Quiroz, native of Tucson, AZ. After high school, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served 4 years as part of 1st Bn 5th Marines, an infantry unit out of Camp Pendleton, CA. When I got to my unit, it had only been a couple of weeks since they came back from Afghanistan, Sangin Province. I witnessed the struggles these men faced upon their return and the issues associated with them. I had the honor and privilege to serve alongside some of the best men this country has to offer. After my enlistment, I enrolled in and attended the University of Arizona, graduating with degrees in Marketing, Communications and Spanish. I'm now working as part of the Communications Department in Pima County, AZ. - Make Peace or Die!

"I jumped at the opportunity to work on this project because of the lack of effective help available to all veterans and service members, especially from marginalized communities. I have friends who are part of the 22 a Day, other friends who to this day still struggle with their demons, this is for them. Coming from a town an hour away from the border with Mexico, there is a huge Hispanic community here, and like myself, many ended up joining the U.S. military. I did a podcast project in college about a Marine with multiple combat deployments, he was also part of the First Battle of Fallujah, a total badass this guy is. As part of the project, I interviewed his mother, she didn't speak English, therefore she is not familiar with any programs and services offered to help her son. A book like this one that Virginia wrote is a great tool, not only for minority service members and veterans, but also for their family members who before this, had no way of helping their loved one's suffering from PTSD."

We welcome Joan to the team and will let you know when our Spanish translation is available in print and audiobook. #ptsd #suicideprevention #nevergiveup

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A Note to Our Vietnam-Era Veterans

As I've talked with readers, I have most enjoyed the opportunity to connect with our Vietnam-era Veterans. I did not expect that our book would have an impact on this community, and it's been a joy to hear the candor and enthusiasm. 

For me, this connection has taken an extra meaning; it is personal. My Dad was a Vietnam Vet and he died in 2019. He didn't talk a lot about his experience, but I know that his deployment haunted him until the day he died. 

When I was going through the worst of my own combat-related PTSD, my Dad was the only one who "got it" and didn't press me. We never discussed it, and I regret that now. If there is one thing I would want to have told him, and that I will now tell you, it is this:

When you came home from Vietnam, you were spit on, disparaged, denied civilian work, and very actively bullied. I can't even imagine what that was like after surviving suck a total cluster of a deployment. What happened to you is not okay and it is absolutely inexcusable.

I recognize that our Vietnam Vets are the very reason that my battle buddies and I were able to redeploy and be welcomed at the airport by my family and loved ones. Complete strangers cheered for us at the airports and gave us food and coffee; I saw your hats and your biker vests and your tee shirts, though — you were not strangers. I know it was our Vietnam Veteran brothers and sisters who ensured that this wrong was not repeated. I am very deeply thankful for that and I get choked up to this day remembering that. 

The second thing I would want to have said is that treatment is for you, too. The data are clear that evidence-based treatments work for Vietnam Veterans with chronic PTSD. Even if you have been experiencing symptoms for decades, the data show that it is never too late to reclaim your life.

You allowed us to come home, and you were the first to extend a hand in solidarity. If I had a wish for you it would be that you get the help you need to reclaim your life — because you are worthy of being whole. 

Bangor, Maine 2003 — Maine Troop Greeters: I have never forgotten you. Read more about this amazing group at http://themainetroopgreeters.com/getting-to-know-us/maine-troop-greeters-mission-statement/






Saturday, July 10, 2021

Experiencing PTSD in Retirement and "Can I Recover After Decades of PTSD?"


There is nothing I enjoy more than hearing from readers, and it's been a privilege to hear from our Vietnam-era Veterans and their family members. The number one question that I'm hearing from Vietnam-era Veterans is, "can I recover from PTSD even if I've been dealing with my symptoms for decades?"

The answer is unequivocally yes. The data are clear that evidence-based treatments work for Vietnam-era Veterans with chronic post-traumatic stress. To access studies, I recommend that you do a Google Scholar search with the terms Vietnam Veterans, PTSD treatment, and National Institutes of Health.

But I think it's important to scratch below the surface on this topic and talk about why PTSD symptoms can increase with age. This is going to be uncomfortable, but it's important:
  • Criterion C of PTSD is avoidance, and this means that we will go way out of our way to avoid anything that reminds us of our traumatic experiences. When we retire from work or are done with child raising responsibilities, we have a lot more bandwidth and time to think. We also have fewer distractions from memories. 
  • As we age, sometimes we experience medical problems that make us feel like we're not as strong as we once were, and this feeling of vulnerability can unexpectedly trigger our PTSD symptoms. 
  • When we get older, a lot of us put down alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, this can be a go to coping mechanism for our PTSD symptoms. If we don't have another healthier way of coping to replace drugs or alcohol, it can make our PTSD symptoms seem worse.

If you're experiencing PTSD symptoms for the first time in retirement, you're not going crazy or senile. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Here's what I need you to know: it's never too late to get help for chronic PTSD. 

Evidence-based treatments, like prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and EMDR, have been clinically proven to help, and there are more resources available than ever thanks to our Vietnam Veterans who ensured that Vets of the current era weren't screwed over the way they were. 

I encourage you to learn more about your PTSD symptoms and available treatments. We've created a Free Workbook to help you identify your symptoms so that you can make an informed decision to reclaim your life from PTSD and Moral Injury.