Why is The Forgiveness Foundation focusing on veterans and PTSD?

With more veterans returning home, we are hearing more about the invisible wound of the veteran, especially PTSD. In the previous article, Veterans, PTSD, and Unforgivable Experiences, I mentioned about moral injury as a very possible precursor to PTSD. Thus Forgiveness Therapy can help but is being neglected by pastors, priests and therapists. I had PTSD for 13 years. Forgiving helped me a great deal. So, I feel that we have a responsibility to get Forgiveness Therapy used for these reasons:
“The Justice Department estimates that nearly a quarter-million veterans of wars dating back to Vietnam are serving time behind bars. The New York Times found 121 cases in which Iraq and Afghan veterans committed murder after their return from war. Only a few had been screened for mental health problems, and unlike many civilian criminals, the overwhelming majority had no prior criminal record.”
“The rate of suicide among vets of the current wars has also been on the rise. A federal study in 2005 found that veterans were twice as likely to commit suicide as those who hadn’t served in the military, and PTSD is considered a significant reason why almost 25 percent of America’s homeless are veterans of all wars, even though they make up only eight percent of the population.”
“Twenty percent of active duty troops and as much as 40 percent of Guards and National Guardsmen and reservists are coming back with PTSD. These are astronomical numbers, and we could go through substance abuse and divorce and child abuse and homicide and imprisoned populations, so they are really hurting.”
From PBS video “Moral Wounds of War”  May 28th, 2010
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/may-28-2010/moral-wounds-of-war/6367/
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What is PTSD?

Dr. Charles Figley, who I quote in my book, is one of the foremost authorities on the effects of trauma and PTSD. He notes the following characteristics in the person with PTSD:

  • Re-experiences the most traumatic aspects of the event many times, in flashbacks, memory, or dreams
  • Makes efforts to avoid exposure to reminders.
  • Is on edge, unable to relax.
  • Is unable to think about the event without being obsessed.
  • Experiences symptoms for more than a month.

He or she can also exhibits these symptoms:

  • Phobia and general anxiety (especially among former POWs and hostages and natural disaster survivors)
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair. and/or intense guilt
  • Psychosomatic complaints, increased hospitalization
  • An altered sense of time (especially among children)
  • Grief reactions and obsessions with death (especially among those who survived a trauma in which someone died or could have died)
  • Increased interpersonal conflicts and outbursts of anger, (divorce and violence)
  • Absenteeism, criminal behavior, and truancy.

From:  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy -AAMFT -Clinical Update Volume 2, Issue 5, Sept. 2000,  http://www.aamft.org/families/Consumer_Updates/PTSD

_AAMFT_Clinical_Update.htm  And from AAMFT Consumer Update on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, www.aamft.org/families/Consumer_Updates/PTSD.asp

Also See the webpage,“What is PTSD”  It is put out by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Nation Center for PTSD and will answer most of your questions.    http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/what-is-ptsd.asp

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Veterans, PTSD, and Unforgivable Experiences

“A group of mental health experts is giving a name to the guilt and remorse troops feel when they see or do bad things during war: moral injury.
They say failure to recognize and acknowledge exposure to military or civilian carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan sets up troops for post-traumatic stress, a severe and often debilitating anxiety disorder that affects 1 in 5 combat troops.”

This begins Mark Walker’s article on veterans, PTSD, and unforgivable experiences: ‘Moral injury’ as a wound of war -Conference To Examine Consequence Of Battlefield Transgressions, Exposure To Carnage Posted: May 8, 2010
http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/military/article_179c6d17-ebb5-5e26-9aa4-8dc4c8f721cd.html

The moral injury experience, the article says, comes from “perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.” It is this experience that a group of therapists say leads to the symptoms of PTSD – withdrawal, self-condemnation and avoidance.

If there was ever a place for forgiveness it is in military experience PTSD. But who knows how to help people forgive? Certainly not the pastors and priest who only say “do it”. And sadly even though there is a forgiveness therapy psychiatrists and therapist are not interested.

Forgiveness teachers know the power of forgiving to help a people let go of their upsets with themselves and others. For me. it’s very frustrating to not see it being used. It’s like knowing about penicillin when it was first around and seeing doctors still chopping off limbs because of infection. It’s too bad, because pastors, therapists and priest could use this therapy easily enough. But, so can mothers, spouses and fellow veterans who are concerned.

This upset me because I had PTSD for years. A psychology-based forgiveness process pulled me out of my PTSD and deep depress. I know it works.

So please let others know that there is help and that there is a forgiveness therapy that works. Tell you pastor, priest or therapist. The tragedy of moral injury and ptsd harming our vets does not have to go on. Is forgiving the whole answer. No, but it does help!

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Dr Jim’s Media Appearances in July and August 2010

Interview with Call Katie Whiteside about the book, How to Forgive When You Can’t: The Breakthrough Guide to Free Your Heart & Mind. KHSU-FM is owned by Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA area.

News Talk with Mark Cope, Host. Interview on the press release “Tough Times + Unconcerned Kids=Frustrated Parents: Why—and How—to Nip Resentment in the Bud” and the book.”  KXYL-FM Brownwood, Texas

“Mid-Day On Air Personality” Bonnie Simon host, Interview discussing forgiveness and the press release “Tough Times + Unconcerned Kids=Frustrated Parents”  KATQ Radio Radio broadcasts in the Minot – Bismarck, ND and Montana area.

Christian Heimall of WRHU-FM discussing the “Tough Times + Unconcerned Kids=Frustrated Parents: Why—and How—to Nip Resentment in the Bud” press release and the book. WRHU-FM broadcasts from  Hofstra University to surrounding Long Island, NY communities.

Terri Hall, Host of KXLO-AM and KLCM-FM broadcasts to the Lewistown, MT area on “Tough Times + Unconcerned Kids=Frustrated Parents: Why—and How—to Nip Resentment in the Bud”

“Environmentally Sound” w/Bob Lebensold host, Discussing forgiveness and Resentment. WVOX from Westchester County just north of New York City.

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