National PTSD Awareness Day

“We’ve come along way baby,” as the old Virginia Slims ad used to say. No more collective repression and denial of the residual effects of war on the human psyche.

The mask is off and the stigma abated. We can now be real and be tough at the same time. The admission, both personally and collectively, that post traumatic stress is  the proverbial  war within and must be reckoned with before and during transition to civilian life and polite company, is simply a good thing. America will be happier, healthier and stronger by not living in denial about the ravages of war and its indelible mark on the soul.


Moreover, in a lifeboat situation, I’ ll take all the ones with PTSD thank you!

National PTSD Awareness Day

June 27, 2011Posted in: U.S. Army

June 27 is the nation’s official day to focus attention on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Last year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution naming June 27 National Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day to promote dialogue about this prevalent condition and help people realize that there are resources and effective treatments available to address PTSD.

U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), authored the resolution and at the time said that the wounds of PTSD may not be visible but they are still real. He was inspired by the efforts of the North Dakota Army National Guard to bring attention to the disorder and its effect on one of its unit members, Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, who sadly, took his own life following two tours in Iraq. June 27 was Biel’s birthday.

Read the entire blog regarding PTSD on the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury‘s (DCoE) blog.

In addition, The United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs has posted extensive information about PTSD and how we ALL can work to raise awareness of the issue.

God Bless America For Real

As a Life Member of Knights of Columbus, there are days when I think they are akin to the checks and balances system of the United States Government….. maybe a little better!   Be assured you cannot mess with the spirit of the American people, and it looks like you cannot mess with the Holy Spirit either!

(NEW HAVEN, CONN.) – The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance, thus ending a seven year battle involving two separate cases, one originating in California and the other in New Hampshire. The Knights of Columbus, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, played a key role in defending the Pledge as a “defendant intervenor” in both cases.

“The Knights of Columbus is proud to have played a major role in successfully defending the constitutionality of the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said. “We were instrumental in persuading Congress to add those words to the Pledge in 1954, and they express a fundamental belief that we have held as a nation since our founding, that we ‘are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights.’ The notion that this somehow violates the First Amendment has now been soundly rejected by both the First and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court has now allowed both decisions to stand. It is a victory for common sense.”

The Ninth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the Pledge in March 2010 and the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the California case in March 2011. The First Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the Pledge in November 2011 and the Supreme Court denied certiorari in that case yesterday, June 13, 2011.

God Bless
Jose M. Garcia PNC
National Deputy Service Officer
Catholic War Veterans,USA
Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.
In God We Trust

Women In Combat


There are days when I wished I could get through the day without being so suspect of  “findings,” even the ones supported and corroborated by studies. We all know that tons of studies are sponsored and financed and therefore frequently bent from the outset.  The need to keep women in the ranks of the Armed Forces is critical to the mission. The need to pretend they are not in combat is critical to the mission, especially since so few women are awarded combat action ribbons and therefore do not qualify for the same benefits as their male counterparts who are diagnosed with PTSD. Ergo, the spin. They just declare them “resilient.”

Men have a Flight of Fight DNA that dates to pre-historic times and the distinctions between hunters and gatherers.  In a rather simplistic way one could say that women do not have the same triggers as men. However with training those neurological differences can be overcome easily and a young lady can go to berserk state as fast and furious as any special forces hombre. Remember the most sniper kills in history are not “Carlos,” the award  goes  to a woman named Lydia who was with the Russian Womans Sniper Squad in WWll at St Petersberg, Russia. They are credited with 700 kills! They were resilient women. As women have always been, from the Trojan Wars to the settling of the wild west. So, I find nothing revealing about this report other than its intent to program us for more women entering combat.

My overall take is one of concern for the effects of war on women long after their terms of service, as they do not have the same outlets for bonding as do men of war. It could be quite lonely for them.  I can somehow accept men being compromised by the ravages of war, I cannot accept having a nation of screwed up Moms.

I attempted to interview a few fathers of women in the Army and they all declined as they indicated it was to painful. So maybe the study of resilience is looking at the wrong population. I am not sure the American public is all that resilient, evidenced by the near total absence of war coverage in the media at large.  Lots of stories, but none of day to day combat. So who is the least resilient, the soldier or the common citizen?

Women Exposed to Combat Trauma as Resilient as Men: Study

Female military personnel experience PTSD, depression at similar rate as men


HealthDay news image

TUESDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) — Male and female military personnel exposed to combat zone trauma tend to experience similar mental health problems and recover at the same rate, a new study reveals.
The finding — the first to examine the role of gender on combat-linked stress after deployment — was based on a survey completed by American men and women deployed between October 2007 and July 2008 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The study had two major findings, according to lead author Dawne S. Vogt, an associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. “One is that more women than ever before are experiencing combat. So although men continue to experience it at slightly higher rates, the difference in exposure is relatively small.”
“The other one is that this suggests that women may be just as resilient as men in the year following return from deployment,” Vogt said. “Which is a novel finding, because the broader trauma literature has historically found that women are more vulnerable to trauma exposure. But in this study you’re not seeing that.”
Vogt and her colleagues present their findings in a recent online issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
The authors noted that the Pentagon’s current official policy bars women from direct participation in ground combat, although they are nonetheless deployed in numerous risky combat situations.
That official ban has been the subject of much recent debate, despite the fact that according to the Department of Defense, more than 750 women have been killed or wounded in action in either the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as of 2009.
Against that backdrop, the study authors polled a random sample of 595 veterans of those wars through the Defense Manpower Data Center. The group was comprised of 340 women and 252 men, all of whom had returned from their respective war zone within the year leading up to the survey.
The male soldiers were more likely to be married and have children, while the women were three years younger on average, and more likely to be from a minority group. Half of the survey participants were “active duty,” a quarter were part of the National Guard, and another quarter were part of the Reserve Forces.
Each soldier was asked whether or not he or she had fired a weapon, been shot at, and/or been witness to combat death or injuries. Post-battle experiences were also tallied, in terms of the handling or observing of human remains and contact with prisoners.
In addition, the survey explored the degree to which each soldier feared for his or her safety and well-being, along with the pressures and difficulties of day-to-day living in a combat zone. Participants were also asked to discuss their pre-deployment exposure to trauma and their exposure to sexual harassment on duty.
All the responses were then compared to each soldier’s post-deployment history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, and overall mental health functioning.
Vogt and her team first noted that while the male soldiers were exposed to slightly more combat and post-battle trauma, the traumatic nature of the group’s combat experience was fairly similar across gender lines. Women were found to have experienced a greater degree of pre-deployment stress, as well as a greater incidence of sexual harassment while deployed.
In terms of post-deployment experience, male and female soldiers appeared to experience about the same degree of PTSD and depression in the year post-deployment. Mental health functioning was also comparable among male and female veterans, although substance abuse was more common among the men.
The authors concluded that male and female soldiers appear to be equally resilient to the stress and trauma of combat, in least in the immediate months following battle.
“One implication is I think people need to realize that women are experiencing combat too, even though at slightly lower levels,” noted Vogt, who is also a researcher at the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “And therefore that needs to be taken into consideration when they come home, in the context of caring for them in the health care setting.”
“And the other implication,” she said, “is that these findings are particularly relevant given the recent call for the military to reverse its long-standing policy barring women from ground combat.”
For his part, Keith A. Young, vice chair for research in the department of psychiatry at Texas A&M Health Science Center in College Station, Texas, said the current insights are what he would expect.
“I’m not so surprised that military women experience similar mental health problems as men,” said Young, who is also the Neuroimaging and Genetics core leader for the VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans in Waco, Texas.
“There is certainly the idea that has been out there that women are more susceptible to PTSD,” Young said. “But I think a lot of the research wasn’t very well controlled, and, in fact, in most of the animal work that has been done, it’s the male animal that has been most susceptible to stress and PTSD. The female animals have actually proven to be more resilient.”
Young cautioned, however, that the principle factor driving the current female combat ban may have less to do with concerns over vulnerability to combat trauma and more to do with the risk of abuse that women prisoners of war might face. In that light, he suggested that the current findings would not necessarily alter the current ban debate.
“Nevertheless, I think this finding will generally help women who are interested in a military career,” he added. “It will help justify their ability to pursue that type of career and life.”
Vogt’s study was partially funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs Health Sciences Research and Development Service grant and the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
SOURCES: Dawne S. Vogt, PhD, associate professor, Boston University School of Medicine, and Veterans Administration National Center for PTSD; Keith A. Young, Ph.D. vice chair for research, department of psychiatry, Texas A&M Health Science Center, and Neuroimaging and Genetics Core Leader for the VA Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, Waco, Texas; May 30, 2011, Journal of Abnormal Psychology online.

Military Reunions

Reunions come in all shapes and brands, High School and family being pre-eminent. Sports teams, corporate, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, professional associations et al. But, somehow the reunion of combat veterans transcends all mortal gatherings of kindred souls; even those of old boyfriends and girlfriends.

The gossamer thread that unites veterans of war seems to fly over other collections of pals. There is a bond that exceeds, politics, religion and race–the type of bond that is impossible to replicate, at least until we are all gathered together. One wonders why it cannot be replicated, moreover, why War is its sole source. Hollywood makes millions on war and  the alchemy of romances rooted in war. It may well be the reason that many skip to the war memorial page of high school web sites to view the war dead, prior to the more sunny views of our classmates. The sadness of war has a magnetic attraction-sadly, after the fact. Should there one day be a reunion of veterans of peace, we could proclaim that we have evolved.
My recent reunion of Bravo Company/ 7th Marines, in Reno, Nevada, all men who served in the Vietnam War, was simply the most elevating of the past five I have attended. Age is certainly a factor. Many of our Officers and Senior NCO’s are now in their late 70’s and 80’s. I thought that was just WWll dudes!
One retired Lt. General said, “it is amazing how we are still filling in the blanks of a war we fought 45 years ago.”  Another, Sgt. Major of  the Marine Corps, with 2 Silver Stars, spoke of the pain of leading us into war. He and us NCO’s hugged and cried, wishing and praying that no one would have to endure the kind of war we carried in our hearts for four decades.

Ramble more, I will not, yet if any of my classmates who served in combat are hesitating about the value of unit reunions–shake it! The collective narratives and confessional anecdotes are more healing than all of your solitary reservations. Go share them and be one of the Band of Brothers. It is for posterity.

In Honor Of Arizona Vietnam Veterans

The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services and the Arizona Military Museum in conjunction with the Department of Defense 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War will host a dinner IN HONOR OF ARIZONA VIETNAM VETERANS.

Special Guest Speaker


General Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)

WHEN:      Saturday, October 22, 2011

No host bar: 5:30-6:30 pm    Dinner: 6:45 pm

WHERE:   Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino

5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd. Chandler, AZ 85226

Phone: 800-946-4452

COST:        $40.00 per dinner      No Host Bar

ATTIRE:        Men:  Coat and tie or open collar with dress shirt

Women:  Semi-formal evening wear

RSVP:        You must register to attend.  Seating is limited.  Please RSVP (form follows) before October 14 to assure your attendance.  For further information call 602-253-2378 or 520-868-6777.



In Honor of Arizona Vietnam Veterans

I (we) will attend the dinner In Honor of Arizona Vietnam Veterans on October 22, 2011 at Wild Horse Pass and Casino.

Please legibly print names of attendees included in your check.


Contact Phone Number & Address:


Dinner is $40.00 per person.  Enclosed is a check in the amount of $___________ for dinners in my group.

Make Check payable to Arizona Military Museum.


9014 North Wealth Road (Return Envelope)

Maricopa, Arizona 85139

Arizona Vietnam Veterans Dinner

Joseph E. Abodeely, Director, AZ Military Museum

9014 North Wealth Road

Maricopa, Arizona 85139