Veterans Day 2011: Thanks to Vets and Help for Combat PTSD

Veterans Day, November 11, is set aside to honor veterans and thank them for their service to our country. There are 101 ways you can thank a veteran—be sure to show your gratitude today to the veterans in your life.

In war, soldiers go through trauma most of us cannot imagine. We shouldn’t be surprised to realize that a significant percentage of veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, which many people experience after trauma. You can find no better way to say “thank you” to a vet with PTSD than to guide them toward help.

I was privileged to edit I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall: Managing Traumatic Stress and Combat PTSD by Dr. Harry A. Croft and Rev. Dr. Chrys Parker. Dr. Croft is a psychiatrist and veteran Army doctor who has evaluated more than 6000 veterans and warriors for PTSD as well as being an internationally recognized expert on trauma. Chaplain Parker is a noted trauma therapist, academic educator, and military instructor who has worked with more than 2500 trauma survivors and trained nearly 5000 personnel, including US forces in Iraq, on trauma therapy.

The book is a conversation between Drs. Croft and Parker showing veterans and their families how to manage PTSD and combat trauma through the R-E-C-O-V-E-R approach: 1) Recognizing when PTSD is in your life. 2) Educating yourself about PTSD. 3) Connecting biology to your psychology. 4) Organizing a comprehensive care plan for PTSD. 5) Viewing your issues in a new light. 6) Empowering yourself through strong systems of support. 7) Redefining the meaning of your life: posttraumatic growth.

You can read my review of the book on Goodreads.

The authors have created a website for veterans and their loved ones to use in conjunction with the book. They describe the meaning of “I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall”:

If you have found this site, or have been led here by someone you know or love, it’s because you already know what it means to live your life with your back to the wall, and your eye on the exit. Whether you are in your own home, at the grocery store, at a party, or eating in a restaurant, you bend over backwards to adapt one inconvenient fact: your eyes are in front of your head. Since nature failed to equip you with a “rear view mirror”, you make sure both your “flanks” are protected by standing or sitting in the farthest corner of the room, where NOTHING will come up on you from behind, or by surprise. Have we got this right so far? Unfortunately, those two walls that intersect to form the corner behind you also form exactly 1/2 of an emotional and sensory prison. We’d like to help you stage a jailbreak. Here’s a powerful thought: if all that is behind you is a protective wall, that means that ALL OF LIFE, AND ALL OF IT’S POTENTIAL, IS IN FRONT OF YOU. You can’t retreat any farther than you already have, can you? There is nowhere to go, but forward. Your possibilities are limitless if you know what steps to slowly and gently take, and where to focus that hyper-vigilant vision of yours. We will help show you how.

I especially appreciate the emphasis on spirituality in I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall. The authors recognize that PTSD affects the body, the mind, and the spirit and address all these important areas.

A book I recently reviewed, Breaking the Code, will also be of interest to veterans and their families, especially those who have experienced PTSD. I interviewed author Karen Fisher-Alaniz earlier today.

Our veterans from earlier wars are aging and dying. Before You Go is a tribute to aging veterans. The video below is the version for Vietnam War veterans as that is the war of my youth. There are also is a version for World War II and Korea veterans.

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