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05 November 2009 @ 10:34 pm
Trauma conference  
I am up in Atlanta at the 25th Annual meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. I am one of the few non-mental-health-professionals in the place. I've been a member for 20 plus years, started when I was writing Recovering from the War. The founding members helped me a lot with advice and information. Today I was feeling a bit lonely since I don't know everyone anymore, when I stopped to talk with a guy. Someone else came up to talk to us and both of them told me that everyone uses my book, my Post-Traumatic Gazettes (which I wrote for 7 years) and my kid's book, Why Is Daddy Like He Is? That I am a legend and the one person they know is on the side of the veterans. I just about started to cry for the second time at the conference. It meant a lot to me.
Earlier I went to a pre-meeting institute on incorporating spouses in treatment. It brought tears to my eyes too, because there was nothing like that, no treatment even for Bob, much less for us, when we were the young vet and his wife having a hard time and needing help. I am so grateful for what is known and done these days.

I'm sharing a room with Jenny Andrews of notalone.com. It is a website for veterans and their families. There is a long interview with me on it. She came down to do it and we became friends. She goes to some workshops and I go to others. We found an Indian restaurant to die for half a block away. I ran into Johnathan Shay, whom my mother introduced to me 20 + years ago as "a young psychiatrist who is willing to learn." We talked about writing back then, and now he is the author of Achillies in Vietnam, and a McArthur Fellow. Well deserved. Saw Arthur Bland the former head of the Vet Centers and an old pal too. He wrote early seminal articles on PTSD and the difficulty of getting diagnosed which I used in my book. Ariah Shalev, who is the one who first said in my hearing that PTSD is a disorder of healing... Jacob Lindy who was fired from the VA for helping vets too much gave a wonderful persentation on helping the new vets.
Then there was the session on how the other countries are helping their vets, the Australians starting up a system, the Canadian system which is better than anything we have and finally a British video for troops coming home which was pretty funny till the last bit where the shrink talking head tells them that all these symptoms will naturally dissipate in a few months, but if they don't you can get help... Naturally I stood up at the end and said that was dismissive, and he got really defensive and said we don't have a VA system in Britian, and besides of all the people in Britian with PTSD, 75% of them get NO TREATMENT... I'm like GREAT! What a fucked up excuse. (sorry, I swear). Between that and some of the pontificating at the keynote, I tend to get wrapped pretty tight... It was right after that I had such a nice talk with the two people.
I also picked up a bunch of interesting poster presentations (they hand out copies), one of which was on veterans kids, so I asked the presenter if she'd read the late Sarah Haley's paper on the subject, and one actually on Soldier's Heart (the first American term for PTSD after the Civil War) although not using the term. Bob had that too.
Now I am watching Mrs Minniver and writing this. Time to close. Pretty happy, actually.



Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
patty1943patty1943 on November 6th, 2009 04:15 am (UTC)
Arthur Blank! Whooops!
Rose Greenolmue on November 6th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
It sounds like it was a good conference--you've certainly done a lot of good with your writing!
WPAdmirerwpadmirer on November 6th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
I am not at all surprised that you're a legend. You've done tremendous work in educating people about PTSD. You know I used your book to write my Vietnam vet play, and in fact had the actor read it when he was playing the role.

You're the shit, darlin'.

themenowthemenow on November 6th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
Wow, sounds like an amazing conference!

Earlier I went to a pre-meeting institute on incorporating spouses in treatment. It brought tears to my eyes too, because there was nothing like that, no treatment even for Bob, much less for us, when we were the young vet and his wife having a hard time and needing help. I am so grateful for what is known and done these days.

My mom has said this too. She was telling me that when my dad came home from VM, there was nothing in place for these guys. My dad said he just didn't know what to think. He was really young, 18, when he went. After his first tour, he said it was really confusing. He was a young guy, thinking he was doing something good (my dad is one of those truly all american boys), and he gets off the plane to find protesters calling him a baby killer. How would anyone reconcile that?

A friend of mine is a Marine wife. I don't know how many times her husband has been deployed, or to where, but there is a program that she and her 8-year-old daughter lead for other marine spouses and children that help them deal with deployments - not just mentally but in dealing with every day things too. There was nothing like for military spouses back then either. I don't think there was during the first Gulf Storm war.

I wish I could read something about veteran's children. I've been trying to do some research on military brats, etc. But I think I'd really like to know more about the relationships between veteran's and their kids. My dad and I have had a hard time just knowing each other in the past. When I was little we were buddies, but I hit elementary school and it was like he didn't know me, had a hard time communicating with me. I used to think it was because he didn't like me, and then as an adult I was like "My dad was never there for me." I know it's not true now. He just didn't know how to communicate. The nice thing is that we try to talk now. Put real effort into it. Email has made it so easy too. We both get nervous: I don't want to talk too much (as I'm prone to do) and I'm sure he's nervous about saying the right things. Which there are no right or wrongs. But I adore my dad. I'm glad I have the chance to get to know him now since we didn't really take the time to do it when I was a kid.

*hugs* Thank you for all the work you do/did. I checked out that notalone.com site. Wow, that's just amazing! I have a friend who's trying to get his PhD right now in Psychology. His dad was our army chaplain for a few years and is currently working with veterans and PTSD. Jim wants to do the same. Another friend has her masters in Psychology and wanted to help but the army was only hiring social workers to help the current soldiers. What's up with that? Social workers are good, but they can't help with the mental problems. Ah well...