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Should The Middle Class Clean Up The Veterans Administration’s PTSD Mess?

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Where do you stand on resolving the Post Trauma epidemic?
Where do you stand on resolving the Post Trauma epidemic?

I’m Annmarie – a busy woman juggling a career, starting up a business, being a mom, wife, daughter and friend. In 2003, I had a mental meltdown and couldn’t hide from PTSD anymore. I gathered all I knew about life coaching, psychology and PTSD and decided to fight.

What I found out was focusing entirely on my mind was making it worse, seeing my therapist once a week wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t make my regular doctor understand the physical pain I was feeling. Then, I discovered a holistic approach that incorporates an entire team of helpful professionals and support people. In three short years, I was 100% symptom free and have been for almost nine years. But you might be surprised to know . . .

Starbucks saved my life.

Join me here at PTSD Relief for a series of four articles that talk about making real change happen in healing the lives of PTS survivors – veteran and non-veteran alike.  Like what you hear? Pass it along to a friend or colleague. We’re reaching out, hoping to walk through an open door. Plus, you never know who’s reading . . .

Part 3

Dream more than others think practical.

~ Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks

I can hear it already. While critics object about who’s responsible for addressing the Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) epidemic, scientists and physicians search for a solution. Politicians will line up to take sides and point fingers. Charlatans and snake-oil salesmen are already positioning themselves for a get-rich-quick opportunity. All the while, PTS survivors inch along, moment by moment, struggling to keep their heads above the turbulent waters of everyday life.

Occasionally, when speaking to audiences about what to do to resolve the PTS crisis, I hear objections about who’s at fault, how much money it will cost, who’s job it is to make things right, and more. Let’s take a look at the top four objections I hear most often, shall we?

It’s not just the government’s responsibility, it’s their promise to care for veterans in return for their service. I’m sick of bailing out banks and big corporations! Why should we clean up the government’s mess?

The truth is, we’re already paying for it – to the tune of $42.3 BILLION. That money is being sucked down the drain by ineffective treatment methods, misdiagnoses, compartmentalized medical training and quick-fix prescription medication.

Why not put that money to better use educating the public about PTS symptoms, preventive care and recovery options, as well as, reducing the barriers to access effective, high-quality resources?

Those people chose their profession and the hazards that came with it. It’s their problem, not mine.

When you call 911, do you expect a firetruck, a police officer or a medic to show up? Of course you do. And when our country’s freedom is threatened, we all expect the men and women of the U. S. Military to do something about it.

The expectation of having these services comes with a price tag, which you and I happily or unhappily pay with our taxes. That price tag includes the cost of providing the service, which at one time ensured the health and ability of the person delivering the service. Today, safeguarding the mental health and education of our ‘delivery people,’ has been downsized, somewhere between our ‘purchase’ and the delivery of service.

Truth be told, PTS isn’t just about military veterans. The 10 yr. old incest victim, woman raped in the park, or man crawling out of earthquake rubble didn’t chose the circumstances that brought PTS to their lives. Moreover, they certainly would rather not live with the debilitating physical, mental and emotional symptoms or be denied support because of bureaucratic judgements about their degree of trauma.

There are so many! There’s no way we’ll be able to even make a dent in solving this problem.

It’s true, the numbers are daunting. However, the numbers could work in favor of finding a solution. With so many people struggling with PTS symptoms – some unknowingly – it’s more likely we’ll be able to easily find individuals willing to participate in recovery studies, experimental programs, and wellness initiatives, which all add to the mix of information used to find recovery solutions.

Isn’t this really about people who just want an excuse for not participating in life? Come on. Everybody’s had something happen to them, and we’re all IMG_3615stressed!

Whether it’s ‘them,’ ‘those people,’ or ‘the government,’ let’s not forget there are heartbeats, children, parents, entire families behind those terms. At the end of the day, do we really believe the following (insert your own loved one’s name):

It’s not just Bill’s responsibility, it’s his promise to care for himself, so he can fulfill his service. I’m sick of bailing out banks and big corporations! Why should I clean up Bill’s mess?

Kathleen chose her profession and the hazards that came with it. It’s her problem, not mine.

There are so many, including my daughter, Audrey, and my grandson, Tyler! There’s no way we’ll be able to even make a dent in solving this problem. So why bother trying?

Isn’t this really about Jack just wanting an excuse for not participating in life? Come on. Everybody’s had something happen to them, and we’re all stressed!

No, we don’t really believe these things. If PTS hits your home, what this quickly becomes is a desperate search for an effective solution. It’s not only about how you and I think and talk about PTS, but also about how we help – giving our loved ones a hand up, not a handout.

Won’t you be part of the solution? Remember, “curses, like chickens, come home to roost.” Consider that about 6 of every 10 (or 60%) men and 5 of every 10 (50%) women experience at least one traumatic incident in their lifetime.

Granted, not everyone develops PTS, but let’s keep in mind that current statistics are at least three years out of date and only counting those individuals who recognize they’re struggling and are able to get the help they need. So, chances are likely you’re intimately acquainted with a Bill, Kathleen, Tyler, Jack or Audrey.

Real Solutions Revisited

Considering the widespread demographics, unique intricacies of each traumatic incident and sheer numbers of PTS survivors, one can imagine the cost of providing education and support might be astronomical. Or is it?

What if we tried:

  • An interactive, DIY, step-by-step process reachable 24/7 by anyone with an internet connection
  • A nationwide network of PTSD informed professionals
  • A nationwide network of healing coaches – former survivors, trained to guide, support and educate.

IMG_3529We could have a system like this up and running in a relatively short period of time with the low overhead provided by the on-line marketplace. Still, owning up to our responsibility also means implementing a solution that works.

In June (2014), my life’s work will be my gift to the world. Constructed as a guidebook, PTSD Self Help: Transforming Survival into a Life Worth Living, contains 20 years of PTSD study and experience helping people find healing. It’s the book I wish I would have had on my own PTS healing journey. Having been 100% PTS symptom free for eight years (after struggling with it for more than 30!), I think I have something to contribute toward finding a solution.

How about this:

Year One

  • Observation of PTSD Self Help book sales, reviews and testimonials
  • Case study of survivors and PTS Healing Coaches to test the efficacy of the method
  • Putting the on-line structure in place

Year Two

Development of educational materials and certification requirements for:

  • Healing Coaches
  • Industry Professionals
  • Survivors
  • General Public

Year Three

  • Nationwide education, certification, recruitment and training initiative
  • West-to-East national rollout of on-line survivor support services

It seems unfair that an already overburdened middle class should have to rise up out of the ashes of the Great Recession to bear the responsibility of carrying out it’s government’s broken promises. However, let’s not forget that WE have a responsibility to fulfill and a promise to keep, too.

It’s time to be more diligent in placing people who best represent our needs into positions of leadership. And, it’s way past time for those of us who’ve known the pain PTS can bring to rise up, educate and advocate, so that our children and grandchildren have a fighting chance at a life worth living.

Next week, I’ll reveal how coffee, books and Starbucks could be a major player in this vision. You won’t want to miss it!



Are you a survivor?  Ready to learn more about how to advocate for others in this up-and-coming mental health revolution? Let us know in the comments below!

Remember . . . you never know who’s reading. Let Howard Schultz, and others supporting PTSD research, know where their dollars can best contribute to practical, effective tools that not only heal PTS, but transform survival into a life worth living. Share this article!

Need to catch up? Read Part One, Starbucks Coffee, The PTSD Epidemic & You, or Part Two, The Risk of Ignoring the PTSD Epidemic: Mortality, Money & Morals right here.



3 responses »

  1. This is a great word and timely. As much as we would love to sitck our head in the sand as a society and say “it’s not my problem” well, it is our problem… and We, each and everyone of us, are the solution.
    It’s also incrediblely exciting to hear that you have a book coming out soon!!! Can’t wait to get it! Are you taking pre-sales??

    • You’re right! WE are the solution. And, yes! Be sure to subscribe to the blog, so you won’t miss out on PTSD Self Help pre-sale invitations!

  2. Pingback: Join The Conversation: PTSD Solutions, Starbucks Coffee & Facebook | PTSD Relief

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