THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

Filed Under Tears | Comments Off on THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE 

By Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

TY2

Recently I saw the show Thank You for Your Service. It is the true story of four young men and their experiences while serving in combat in Afghanistan/Iraq.  The major narrative of the show focuses on the challenges of trying to reintegrate into civilian life following their military service.  It is a realistic account of life after war of both family and veteran struggles.  For this reason I don’t encourage most veterans to see the film. They, like Tony, have already lived and continued to live with the aftermath of battle. However, for some family members and the broader community, viewing and listening to these young veterans’ stories will give others an accurate description of the sacrifices some have given for our country to preserve our valued freedoms.

TY9

I know that the title, Thank You for Your Service, is genuinely meant to honor our military. Yet, it seems so trivial a gesture to merely say “Thank You”. As a nation, as a community, we must all do whatever we can to make sure those who served, both young and old, are taken care of when they return home. Except for Veteran’s Day, too many times we tend to forget the silent suffering of those living in our world after war.

TY8

For most Americans it is business as usual, tending to hectic schedules and personal issues that take up our attention – and most of us are guilty of this lapse.

TY4

Therefore, take a moment sometime during your busy days, not just to say “Thank You” but to think about how to contribute to the mental and physical health of our veterans. Perhaps you can volunteer at a local veteran hospital or retirement home. There are numerous organizations that need donations such as homeless veteran groups or organizations that train and deliver service dogs to our veterans – just be prudent about which organizations are authentic and which may be scams. Maybe you live next to a veteran/family and can deliver a hot meal, a sweet pastry, or even a card of appreciation. Be proactive.  It is nice to hear the words “Thank You”. It is even better for a veteran or a veteran’s family to actually see and receive the “Thank You” in a specific and thoughtful deed.

TY10

If we send them, then we must mend them.

Spouse 1

www.tearsofawarrior.com

1-Front Cover.WEB

 

 

 

 

5 Reason Why Veterans Need To Be Fishing

Filed Under Brain Injury, Combat PTSD, Dogs, Fishing Therapy, Military, Nature, PTSD, Service Dogs, Tears, Tears of a Warrior | Comments Off on 5 Reason Why Veterans Need To Be Fishing 

john-2

 

Guest Blog by Jon Sutton, Content Manager for Outdoor Empire

 

Author: Travis Pike, Outdoor Empire

Veterans are a unique group of people who face a variety of unique challenges in their lives. As unique as veterans maybe they do share the ability to benefit from an activity as old as civilization. We call it fishing. Here are 5 reasons why Veterans need to get out there and fish more.

Fish 1

Getting Outside

Something as simple as getting outside and in nature can be a major benefit to your psyche and even your body. Getting outside doesn’t just mean walking out of your home, it means actually getting out in nature.

First, you get better air in the countryside than the city. There is no smoke, smog, or ground level ozone to worry about. As a veteran, you may have been exposed to harsh chemicals, and of course burn pits. Fresh air can help reduce the symptoms of most chronic respiratory illnesses.

You’ll also get a healthy dose of sunshine. Sunshine provides you with a blast of vitamin D, a vitamin associated with bone health. The average adult is likely vitamin D deficient, something I learned from my VA Doctor. A little sunshine can go a long way to long lasting health. That being said, don’t forget the sunscreen, you know what they say about too much of a good thing.

IMG_4472

Getting Physical

PT it’s good for you and good for me. With almost 80% of the veteran population being obese a little PT can likely go a long way. Most people may think of fishing as sitting in a chair and drinking a beer, but they’d be wrong. There is a big difference in fishing and getting buzzed in a boat.

warrior-11

When you’re fishing you can be involved in any number of strenuous activities, including wading through water, paddling a kayak, and or hiking to a premier fishing location. That’s just to get to you to where you start fishing, from there you start working the shoulder and arms by casting over and over.

Plus, once you get a fish the cardiovascular activity starts as you fight that big boy to the boat or the shore. Watch any fishermen catch a keeper, and look how he sweats and struggles. It may not be as bad a Platoon Sergeant Death Run at 5 a.m. but it’ll get you huffing and puffing.

Fish 8

Relax a Little

Ah, greeting the great outdoors with a fishing pole in one hand a tackle box in the other is an amazing way to relax. Veterans on average face the stress of everyday life, and with a high percentage of veterans facing stress, depression, and anxiety the ability to relax is sacred. Heck, just talking on the phone with the VA is enough to drive you mad.

Fishing has shown to reduce cortisol, a hormone associated with stress by over 30% for up to a month. A study by the University of Maine showed fishing reduced anxiety, stress, fear, and guilt by a substantial amount for up to 3 weeks in combat veterans.

On top of everything fishing reduces, time in the sunshine has proven to release a chemical known as serotonin. The theory is that serotonin improves moods and triggers happy thoughts.

IMG_6571

Keeps You Sharp

Young veterans face higher rates of TBI than the average population, which can result in reduced levels of cognitive ability. Let’s not forget that the Vietnam generation has reached an advanced age and with age often comes reduced cognitive function.

Fishing provides stimulation to the brain that engages a wide variety of different senses and forces fishers to use reasoning, and make logical assumptions. Fishing also boosts self-esteem and confidence.

Fish 3

Cause Fish are Delicious

Everyone loves good food, that’s true. This may not be specific to veterans because fish is delicious. Fish is also packed with protein and is low in calories and cholesterol. It’s also full of healthy fats, like Omega 3 acids that help with joint health. Any infantry veteran will tell you their joints suck, so they need all the help they can get.

Fish 2

See the Outdoor Empire original article for all the 11 health benefits of fishing.

Healing Event

Filed Under Tears | Comments Off on Healing Event 

By Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D.

IMG_6574

IMG_6571

 

There is nothing more healing than being in nature, especially in the beautiful North Platte River Valley of Saratoga, Wyoming. The town, its people, and several organizations made possible another opportunity for veterans from the Cheyenne VA Hospital to spend three days fishing, golfing, horseback riding, biking, enjoying the hot springs, and of course eating…. lots and lots of eating.

 

IMG_6560

This picturesque place is where ten veterans found a few moments of peace and rejuvenation.

IMG_6620

IMG_6618

Kristi Reuben, the therapeutic recreation director for the Cheyenne VA Medical Center brought her group of combat veterans to Saratoga, making their first stop for a picnic lunch on the Snowy Range Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake 2

Once again, the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort hosted the group where they slept in comfortable, cozy bungalows. Many have never experienced such luxury and spacious surroundings. The mission of every person at the Resort was to take excellent care of their guests and make sure the veterans’ stay was a relaxing and exceptional occasion. On Thursday, Tom and Dixie Arthur invited the group to spend the afternoon and evening at their amazing Upper Cedar Creek Ranch where the veterans were treated to horseback riding, fishing in a beautiful lake setting and indulge in a barbecue of three types of elk sausages and scrumptious elk hamburgers that were a gourmet’s delight. Condiments from Old Baldy Club completed the dinner while desserts were home baked brownies and lemon bars from Sandy Streeter and Carol States’ kitchen. Every year the veterans enjoy the stunning surroundings and spend hours chatting and sometimes even sharing the stories behind their war trauma.

 

 

IMG_6623

Offering such a unique event can only transpire when many individuals, organizations, and sponsors come together to provide services, fund raisers, and activities that meet the needs of our wounded warriors. Many volunteers act as guides, chauffeurs, and personal attendants to each veteran. Truly it does take a village to heal our wounded and Saratoga, Wyoming does an amazing job.

IMG_6619

 

At the end of this year’s affair one veteran commented to Kristi that “if he died tomorrow he would be happy”. He spent three days soaking in the healing spa waters and rode a horse all the way from the ranch’s corral through green meadows to the top of the mountain for the barbecue. Perhaps this special time of immersing in nature may help our wounded veterans physically and mentally reflect on the healing process and the wondrous power of nature. Perhaps they will be able to recollect the solace of this place where they felt refreshed, safe, and at peace. The power of nature, the power of animals, the power of people and the commitment of a small Wyoming community are the genuine powers behind therapeutic healing.

Horse 1

REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS

Filed Under Tears | Comments Off on REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS 

REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS

By Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D.

Today has been quite special.  We spent the day with hundreds of other veterans and their families along with the community viewing the traveling Vietnam Wall. It is the second time Fort Collins, CO has been honored by the wall’s presence.

For many it will be the only Vietnam Wall 2017time they are able to see the full list of those who died serving their country in a faraway land known as Vietnam. The cost of all wars is much more than somber. Even today our young men and women continue to serve in similar faraway lands.

Yet, some Americans have forgotten the cost of freedom. As a nation, fewer have served than not served and those who have served their families have also served.  Kinfolk have had to endure the intense anxiety and loneliness of days without a loved one. Nights spent wondering and praying their beloved person is safe.

It is important, not just on Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, we think about our veterans and their families.  We must think about the sacrifices these individuals have made in behalf of our country and for each of us. We must think about and understand that Freedom is far from free. We need to recognize others have paid a significant price for our liberties; a price that allows the rest of us to enjoy a life of peace, prosperity, and security.  And we need to make sure we live our days in ways that honor the privilege of being able to be in such a great country.

Bailey and Tony by statue

A thank you, also, to our first responders and their families – your daily support makes a huge difference to our cities and communities.Bailey by army symbol

Guest Post by Sally Harper

Battling_PTSD_(4949341330)For many soldiers and veterans who return home after a war, PTSD is a scary proposition that can affect them. It is a mental health condition whose symptoms may include reliving traumatic events, flashbacks & nightmares, persistent fear, feelings of anger, horror & detachment and guilt. Inability to sleep, concentration issues, aggressiveness and self-destructive behavior are other symptoms of the condition. PTSD can also have devastating effects on victims, families and caregivers who live through the experiences of patients who are suffering.

Early detection is crucial in treating PTSD with standard remedies including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and drug treatments. For patients who are not willing to discuss their trauma with a therapist, virtual reality-based therapy is also an option. The main aim is to keep their identities as soldiers, but steer away from the trauma of the war so that they can integrate into society easier and live normal lives. Stress management, exercise and good diets are complementary ways to cope with post-traumatic stress.

Take a look at this article for more information on the causes and symptoms of stress as well as how to control it.

cid_002401c856b36e7f99906701a8c0rick

War & Peace

Filed Under Tears | Comments Off on War & Peace 

warrior-relax

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

by John Adams

Veterans Plaza

Two Quotes from Rumi:

(Rumi was a 13th-century poet of immense talent. His work highlights the power of literature in its ability to transcend time, language and geographic locations)

 

1)  Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.

 

2) The wound is the place where the light enters you.

 

url.jpg

 

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

It isn’t easy to move forward in life when you seem trapped by events that happened in the past. Often times the harder you try to get unstuck, the more bound you become to that very past. So how does one resolve such a dilemma? It probably won’t be without effort, time, and even some painful moments.

Shack2

In the book/movie, The Shack, the lead character is tormented by an unimaginable personal tragedy. No matter how hard he tries to move forward beyond his pain and horrendous memories, he can’t. Being caught in a terrible incident he is unable to see past his pain to the extent that very little joy or happiness can enter his life. In order to heal he is forced to go back to the place (the shack) where he got stuck; the place where the horror, the anguish, and the future was taken from him.

Shack1

I think this is what Tony was doing when he decided to return to Vietnam.  In order to heal more completely he made a choice to go back to the place where he became stuck, a space that over the last many decades unconsciously became his “shack”. Since his military service in Vietnam he has worked incredibly hard to move beyond the memories and the demons, but there were still times when the burden of combat obscured his vision and ability to live fully.  As part of the healing process he had to exhume the old earth in order to plant and allow for new growth to occur. He will be explaining more in his future blogs.

Shack3

Toward the end of the movie there was a beautiful metaphor about life.  A truism that most of us already know…. life is not neat or precisely organized.  It is messy, bumpy, and often unbalanced. Yet, it is this very assortment of messiness and disorder that make us who we are and who we can become if we are brave enough to return to our “shack”  to become unstuck.

IMG_4331

So what is your “shack”? What might you do to become “unstuck: (that doesn’t mean you have to physically return to a specific location to heal). Just know that this “becoming unstuck” will most likely not be easy, orderly, or without some deep potholes. It is a journey, like Tony, you may need to take alone. However, the reality is that you will not be totally on your own. Like Tony you will have the thoughts, prayers, and support of family and friends that will accompany you in spirit and hope.

IMG_4515IMG_4513

A LONG WAY BACK

Filed Under Tears | Comments Off on A LONG WAY BACK 

A LONG WAY BACK

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D.

Not 100% sure why my husband wanted to go back to Vietnam to the very battle sites that caused such immense pain and trauma. Many years ago we took a cruise to Vietnam and he expressed a desire to return, especially to Nui Ba Den, The Black Virgin Mountain. This was a combat zone where many people were killed and injured and he was a part of one of the worst battles on May 13, 1968.

Tony Vietnam 1

Several months ago he had an opportunity to sign up for a trip that would arrange for him to visit some of the combat zones in which he fought. The journey would only include a driver, an interpreter, and my husband.  It wasn’t something I was terribly comfortable with at the time. Even our sons were concerned and wanted me to go with him to make sure he would be able to handle the emotional strain of the tour.  However, this wasn’t an option for the group who was arranging the excursions. Many friends and fellow vets questioned why he would ever want to return to a place that caused such extreme trauma. It is not a trip for everyone, but he felt the need to return as part of his healing process.  Somewhat like carrying a huge boil inside your mind and heart. Some doctors say the boil will eventually dissolve.  Some days it was smaller, but others times it grew out of control. The fastest way for many to rid themselves of a boil is to lance it…. relieve the puss and infection and allow it to heal from the inside out. I think that is what Tony is trying to do.  Taking the risky step to “lance” his boil and release some of the ghostly infection that has impacted his heart, mind, and soul for most of his life.

Needless to say as the time grew closer so did both of our anxieties. When President Trump announced his immigration ban it caused an incredible pandemonium across the world, including Visas for Vietnam.  Fortunately, Tony was able to obtain his Visa before this ensued. One of our biggest fears was that he might get over there and not be able to get back home due to unstable world conditions within and between our governments. Every day we waited to see if the trip would be canceled which made the entire visit even more stressful.

Finally the day arrived. I was nervous. He was nervous.  And his service dog, Bailey, was a mess. Poor Bailey could tell something was going on and it wasn’t a happy event. The day Tony left, Bailey sat at the front door and cried, then wandered the house as if I hid Tony somewhere.  It was going to be a very long ten days.

carmel-1

I won’t go into much detail but after a 36 hour grueling flight he arrived, extremely tired yet ready to begin his quest of finding peace and solace from the demons that have haunted him for almost fifty years. The last few days have been episodes of ups and downs. Times when I’m sure he questioned what in the heck he was doing so far from home without his immediate support systems.  All of us here were equally apprehensive.  I will let Tony relate his story once he is ready. For me and our sons, we will be relieved once he is back home, safe and sound.

As for Bailey, I can’t imagine how ecstatic he will be when he finally can stop sitting at the front door or checking the house for Tony’s presence. For me, I may miss the numerous extra walks we do daily to keep him occupied – I’m losing pounds but my legs are aching. Maybe I’m not losing that much weight – after some of our outings I stop and treat myself to a large Chai Ice Cream Chiller (better than Prozac) … then take several doggie treats to reward this faithful, but wearisome pooch.

These last ten days have been emotionally charged and physically exhausting for everyone. Making such a life passage really is a long way back but necessary in order to make a restored long trip home.

Courage 5

by Tony Seahorn

love-1

 

We often talk and write about spending time in nature as an important element of the healing process.

For those with Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD or more accurately PTS), finding solace in natural places helps us realize and appreciate the marvelous wonders of the world.

Following is a link to an article that appeared this weekend in Parade Magazine worth reading.

Living in awe…

Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness

 

awe-1

Next Page →