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‘Take what’s inside and get it outside’ — Air Force psychologist reminds airmen of mental health resources
Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.
Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.
"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.
Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill authored by Columbus Republican Rep. Steve Stivers that would set up a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pilot program to teach veterans service dog training as a form of therapy.
The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act authored by Stivers, an Ohio Army National Guard Brigadier General who served in Iraq, would partner with non-profit service dog training organizations to teach the skills to veterans affected by post-traumatic stress. Veterans who complete the program would be able to adopt their service dog if they want to continue with the therapy.
"Too many of the men and women who serve our country return home with unseen trauma," Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, a former Navy pilot. "Service dogs soothe the invisible wounds of war."
'It's amazing what happens here' — Nonprofit saves dogs from being euthanized and trains them to help veterans heal
At 13 pounds, Sandy may not look like your stereotypical service dog. The Shih Tzu-yorkie mix, found abandoned in an alley, has a face that seems more doll-like than dutiful.
But for owner Teri Pleinis — a 23-year Army veteran diagnosed with PTSD after serving in Iraq — Sandy has been life-changing.
Lawmakers and veterans advocacy groups are ready for change after waiting nearly a decade for the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its policy on not reimbursing service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, Act would require the VA to offer $25,000 vouchers to veterans suffering with PTSD for use at qualifying nonprofits. Currently, the VA only supports service dogs for use in mobility issues, not in cases that only involve mental health conditions.
You can't see Bobby Grey's scars.
On the surface, he's just an ordinary 35-year-old husband. FedEx driver. Racing fan. Philadelphia Eagles diehard. Dog owner.
He's also a former Marine, 2003 to 2007 — a mission that has given him great pride and great anguish. Twelve years later — anguish or not — he still loves the Corps to the core. Semper Fi — always faithful.
Grey acknowledges, though, that that's where the scars originated.
As a young devil dog, a PFC scarcely six months out of boot camp, Grey deployed to Iraq and got his first taste of combat when he was only 20 years old. One day, Marines in his convoy — guys he knew — died when a roadside bomb blew up beneath them. On another day, during a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, bullets whizzed over Grey's head, close enough that he could hear them. Seconds later, when the bullets shattered the windows behind him, a shower of glass rained down on his head.
But those days were nothing compared to Dec. 3, 2004, the day a suicide bomber rocked his unit's base with an explosion so violent that it literally blew him out of the chow hall where he'd been dining. He suffered a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury — as if anything traumatic could be mild — but several comrades fared worse, suffering broken bones and dislocated hips. Two of his buddies died in the blast, and Grey had to put them in body bags himself.
"It's like losing a brother," he says softly. "No, it is losing a brother."
The United States Postal Service has just issued a "Healing PTSD" semipostal stamp that will raise money to be distributed to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for the National Center for PTSD.