The Middle Ground

With all the challenges associated with coming home from war, like post-traumatic stress and chronic unemployment, the bittersweet absence of combat can be the most troubling and confusing. Almost to a man, my Army platoon misses the sting of battle as much as the camaraderie. They all agree a fifteen-month deployment to Iraq changed their chemistry–and without it, getting on with life has been an experience possibly more difficult than combat itself.


I was encouraged when I read a recent Outside Magazine article that detailed a new kind of therapy. Eleven Veterans, including a blind Vet and three with a missing leg, ascended an 18,500-foot mountain in Nepal.

But as the wars have stretched on, as more soldiers have come home with post-traumatic stress and ever more have taken their own lives, the government has looked beyond traditional treatment methods. For the same reason millions of us take weekend camping trips, using mountains and rivers as stepping stones on the path back home has gained popularity in recent years: the wilderness gives respite.

Read the whole thing, and watch the accompanying video. Many people look for alternatives to traditional treatment methods like therapy and medication. Understandably, those techniques do not work for everyone. Getting out of the house for an adventure, a middle ground between war and home, could be the answer some Vets are looking for.

The U.S. Army/Flickr

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4 Comments to “The Middle Ground”

  1. Doc Sanchez says:

    We have allowed the Agency tasked with caring for those poor souls who stood in harm’s way, the former Veterans Administration and current Department of Veterans Affairs, to go without full funding through WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, the Gulf War, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Somalia, Ethiopia, Panama, Grenada, and now Afghanistan and Iraq. Both parties in countless Congressional sessions and all of us represented by them over the decades ought to be ashamed to look a Veteran in the eye unless and until this task is accomplished.

    mjs

  2. Bill Ferguson says:

    The Congress has to authorize and appropriate funds to the VA. VA does and quite often shifts money from accounts to pay for other programs that they deem a higher priority. The arguement that VA should be mandatory spending rather than discretionary is noteworthy. I think the VA is a monstrosity, but here I have to defend them. They only are able to use funds that are made available to them from the legislative branch.

    Now how VA spends that money is a different story. I read that the new head of Comp/Pension was a Home Depot Executive. I have more confidence now than before that money is being well spent in the VBA, because this man understands money. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the VA, but it simply isn’t true. You have to many folks in the Central Office with no knowledge of business.They mostly hold Social Science degrees. That really only means that they look at money different than those with business backgrounds.Creating new programs with high overheads doesn’t make sense when you can’t run the ones you have implemented efficiently.

    Moreover, I would like to point out that VA healthcare is excellent and the VHA has my complete respect. I recieve wonderful care and am very thankful for it. However, until VA is ran more like a corporation (where there is financial accountability) and harder justifications for spending money. We end up getting little for the money. I assure you the private sector could do it better and for less than $100,000,000,000.00 that the VA recieves .

    Just complaining doesn’t help so I will provide an oversimplified solution, but hopefully someone with “power” reads this. The VA cannot be ran effectively because of the civil service employee protections.The HR Department should start the huge paper trail required to get the unperformers out of the building(central office). So when you say fully funded, I disagree, look at the billions they spend on contracting. The billions they spend on payroll and the billions they can’t account for. This shows us who have strong finance backgrounds that incompetence goes to the highest levels of this organization. When companies start to have customer issues they solve them or they face losing business. Since there is no profit motive for the VA and the folks who work there don’t care about the VA’s money than it is doomed to be always “underfunded” as you said. Recently Secretary Shinseki said while testifying on FY2012 VA budget that “every dollar counts”. This is hilarious, I respect the General and his service, but not his business sense. He couldnt save 50 dollars without cutting something. Oh and speaking of cuts, when the VA talks about cuts, the first thing on its mind is cut services, not cut the bloated ignorant beurocracy that runs it.

  3. PANV says:

    The comments are about funding and budget management? The article is about recovering vets after the combat experience. VA services, I didn’t apply as a Vietnam Vet ERA enlisted SM AND MISSED OUT OR DIDN’T? Rejoined and retired now receiving only 10% SC but ended up 100% pending Application and approval for the other 90%, DM, HTN, Sketeltal maladies. However, I applaude the current efforts by the VA although late but the effort is there we as Americans need to realize what is asked of todays Vets, SACRIFICES and the harms way they”re placed in. Strides need made to understand effects of PTSD and TBI. During my active duty I relished the obstacle course, the 50 ft tower, the repell tower, jumgle expert training and Parachute Training, as a medic and clerk. Ski Diving was a bigger thrill. The outdoor experience was the calming effect. But with the good comes the bad. Combat has both and I IMAGINE when one is on the down side recuperating from the adrenalin rush. Not allowing much time to think of the bad effects. Zoning one up with pills is not the answer, or playing on and demeaning the self esteem is not of help. Alternate therapeutic methods may be the key. A Non-combat Vets opinion and supporter.

    • Brenda Hayes says:

      Panv,

      Other than the “outdoor experience”; do you know of any other Alternative methods that have been successful?

      Last week I heard about hyperbaric treatment for TBI.

      It would be nice if the VP team could find out what is happening in the VA system and its “partners” in the area of TBI/PTSD.

      My Veteran got a “referral” the other day for a 4 day (1 l/2 hour each day) training for “veterans” at a cost of $750? Know if VA is picking up the tab?
      It was a VA Social Worker referral. For that, you should be able to find a comprehensive week or at least a full weekend?

      Thanks for your input.

      BH
      Vetwife Advocate