8 Aug 2017 Finding a way to kinship with all and Pentagon commissioned report on PTSD in US military

Good morning to you.  It’s 9:16 am as I begin to write to you on this cooler, pleasant day.  I perused the news headlines and this made me think of the snippet of the dream I remember before waking up.  It was the oddest thing to dream about too!  I was standing with Brian Williams of MSNBC and he had a bunch of awards around his neck.  He seemed so happy to see me and like he knew me.  As we were talking, I saw actor Chris Pratt and some other man walking through a door and they seemed to be avoiding me lol.  I don’t know why they popped into my dreams but I hope they are doing well!

My thoughts about what I’ve been seeing in the headlines brought me to one of my favorite web pages.  With the second spin of their prayer wheel, this message came up.  I feel this message in my heart…..the age old questions we just need to ask ourselves to bring people and nations together instead of pushing ourselves further apart.  How are we the same?  What are all the things we have in common?  What good things do we share and how do we make the world full of more of those good things?  My dream for this world is that all of us might find a way to focus on how we are the same and less on how we are different.  Build more bridges so that we can meet one another.  Break down (and never waste the money to build) the tangible and intangible walls that keep us apart.

http://www.worldprayers.org/prayerwheel/index.html

In striving to recognize the primacy of Fire and Light,
I feel kinship with my Zoroastrian brothers and sisters.
In striving to obey the Ten Commandments,
I feel kinship with my Jewish brothers and sisters.
In striving to be kind to neighbor and the needy,
I feel kinship with my Christian brothers and sisters.
In striving to be compassionate to creatures great and small,
I feel kinship with my Buddhist-Jaina brothers and sisters.
In striving to surrender myself completely to God Almighty,
I feel kinship with my Muslim brothers and sisters.
In the recognition that wisdom flows from enlightened masters,
I feel kinship with my Sikh brothers and sisters.
In remembering that serving people should be the goal of religion,
I feel kinship with my Baha’i brothers and sisters.
In my respect and reverence for Nature that sustains us,
I feel kinship with my Native American brothers and sisters.
In feeling that these and more are all paths to the same Divinity,
I feel kinship with my Hindu brothers and sisters.
In my love and laughter, joy and pain,
I feel kinship with all my fellow humans.
In my need for nourishment and instinct to live on,
I feel kinship with all beings on the planet.
In my spiritual ecstasy with this wondrous world,
I feel kinship with the Cosmic Whole.

universal reflection – v. v. raman – cape of good hope – 1999
The report about the Pentagon commissioned study regarding PTSD in the United States military of course caught my eye yesterday.  The aversion to the taking and or loss of another living being’s life  is something most of us have in common.  Suicide is personal for me and as a medically retired veteran who falls into the category of the study, it’s even more personal!  It’s important to note the study found that the use of firearms is the most common way veterans are committing suicide.   It’s also interesting to note how old this study is 2014!  Why isn’t it a 2017 report?!  Doesn’t seem like they are really staying current on this issue to me. 

Troops at risk for suicide not getting needed care, report finds

Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY , TEGNA 4:23 PM. EDT August 07, 2017

WASHINGTON – Pentagon health care providers failed to perform critical follow-up for many troops diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome who also were at high risk for suicide, according to a new study released Monday by the RAND Corp.

Just 30% of troops with depression and 54% with PTSD received appropriate care after they were deemed at risk of harming themselves. The report, commissioned by the Pentagon, looked at the cases of 39,000 troops who had been diagnosed in 2013 with depression, PTSD or both conditions. USA TODAY received an advance copy of the report.

“We want to ensure that they get connected with behavioral health care,” said Kimberly Hepner, the report’s lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization. “The most immediate action — removal of firearms — can help to reduce risk of suicide attempts.”

The report, titled Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System, also found that one third of troops with PTSD were prescribed with a medication harmful to their condition.

From 2001 to 2014, about 2.6 million troops have deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estimates on how many have been affected by post-traumatic stress vary widely — from 4% to 20%, according to the report. Meanwhile, suicide among troops spiked crisis proportions. The rate of suicide doubled between 2005 and 2012, according to the Pentagon. It has stabilized but has not diminished; the rate remains about the same for the part of the American public that it compares with, about 20 per 100,000 people.

The key intervention to prevent suicide involves talking to the service member about their access to firearms, Hepner said. It’s also one of the most sensitive, given the nature of their work and that many troops own their own guns.

“This is important for service members because suicide death by firearms is the most common method,” Hepner said. “So the provider needs to have that discussion about access to firearms. Not only their service weapon but their access to personal weapons.”

Guns accounted for 68% of suicides by active-duty troops in 2014, according to the Pentagon.

Commanders can be enlisted to put weapons out of troops’ reach, and family members may be asked to do so at home, she said. One reason that doesn’t happen more often, she said, is the stigma attached to mental health issues, and the effect notifying superiors may have on careers.

“These can be quite difficult conversations to have with service members,” Hepner sid. “Certainly limiting access to their service weapon would involve notifying their command.”

Researchers also found that one-third of troops with depression had received a prescription for benzodiazepine, an anti-anxiety medication.

“It is explicitly mentioned in guidelines for treatment of PTSD that benzodiazepines are contraindicated,” Hepner said. “We continue to see a relatively high rate of prescription for a medication we would hope would not be prescribed.”


Link to blog I wrote about subject:  https://saymber.com/2017/03/17/17-march-2017-more-distractions-from-the-affordable-care-act-fiasco-the-us-governments-latest-solution-for-paying-for-the-true-cost-of-war-and-bernie-sanders-repeated-warnings-going-unheard/

Back in March of this year, the House voted to approve a bill that would allow these same veterans easier access to firearms!  Very sad.   What their doing that said to me was they’d rather make it easier for veterans to die than to do the hard part, the funding, taking responsibility for restoring them to meaningful and productive lives!  It’s easy to pluck a 18 year old from a small town, dress them up in a uniform, put a gun in their hands and send them off to war than it is to put together that same person who is now half or less the person physically and or psychologically they were after they come back from the war zone. 

Source Internet: Quote from a past Governor of my home State SD, George McGovern,

America

House OKs Bill Making It Tougher To Keep ‘Mentally Incompetent’ Vets From Buying Guns

Enlarge this image

A House-approved bill would require a court hearing before a U.S. veteran is deemed mentally unfit to own a gun. Here, rifles are seen at a gun shop in Merrimack, N.H., last year. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption

Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

A House-approved bill would require a court hearing before a U.S. veteran is deemed mentally unfit to own a gun. Here, rifles are seen at a gun shop in Merrimack, N.H., last year.

Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

The House has approved legislation that would make it harder to keep veterans who are “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent” or prone to blackouts from buying guns. Critics of the bill say it could raise the suicide rate among veterans — a rate that has risen in the past decade.

At least a dozen Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill, which was approved by a 240-175 vote.

The legislation would add a new hurdle to the process of blocking a veteran whose mental competence is in question from owning a gun. While the Department of Veterans Affairs currently adds the names of veterans it deems unfit to own a deadly weapon to a federal background check system, the bill would require a court hearing before that determination is made.

“About 170,000 disabled veterans are deemed mentally incompetent by the VA,” NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports. “A VA-approved guardian makes some medical and financial decisions for them. Their names go on an FBI list so they can’t purchase guns — House Republicans sponsored the Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act to change that.”

Backers of the bill, such as Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, say it would help veterans avoid being caught up in a bureaucracy that can make it tough to remove a negative label. Roe also cited the importance of “removing the stigma of mentally ill people — that because someone is mentally ill, they’re a danger to themselves or others.”

On the other side of the issue, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., said, “When a determination is made that a veteran is mentally incompetent or incapacitated — for whatever reason — that determination is made to protect them, not to punish or deprive them.”

Critics of the bill include retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Speaking to Quil about why he opposed the bill, Chiarelli said, “Every single study you can read on this shows you that people in crisis — because suicide is such a spontaneous event — when they separate themselves from personal weapons the incidence of suicide goes down tremendously.”

The House legislation will now go to the Senate. It would change U.S. law by adding this section to sections governing veterans’ benefits:

Conditions for treatment of certain persons as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes

“In any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.”.

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19 March 2017 Active Hope (Daily Good, Joanna Macy) and the tragic story of Edward Daniel Dowd (Vet dies in detox center lobby – Greenfield MA)

Hello to you today. I hope this finds you well. I have been enjoying doing drawings of faces in chalk lately and have been meditating and praying a lot about things going on in our country and world at the moment. I hope something here will resonate with you. I am focusing on what I want in this world and having a clear understanding of the “why” of what I don’t.  Something else I’ve been doing is more lately is fact checking things I read – especially on Facebook.  It’s not always easy to fact check things, even the credibility of Snopes.com has come into question in recent years but it is still possible to do.  It is important that if you are going to form an opinion or belief about something that it is founded in as much truth as you can find!  Anyhew – much love to you!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C.S. Lewis

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.
Mohsin Hamid

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
Albert Einstein

The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.
Helen Keller

http://www.dailygood.org/2017/03/19/active-hope/

Mar 19, 2017— Shifting our world toward a life-sustaining society takes active hope. We need to counter the voices that say we’re not up to the task, that we’re not good enough, strong enough, or wise enough to make any difference. If we fear that the mess we’re in is too awful to look at or that we won’t be able to cope with the distress it brings up, we need to find a way through that fear. This piece, co-authored by Joanna Macy, describes three threads we can follow that help us stand tall and not shrink away when facing the immensity of what’s happening to our world.

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” George S. McGovern

*Update 5:21 pm

I looked and found this obituary for Mr. Dan Dowd this afternoon and felt I should share it.  He looked like a very kind person and I am sad his life ended the way it did!

http://hosting-6556.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dan-Dowd-104469282

Dan Dowd
November 17, 1953 – February 8, 2017
Greenfield, Massachusetts

REENFIELD: Daniel Dowd, 63, of Greenfield, MA, passed away February 8, 2017. He was born in Holyoke, MA and is the beloved son of the late James J. Dowd, Jr. and Mary Louise Teahan Dowd, and his step-mother Cynthia Clark Dowd Rowell. Dan graduated from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He was a disabled veteran who proudly served in the US Navy at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Dan was a lover of music, poetry and laughter. Always a musician, his passion for music was at the heart of his band – The Crybabies. www.thecrybabies.com. He is survived by his three brothers James J. Dowd, III (Dawn Chamberlain) of Conway, MA, David E. Dowd of Westbrook, CT and Timothy W. Dowd (Maggie Sullivan) of Orange, CT and his nieces and nephews James M. Dowd (Sheri) of Santa Monica, CA, Michael D. Dowd of Tampa, FL, Mark A. Nelson of Weare, NH, David J. Dowd (Gwen) of Webster, NY, Mary L. Dowd Stopka (Nicholas), Thomas J. Dowd, and Kathleen S. Dowd all of Orange, CT. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, February 17, 2017, at 10:00 AM in the Chapel of St. Jerome Church, 169 Hampden St, Holyoke, MA. Friends and family are invited to call on Thursday, February 16, 2017, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton St, Holyoke, MA. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that a memorial contribution be made to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 160, 97 N. Hatfield Road, Hatfield, MA 01028 (www.foodbankwma.org), telephone (413)247-9738,

Sending men and women to fight in war is an expensive.  I believe when our Government sends soldiers to war they incur a life-long obligation to those soldiers, which includes men like Mr. Dowd.

Recorder Staff/Tom Relihan
The main entrance to Behavioral Health Network’s new detox facility at the former Lunt Silversmith property in Greenfield.

http://www.recorder.com/Greenfield-vet-ends-life-in-detox-center-lobby-8074983

By DIANE BRONCACCIO Recorder Staff

Monday, February 13, 2017

Vet dies in detox center lobby

GREENFIELD — Police are investigating an apparent suicide involving a gun in the lobby of the Franklin Recovery Center.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh confirmed a report that Edward Daniel Dowd, a Greenfield man in his 60s, died of a late-night gunshot wound to the head inside the lobby of the drug treatment center at 298 Federal St.

“Everything is still under investigation,” Haigh said of the Feb. 8 shooting, which occurred around 11 p.m. He said the shooting occurred in the lobby and “appears to be self-inflicted.”

He said no one else was injured and that he couldn’t give any other details. He declined to say whether there were any witnesses.

Dowd is listed as a disabled veteran, according to the Greenfield Street List, and was born in 1953.

Katherine Wilson, chief executive officer of the Behavioral Health Network, which runs the Franklin Recovery Center, said the agency is “conducting an internal investigation of events leading up to the incident.

“We are deeply saddened by the recent incident at the Franklin Recovery Program site in Greenfield. We offer our condolences for the loss of a community member, as an organization and as individuals working in the field of recovery.”

Wilson said the agency has counselors who are assisting “those traumatized by this tragedy.”

She said all appropriate state authorities have been notified, but that health care privacy laws prevent Behavioral Health Network and its program staff from sharing any information or any details about the incident or care for the individual involved.

http://www.recorder.com/Franklin-Recovery-Center-suicide-case-comes-to-a-close-8166171

Suicide spotlights intersection between insurance and recovery


Recorder Staff

Friday, February 17, 2017

GREENFIELD — The 7-month-old Franklin Recovery Center got caught in the glare of social media this week following the suicide in its lobby of a distraught 63-year-old veteran, an alcoholic in crisis.

The longtime county resident, Daniel Dowd, who identified himself as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, left behind an angry and anguished note, spread on Facebook. His core complaint focused on the center’s apparent inability or, in his mind, unwillingness to take him into its detoxification program.

Since the death a week ago, members of the recovery community in Greenfield, specifically members of the Behavioral Health Network, which oversees and runs the recovery center on Federal Street, have spoken out to address issues raised by the suicide, while declining to discuss specifics of this case citing federal confidentiality rules.

Police Chief Robert H. Haigh Jr. said the shooting death was in fact a suicide and that the detective on the case found a note on the body of Dowd that corroborated the authenticity of the “suicide note” that circulated online.

“When someone does something in this manner, in a very public manner, you certainly don’t want to ignore the situation,” Haigh said. “You don’t want to shortchange it.”

 In addition to the police investigation, a state Department of Public Health probe is underway. A state spokesman would only say, “We are aware and are actively investigating the circumstances of this tragic death, and cannot comment further until our review is complete.”

The Franklin Recovery Center has been licensed to provide detoxification services by DPH’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services since May 2016.

 Insurance

In light of the suicide, leaders at Behavioral Health Network, the Regional Opioid Task Force and The Recovery Project all noted the importance of finding immediate care for addicts who decide they want help. But finding that help with or without insurance has never been easy, one of the reasons that the state supported creation of the 64-bed recovery center in Greenfield. County residents seeking help in residential programs for themselves or others before last summer had to work the phones, scouring facilities in Springfield, Worcester or Boston to find a bed.

Within 48 hours of opening last summer, the Greenfield center was full — though with constant turnover. Currently there are 32 beds for the short-term detoxification and 32 beds for the second-step care, which if used, typically lasts the state-required 14 days.

“Some days I walk in and I’m like, ‘homeless shelter, psych unit, detox.’ That’s what we’re running,” Dr. Ruth Potee, medical director of the Franklin Recovery Center, said of her experience so far. “I didn’t know that’s what it was going to be like.”

Just how the center operates and who it can accept has been a prominent point of confusion following the suicide. It isn’t a state-funded facility but relies on private insurance and Medicaid money to keep its doors open.

If prospective patients have no insurance, they can be admitted to the Recovery Center, and the state covers the cost. If prospective patients have insurance that doesn’t contract with the Recovery Center, or are “underinsured,” commonly by Medicare, then they cannot be admitted to the center. Instead, the center staff tries to find other available options and if the prospective client desired, arrange to transport the person to somewhere with an available bed that takes the insurance or to a hospital emergency room or if the case is relevant, to the Northampton VA Medical Center.

“In fact, having zero insurance is better than having the wrong insurance,” Potee said. “But once you have insurance, you can’t pretend to have zero insurance. That’s fraud.”

Potee and the Senior Vice President of BHN, Candy Darcy, said fewer than 5 percent of their prospective patients have the “wrong” insurance, so that the inability to help is rare.

“We try to contract with every insurance provider out there,” Darcy said. “Some of them just won’t pay for detox services.”

Further, if a prospective patient is not able to walk or maintain their vital signs, the center cannot admit them.

“I’m not running a hospital,” Potee said. “I don’t have 20 nurses. It’s the level of care that is considered the state’s level of care, which is that people have to be functioning, walking, talking and not have such acute medical needs that they need an IV.”

Those patients are offered transport to the ER and a bed kept waiting for them for when they are stabilized, said Potee, who noted that they can’t force anyone to the ER or alternate programs. Hospital ERs are obligated to provide that care with or without insurance, often losing thousands of dollars in uncompensated care.

The VA hospital in Northampton will accept patients regardless of mental or physical circumstances, as long as they are eligible for VA care, Public Affairs Officer Andre Bowser said. Franklin Recovery Center would offer to transmit an eligible veteran there as long as beds were available.

Also, the Recovery Center sometimes has stretched its protocols. Most of its patients arrange admission by telephone, so that when they arrive, insurance issues have already been resolved. But if someone wants help and walked in at night or on the weekend when the center administrative staff isn’t available to check insurance and there happens to be an available bed, the person might be admitted temporarily. When the immediate treatment is concluded, if the insurance does not check out, then the center will refer that patient to somewhere that does take his or her insurance to continue the care.

The Recovery Center does not run a waiting list, but instead emphasizes immediate service.

Reaction from addiction communityMembers of the regional Opioid Task Force, which worked hard behind the scenes to establish the Recovery Center in Greenfield, say this incident points to the need for continual improvement in addiction programs and policies statewide.

“In some ways, we need to go back to our roots, ” said John Merrigan, task force co-chair, about the group’s education outreach objectives.

Sheriff Christopher Donelan, another task force co-founder, said he hopes to work with the task force to push state officials in Boston to consider changing rules.

“Let’s focus on the crisis first and the insurance second,” he said.

Local leaders in recovery have urged members of the community to refrain from particularly negative social media comments like those that swirled around the internet based on Dowd’s note, clearly written in a time of distress and anger, saying it doesn’t help.

“Finger-pointing or hashing out old stuff is not going to help at all. It’s going to take away the focus from this individual who was in a crisis moment,” said Michael Lewis, director of The RECOVER Project, a peer-to-peer participatory program for people in and seeking recovery from all forms of addiction.

Longtime friend Wid Perry said of Dowd, “I choose to remember him as an energetic and proud Shipmate Sailor who served his country well and made a positive difference in my career.”

Perry said Dowd was passionate and sometimes intense about his musical interests and national politics, “but I think for Dan it was our Navy connection that meant the most to him.”

Impact on staffPotee noted that it’s difficult for nurses and her staff at large to feel positively when vitriolic voices fill social media, especially if the comments aren’t necessarily based on facts.

She defended the facility’s staff as hard working professionals who care deeply about their work and their patients.

Since the suicide, the parking lot has had a security officer. The center will re-evaluate safety protocol, but Potee emphasized that this recent incident is a rare situation.

“We don’t consider our clients to be unsafe people,” Potee said. “I’m not running a jail, I’m not running a courthouse. This is a treatment facility. I don’t think that guns in a public setting are very common in this part of the world. I don’t live in fear and most of my staff doesn’t.”

She said her staff has experienced stress of late because of turnover by peers leaving for higher paying jobs at private clinics that have opened in the region lately.

“We’re hiring like mad right now, so that will de-stress the amount of stress my staff is under because they’re all working so hard right now.”

Instead of working eight-hour shifts, nurses have been pushed to closer to 12-hour shifts, Potee said.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:
jsolomon@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

Other Links:

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2017/01/04/veterans-affairs-ptsd-suicide-cover-morally-indefensible/Veterans Affairs PTSD, Suicide Cover-up ‘Morally Indefensible’

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (Rep. Roe, David P. [R-TN-1)

https://foac-pac.org/House-Passes-Bill-To-Restore-Gun-Rights-To-Veterans/News-Item/6391

http://www.quotegarden.com/war.html

These are just a fraction of the unfathomable amount of words used about the topic of War. Many of these I had never read before. Many, many messengers have lived and continue to live amongst us much like canaries taken into the coal mines.

A great war leaves the country with three armies an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. ~German Proverb