DEPLOYING IN DROVES |
January 20, 2010
Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 1/20/10
Stationed in: a civilian military hospital in the U.S.
Milblog: From Our Perspective
Two to Iraq, seven to Afghanistan, four to Haiti; my coworkers are deploying in droves. Here on the home front, our capacity to handle the arrival of any large scale war wounded is impacted by staffing -- inadequate staffing, that is. Beds have been closed because we no longer have the staff to care for the patients who might otherwise occupy them. Our mission is simple; provide the best care we can with the personnel we have left.The world is focused on Haiti; it is forefront in the media. But even if wasn’t the prime topic of discussion, I wonder to what degree America would be focused on Iraq. On Afghanistan. There are many of us who count days until our friends and family return.A friend arrived home last week after nine months in Afghanistan. She flew in on a commercial flight so the only cheering crowd she had at 0645 was her mom and me. Balloons in hand we waved a crazed "Welcome back!" I don’t think anyone else in the airport even noticed one of our war veterans returning home, safe and sound to American soil.
I check on the elderly parents of one of our war wounded, and they are anxiously looking for a traumatic brain injury rehab facility for their son. Told by the military there isn’t sufficient manpower to drive them to a rehab center, they attempt to go it alone. Their son will more than likely spend the rest of his life in a vegetative state. I’d like to be hopeful and think he will recover, but experience tells me otherwise. And the military cannot offer even the assistance of transportation.
How many times I hear “They gave me meds,” in response to the questions I ask when encountering a patient, coworker or other military friend struggling with PTSD and combat stress. Medications -- those magic cure-all pills -- seem to be the quick fix of the mental health providers for our veterans. The VA prescribes them by the ton. Here, take this one for sleep, this one for anxiety, here’s another for depression. Oh, yes, don’t forget the ones for nightmares, flashbacks and rage!
In all honesty here's the simple truth; many of our veterans simply need someone willing to listen to them, psychological professionals willing to provide the nitty gritty therapy that does not involve prescription drugs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in antidepressants and other medications, but these meds have to go hand in hand with talk therapy, with group therapy and with support groups. Many times I see providers who are only handing out meds, when the problem will never be solved with drugs alone. It’s like putting a band aid on an amputation.My thoughts are disjointed; I hardly know which issue to focus on when I write. Discouragement is
prominent. So many problems. Is there a solution to all these issues? Is there anyone willing to do
something, anything, about them? I wonder.