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Wings

Talk About Ptsd

Question

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I don't want to talk about the "stressors" necessarily, you can if you want, but I would like to know if anyone here wants to talk about living with PTSD?

OK, I need to talk. I drank alcohol socially when I joined the military. I think I managed alcohol pretty well: drank beer with friends, at home, not drink alone, laughed, stayed up late talking, generally had a good time. Childhood had some rough patches that the VA has graciously not focused upon, so I'm NOT going to open up about my family of origin. I love and honor my parents, and they are not part of my VA Claims, ever.

After I was sexually assaulted, I drank more. I went through periods of seeking out dangerous behaviors, maybe I thought if I had lived through that trauma, it meant I was bullett proof. I'm not sure, but looking back, I did seek out danger. I went through a period after the assault, where I was promiscuous. I mean, looking back, I really wanted to figure this out, did I attract rapists, was I asking for it (blame the victim you know), was I a sex object to be used by men; did men hate me, did they all want to hurt me? Crazy thinking. Don't know if you can relate.

My in-service alcohool increased; especially when there was a decision to let the perps go unpunished. I felt terribly abandoned, and bad about myself. Like I wasn't worth anything --to anybody. So, when I called into my duty station one fateful morning, and told them I was too hungover to drive, my 1st Lt decided to play the power trip on me, and write me up as AWOL. By this time, I'd had enough --and I requested to be discharged instead of face a court martial. He could have just sent me to Rehab., or gave me an Article 15, but noooooo, he wanted to do something he'd never done before, little twirp that he was.

I think I did a pretty good job overall, I mean I kept my military bearing for 6 years and did some very good work for the USAF. Got promoted to Sergeant, a couple of ribbons, you know. But for godsake, there was a lot of sexual harassment from day one. Lurking, instigating, insinuating, married doctors proposing sex, making excuses to be on the same detail, cat calls, whisteles, staring, jokes. Crap. I had had enough.

Sooooo now, I am trying to correct an injustice through the filing "Claims". I won my SC for PTSD in 11 months. I beat the AFDRB, and now I am up against a wall with the BVA. I don't know if I can beat these guys, they are tough.

I applied for VA Benefits within a month of discharge. Since the AF discharged me OTH, I wasn't eligible for State unemployment. I went to the County VSO and told them I had a drinking problem and was severly depressed (discharge exam says so). VSO contacted the VA (State Forms say they contacted the VA), they told me they filed a claim, and that the VA would have to decide if I was eligible for benefits.

VA did a Character of Discarge on me, but never sent me a Notice of their decision. I figured they determined I was Dishonorable for the next 10 years. I had NO IDEA I had an honorable period of service --until HADIT CONFIRMED MY VETERANS STATUS, more than 10 years ago.

5 years ago, I filed a claim for EED for PTSD. I'm still working on it. They tell me I never filed a CLAIM except for a Loan Guaranty. Not true! But, there is NO EVIDENCE in my C-file of an earlier "claim" I thought the State Forms would be recognozed as evidence, but they have ignored them completely.

The only thing they have conceded (agreed to) is that the Character of Discharge was Non-final. They never sent me a notice that I could Appeal. I know that if I had been allowed to appeal, it would have perfected my claim for PTSD or at least the psychiatric injury that I was treated for in-servive, and was noted on my discharge exam. But the BVA says that the Character of Discharge was not a "claim". The BVA says they made a mistake, but it was HARMLESS.

The Attoreny over the weekend I contacted was a good guy, one of the best; he told me I had about a 20% chance of winning. So, I guess I am just going to persist, but I don't know the tone I should take with them. Should I just use PLAIN LANGUAGE and forget about the Law?

Anyway, it's been 10 years of dealing with the VA through my claims or other vets claims, I've missed a lot of special moments with my kids --and they don't want me to get in "trouble" with the VA. They just want me to be OK.

I just can't seem to let this go; how they all made me feel like my time in service meant nothing to them. I was a good Sergeant. But, here's where I do not want to whine. I just want to be able to tell them, they made a mistake --now say your sorry and pay me for the fraud they perpetrated against me. But I can't prove it.

Sooooo, I have been sober for ummmm, almost 20 years. But reliving my story with the VA sets me back emotionally. I have been so angry and frustrated, that I have forgotten all about my sobriety, and how GOOD that felt to do that for myself. I am still sober, but have been feeling completely INSANE dealing with the VA.

I have some deep scars (PTSD), that make me forget who I am (good person, god's daughter), and I just need a little support.

Love, ~Wings

Edited by Wings

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PTSD and alcohol problems often occur together.

http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/fac...fs_alcohol.html

Being diagnosed with PTSD increases the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

Women exposed to trauma show an increased risk for an alcohol use disorder even if they are not experiencing PTSD. Women with problematic alcohol use are more likely than other women to have been sexually abused at some point in their lives.

Men and women reporting sexual abuse have higher rates of alcohol and drug use disorders than other men and women.

Twenty-five to seventy-five percent of those who have survived abusive or violent trauma also report problems with alcohol use.

Ten to thirty-three percent of survivors of accidental, illness, or disaster trauma report problematic alcohol use, especially if they are troubled by persistent health problems or pain.

Sixty to eighty percent of Vietnam veterans seeking PTSD treatment have alcohol use disorders.

Veterans over the age of 65 with PTSD are at increased risk for attempted suicide if they also experience problematic alcohol use or depression.

War veterans diagnosed with PTSD and alcohol use tend to be binge drinkers. Binges may be in reaction to memories or reminders of trauma.

Alcohol problems often lead to trauma and disrupt relationships.

Persons with alcohol use disorders are more likely than others with similar backgrounds to experience psychological trauma. They also experience problems with conflict and intimacy in relationships.

Problematic alcohol use is associated with a chaotic lifestyle, which reduces family emotional closeness, increases family conflict, and reduces parenting abilities.

PTSD symptoms often are worsened by alcohol use.

Although alcohol can provide a temporary feeling of distraction and relief, it also reduces the ability to concentrate, enjoy life, and be productive.

Excessive alcohol use can impair one's ability to sleep restfully and to cope with trauma memories and stress.

Alcohol use and intoxication also increase emotional numbing, social isolation, anger and irritability, depression, and the feeling of needing to be on guard (hyper-vigilance).

Alcohol use disorders reduce the effectiveness of PTSD treatment.

Many individuals with PTSD experience sleep disturbances (trouble falling asleep or problems with waking up frequently after falling asleep). When a person with PTSD experiences sleep disturbances, using alcohol as a way to self-medicate becomes a double-edged sword. Alcohol use may appear to help symptoms of PTSD because the alcohol may decrease the severity and number of frightening nightmares commonly experienced in PTSD. However, alcohol use may, on the other hand, continue the cycle of avoidance found in PTSD, making it ultimately much more difficult to treat PTSD because the client's avoidance behavior prolongs the problems being addressed in treatment. Also, when a person withdraws from alcohol, nightmares often increase.

Additional Mental Health Issues

Individuals with a combination of PTSD and alcohol use problems often have additional mental or physical health problems.

As many as 10-50% of adults with alcohol use disorders and PTSD also have one or more of the following serious disorders:

Anxiety disorders (such as panic attacks, phobias, incapacitating worry, or compulsions)

Mood disorders (such as major depression or a dysthymic disorder)

Addictive disorders (such as addiction to or abuse of street or prescription drugs)

Chronic physical illness (such as diabetes, heart disease, or liver disease)

Chronic physical pain due to physical injury/illness or due to no clear physical cause

Edited by Wings

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Wings - this is the best I can do

in cyber-space - but you are OK,

you are going to get the validation

in money - they will never say they

made a mistake - but the sun will

shine tomorrow.

Look again at that house you posted

a little while back as your avatar

and let your mind go there and feel

the peace and the safety of that

beautiful place.

carlie

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Wings:

I have known for a long time that you are good people. 20 years sober is quite an accomplishment. I quit in 1982 and sometimes I can still be mean as a snake but the difference today is I try not to be that way and I will apologize and make amends if I can.

I have seen you struggle and I have seen you reach out and help a lot of people.

I also know how it feels to be vindicated by getting fair treatment from the VA and our government.

When you win I will celebrate

Pete

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Wings,

Im fairly new here but I've read ur posts. U r a great person!! a strong person! ur story parallels mine and i'm sure probably many others dealing with MST. it doesnt define u as a person. u r still that great, strong person!! and not to mention 20 yrs sober is just absolutely awesome!!!! kudos to u!

Christy

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Guest terrysturgis

Wings, I too quit drinking a long time ago. So long ago that I can't remember when I quit. (Must have been drinking too much). I do not want to go back there, Wife said when I was drunk I was an a**hole.

You and I both know how the system works (guilty till proven innocent) and it is my hope that you can find the strength to never give up the fight. Take care. Terry

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