From Combat to Classroom: Transitions of Modern Warriors. Cari Myles, MSW, LCSW OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator Wm S. Middleton Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, Madison, WI. The Global War on Terrorism Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Operation Enduring Freedom.
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Cari Myles, MSW, LCSW
OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator
Wm S. Middleton Memorial
Veterans’ Hospital, Madison, WI
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
11, 222 & 9962
Veteran’s Health AdministrationNational – (VISN 12)
Armor is heavy 75-125 #
tinnitus and hearing loss…
Trauma, loss, Readjustment….
“People say I’ve changed...I used to be social, now I’m not; I have anger management problems; I don’t sleep good.”
“I’ve been home for a year now and I’m tired of everyone being worried about me. I get drunk often and everyone is scared.”
“It destroyed 2 marriages; I snap at family; it’s better for everyone if I just stay away.”
The war is physically harsh, mentally demanding and dangerous. The enemy wears no uniform, uses innocent civilians, and strikes without warning with the intent to kill and terrorize.
“The war…remains very personal”
Blast Injuries – TBI
Blast injuries are injuries that result from the complex pressure wave generated by an explosion. The explosion causes an instantaneous rise in pressure over atmospheric pressure that creates a blast over pressurization wave. Primary blast injury occurs from an interaction of the over pressurization wave and the body with differences occurring from one organ system to another. Air-filled organs such as the ear, lung, and gastrointestinal tract and organs surrounded by fluid-filled cavities such as the brain and spinal are especially susceptible to primary blast injury (Elsayed, 1997;Mayorga, 1997). The over pressurization wave dissipates quickly, causing the greatest risk of injury to those closest to the explosion. In a blast, brain injuries can also occur by other means such as impact from blast-energized debris, the individual being physically thrown, burns and/or inhalation of gases and vapors. Blast injuries can be multiple and complex and can often not be assessed in the same manner that other brain injuries might be examined. A better approach to take in evaluating a brain injury caused by a blast may, therefore, be to conduct the evaluation based on the mechanism (cause) of the injury.Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center
Exposed to eight different explosions, four not "too terribly serious" but four "marked his vehicle". A couple of events, he does not recall whether or not he was knocked unconscious. Some confusion after one of the events; does not have anterograde memory after some of the events for unspecified amount of time.
A couple other explosions got a headache, tinnitus and "wind knocked out of him." In a couple of them, he was wearing a helmet. Most of these events didn't worry him until he started loosing directional sense, "I started loosing the map in my head".
The veteran was wounded in combat….his Humvee was hit by an IED and he was blown out of the vehicle.. He was then shot at by snipers as he tried to get back to the vehicle and he returned fire
for 30 minutes. The veteran received injuries from the IED attack/ambush. He
was hospitalized initially for 6 days and then was in Germany for 6-7 days and
then was treated at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda for 7 months on
and off. He stated that during this attack there were 4
wounded but no killed. He stated that his job in the military as a scout team
leader was to "find IEDs before the convoy, 7 blasts to my vehicle, driving
veteran's vehicle was hit by an IED as part of the convoy scout team. He was
point. All of the attraction was to us. Four hundred plus convoys, small arms
fire all the time."
The Good News is that most are doing well (80%)!!
The Transition from Battlemind to Home:
Training for war includes preparing the soldier mentally –
Self Confidence – taking calculated risks and handling challenges
Mental Toughness – overcoming setbacks and maintaining positive thoughts during times of adversity and challenge
…..The Battlemind Walter Reed Institute of Research
Buddies vs. Withdrawal
Accountability vs. Controlling
Targeted Aggression vs. Inappropriate Aggression
Tactical Awareness vs. Hypervigiliance
Lethally Armed vs. “Locked and Loaded” at home
Emotional Control vs. Anger/Detachment
Mission Operational Security vs. Secretiveness
Individual Responsibility vs. Guilt
Non-defensive (combat) driving vs. Aggressive Driving
Discipline and Ordering vs. Conflict
Trying to “melt” into student populations but with..
Exceptionally different experiences
Common physical and emotional complaints sometimes on powerful medication
Many with problems with concentration, memory, irritability, lack of sleep, hypervigiliance
Little to no knowledge of “Disability Resources” on campus
Don’t single them out, ask if they want vet status to be known.
“Most think I lost my arm in a farming accident, I don’t bother to tell them…”
“I don’t want to ‘get into it’ so I just act like I’ve always been this way.”
“I do OK until the discussion is about the war, then I just don’t say anything.”
Discuss privately what you can offer them.
Like most students with disabilities but perhaps more so, as “Warriors”, do not want special services and probably won’t seek out.
Show interest, understand that “trust has to be earned”.
Connect them with Veteran’s services
Connect with other Vets (if they want)
Connect with other students
Understand the richness their experiences brings to the campus
May be “heroes” but they are “ordinary”…
Cari Myles, MSW, LCSW
OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator
Wm. S. Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital
Madison, Wisconsin 53705
(608) 256-1901 ext 11297