One of the wounds of war shows no outward scars. There is no Purple Heart for it, yet in this post 9/11 period more of our military are dealing with this often devastating inner battle wound that has proven to defy much of the current treatment regimens available through the VA and other health providers.
CBS 60 Minutes did a piece on a new treatment that the Unites States Army is currently conducting clinical studies for. It may give hope to those who are living with the multiple issues that have been associated with what is commonly called PTSD. It is called Stellate Ganglian Block or SGB. If it proves to be as effective as it seems to be in those being treated with it at present, it may be made more universally available. It is something really different.
The VA says that over the last 18 years of war, with the stress of multiple deployments to very dangerous, intense battlefield environments, PTSD, or PTSI, or PTS, has become an epidemic within our military. Less than 40% of those who suffer the symptoms and effects of PTS actually find lasting relief under the current regimes of medications for depression and talk therapy. There is as yet no absolutely successful treatment for this often life-threatening inner struggle with the experiences and memories of war.
One of the most interesting things about this treatment is that it recognizes that PTS is more than simply a psychological response to the terrors and horrors of war fighting. This new treatment is addressing it as having an actual, physical element. What they seem to be finding out, as you will hear from some veterans being treated with this new SGB injection, is that it takes much of the pressure off, brings a clearer sense of calm to them, which makes them more open and able to get the benefits of further psychological, or talk therapy.
Dakota Meyer, a Marine and Medal of Honor recipient is one of the people who have been treated with this new method. You will see and hear his response to it here, as well as the responses to the therapy of three other veterans.
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It has always been true that those who have served have, in essence, written a blank check to the nation to be redeemed up to and including the wounds of war and even death. That voluntary offering of self demands something. It demands that the government that sent them, and We The People, the nation that has benefited from their service and self-sacrifice, owes them all that is necessary to heal those wounds, to make them whole again, as much as is humanly possible.
All who have been to war, those who have known the horrors, the tensions of combat, of being always on your guard, always expecting the insane intensity of an ambush, have developed the habits of constant awareness and readiness. These are completely natural survival mechanisms in the midst of the 24/7 madness of a war zone. But, when they come back from those war zones, those habits often come home with them. For many, these habits are very difficult to let go of, and they do not fit into the realm of “the world” the home and families that they come back to after their battlefield experiences. This new SGB therapy may, indeed, be a new ray of hope in treating this particularly difficult to treat war injury more effectively.
The Veterans Site hopes that this new SGB treatment may prove to be a real breakthrough in the effort to effectively treat the many symptoms of PTS for our military veterans. It is a fact that we need to be doing something more for these good men and women who have so selflessly served all of us in times of war, past and present.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.