A REPORT FROM THE FRONT LINES OF A MARINE CORPS LEAGUE PROGRAM DEALING WITH COMBAT STRESS
One of the uses of the book “Invisible Scars”, is proving to be effective and helpful to our veterans, which is described below by a Marine,
The is an email from:
David T. Ossian
Asst. National Vice Commandant
Marine Corps League
Once A Marine – Always A Marine
“A few months ago a friend of mine gave me the good Doctor’s book as a gift. It was signed by the author and I was excited. My friend didn’t express to me how much this book could change my life.
By the time I got to page 25 I felt compelled to speak to Dr. Billings and asked my friend how he got me this book. He explained his relationship with Doc’s son in law and offered to put us in touch. 30 minutes later and my phone rings. Since that day I have been on a mission.
I created a Facebook event and hosted a Book Club – Peer Support Group at my home. 16 Marines and FMF Corpsman showed up the first night. Several more studied on their own with email-text-Facebook feedback to me. We started by watching Dr. Billings video on his website (www.bartpbillings.com). We then discussed expectations and challenges. Before anyone left we all agreed that everyone would take at least one other person’s cell phone number for contact in case the book brought out a difficult demon.
On the night of the second meeting we watched the first half of a documentary that Dr Billings was in called, “Hidden Enemy” (http://www.cchr.org/documentaries/the-hidden-enemy.html) and then discussed our thoughts on Chapter 1. I did my best to facilitate the conversation and make sure that everyone contributed. The comments and conversations were extremely impactful and healthy. We planned to read and discuss one chapter every two weeks.
During our third meeting my co-facilitator Retired USN Senior Chief Petty Officer and FMF Corpsman guided us through setting our own rules. He then produced a 3 foot clipboard and wrote them out in sharpy as the team responded with ideas:
– No interrupting.
– No derogatory statements
– Stay on the subject matter
These are just a few examples. There are several other great ones that I will have to write them all down and share.
After we discussed ground rules we discussed Chapter 2 and watched two TED talks. Both were short videos about Veteran’s issues.
Jake Wood’s and Sebastian Junger’s. Both are amazing talks.
At our next meeting we are having a guest who is an internal medicine Doctor (non VA) to discuss with the team what these drugs really do to the body. This will be anonymously.
We will be ordering 100 more books this week to get two more of our Nebraska teams studying and then I will encourage our women’s Auxiliary to start a book study as well to better understand their husbands and sons.
To summarize: I am a Desert Storm Veteran who needed purpose in my life. I joined the Marine Corps League 6 years ago and have been extremely successful, but this will top everything I have done to date as far as helping Veterans. Properly marketed and delivered this model could have serious impact on mental health and the overall quality of life for our Veterans. I am meeting tonight with the regional head of the Wounded Warrior Regiment for the Marine Corps and I am taking him a copy of the book for him to read on his upcoming flight to Camp Pendleton.
I thank you Sir for taking the time to read this and for your input on how I can continue to change Veteran’s and their families lives”.
God bless and Semper Fidelis
David T. Ossian
Asst. National Vice Commandant
Marine Corps League
A follow up email reads:
I am very proud to be fighting this battle with you.
Last night we had an amazing book club – Peer group meeting. It would be difficult to put into words the impact and intensity of this extremely positive meeting. We were discussing Chapter 4 and many of the Marines and Corpsman spoke of how this chapter scared the hell out of them. The idea of taking the medication prescribed by a Doctor and dying in you sleep is tough to process. During our 2 hour discussion we spoke in depth about how difficult it is to deal with guilt. The only mental health issue not addressed in the DSM. Guilt might be the universal connection that we all share and of course disappointment. The reality of the potential impact of what we are doing is not lost on my team. They see the big picture and the grass roots movement that we are part of.
Our Omaha team will be starting a separate Peer Group – book club in their area next week.
God willing we can build an ideal model of a life altering Veteran’s Service Organization.
You may want to ask people to call or write their Senator and Congressman to support the following.
The current Senate Bill by John Mc Cain – S.788 – 115th Congress (2017-2018)/VeteranOvermedication Prevention Act of 2017. Also presented by the House Of Representatives is a companion bill; H.R.2652 – Veteran Overmedication Prevention Act of 2017, Sponsored by Rep. Mike Coffman [R-CO-6] introduced 05/25/17.
Hopefully these bills will provide more integrative treatment for our military Vets, without the use of brain altering, non-effective, destructive psychiatric medications. Also it is imperative that more physiatrists be hired by the VA to work with our vets. A physiatrist is a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) medical doctor who specializes in treating physical and mental difficulties. This specialty can be seen as one “Born of War,” going back to after WW I, when PM&R was the treatment of choice for our war veterans..
Although the government states that there are 20 veteran suicides a day (Figure released by the government in 2016) in the US, this figure is an underestimate, since several states don’t report specific veteran suicides. This suicide rate has been reported in the past several years as 22 suicides a day, which was still an underestimation.
Related to this high suicide rate is the fact that in 2010, the number of veterans filling a prescription for brain altering psychiatric medications (All have black box warnings of suicidality as the first adverse effect) was 1.85 million veterans filling at least one prescription. From 2005 thru 2011, the Department of Defense increased the amount of psychiatric medications purchased by about 700%. From 2001 through 2011, the VA spent $1.64 billion just on benzodiazepines and the antipsychotics Risperdal and Seroquel.
PTSD has been a label placed on 37% of recent war veterans with 80% of those being given brain altering psychiatric medications.of these vets, 89% were prescribed antidepressants and 34% were prescribed antipsychotics. The psychiatric community has failed to realize that PTS (Without “D”) is a normal reaction for most people that have been in combat. It’s a shame that government spent $3 billion on “PTSD treatments” for veterans in 2012 alone, without realizing that PTS is a normal reaction to being in an abnormal environment. With the proper amount of time and supportive integrative treatment, this normal reactions, associated with the abnormal experience of combat, i.e., hyper vigilance, nightmares,… etc., can be reversed with much less monies being spent.
One must remember that in WW II , veterans were identified with Battle Fatigue, not a label of Battle Fatigue Disorder. This is because the medical community realized that Battle Fatigue was a normal reaction to being in combat. Veterans simply got fatigued from fighting and with proper rest and relaxation (R&R), most returned to normal functioning. This is not occurring today, since psychiatry is in the business of medicating most of their patients with brain altering drugs that don’t work and in some situations, Electro Convulsive Therapy (ETC) that also destroys healthy brain cells.
The lack of proper treatment of our vets has resulted in the VA’s mental health budget increasing from about $3 billion in 2003 to $7.5 billion in 2016. If any military person had a higher than average number of deaths for the troops they were responsible for, they would be relieved and possibly court-martialed. If a corporate officer, in the civilian community, were responsible for significant financial losses, they would be fired and replaced. So one can ask the question, why the people responsible for veterans mental health (Psychiatry in general as a profession), and the consistent loss of lives to suicide , haven’t been fired and replaced? This is a question that must be answered!
Invisible Scars, by Bart P Billings,Ph.D, Feb 2016
Ilse R. Wiechers, MD, MPP, et al., “Increased Risk Among Older Veterans of Prescribing Psychotropic Medication in the Absence of Psychiatric Diagnoses,” Am J. Geriatr Psychiatry, Jun 2014.
“VA/Defense Mental Health Drug Expenditures Since 2001,” May 2012 Drug Totals, Government Executive, http://cdn.govexec.com/media/gbc/docs/pdfs_edit/051712bb1_may2012drugtotals.pdf.
Susan Donaldson James, “Marines Battalion Mentally Upbeat, Despite Record Deaths,” ABC News, April 15, 2011, http://www.abcnews.go.com/Health/camp-pendleton-marine-battalion-mentally-fit-deadliest-war/story?id=13377215; Mohamed S, Rosenheck RA, “Pharmacotherapy of PTSD in the US Department of Veterans Affairs: diagnostic- and symptom-guided drug selection,” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2008, June Vol. 69, No. 6, pp. 959-65, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18588361.
Mohamed S., et al., “Pharmacotherapy of PTSD in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: diagnostic- and symptom-guided drug selection,” J. Clin Psychiatry, Jun 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18588361.
John Ramsey, “The Last Battle: Steven Chadduck lost his home and nearly committed suicide while waiting for help for PTSD,” Fayottesville Observer, Sept. 24, 2012, fayobserver.com/military/article_a0699933-cac5-5ced-8616-f01eef305f16.html; Leo Shane III, “Budget deal nails down fiscal 2016 spending for DoD, VA,” Military Times, 16 Dec 2015, http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2015/12/16/budget-omnibus-fy16-defense-veterans-affairs-pentagon/77416466/.
Alan Zarembo, “Government’s PTSD treatment for veterans lacking, report finds,” Los Angeles Times, 20 Jun 2014, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ptsd-report-20140621-story.html.
Alan Zarembo, “Government’s PTSD treatment for veterans lacking, report finds,” Los Angeles Times, 20 Jun 2014, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ptsd-report-20140621-story.html.
“Let’s Stop Using Experimental Vaccines and Psych Drugs that are Destroying our Veterans and Military Personnel,” Health Impact News, 2014, http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/lets-stop-using-experimental-vaccines-and-psych-drugs-that-are-destroying-our-veterans-and-military-personnel/.
Bart P. Billings,Ph.D.
Just wondering why still 22 suicides a day (Gov’t now states 20 which is underestimate) for Vets.
With all the statistics being thrown around during this election year, i.e., number of murders in inner cities, victims of illegal aliens, etc., the figure of 22 veterans committing suicide each day (approx. 8,030 a year) gets lost in the shuffle for Vets.
Gov’t now states 20 vet suicides a day, which is an underestimate, since not all places count veterans suicides, especially vets on VA waiting list for mental health services that never get seen.
This suicide rate has been going on for many years and little seems to be done by the government to help this large number of veterans, who have served our country with distinction.
When I ask myself WHY ??? I start thinking what possible reason could their be for this negligence? Is it purposeful that nothing has been done to help these vets? Who would do such a thing, I wonder? Heaven forbidden that I even allude to a conspiracy — not me!
Here are some of the things that go through my wondering mind:
1. The profession generally in charge of Mental Health Services in the Veterans Administration and Military is Psychiatry (As well as in the civilian community). As I noted in my book, “Invisible Scars,” Psychiatry’s primary treatment modality is brain altering psychiatric medication, that have a severe BLACK BOX warning, that lists suicide as the first side effect. Now consider that the field of psychiatry and the big-pharma companies ( that produce psychiatric medications) generate 1/3 of a trillion dollars a year dispensing these drugs.
2. Then I think, that if 8,030 vets a year are removed from receiving medical benefits, retirement income, social security, etc., how much money is the government saving on these expenditures each year for many years.
3. How could our country, with so many brilliant scientists, fail to solve the problem of suicide among our veteran population. We are the country that put men on the moon almost 50 years ago. We cured Polio and many other diseases?
4. Is a consistent 22 Veteran suicides a day (Some professional veteran groups think it is more) for such a long period of time coincidental or is it purposeful?
5. Why do we hear the excuse from the governments mental health mouthpiece (psychiatry), that there is no silver bullet to solve the problem. Could it be that they are looking for ONE SILVER BULLET that is a drug. If you are old enough, you will remember that the Lone Ranger had a whole belt of silver bullets to solve lawlessness in the old west. I call this integrative treatment in mental health?
6. When we are presently loosing now and over the past several years, so many of our battle proven, best patriots to suicide, more than in current combat, more than being murdered in major individual inner cities, more than to criminal illegal aliens, why is this not the main issue in this years election?
Bart P. Billings,Ph.D.
Five days before my book was to be released, an article was written in the San Diego Union Tribune that again illustrates what my book describes in detail. The article is as follows:
Steele, J. (2016, January 10). Report Says VA Failed In Care Of Veteran. San Diego Union Tribune, Retrieved from http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jan/10/va-report-jeremy-sears-veteran-suicide/#sthash.am7r0ZFo.dpuf
Since this is the closing comments in the book in chapter 13 and identifies what I feel is again negligence on the part of the VA, which resulted in the suicide death of a 35 year old Camp Pendleton Marine, Jeremy Sears, at an indoor Oceanside gun range in October 2014; I want to elaborate on this tragedy.
For me, this story hits close to home since I personal know many Marines at Camp Pendleton and have even used the Oceanside indoor gun range on numerous occasions. Ever since this tragic death, there have been organizations and people that I know well, such as the American Combat Veterans Of War (ACVOW) and retired Marine General Attorney David Brahms, questioning the VA’s treatment of Sgt. Sears.
As a result of their work, these critics’ statements resulted in the VA’s own Inspector General finally investigating the claim that Sgt. Sears fell through the cracks in their system. This investigation revealed a measure of confirmation that the VA mishandled Sgt. Sears’s treatment. The newspaper article states that the Inspector General’s “report reveals that San Diego VA doctors continued to prescribe a narcotic painkiller – hydrocodone drug known as Vicodin – for 22 months without any oversight, even though studies have warned that chronic pain elevates the risk of suicide attempts. And, high suicide risk makes use of hydrocodone less appropriate”. Although the newspaper report didn’t mention brain altering psychiatric anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medication being used, I suspect that it was also prescribed.
As I have mentioned previously in my book, research has shown that there is a link between TBI and suicide. Also the adverse reactions of narcotic medication and psychiatric medications have a black box warning, with the first adverse event being identified as suicide. The newspaper article states “Overall, the VA Inspector General’s analysis said the San Diego VA erred in several ways during the nearly 2 years Sgt. Sears was under its care”.
From my perspective, I feel based on past history that one of the only ways that people can be identified and held responsible for this travesty is through formal litigation, similar to what has occurred in the Pennsylvania VA case that I mention in detail in my book.
“THE NEW SOLUTION FOR PREVENTING PURCHASES OF FIREARMS BY INDIVIDUALS WITH MENTAL DISORDERS”
(From the forthcoming book- “Invisible Scars, How to Treat Combat Stress And PTSD Without Medication”, By Bart P Billings, PhD, (December 2015, www.bartpbillings.com)
With the current mass shootings, the media and politicians are stating that something needs to be done in regard to gun control, as well as focusing more on mental health issues.
If the focus on mental health issues requires increasing the numbers of mental health providers, such as psychiatrists, whose primary treatment modality is prescribing brain altering psychiatric medications, then this solution would only increase the problem. It will be adding fuel to the fire. It has been established that most all of the mass shooters were on or previously using prescription brain altering psychiatric medications. Also many of the shooters got their guns legally with background checks. Therefore the issue should be on brain altering psychiatric meds being used.
When increasing the number of mental health providers, we must look at specialties that practice integrative treatment, without the use of psychiatric medications, i.e. psychologists, social workers, counselors, etc.
In my soon to be released book, “INVISIBLE SCARS – How To Treat Combat Stress and PTSD Without Medication”, I discuss and sight research that shows most all mass shooters, over the past decade, have either actively been on or previously been on brain altering psychiatric medications and in some cases, alcohol or illegal drugs as well. Therefore, the focus now should be on “psychiatric medication control” instead of focusing on “gun control”.
Since there is such a strong relationship between the mass shootings and brain altering psychiatric medication, it would be common sense to set up a system where anyone taking a brain altering psychiatric medication would not be allowed to purchase or own a firearm.
A reasonable way of accomplishing this would be for: all pharmacists, filling a prescription for a black box, brain altering psychiatric medication, who normally enter the patient’s name into their computer, would at the same time, be linked to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI’s data base. Once in the DOJ and FBI system, the person’s name would be sent to every firearms retailer in the United States, putting the name on a “can not buy” a firearm list.
This way, if the person named on the DOJ “can not buy” list, comes into a gun store to purchase a weapon, the salesperson would simply say their name is on a “can not buy” list. The list gives no reason, due to confidentially, and if the person on the list wants to know why they can’t purchase a firearm, the salesperson would simply give them the contact information at DOJ, to get an explanation.
I would also recommend that if a relative, with the same last name of the person on the list comes into purchase a firearm, they should be informed that their relative should not have access to the firearm and that they themselves would be liable if this occurs.
Some may say that this may breach confidentiality, but in California and other states, systems are already in place, where if a person has the potential to harm themselves or others, it gets reported before hand to the proper agency.
A good example is when a person is considered to have a lapse of consciousness, due to some type of brain impairment. The physician has a responsibility to report this person to the appropriate source, so the information gets to the Department Of Motor Vehicles.
For example: “California HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE, SECTION 103900 states:
(a) Every physician and surgeon shall report immediately to the local health officer in writing, the name, date of birth, and address of every patient at least 14 years of age or older whom the physician and surgeon has diagnosed as having a case of a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness. However, if a physician and surgeon reasonably and in good faith believes that the reporting of a patient will serve the public interest, he or she may report a patient’s condition even if it may not be required under the department’s definition of disorders characterized by lapses of consciousness pursuant to subdivision (d).
(b) The local health officer shall report in writing to the Department of Motor Vehicles the name, age, and address, of every person reported to it as a case of a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness.
(c) These reports shall be for the information of the Department of Motor Vehicles in enforcing the Vehicle Code, and shall be kept confidential and used solely for the purpose of determining the eligibility of any person to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of this state.
(d) The department, in cooperation with the Department of Motor Vehicles, shall define disorders characterized by lapses of consciousness based upon existing clinical standards for that definition for purposes of this section and shall include Alzheimer’s disease and those related disorders that are severe enough to be likely to impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle in the definition”.
Another system that is already in place, that is even more closely related to potential dangers of prescription brain altering psychiatric medications in California is called, the “Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) Program”.
This program is as follows:
“State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) are pleased to announce that the state’s new Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System – commonly referred to as “CURES 2.0” – will go live on July 1, 2015. This upgraded prescription drug monitoring program features a variety of performance improvements and added functionality.
The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) is a database containing information on Schedule II through IV controlled substances dispensed in California. It is a valuable investigative, preventive, and educational tool for the healthcare community, regulatory boards, and law enforcement”.
Therefore, as one can see, mechanisms are already in existence that can be slightly altered to add brain altering psychiatric medications. There are actually some brain altering psychiatric medications (Controlled Substance) on the CURES list that are already identified as Schedule II controlled substances; to mention a few i.e.; Amphetamine – Adderall, Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. Also listed is Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), for treatment of ADHD, narcolepsy. Additionally, this applies to Methamphetamine for treatment of ADHD, severe obesity. There are many more brain altering medications prescribed by physicians, being used for mental health patients, on this schedule II list.
As you can see from the above, there are already systems in place that can be added to, that can identify individuals that have a mental disorder, that are on brain altering psychiatric medications. By implementing my suggested above program as perscribed, the number of people with mental disorders, having access to legally purchasing a firearm, would be dramatically reduced.
Also, I feel that the FDA should have the pharmaceutical companies, include in their Medication Guide, which patients and their families are supposed to be given, by the physician prescribing brain altering “Black Box” psychiatric medications, the following information: “Individuals taking this medication should not have access to firearms”.
*This information is a portion of copyrighted material from “Invisible Scars” by Bart Billings, PhD.
Excerpts from chapter 4 regarding CTE
I explained that I strongly felt all football players, to a degree, have experienced CTE. My comment was based on the nature of the sport and the 4-22-15 article in USA Today; “Judge Approves Potential $1 Billion Settlement To Resolve NFL Concussion Lawsuit”, which reported that 6000 retired NFL players will receive an average of $190K for concussion injuries. This is a significant number comprised of approximately 1/3rd of all retired players. This number accounts only for those experiencing problems while the other 2/3rds have yet to see problems or they are minimal based on the degree of CTE experienced.(http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2015/04/22/nfl-concussion-lawsuit-settlement-judge-1-billion/26192827/)
Since anyone with a TBI or CTE has an increased risk of suicide four times more than someone without this injury combining narcotic pain relievers with brain-altering psychiatric medications sets up a perfect storm for sudden death, suicide, and other physical and psychological reactions.
After viewing the movie Concussion, I noticed that although mention was made to the deceased players using medication for pain relief, as well as psychiatric medications, there was no direct reference to these medications contributing to the actual behave- ior of the players being discussed. Therefore, I feel strongly that anyone having potential CTE or TBI should be aware that the first black box warning on most psychiatric medications is suicide. As this book states, there are multiple integrative treatment modalities that can be utilized for what is a very physical (not psychiatric) impairment of CTE or TBI.
Concussion also neglects to explore the relationship between psychiatric medication and dangerous physical side effects. For example, there is a scene in which a football player (Webster), who is later diagnosed post-mortem with CTE, was given an injection of Haldol (also known as Haloperidol) after he visits the NFL team physician in a very agitated state (which is not uncommon with a brain injury). Soon after, Webster has a heart attack and dies.
“Haloperidol, is also commonly used, both intramuscularly and intravenously, to control agitated patients in the emergency room. In September 2007, the FDA released a warning that torsades de pointes and QT prolongation (Heart rhythm) might occur in patients receiving haloperidol, particularly when the drug is administered intravenously or at doses higher than recommended. The FDA notes that haloperidol is not approved for intravenous use”. This information can be seen in the Summary and Comment of the 10/12/07 issue of Emergency Medicine titled “FDA Warning: Haloperidol Joins Droperidol” by Diane M. Birnbaumer, MD, FACEP.74
Also an article in the Journal Of Hospital Medicine in 2010; 5(4): E8-E16 (PubMed: 20394022) titled, “The FDA extended warning for intravenous haloperidol and torsades de pointes: how should institutions respond” reveals some patients experiencing sudden cardiac arrest after given IV haloperidol, as well as other potential risk factors.75
The movie suggests that the football player had CTE but died from heart failure; the injection of Haldol was never addressed.
What I have been stating publically for several years and also in my book “Invisible Scars”, is that 100% of all National Football League (NFL) players have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), based on the nature of the game itself. Now my clinical observations have been scientifically confirmed by a study presented in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), JAMA. 2017;318(4):360-370. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.8334
The article is:
Original Investigation — July 25, 2017
“Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football”
“Findings: In a convenience sample of 202 deceased players of American football from a brain donation program, CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 players across all levels of play (87%), including 110 of 111 former National Football League players (99%)”.
Also, extensive newspaper articles can be found on this study:
The New York Times on July 25, 2017 titled: 110 NFL brains by Joe Ward, Josh Williams and Sam Manchester.
USA Today reports: “Study: CTE diagnosed in 99% of former NFL players studied by Researchers”
A.J. Perez, USA TODAY Sports Published 11:02 a.m. ET July 25, 2017, Updated 11:45 a.m. ET July 25, 2017