PTSD occurs when a person has experienced, witnessed, or has been confronted with a traumatic event, which involved actual or threatened death or serious physical injury to themselves or others. At which point they responded with intense fear, horror or helplessness. These diagnostic criteria for PTSD falls into three groups and are summarized as follows:

1)Re-experiencing the trauma (nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts).

2)Numbing and avoidance of reminders of the trauma (avoidance of situations, thoughts and feelings, etc.).

3)Persistent increased arousal (sleep difficulties, irritability, anger outbursts, startle response, etc.). Downrange to Iraq and Back by Bridget C. Cantrell, Ph.D. & Chuck Dean

Furthermore, however, is the fact that a physical injury affects the brain with these long, multiple tours; long days and nights while maintaining an acute awareness with all of the senses. And, emotions are 'wired' and ramped up while performing military functions to prepare for action, secure the perimeter, protect your team and "look out" for potential dangers with sustained alertness without having the needed REM state sleep for recovery.

The concussions by IED's cause Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and are also a devastating blow to our soldiers' brains that have enourmous inpact on the central nervous system and impacts memory of short term activities and events. Too many of our Warriors have enormous headaches and Migraines as well. So many of our Warriors also have Sleep Apnia that can be a career buster. "Big" Joe will describe his experiences and how he has dealt with his pain, suffering, transformations,ups and downs, relationships, rehab, and more. Thank you, Joe.


I am proud and honored to post this article by MSG Joe G. Hunt, SR.(Ret.) who tells his story about some significant and traumatic events that he experienced during 3 tours in Iraq and his 6 month recovery in our Ft. Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center. I had the good fortune to be "Big" Joe's primary therapist during this time and can affirm that he did everything possible and all that was offered in our treatment program and more, to recover and complete his 34 years as a great Warrior in our US Army. This service member has written his story to help brothers, sisters and others in our society understand and appreciate what soldiers often experience during the wars. We will never know the whole story of war and all of the trauma, sleepless nights, horrendous nightmares and all of the other symptoms that prevent our wounded warriors from returning home and joining their families with comfort, security, and joy. In fact, it seems to me that it is a miracle that any of these families make a successful recovery--our soldiers are no longer the same persons they were when they went to War--families no long recognize their loved ones and those they left behind often find them as strangers to re-discover.

One more reminder for all of us. Don't let our Iraq and Afghanistan Warriors return home without the recognition that they deserve. They did not start these wars or continue them--they did their duty the best they knew how. Welcome them home with the respect and dignity that they deserve and help them get the best services possible to help them heal and recover from all of these injuries, wounds and trauma. Darryl Worley, "Coming Back from the War" describes this experience vividly in his great ballad:

NOTE:This is my story and I give my authorization and permission for Jerry to post this on his Log. I was a patient in the world's primere PTSD treatment center and I waive my rights to privacy and confidentiality so that others will seek treatment and help for these invisible injuries. No one should ever feel guilty and wrong for taking advantage of services that can help them return to their families, to active duty or get medically boarded.

MSG Joe Hunt, Sr., US Army (Ret)

Jerry Vest, LISW, Holistic Health Practitioner/Social Worker

Author's Bio: 

I am a primary therapist and serve as a team member for the Ft. Bliss Restoration & Resilience Center. We provide integrative and other health services for Warriors returning from War and diagnosed with PTSD. Our mission is to return them to the force fit-for-duty if they are able. This is a 6 month intensive and comprehensive program for soldiers and their families. Do visit our website for details.