Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day - Thank You Is Never Enough!

Every November 10th, John, head of housekeeping for the VA Outpatient Clinic at 251 Causeway Street would stop by my office and do a trivia quiz about the Marine Corps. I would put the birthday of the Marine Corps on my calendar. We'd pause and take some time for him to share the good, the bad and the ugly of what he experienced and despite the ravages of war, he seemed to walk a little taller and a little prouder every year on the Marine Corps birthday.

I left the VA to heal my own life and to leave the work of caring for those who served to the next generation of social workers. There are so many wonderful, caring people available to serve those who served. Recently I was blessed to reconnect with Renee Gallagher who initially replaced me as the outpatient medical social worker and is now providing support to the caregivers of the post 9/11 veterans who live with the effects of modern warfare including brain injury and post traumatic stress. Renee likes to think outside the box and we talk about how complementary therapies, especially the power of positive touch, can heal trauma and provide care to the caregivers.

When we first began to treat trauma at the VA back when I was an intern in 1983-84 there was a sense of hopelessness and frustration in treating trauma. My mentor, Sarah Haley, LICSW fought to get the diagnosis of PTSD into the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Psychiatric Disorders to begin to remove the stigma associated with the manifestation of PTSD such as rages, drinking to self medicate, suicidality and bring compassion to those who experienced trauma.

We have come a long way in understanding trauma and how to treat trauma. There is even a movement to remove the "D" in PTSD saying that the effects of trauma are not a disorder but rather a normal reaction to extraordinary events.

Research is being done on the effects of meditation, yoga, massage, and acupuncture on the effects of trauma. Neuroscientists are touting the good news that the brain and nervous system have neuroplasticity which means that once something happens to the body or the brain, it is not the end of the road but a new beginning. The mind, body and soul have an enormous healing capacity and through love, kindness, compassion and support trauma is transformed into resilience!

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed this morning it was filled with photos of veterans past and present. I thought, someone should share these in one place ... what better place than this place?

Thank you to all who served and to all who continue to serve to protect and defend our freedom. To you I bow! I salute you with hand over heart!


US Air Force
Integrity First
Service Before Self
Excellence in All We Do

US Coast Guard
"Semper Paratus"
(Always Ready)"

US Marines
"Semper Fidelis"
(Always Faithful)

US Navy
"Honor, Courage, Commitment"

US Army
"This We'll Defend"

Through 11/15 please join the #Give2Veterans campaign that donates $1 for every hashtag #Give2Veterans to the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Veterans Day is every day and we need to find ways to support and help our veterans on the home front because thank you is never enough!

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