PAT LAMOUREUX - One episode in a person's life, does not define the person.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

At Army Base, Some Violence Is Too Familiar (Ft. Hood, TX)

New York Times
(A version of this article appeared in print on November 10, 2009, on page A1 of the New York edition.)
Published: November 9, 2009

“Our soldiers are coming back and not getting the help they need,” said Cynthia Thomas, an Army wife who runs a private assistance center for soldiers in Killeen called Under the Hood CafĂ©. “Whether it’s self-medicating, anger or violence, these are the consequences of war, and you have to think about all the people affected by soldiers coming home, the parents, spouses, children, brothers, sisters, aunts and cousins.”

FORT HOOD, Tex. — Staff Sgt. Gilberto Mota, 35, and his wife, Diana, 30, an Army specialist, had returned to Fort Hood from Iraq last year when he used his gun to kill her, and then took his own life, the authorities say. In July, two members of the First Cavalry Division, also just back from the war with decorations for their service, were at a party when one killed the other.

That same month, Staff Sgt. Justin Lee Garza, 28, under stress from two deployments, killed himself in a friend’s apartment outside Fort Hood, four days after he was told no therapists were available for a counseling session. “What bothers me most is this happened while he was supposed to be on suicide watch,” said his mother, Teri Smith. “To this day, I don’t know where he got the gun.” 

Fort Hood is still reeling from last week’s carnage, in which an Army psychiatrist is accused of a massacre that left 13 people dead. But in the town of Killeen and other surrounding communities, the attack, one of the worst mass shootings on a military base in the United States, is also seen by many as another blow in an area that has been beset by crime and violence since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Reports of domestic abuse have grown by 75 percent since 2001. At the same time, violent crime in Killeen has risen 22 percent while declining 7 percent in towns of similar size in other parts of the country.

The stresses are seen in other ways, too.

Since 2003, there have been 76 suicides by personnel assigned to Fort Hood, with 10 this year, according to military officials.

A crisis center on base is averaging 60 phone calls a week from soldiers and family members seeking various help for problems from suicide to anger management, with about the same volume of walk-ins and scheduled appointments.

(click here for complete article)

Monday, November 9, 2009

FIRST POSTED ON THE BLOG 11/9/2009 Congressman Sestak Proposes Initiative to Address Medical Care of Incarcerated Veterans

"We must reverse the unacceptable actions of 2003 that locked so many Vets out of the VA medical system......" Congressman Joe Sestak

MEDIA, PA – As we approach Veterans Day and our newest Veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan with increasing instances of brain injuries and stress disorders, Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-07) wrote to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Eric Shinseki, to address how our legal and medical systems can better collaborate to support those Veterans who may find themselves incarcerated as a result of service-related injuries and impairments.

“As someone who witnessed the injustice done to so many of our Vietnam Veterans, I am determined to see that our newest Veterans receive the full benefit of the overdue resources the 110th and 11th Congress have made available to them. Consider the fact that in 1998, an estimated 56,500 Vietnam War-era Veterans and 18,500 Persian Gulf War-era Veterans were held in State and Federal prisons and the need for action is long overdue,” said Congressman Sestak. “I commend The Honorable Seamus P. McCaffery, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, for the work he is doing to create ‘Veterans Courts’ in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For too long our state and national jurists have been content to lock up Veterans rather than afford them the opportunity to have their conditions fully diagnosed and treated—possibly preventing their incarceration altogether. Unfortunately, as a result of inaction, we have had extraordinary numbers of Vietnam-era Vets incarcerated and following their incarceration they have often ended up homeless.

“I am advocating for a seamless transition in which VA doctors communicate with the physicians at the local, state, and federal level charged with providing medical care to prisoners and ensure Veterans receive the treatment they require. Failure is not an option. We will not leave our comrades behind on the battlefield. We cannot leave them alone in prison until we have made every effort to help them become well and whole again.”

(click here for complete article)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Mental Impact of War

Sylvia Coleman
November 7, 4:30 PM
Philadelphia Mental Health Examiner

"So perhaps it’s a perfect time for all of us to realize just how serious of an impact war can have on the mental health of almost everyone involved."

After the shooting rampage that took place at Fort Hood on Thursday, everyone is scrambling to understand why.

How could Major Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and an American citizen, have done this? What was going on inside his head? Was he a terrorist who had been planning the attack all along? Was he suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? Did he have any type of underlying mental health issues? Or is he simply a mad man?

Right now, all we really know is that it was triggered by the fact that he was going to be deployed to Afghanistan which he openly expressed concerns about.

Indeed, the government and news media are very much focused on digging up any possible ties he may have had with terrorists and his past statements condoning terrorism. But fortunately, this tragic event is also shinning light on some very important issues. It’s raising a whole slew of other questions that the U.S government and military as well as those in the mental health profession are now forced to address:

How common is PTSD among caregivers who specialize in trauma treatment? Are we paying enough attention to Army psychiatrists to make sure they’re able to offer the best treatment? Is enough being done to help soldiers suffering from PTSD? Are we reaching out to them and their families as much as possible?

(click here for complete article)

Minds are terrible things to waste in the US military

By Mike Peters (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-07 14:57
"Nov 11 is Veterans Day in the US. The 535 members of Congress will be on holiday, but when they return, perhaps they will be inspired to fund mental health care for the military at an appropriate level. Enlisted men and women being exposed to the trauma of war deserve no less."

It sounds like the punch line of a joke: The person who went crazy was the psychiatrist.

But nobody was laughing on Friday as the US military struggled to cope with the worst mass shooting in its history.

We may never know why Nidal Malik Hasan took aim and fired at his fellow soldiers in Texas on Thursday. But the tragedy points a bright light at a problem that's been obvious for a long time: The US makes an insuffficient investment in the mental health of its soldiers.

I don't say that to make excuses for Hasan. Those who know him say he was a good soldier and a good Muslim. (Nothing in Islam supports what he's alleged to have done - for any reason. The shootings are the act of a sick man.

But the US Army has more than a few sick men. Consider these news reports:

May 13, 2009: The US military charged an American Army sergeant on his third tour in Iraq with murder in connection with a shooting spree that left five fellow soldiers dead in a mental health clinic at Camp Liberty in Baghdad. Long-time observers of the US military say the shooting shows all the signs of a soldier pushed to the brink of insanity by repeated and consistent exposure to war. The 44-year-old Sergeant John Russell had spent many years of his life at war when he allegedly opened fire and killed five of his fellow soldiers. Russell was coming to the end of his third tour in Iraq and had also served deployments in Bosnia and Kosovo.

(click here for complete article)

"Grandpa Pat & Kain"

"Grandpa Pat & Kain"
"Kain-man" the jokester....

Pat Lamoureux - Iraq 2003

Pat Lamoureux - Iraq 2003
"Pat is an extraordinary, thoughtful, kind and generous man...not to mention a wonderful friend, in which one could always count upon to be there when in need." (words of a long time friend)

Pat's Family

Pat's Family
Mica & Heather, grandson Kain