Veterans Medical Center

The link between PTSD and Addiction

I was diagnosed with PTSD 17-years-ago. For the longest time I did a pretty good job of hiding my symptoms but they eventually affected my life negatively on a daily basis, sometimes for days at a time.

The breaking point came for me when I was in line at my bank and one of the guys that was involved with the murder of my brother was 4 people behind me in line.  He eventually ended up directly behind me and I blacked out. I don’t remember screaming at the top of my lungs, the police and paramedics coming and being transported to the hospital.

Through counseling I learned my anxiety, depression and OCD were directly related to past traumas not only the murder of my brother.

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Threat Level Elevated

One of my biggest complaints about VA medical centers is the unsafe feeling I have whenever I am in one. Am I crazy for thinking that here in United States any facility attached to our military should be the safest property in the country?

Weapons not permitted sign

Was Jack Nicolson’s character in A Few Good Men correct when he said, “We live in a world of walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns.” He went on to say, “You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”

Last week we had another attack on homeland military properties and four Marines and one Navy sailor lost their lives. These are no longer random attacks. The bodies are piling up and before more are added it is time we rethink the decision to unarm our armed services.

For the past nine-years whenever we pull up to the guardhouse at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia more often than not the sign on the post reads ‘Threat Level Elevated.’ There is a guard there who is either smoking, talking on a cell phone or sleeping. The sight would immediately cause me to feel overwhelmingly frightened. These guards aren’t even military which if you ask me is ridiculous. Is our nation that short of MP’s that we have to hire security guards to protect (or not) our armed forces, our veterans and their families?

Threat Level Elevated

Once past the guardhouse the parking garage is dark and unattended.

Inside the building the first thing I notice is the dingy, dirty floors, windows and walls. I don’t want to touch anything. The next thing I notice are homeless people sleeping on garbage bags filled with their belongings. Are they homeless veterans?

You never know who you will be riding in the elevator with. It could be a veteran fighting with his wife, someone having a severe PTSD episode or someone under the influence of something or all of the above.

I was thrilled last week when we pulled up to the guardhouse and were asked for ID, finally!

It lasted only a few days. Last night we drove up to and right past the guardhouse where the guard was sitting inside the house with his eyes on his phone. He never looked up as we drove past. My heart sank and my anxiety rose.

I want to know there is a man or woman on that wall, behind the camera or in the guard house protecting us, all of us.

Marine

What has more impact on our feeling of safety and security and what has more impact on someone with criminal intentions, a sign that says no weapons permitted past this point or a Marine in full uniform with a handgun on his hip?

 

 

 

HUD Homes…

Welcome to my blog and today’s post which is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on this amazing challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

A to Z 2015 Badge*

My theme this year is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of, Sophie.  Sophie is the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The night that she walked through our front door changed me.

That book will be out later this year.

So; I decided this year’s posts will be on programs that actually help the homeless and the mentally ill, programs that don’t, when did homelessness become a problem and what or who caused it, famous homeless people, famous people that help the homeless and the mentally ill, what you can do that will help in a real way and a whole alphabet more…

Todays’ letter is:

a-z 2015 D

 

 

Department of HUD

Mission Statement- HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and to transform the way HUD does business.

This department was established on September 9, 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act into law.

HUD is administered by the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. *Julian Castro, a former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, is the current and 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Julian Castro HUD

The secretary is responsible for dozens of programs, as diverse as the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise and the Office of Lead-Based Paint. In addition, the secretary appoints representatives or personally sits on dozens of committees, boards and commissions outside of the department. Commissions, councils and task forces on housing for minorities, the elderly, children and people with disabilities all have HUD members. Veterans Affairs and HUD have a joint committee on homeless veterans. The secretary must be familiar enough with the work of each and the HUD’s position on each to make recommendations to the president.

The quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably, due, in part, to initiatives by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and several nongovernmental organizations working with homeless populations. Since 2007, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued an Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which revealed the number of individuals and families that were homeless, both sheltered and unsheltered.

HUD is large. It employs thousands of people and oversees hundreds of programs. Just one thing that falls under HUD is buying abandoned and/or blighted properties, refurbishing them and either renting them to a low-income tenant or selling them to a lower income buyer.

A to Z Blighted home

I have so many criticisms of this organization. Like most government organizations it is wrought with corruption and waste but for this post I am going to keep it simple. I have only one question:

There are nearly four-million homeless Americans and the numbers are growing. Why are there more ‘empty’ government owned HUD properties, in fact thousands more than there are actual homeless people? Instead of paying government executives hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide reports and to provide grants to hundreds and hundreds of ‘hamster wheel’ referral agencies that do nothing to assist the homeless wouldn’t it make sense to just fix the properties you have, place homeless people into those properties and provide them with a social worker so that within a year they could be paying you rent?

A to Z Homeless Family

It will never happen because too many people would be bumped off of their gravy train including but not limited to politicians on all sides and unions.

* President Obama’s head of the scandal-plagued Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, as the mayor of San Antonio misspent that agency’s funds-allocated to improve low-rent properties, according to a federal audit.

Another previous mayor of San Antonio who ran HUD pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about payments to a mistress. His name was Henry Cisneros and he was appointed by Bill Clinton. Actually HUD has been rocked by a number of scandals under both Democrat and Republican administrations, over the years. George W. Bush’s HUD secretary, Alphonso Jackson, was forced to resign in the midst of a federal investigation involving cronyism. Ronald Reagan’s HUD secretary, Samuel Pierce, was embroiled in an influence-peddling scandal that saw 16 people, including some of his top aides at the agency, convicted.

I could go on and on and on but will suffice to say that HUD needs to be destroyed from the top all the way down to all of its’ dirty little cracks and crevices. It needs to be replaced with one office, one leader and several employees. They need to hire legitimate companies to refurbish properties, move people in and provide them with a social worker. This would save taxpayers billions of dollars that could be used to create jobs and that would help to prevent homelessness.

A-Z Department_of_Housing_and_Urban_Development

Thank you for reading,

Doreen

For this years’ A-Z Challenge I am a minion (challenge helper) for the lovely co-host :

Lisa Buie-Collard

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

Meet the other minions:

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan  –   Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

*Tina was a blogger and a dear friend that we lost in August. She loved the A-Z Challenge and was a friend and inspiration to all bloggers.

 

 

 

 

 

Scary dolls, High School and the Judge…

 

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and link back to our host Mrs. 4444 at Half-Past Kissin’ Time.

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It’s not too late to join in on the fun and we would love to have you!

I am SO behind in my blogging and in my life! The editing of The Stranger in My Recliner however, is nearly done. I missed posting Friday Fragments last week and this week I missed posting Writing Wednesday. I am going to work harder to stay caught up.

* Last Sunday after several days of marathon editing, I thought I better do a back-up, save to drop box and send myself an e-mail. As I clicked on my document to save it, I noticed the size changed. To make a very long story short- a Verizon and a Microsoft update were done at the same moment I hit save. My file, my book was corrupted. It disappeared and I could not find it anywhere. All ended well several hours, only $30 and a visit with the geek squad later, my book was back. My hair is grayer!

* Our Eagles really beat up on the New York Giants on Sunday night. I felt a teeny-tiny bit bad for my son-in-law and my grandson. They are big time Giants fans. Just a teeny bit!

Friday Fragments 10 16 14 EAGLES photo

* This Saturday night I will be speaking at the kick-off of a new foundation called No More Helpless Daughters. The foundation was started by friend, Ujwala Dixit to give more attention to preventing domestic violence and abuse.

* I was invited to appear as a guest on a TV show that is created and produced by the high school students at Wissahickon High School. The kids were all no-nonsense, so professional and I had so much fun. The show airs on local cable channels. I am going to post the link when it’s available.

* After the TV show we went to see the movie, The Judge at our favorite movie theatre with large, comfy leather recliners. The movie starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall was very, very good. I predict Oscars.

Friday Fragments The Judge

* The VA messed up my husband’s meds for the 3rd time. I called the pharmacist when the pills arrived because I thought the color was darker. He swore to me they were the correct pills. That night he got sick. I took him to a different VA hospital emergency room. I just couldn’t go to the one in Philadelphia. His blood pressure was extremely high. They quickly got us the right medication and sent us home. I don’t know what to do. I wrote to our state reps and they never answered. Attorneys won’t get involved because there is no value, which means he didn’t die. So frustrating and scary!

* One of my favorite Facebook groups is having a conference in NASHVILLE!! I am excited. I will share more about that later.

* A woman that I work closely with took leave a few months ago because her brother was critically ill and she needed to go to Africa to care for him. She is back and all we know is they are not letting her come back to work…. yet. I am guessing 21 days. I hope they make it 30 days, to make sure. I really like this woman a lot and I am praying for her. This #Ebola virus is so scary and excuse me if I sound dumb but why are we allowing the people who are infected to travel all over the states. Shouldn’t the infected be quarantined in ONE place, like near the CDC?

* My doctor has been out of the flu vaccine for 2 weeks.

* Does it seem to you that Halloween is getting scarier and scarier every year? It seems to me the trend is to make it all about an adult party holiday and less of a fun night for children. I am so not okay with people decorating with severed heads and hazmat suits. It seems like such poor taste. And then there are the dolls, yikes!

Friday Fragments 10 16 14 Scary Doll

Have a blessed weekend,

Doreen

Faraway Friday Fragments…

 

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and leave a link back to Half-Past Kissin’ Time in your post.

I would love to read your Fragment’s. Sign up here:

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I left for North Carolina on Wednesday morning and could not believe my luck at cruising through DC with NO traffic. Fredericksburg, Virginia always has traffic no matter what time of day or night it is. Lucky again it wasn’t as bad as it normally is. I wasn’t so lucky when I got off of I-95 and headed west on 85. The thunder storms were scary and I pulled over several times to wait it out and stopped at several rest areas. At one point a giant tree fell on the highway. I’m still shaking days later. When I arrived the sun was shining.

Tree on highway

I am in North Carolina to celebrate my friend Joelle’s [who passed away in February] daughter’s graduation from high school. The ceremony was beautiful, Chais was stunning and we all felt Joelle’s spirit there with us. I am so proud of the young woman Chais is and I am nervous and extremely proud that this girl could have gone to school anywhere but she decided to serve our country as a Marine.

Chais family graduation

Will you be looking at the Friday the 13th full moon tonight?

When I get home next week John and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary and a few more birthdays.  June is just full of celebrating for us. Our grandson Dominic turned 12 on the 10th. He is the sweetest kid.

Dominic 12

It is odd, I know but I have not listened to much news this past week. That might explain why my blood pressure is lower.

I did write this post and would love to know what you think. Do I have a point or am I way off:    http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5082

Have a Blessed Weekend!

I would love to connect with you here to:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bristopl-boyzStomp/113804488656243

http://www.twitter.com/doreenb8

 

 

Does History Repeat itself? For Us the VA Scandal is Personal…

thursday-favorite-things-blog-hop-button-2013-150x150

 

 

 

 

 

http://katherinescorner.com

 

They say if you don’t study your history you are sure to repeat it. I have not been able to get that saying out of my head for the last few years. It started when I read the more than one-thousand- pages that are the ACA. [Affordable Care Act]

I cannot fault President Obama for knowing that drastic changes needed to be made in our healthcare insurance industry.  However, I am concerned about the changes that continue to be made to our actual healthcare industry. After reading the ACA I looked at my husband and said, “This sounds like the VA. It sounds like bureaucrats will be deciding who gets what when it comes to medical care, not doctors.”

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy believed that the mentally ill should be taken care of in their homes with assistance from the government. He was motivated by the mental illness of his own younger sister who was institutionalized. Critics say it was more likely the matter of the hundreds of looming lawsuit judgments against the government due to abuse, neglect, rapes and murders in our nation’s mental institutions and the lack of federal funds to pay those judgments that motivated him.

President kennedy

His administration first decided that people needed to have more humanized opinions of people with mental-health disorders. They urged church, school and scout leaders to begin visiting our nation’s asylums. As a young girl scout I visited the Byberry State Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia to sing Christmas Carols for the patients. I still shudder when I remember that field trip.

The plan was to create group homes in neighborhoods. A staff of caregivers would take care of the needs of the patients. Mental health professionals and state officials would monitor the group homes. It was a good plan but unfortunately it didn’t work. The doors to the asylums were literally sprung open and the patients were released into the communities in masses. They were given twenty-five dollars, an outfit and an appointment to be accessed at a community mental health clinic many of which at the time, were not yet operational. Most of those patients wandered the streets of our neighborhoods never showing up for their appointments. Several released Byberry patients were found dead on the hospital grounds. They died of exposure.

Byberry Sign

I believe those human beings that were tortured within the walls of Byberry and every other asylum in this country deserved love, compassion at the most up to date treatment and care. Why couldn’t we make those hospitals safe for them?  Why did the administration think if they could not effectively monitor what went on in the confines of a state hospital that they were going to be able to monitor what happened with these patients in the communities? Why do so many people believe that in order to protect the rights of one person and putting that person’s safety as well as the safety of entire communities at risk is okay?

The problem with our nation’s asylums was corrupt politics and a complete lack of leadership and accountability by the management and the staff. The problems began as soon as the facilities were opened back in Ben Franklin’s days. Occasionally newspapers would shine a light on the atrocities, action would be taken and the guilty would be fired. Once the media attention died down the staff member was quietly rehired and the horrors continued.

Whether we agree with the way President Kennedy opened those doors and let the mentally ill out of those state institutions, without a solid plan for after care or not we must agree that the conversation about the care and treatment of our mentally ill and intellectually challenged was started by him.

President Kennedy’s sister never left the institution.

The problems in our VA Medical System are just as systemic, probably even worse than they were in those asylums. People are dying. I fear we are headed towards just opening the doors and releasing our veterans into the already overwhelmed community health centers and the closing of our VA Medical Centers. It sounds like a great idea and a quick fix until we look back and see how opening the doors of those asylums in the nineteen-sixties created the homeless and mental health crisis we are still not dealing with today.

Removing General Shinseki as the leader of the VA Administration was overdue but it will not fix anything. Shinseki is without a doubt a good man. Sadly he is not a good leader. Leaders need to be committed to quality, accountability and results. They need to create strategies and see that their teams are responsibly implementing those strategies. The teams working in our VA medical system are implementing a complete lack of respect and disregard for our country’s heroes. They are there to collect a decent paycheck and government benefits. Nothing else is demanded of them.

VA Medical Center Philadelphia

When you take a manager like, Shinseki who already has no leadership skills and replace him with his own assistant who also has no leadership skills and then further complicate matters more with employee unions that will completely cripple any attempt he might make at requiring correctable action and accountability from employees chances are it will be business as usual again in no time. Add to that those narcissistic, stagnant politicians on ALL sides offering endless, useless investigations that do nothing but rob taxpayers and fatten their own wallets.

The problem that needs to be ‘fixed’ is the union ‘leader’ problem we have in this country. While unions were started for valid reasons they did exactly what they were supposed to do. We now have government employee protection agencies and laws to protect our workers from abuse, discrimination, unsafe conditions and more. Unions are a waste of hard working employee’s money and because most of them are hanging on by a thread the leaders are becoming desperate and looking for ways to ‘money grab.’

I fear we are about to repeat some very bad history here.

~ ~ ~

My family is no stranger to the VA Health Center. My husband is a disabled Vietnam War era veteran.

We have had some good experiences at VA Medical Centers. We have met some committed and caring employees. We have also had our share of waiting, life threatening misdiagnoses and degrading treatment by V.A. staff members. I wrote about this experience (just one of many bad experiences.) a little over a year ago.

http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=4109

Because I complain a lot, my husband’s case was recently moved to our community hospital. While this is so much more convenient for my husband, it will not solve the larger problem and that is wrong.

President Kennedy’s message to Congress on Mental Health:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9546

 

 

Too much news…

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and leave a link back to our host at Half-Past Kissin’ Time in your post.

I would love to read your Fragment’s. Sign up here:

http://www.halfpastkissintime.com

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Good Day Philadelphia featured one of my tweets on Thursday. Of course I was at work so I didn’t have a chance to record it. They were doing a feature on superstitions and the things you do for luck. I am very superstitious. For thirty-years I have been wrapping my lottery tickets in the largest bills I have for luck. I haven’t had much luck with that but now I’m afraid to stop.

Read the rest of this entry »

TGIF for Real!

 

 I finally have a day off, TGIF for real!

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and leave a link back to Half-Past Kissin’ Time in your post.

I would love to read your fragment’s. Sign up here:

http://www.halfpastkissintime.com

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My drive home from work yesterday was a bit terrifying.  It was during a thunderstorm and suddenly golf ball sized hail started pelting my car. I seriously thought my windshield would break. By the time I got home the sun was shining. Isn’t Mother Nature fascinating and frightening?

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Girlfriends, T.V. addictions, Ugly Bushes and Evicting birds…

 

Welcome to the 301st edition of Friday Fragments!

Friday Fragments are hosted by the lovely Mrs. 4444. If you would like to share your fragments you can get all of the facts here…

http://www.halfpastkissintime.com

a new Friday Fragments photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Fragments are a condensed version of the story of your week, the good, bad, exciting, boring and the ugly.

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United States Military and Mental Health/ The Facts

 

For the month of April I am participating in the annual A-Z Blogging Challenge. The Challenge was started by author/blogger, Arlee Byrd.

http://tossingitout.blogspot.com

A-Z-AMBASSADOR-2014-211x300

 

 

 

 

 

Each day of the month (except Sundays) we will post something based on that days correlating letter. Some of us chose a theme and others are winging it. My theme is the A-to-Z’s of Mental Health, Raising Awareness. It is a topic that is very close to my heart. I hope you find the posts interesting and you will comment and share the posts everywhere. To see a list of all of the participants or for more information-click on the badge over there to the right>

Today’s letter is the Letter U

A-Z Letter U

 

 

 

 

United States Military and Mental Health/ The Facts

More than two-million Americans have served in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At least twenty-percent of them are now experiencing PTSD.

While battle related deaths are down, we are now losing veterans in increasing numbers to suicide. The VA has been struggling to keep up with and to recognize those military personal that are in great need of mental health services.

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