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From Combat to Classroom: Transitions of Modern Warriors Cari Myles, MSW, LCSW OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator Wm S. Middleton Memorial Veterans’ Hospital,

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Presentation on theme: "From Combat to Classroom: Transitions of Modern Warriors Cari Myles, MSW, LCSW OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator Wm S. Middleton Memorial Veterans’ Hospital,"— Presentation transcript:

1 From Combat to Classroom: Transitions of Modern Warriors Cari Myles, MSW, LCSW OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator Wm S. Middleton Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, Madison, WI

2 The Global War on Terrorism Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Operation Enduring Freedom

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4 The Veterans Administration OEF/OIF Returning Combat Veteran Program OEF/OIF Executive Director Office Aug 2007 Care Management and Social Work Service Aug 2007 Outreach Office Aug 2007 Federal Recovery Coordination Program Office July 2008

5 OEF/OIF Transition to VHA Services OEF/OIF Executive Director Office  National Defense Authorization Act  Senior Oversight Office Coordination  Disability Evaluation System Pilot  Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program  Commission on the National Guard and Reserve  Support for Outside Studies  Wounded Warrior Resource Center Care Management and Social Work Service  VHA Liaison Program  OEF/OIF Care Management Program  Social Work Program  Family Hospitality Program  Caregiver Support Program Outreach Office  Combat Veteran Call Center Outreach Initiative  Reserve Component Demobilization  Post Deployment Health Reassessment  Army Wounded Warrior Staff At VAMC’s  VA & National Guard Partnership & Collaboration, TAA’s  Warrior Transition Units  Disability Evaluation System Pilot  Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program  Wounded Warrior Resource Center  Welcome Home Events Federal Recovery Coordination Program Office  Created on recommendation from Presidents Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors  Joint DoD/VA effort to assist severely wounded Warriors  10 Federal Recovery Coordinators at various MTF’s and VA’s  Create a Federal Individualized Recovery Plan  Life-time recovery coordinators

6 VA/DoD Polytrauma System of Care

7 Here’s some numbers…  Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) as of Nov 6, 2008 Total deployed: Total Deaths: 4,193 Wounded in Action, Returned to Duty within 72 hours 17,2178 Wounded in Action, NOT Returned to Duty within 72 hours 13,556  Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) as of Nov 6, 2008 Total deployed: Total deaths: 622 Wounded in Action, Returned to Duty within 72 hours 911 Wounded in Action, NOT Returned to Duty within 72 hours 1, 670  Wisconsin Numbers: Since Sept 11, 2001 over 8,000 Wisconsin National Guard and Air National Guard called to active duty (not all to combat zone) OEF/OIF veterans in Wisconsin Upcoming Wisconsin National Guard will deploy over 3,500 Soldiers to OEF/OIF FY 2008: 6,120 OEF/OIF veterans “unique users” at Madison, Milwaukee or Tomah VAMC’s

8 More numbers…. Veteran’s Health Administration National – (VISN 12) Total Unique OEF/OIF vets FY 08: 260,741 (10,783) Total VA Unique: 5,425, 126 (246,755) % OEF/OIF workload: 4.8% (4.4%) # of OEF/OIF Mental Health Encounters: 889,913 (39,437) All other encounters: 2,456,099 (105,807) Total OEF/OIF encounters: 3,346,012 (145,244) Encounters per Unique OEF/OIF vet: 12.4 (12.9) Women in Combat

9 Continuing numbers…  Approximately 1.6 million deployed, more than 1/3 more than once.  40% of troops and veterans are National Guard/Reservists  Due to equipment and immediate medical care, 90% of wounded survive; twice as many require amputations than in previous wars  Proximity to blasts have made TBI the “signature injury” ~ 20%  Hearing damage is #1 disability  One third to one half report psychological problems  18% of veterans recently back are unemployed; of those working 25% earn less than $21,000/year.

10 OEF/OIF – Common Complaints Aches and pains  Muscular/Skeletal Injuries Armor is heavy #

11 Common Complaints… Aches and Pains  Hot, Dusty, Dirty, Bugs…..

12 Common Complaints… Aches and Pains  The terrain is tough…

13 Common Complaints… Ringing in the ears…hearing loss  Military Training and Combat Zone is Noisy – tinnitus and hearing loss…

14 Common Complaints… Can’t sleep, numb, anxious Trauma, loss, Readjustment…. “People say I’ve changed...I used to be social, now I’m not; I have anger management problems; I don’t sleep good.” “I’ve been home for a year now and I’m tired of everyone being worried about me. I get drunk often and everyone is scared.” “It destroyed 2 marriages; I snap at family; it’s better for everyone if I just stay away.”

15 Common Complaints… on alert, sad, “who am I?” The war is physically harsh, mentally demanding and dangerous. The enemy wears no uniform, uses innocent civilians, and strikes without warning with the intent to kill and terrorize. “The war…remains very personal”

16 Common Complaints… Can’t remember, get lost, headaches Blast Injuries – TBI Blast injuries are injuries that result from the complex pressure wave generated by an explosion. The explosion causes an instantaneous rise in pressure over atmospheric pressure that creates a blast over pressurization wave. Primary blast injury occurs from an interaction of the over pressurization wave and the body with differences occurring from one organ system to another. Air-filled organs such as the ear, lung, and gastrointestinal tract and organs surrounded by fluid-filled cavities such as the brain and spinal are especially susceptible to primary blast injury (Elsayed, 1997;Mayorga, 1997). The over pressurization wave dissipates quickly, causing the greatest risk of injury to those closest to the explosion. In a blast, brain injuries can also occur by other means such as impact from blast-energized debris, the individual being physically thrown, burns and/or inhalation of gases and vapors. Blast injuries can be multiple and complex and can often not be assessed in the same manner that other brain injuries might be examined. A better approach to take in evaluating a brain injury caused by a blast may, therefore, be to conduct the evaluation bas e d on the mechanism (cause) of the injury. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

17 Common Complaints.. Blast Injuries Exposed to eight different explosions, four not "too terribly serious" but four "marked his vehicle". A couple of events, he does not recall whether or not he was knocked unconscious. Some confusion after one of the events; does not have anterograde memory after some of the events for unspecified amount of time. A couple other explosions got a headache, tinnitus and "wind knocked out of him." In a couple of them, he was wearing a helmet. Most of these events didn't worry him until he started loosing directional sense, "I started loosing the map in my head". The veteran was wounded in combat….his Humvee was hit by an IED and he was blown out of the vehicle.. He was then shot at by snipers as he tried to get back to the vehicle and he returned fire for 30 minutes. The veteran received injuries from the IED attack/ambush. He was hospitalized initially for 6 days and then was in Germany for 6-7 days and then was treated at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda for 7 months on and off. He stated that during this attack there were 4 wounded but no killed. He stated that his job in the military as a scout team leader was to "find IEDs before the convoy, 7 blasts to my vehicle, driving veteran's vehicle was hit by an IED as part of the convoy scout team. He was point. All of the attraction was to us. Four hundred plus convoys, small arms fire all the time."

18 Adjusting to life after war… The Good News is that most are doing well (80%)!! The Transition from Battlemind to Home: Training for war includes preparing the soldier mentally – Self Confidence – taking calculated risks and handling challenges Mental Toughness – overcoming setbacks and maintaining positive thoughts during times of adversity and challenge …..The Battlemind Walter Reed Institute of Research

19 Returning Home Battlemind Buddies vs. Withdrawal Accountability vs. Controlling Targeted Aggression vs. Inappropriate Aggression Tactical Awareness vs. Hypervigiliance

20 Returning Home – Battlemind Walter Reed Institute of Research Lethally Armed vs. “Locked and Loaded” at home Emotional Control vs. Anger/Detachment Mission Operational Security vs. Secretiveness

21 Battlemind – Returning Home Walter Reed Institute of Research Individual Responsibility vs. Guilt Non-defensive (combat) driving vs. Aggressive Driving Discipline and Ordering vs. Conflict

22 Returning to School Trying to “melt” into student populations but with.. Exceptionally different experiences Common physical and emotional complaints sometimes on powerful medication Many with problems with concentration, memory, irritability, lack of sleep, hypervigiliance Little to no knowledge of “Disability Resources” on campus

23 How to Help? Don’t single them out, ask if they want vet status to be known. “Most think I lost my arm in a farming accident, I don’t bother to tell them…” “I don’t want to ‘get into it’ so I just act like I’ve always been this way.” “I do OK until the discussion is about the war, then I just don’t say anything.” Discuss privately what you can offer them. Like most students with disabilities but perhaps more so, as “Warriors”, do not want special services and probably won’t seek out. Show interest, understand that “trust has to be earned”.

24 How to help… Connect them with Veteran’s services Connect with other Vets (if they want) Connect with other students Understand the richness their experiences brings to the campus May be “heroes” but they are “ordinary”…

25 Ordinary American Heroes

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30 Ordinary American Heroes….

31 Thank you for supporting our country’s newest veterans! Cari Myles, MSW, LCSW OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator Wm. S. Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital Madison, Wisconsin (608) ext


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