Tag Archives: Accepting the Ashes

PTSD Support Give-Away from Quynn

ashes cover phoenixIt has been 11 years since I wrote “Accepting the Ashes- A Daughter’s Look at PTSD”. Unfortunately, the situation for veterans who have returned from war has gotten worse, not better. Many men and women who have served the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan for one, two, five, or more deployments, are suffering from PTSD, and every day we are losing valuable citizens to suicide.

Iit is now time to share the audio version of my book.
I have uploaded the full 58 minute book (narrated by me), with music by Rainbow Didge, into YouTube.  If this story helps one more person understand that they are not weak, they can ask for help, and they are a worthy part of our community, I am grateful.

Please share this story with anyone who might benefit.

A Veteran Speaks to his Son

At the end of 2012 I received an email from a Vietnam veteran,  an ER physician, who had received my book, and wanted to order another one for his son.  Below is the string of emails back and forth.  I am so grateful that my story helped this veteran father share with his son after all these years.

Dear Quynn,

Your book appeared on my desk one day.

I just received treatment for PTSD which I thought I might have
mildly, until I became unable to practice as a physician in July
and suicidal in December, at which I went to the VA and they
secured a spot for me in the Six Week In-patient PTSD program
at the Memphis VA.

Four of the kindest people in the world there helped me see that
I’d actually been carrying a heavy load and I was OK.

I’m getting a divorce, final soon. I was angry all the time, isolated, all
the classic symptoms.  For some reason my ex-wife refuses to accept I
have PTSD, even though I was a rifleman for a full year with the
9th Infantry Division, have a Purple Heart, witnessed children
being killed. She says my deeper problem is a poor relationship
with my mother who admittedly was not a good person.

I tell her watching all your friends die, and children, is worse
than a bad mom but she just walks away.

I can never figure that out. Do you have any idea why she wouldn’t
want to believe I have PTSD?

I’m reading your book in little bits and doses (I already have a
copy, that’s how I knew to write you) because it is so powerful it’s
all I can stand.

Thanks for writing your exceptional book.

R,

Thank you for sharing a bit of your experience, and thank you for your kind words about my book. Maybe someone put the book on your desk because they thought you needed it. I have had books at the Memphis VA I think.
Regarding your wife’s feeling about your situation, I would imagine that there are issues that you might still have with your mother, who doesn’t? I find that all these issues can bundle together into a big knot, but once the PTSD is in the light, it can possibly be easier to see and understand any issues that were created during childhood.  Wives often have a very hard time of it in this situation, the hardest actually.  Just keep moving towards healing. I mentioned this issue (divorce) in my book. “Everyone has a place, even if it isn’t with you.”
I am curious, when did you serve?

Thank you for reaching out,

 

Quynn,

I was with E/6/31st in the 9th Inf. Div. from April 1968 to 12/68,
and then C/4/47th in the Mobile Riverine Force of the 9th 12/68-4/5/69.

I happily give you permission to use any or all of what I said.

I sent a copy of your book to my son and then had a
nearly two hour talk with him last week, first I’ve talked with him since June 2011.
He’s a junior in HS so had a front row seat to see my anger and isolationism and it occurred to me
after reading your book that he probably didn’t know I had five
entrance and exit holes in my helmet or that I witnessed children
being executed by the VC or that I think I’m the only guy from my
squad to survive.

He didn’t. He just knew I’d been wounded.

I told him I didn’t expect him to forgive me but that knowing the
horrific things that happened to me might give him some under-
standing, which sometimes helps a bit.

Oddly enough, seeing those children killed didn’t harden my
heart exactly, although it put me on the other side of a glass wall,
the rest of the world being on the other. But it did make me really
good with caring for children as patients, and various nurses have
told me  I should have been a pediatrician, and as an ER doc I
have saved the lives of a few kids who were in the final stages of
dying which isn’t as easy as it sounds, believe me.

So maybe those awful incidents helped in a way.

I really owe you so much for your book, as I never would have
talked with him had it not been for your book.

Thank you.

Anonymous, MD

Every Day is Veterans Day- Veteran Health Care

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I wanted to wait until the day after Veterans Day this year to write here.  Veterans Day is special, but it is the day, and many days after, that really matter. It is good to honor those in the Armed Forces, and it is more important to take care of their needs everyday.  They do what they do on our behalf, whether we as individuals ‘want’ them to fight or not, and so it is the duty of Americans to provide care when needed.

“Regard your soldiers as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death!”
Sun Tzu

Here are five facts about Veteran’s Health Care.  Number 5 from that list is the following:
5. Nearly one third of returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health condition. Nearly 730,000 of the 2.4 million men and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have returned home with a mental health condition, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health. The same group finds that 30 percent of veterans have their mental health needs met with “evidence-based care.” The rest either do not seek out services or receive care that has not shown to improve outcomes.

The following article outlines areas of veteran care that are not working at their optimum capacity.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-12/veterans-home-from-war-battle-u-s-agency-supposed-to-help-them.html

We need to be better at this.

“Have the courage to act instead of react.”
Earlene Larson Jenks

Past PTSD Writing-Web Archived

As many people do these days, especially writers, I recently ‘googled’ myself to see what appears under my name.  I found two Guest Opinion articles I wrote for the Tucson Citizen in 2004 and again in 2005. Eight years later I am still connecting with people about PTSD and my book Accepting the Ashes- A Daughter’s Look at PTSD.  Unfortunately, Post Traumatic Stress from military service is not less common than it was eight years ago. As a nation, we need PTS support now, more than ever.

Returning Service members and family members, please do not delay in asking for assistance with very real wounds caused by the truama of war.

Here is a link to the two articles I wrote while OIF was in full swing.  The location has changed, but not the result.   Both articles are here- http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue2/tag/quynn-elizabeth/

Details Between Me and You

Friends,
This blog post is for those who live among us who are post deployment, waiting for life to get better. Whether a returned service member, loving family member, or one, maybe a friend or a co-worker, watching the challenge unfold of adjusting to the New Normal after being in a warzone far away.

I wrote “Accepting the Ashes-A Daughter’s Look at Post Traumatic Stress” in 2004, after my own veteran father (two combat tours in Vietnam) died.  Through a series of events, my book got in the hands of a Chaplain at at VA in southern Oregon. From there, and since then, my little book has been used by Chaplains and National Guard Family Readiness Units in a variety of states.  My book has also been used for a few years as a resource in the VAs Veterans Community Outreach Initiative (Chaplains help train rural Clergy to assist recently returned servicemembers and families). Every year, since 2005, I receive a few orders, from 1 to 1,000, and each year more veterans and their families read my book.  I receive emails like the following each year:

I retired in 2008 with 20 years and two tours in Iraq. I struggled with a fairly serious bought of depression and PTSD. When I say fairly serious, I sought counseling or else I’d have lost my wife of 18 years. I feel like the counseling may have even saved my life.

I am purchasing your book for personal use. I don’t do counseling anymore or take medication. My depression is behind me. I’ll carry some effects of PTSD with me for the rest of my life. I have a wife and four kids, three girls and a boy. When I was struggling with depression although I tried not to, I hurt everyone. One of my teenage daughters I clashed with exceptionally bad. She was at a rebellious stage in her life exactly at the wrong time. We don’t see each other much, or talk much, and when we do it’s hard. I thought of her when I saw your book. I’m forever seeking ways to understand what went wrong and why, and also how the other person felt. I hope your book helps me do that.
I am always touched to receive such messages.  I sent extra books to the man quoted so that he could give other copies to his family, Chaplains and/or mental health professionals in his area.  This is how it has gone so far with promotion of “Accepting the Ashes”.  I do not have a literary agent , or a publicity budget.  I am pleased that my story is helping others, and yet as the warzones continue, and I know the PTSD affected soldiers keep coming home, I want to do more.  I want my book to be able to do more good.I received an email annoucement a couple of months ago offered by SCORE (a business counseling/mentoring organization) about contracting with the government.  Just before finding out about this free workshop, I learned the word “procurement” in the context that various branches of the government may want to ‘procure’ my book as a PTSD resource.   I signed up and showed up for the workshop titled “Bringing your “A” Game- A Small Business Owners Guide to Federal Contracting”, Created by Amanda HOlbert, Small business owner and Business Analyst in Tucson Arizona. I left with more words to learn, and a big packet of information.

After the workshop, it became clear that if I want to get my book to people who need it, I need to learn the details that will help me do just that.  The government is detailed, overworked, and busy.  If I am to be able to catch the attention of decision makers who choose which books to offer and use in their work with veterans and families, I need to know  the language and process used by these government decision makers.

I set an appointment with Ms. Holbert with the Small Business Develoment Center and we met a couple of days ago. After an hour, I was exposed to a whole new world that I now have to learn how to nagivate.  I learned about the importance of the following words/codes and how they can help me get my book in front of the people who help veterans= NAICS codes, www.fbo.gov, www.gsa.gov, DUNS, CAGE, TPIN, www.ccr.gov (where I was already listed, but my profile was deficient), Capability Statement, www.vetbiz.gov, www.grants.gov and www.fedbiz.com .  While my head swims with all this new info, and how I might be able to utilize it, I also think about all the post deployment men and women, and their loved ones, who have to fill out forms, learn how to maneuver through the obstacle course that is the VA, make phone calls, wait, and wait some more, in order to get what they need for their mental, emotional and spiritual health.

At the end of my book I write:

Demand the right to heal.
Each individual and family in every culture deserves the right to heal the wounds of war. Since everyone who participates in war, no matter how they personally feel about it, is affected, helping our soldiers, who are also our fathers, sons, daughters, lovers and friends, heal their bodies, hearts and minds, is a necessity, not a privilege.  By now, it’s obvious, that it is challenging to help the soldiers deal with what they are experiencing while doing their tour of duty, so the healing must begin once they come home.  This makes healing a group effort.  My advice?  Be bold, be persistent, be the squeaky wheel.  Do whatever it takes to get some help and do not feel ashamed for asking.
So I will take my advice and be bold.  I will learn how to tackle the details that are standing in the way of me being able to get my book to YOU, the men, women and children who could benefit by reading/hearing it.  I will learn things I never thought I would need to learn, and I will open my mind to the ways in which my little, self published book, can seep through the walls of the systems of goverment  to help those who need it most, our country’s veterans.  Thank you for the incentive.
If you know of a place that could utilize “Accepting the Ashes- A Daughter’s Look at PTSD”, please contact me.