Qigong at the VA II

Sifu Chris Bouguyon, who is shown above teaching deep breathing exercises at a conference at UNLV, says he can't think of a case in which the soldier he was treating for PTSD didn't previously experience childhood trauma. In addition to Qigong, the oldest root of Chinese medicine, he advocates a post-combat boot camp to help soldiers deal with what they've been through.

Qigong at the VA

Veterans in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are learning to use the principles of Qigong, the grandaddy of Chinese medicine and martial arts, as part of the VA's new patient-centered care initiative. It teaches the vets how to balance their physical, mental and emotional aspects to live in harmony.

Power of Music

Retired Sgt. Leo Dunson, a student at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, is one of many vets who are confronting their combat memories by writing and singing about them. It's an effective form of therapy because music helps the brain process emotions. And David Carlson, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, is beginning to find his voice by composing songs from prison.

Vets Gambling: Part III

Vets are at least three times more likely than the general public to develop a gambling addiction, and the slot machines and video poker machines at service clubs abroad may have something to do with it. The Armed Forces netted about $85 million in 2012 from recreational gambling. Also contributing are the anger, shame and guilt many soldiers bring home from combat.

Vets Gambling Part II

After fighting in Vietnam with incursions into Laos and Cambodia, Gordie Greco came home addicted to gambling and alcohol. Working in the Las Vegas casinos, he later added cocaine. Today he's living clean and sober, but his life-long addiction to gambling (including the stock market) was the hardest to beat. He estimates he gambled away at least one-quarter of his salary

Vets Vulnerable to Gambling Addictions

Researchers are finding that veterans are two to four times more likely to develop a gambling addiction, and that those seeking help for substance abuse or mental health issues are even more vulnerable. Although a congressional appropriations committee and the National Council on Problem Gambling have raised red flags, the VA is doing little to address the problem.

A Silent Hell II

Jim Hackbarth, another of the Milwaukee-area 'Nam vets, was so afraid of being judged that he kept his mouth shut for four decades about the horrors of war. But he was finally able to express himself through his poetry. And Michael Maurer found that it takes the courage of a warrior to finally ask for help.

A Silent Hell I

Mark Foreman is one of three Milwaukee-area vets who suffered in silence for decades after returning home from combat in Vietnam. After realizing that he had the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, Mark found the Veterans Administration little help. Instead, he focused on meditation and found relief in love and compassion.

Warriors & Quiet Waters

Montana has some of the world's best fly fishing, and a remarkable community program in Bozeman is sharing it with disabled combat vets. Warriors & Quiet Waters brings warriors to Bozeman, outfits them, teaches them how to cast and provides them with peace on the water. It's a wonderful demonstration of community love and support.

VA's Tough Standards for Traumatic Brain Injury

Since 2000, the Department of Defense has diagnosed five times more active-duty soldiers with traumatic brain injuries than the VA has diagnosed vets with TBI. Why? Did most of the vets suddenly get better? Actually, that is the VA's answer. It only awards a TBI diagnosis to vets who show ongoing symptoms of a brain injury.

Tail of a (Service) Dog

The VA does not subsidize service dogs for vets with psychiatric disorders, but Bill and Janet Austin have trained their own dog, JP. A former medic who remembers all too clearly the carnage of war, Austin relies on the 2-year-old Great Dane to help him socialize with his neighbors, watch his back and wake him from the nightmares that bring back past deployments.

Soaring Vets' Suicide Rates

Eighteen military veterans killed themselves every day in 2007, but that figure increased to 22 suicides a day in 2010, according to new VA estimates. The new information is based on information from 21 state health departments. Unfortunately, it doesn't include data from the rest, including states like California and Texas that have many veterans.

A Moral Injury

Timothy Kudo, a retired Marine Corps captain, recently wrote about the moral injury that occurs when a soldier kills people. He said he has been wrestling with why it's OK to kill in combat, but wrong to kill at home. Ultimately, he said, he's coming to believe that it's wrong to kill any time and that soldiers suffer moral injuries as a result.

Hope Glimmers

Previously, degenerative brain diseases could be diagnosed only after combat vets and NFL players were dead. But scientists now say they've been able to use PET scans to discover CTE symptoms among living patients. It's only a small study and much remains to be done, but it does offer a glimmer of hope.

Skyrocketing Military Suicides Part II

Despite a military anti-suicide initiative, more soldiers killed themselves last year than died in combat. We need to find better ways to identify and help troubled soldiers. Crisis response teams and embedded counselors, at home as well as on the front lines, might be effective ways to get our soldiers the emotional health care they need -- but are afraid to ask for.

Skyrocketing Military Suicides

More American soldiers killed themselves last year than were killed in combat, but the numbers are perplexing. Most died at home. Only 15 percent had ever been in combat, and only 8 percent had multiple deployments. More than half had no history of behavioral health disorders. So what's going on?

Out of the Swamp

About 25 homeless vets in Florida got a special Christmas present this year: shaves and haircuts, two nights lodging in a motel, gifts, banquets and fellowship. It was an emotional couple of days, after which the vets had to go back to their camps in the swamp. However, two civic groups will be working to help them with jobs and housing in the days to come.

Daunting Questions: Part III

Three new pharmaceuticals are being tested to see whether they can prevent a brain injury from progressing into a degenerative brain disease. With FDA approval, the first could be out next year. But there's a long history of failure. At least 30 drugs have been tested previously, and none have been approved.

Daunting Questions: Part II

Why can a concussion lead to degenerative brain disease? Here are four theories based on what researchers know so far.

Horror in Newtown

Survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting -- particularly the children -- are likely to be traumatized, and parents should look for signs of PTSD in the days or even the weeks to come.

Daunting Questions: Part 1

Now a third study links concussions to future degenerative brain diseases, and that raises a couple of daunting questions for vets, athletes and others who suffer from such injuries. First, how do injuries set off long-term brain cell death? And second, what can we do to prevent it?

Up Against the Fiscal Cliff

Veterans aren't likely to see their benefits tossed over the "fiscal cliff" that looms ahead, The problem is that even with today's status quo, vets need more help to undo the damage—disability, mental health. The political posturing is irresponsible, a sad reflection of our egocentric age.

Long Road Back, Part II

An Army Reserve psychologist, Dr. Connie Louie-Handleman, used the "tapping therapy," Emotional Freedom Techniques, on many of her patients in Afghanistan and found it was successful 60 to 70 percent of the time. EFT, however, still needs to be proven scientifically.

Courage After Fire

"Courage under fire" is the phrase we use to describe our military heroes, but it takes courage also to transition into civilian life. Today's a day to help vets who are struggling and to support the organizations dedicated to helping them.

The Long Road Back

An energy therapy called Emotional Freedom Techniques involves tapping the body's acupressure points to ease anxiety and pain. It has helped some people recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Remembering George McGovern

George McGovern was an honorable man who lived an honorable life. I admire his courage in taking unpopular stands simply because it was the right thing to do. His death Sunday at the age of 90 reminds me how rare such courage is in American politics.

Battling Bare

Frustrated that their husbands were getting little help with post-traumatic stress disorder, a group of military wives won major media attention with a campaign called "Battling Bare."

A Gene for PTSD?

Researchers in Boston have found a variant of a gene that apparently can increase or decrease the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder in combat vets. If the study can be replicated, it could allow researchers to test soldiers for their sensitivity to stress.

Getting His Bell Rung

Corey Widmer, who played middle linebacker for the New York Giants for eight years, talks about concussions the same way a combat vet does. Now both groups are beginning to realize that they're at higher risk for neurodegenerative diseases later in life.

Vets Getting Old Before Their Time?

Preliminary reports indicate that combat stress may age vets' bodies prematurely. The full report isn't out yet, but we do know that stress takes a heavy toll on the human body. So PTSD and TBI may bring added complications.