The Invisible Wounds of War

As 2012 begins, many of our troops and their families will be looking forward to a new year with new opportunities. But for some, a challenging task awaits them – tackling the invisible wounds of war.

Often difficult to detect and negatively stigmatized, these invisible injuries can cause longterm or permanent damage if overlooked. Hundreds of thousands of troops are living with post traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and many more will be diagnosed over the next few years.

A handful of brave troops have shared with the USO their deeply personal stories and how their conditions have impacted their lives. We ask you to become educated and join us in making a difference.

Watch more videos and learn more at USOInvisibleWounds.org and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #InvisibleWounds. Get educated. Get inspired. Get involved.

17 thoughts on “The Invisible Wounds of War

    • Howard York, I am so sorry for what you your brothers and sisters have gone through. My 19th Engineers out of Ft. Knox, know me as Momma Donna. I still work at Cantigy DFAC to this day. In 7 years I have seen for myself what happens when they cone home. It’s so sad; most married in the 19th Engineers after they came home were soon thereafter divorced. I truly DO NOT want to know how many suicides were commuted; I have heard of one too many! I pray that it becomes mandatory that when they get home they get ALL the help they DESERVE!

  1. I wish USO would publish an article with the Website of http://www.emdr.com that has a wonderful 6 minute video (from youtube) showing how EMDR successfully treats and gets rid of symptoms of PTSD in less than 6-12 months, sometimes in 3-6 sessions. This is a newer therapy since 1987 that is used worldwide!!! The video is in the upper righthand corner, 2nd button in “client session” showing a veteran receiving therapy using EMDR. The Military and FBI already use it for treating trauma.

  2. I’m commenting on behalf of unemployed service disabled veterans who have taken it upon themselves to start their own businesses in order to provide for their families. The Wounded Warrior Directory is a directory of almost 6000 Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses where the veteran owner has a disability that occured in the service to their country and deserves our support. Please help us in this mission to promote and support Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses by linking to Wounded Warriors Directory at VeteransDirectory.com and helping to promote this cause. Thank you for your support!

  3. That video, while difficult to see the pain on the Veteran’s face, is exactly why those of us who have not served, for whatever reason, need to watch it. Corporations, companies large and small need to watch it. The average American needs to watch it. We cannot and should not brush these incredible, strong Veterans away.
    It takes extraordinary guts to be one of a few who agreed to show the world what the face of “The Invisible War” looks like I wish I had those guts.

  4. MSGT MARTINEZ taught me how to be a Soldier and a man at a young age back in 2004 when he was my Drill Sergeant. If it was not for him I would not have made it through Afghanistan 6 months after I left basic training. I am a better man for knowing him.

    Stay Strong MSGT MARTINEZ

    CW2 Todd Venne

  5. As a disabled veteran, my heart goes out to the wounded, and all of the soldiers who stood for our freedom. Meditation is a great way to repair PTSD. Believe in yourself as you held the courage to stand as a soldier. But most of all, know that thier are people who care, people like me who would be willing to reach out and help. It won’t be an easy journey, for I’ve been through it myself. Stay strong, and god bless. DAV Randy Drake

  6. Thank you for speaking about this. Way more people in the public need to know about this. More of our soliders need to know they are ok and not to be afraid to seek help. My 21yo son didn’t get the help he needed and took his own life rather than being deployed to Afghanistan. The most difficult, hardest thing for a parent is to bury their child.

  7. My heart go’s out to all vets.my dad has pts he go’s to war every nite when he sleeps.his room looks like a war zone after every nap.the tour never ends for my pop who was at war from age 17 till 22 born in 35 and still going

  8. I’ve been diagonosed with moderate cognitive impairment. When no one understands you, I understand you Msgt. Martinez. May God bless you always. Keep the faith.

  9. A story for memorial day is about my family’s dedication to serving America. My dad was Army, Navy, and Marines. He was in WW2, Vietnam and Korea wars. He had horrible post war effects, hospitalized since 1985 until he passed in 1997. Two of my brothers were in the Army, and my sister Army and Navy. One of my brothers suffers effects from Iraq, he has changed and given a lot of himself for our country. I will never take American Liberty for granted. My father left me with benefits to go to college. I became a pharmacy technician and now am an RN. I hope to help Veterans and all my patients to heal, and someday finish my PharmD for research as a pharmacologist. This Memorial Day and always I give my heart to our military as they give theirs to protecting us. I also thank my dad for giving his life for my education and freedom. I missed him so much growing up. I really appreciate reading the stories here, they give me hope for my brother. Freedom is not so free, it cost my family.

  10. We are writing on behalf of our son . In May 2009 we sent a whole boy into the Marine Corp. He thrived through boot camp; Our son’s letters sounded like he was at summer camp, he was one tough kid. The youngest of three boys, he could carry his own weight and loved the whole experience of becoming a Marine. Upon graduation from boot camp we met some of his Drill Instructors, and they had high expectations for him. We were told he was mentally and physically stronger than most. Although our son is of smaller stature, 5’10”, for our family, everyone else is over 6’3 ft. this young man was used to carrying more than his own weight. . Our son, now a young man, graduated boot camp as a PFC, one of very few to do so.

    After graduation, our son went onto his SOI Training to become a 0341 Mortar Man, He excelled here and his instructor again told us he had great expectations for his career. As our son entered the fleet he was placed in the fleet our son was all set to go to war and fight for his country. As he started his training ops he was very close to his Marine brothers. On a few occasions we met his fellow Marines again hearing more stories of our son’s strength and determination. What our son lacked in physical stature was over run by his fortitude and motivation for becoming a Marine. There are many stories from boot camp through fleet training where this young man showed strength that came from within. He believed he was capable of anything he set his mind to and proved himself right time and time again.
     
    During field op training for his deployment he sustained a direct blast form a faulty mortar that exploded in the tube. This was the source of his TBI if we knew then what we know now this whole nightmare would have not been so. In September 2010, our son was deployed to Afghanistan where he did his job defending our country. He returned home in March 2011. At this point we noticed he had changed, there was something wrong and different. We did not mention this to him, we thought as time went on he would get better. He didn’t, and things only got worse. In April 2011 or the beginning of May 2011, during his Post deployment health assessment, he was flagged for a TBI and significant hearing loss in both ears. At this point there was no further medical intervention except another assessment here or there. We had to watch as our son’s emotional well being deteriorated, he was going down hill and fast. Before this he was a young man who was sharp as a tack. Throughout high school he never even had to study for a test, remembering everything, he was well organized, and confidant. We watched as our son getting worse each day; he couldn’t fine his keys, driver license, he couldn’t even remember what he ate by the end of the day. Our son was experiencing frequent headaches, extreme anxiety, constant fatigue, he became easily irritated, impulsive and startled easily, and he could no longer sleep through the night. His hearing loss also continued to be unaddressed. Even with all of the previous mentioned symptoms, four months later, he was still being trained for redeployment. In August 2011 he was sent on a 2-week field op. This for a Marine flagged for TBI, he was told to “suck it up and be a man”. It’s ludicrous to think that someone in his condition would be forced to sustain additional blasts and explosions. This clearly shows no concern for his well-being and most likely made the situation worse.

    Finally, in the beginning of October was he put on Limdu. He was then placed in Delta Co. only to be treated as a second-class citizen, harassed and belittled, a prisoner of the Corp. Some of his own Marine brothers even turned on him. The situation kept getting worse. We will never forget the phone calls that we received, stating how he felt useless and wished he had lost a leg rather than have the injuries he sustained, at least then he would be respected. There were quite a few times that we had to call upon his fellow Marine brothers to check on him because we were afraid for his life. He now admits that if not for his strong family bonds, he would no longer be on this earth. We continually told him to address issues with his doctors, he did but he was just given more medication and no therapy.

    On the first page of his Abbreviated Medical Evaluation Board Report it lists the diagnosis as Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and significant hearing loss in both ears. The circumstances of injury are combat stress and blast exposures while in Afghanistan. But then again the Corp still dragged their feet; he didn’t receive his hearing aids till the end of November of 2011. It wasn’t until the end of his first Limdu that his doctor was changed and he was told that they were way behind in his medical care. His second Limdu was approved in May 2012. The diagnosis is still the same. At this point his medical care some what is improving, but the mental abuse continues.

    As parents, we can confirm that our son’s condition is declining. He has been broken down to believe he has no rights nor does he have any pride left. We are a proud family and have always taught our boys to do the right thing and take the proper steps when addressed with an issue, even if they are in the wrong. But, at this point he is no longer able to do these things. We sent the Marine Corp a whole boy; strong – both mentally and physically, full of confidence. In return, we received a man, a United States Marine, the strongest, proudest, one of the few. Since his return, we now have a broken sole, just another statistic of the war, and hopefully not another news story.

    Much has happening in the past 6 weeks we had to hit the ground running and fighting for our son. He has finally been moved to a 28 day program to address some of his issues where hoping that he will be able to transition to the Wounded Warrior Program being that a TBI is a permanent injury recovery will never fully happen. Still our sons MED Boards have not been started We have been notified that since he has so pending legal issues that he may not be eligible for the program. Mind you his legal issues are that he was in such a downward spiral when he came home for a short liberty we as a family would not let him return till we had a clearer picture of his mental and physical state. We consulted with our own medical Doctors and Physiatrists. We where right to do this all our fears where unfortunately validated and few more where brought to our attention As all this took place we were in contact with his chain of commands and assured them that our son had every intention of retuning to the Corps which he did.

    The military system is set up to weed out the week they punish for behaviors that come form these invisible wounds of war. Its funny that you can see commercials for TBI’s and PTSD but if you are still in the Corps your up a creek without a paddle. If the Corps admits that you are injured they have to pay your benefits. It cheaper and easier if they other then honorable discharge you or better yet on their part if you loss your battle all together and end up as another news story.

    • This is like reading my own story, but instead of it being my son, its my husband. He too has horrific migraines, diagnosed with TBI and PTSD, and he too was told to suck it up. His total personality changed and when he lost it instead of helping him, they pulled his rank from him and punished him. We have fought for 2 long yrs to get what is owed to him. He loves his country, he fought for it, and if he could he would be over seas with his unit right now instead of being curled up in a ball in our bed begging for the pain to go away.please, PLEASE, can anybody tell me where we go from here? How do I help him, help us? I cannot accept that this is how its gonna be, I know he’s gonna be different but I would like to see even a glimpse of the man I once knew

  11. I would really like to get in touch via email with Mike Martinez if it would be possible. He has been an inspiration. I never have been in the military but can related to his. Keep strong mijo! Things have to get better. You have already been thru the worse part.

  12. I am so glad that they have a program for these people coming back wounded. I know how it is because I have tbi. People don’t understand when you have invisable wounds that effect your life everyday. Then when Drs do find out they don’t tell and your passed on and there is progression as you don’t get the right medical treatment. This summer it felt like I would die because the part of my brain damaged was shutting down my muscles more and breathing. . This guy Joe use to be a helicopter pilot in maybe army not sure and tried to help wounded people coming back from war with free hyperbaric oxegen treatment and had bought a unit. A bill was tried to pass 7299 so it would be paid for but the guy who was trying to get it passed died before it was passed and joe couldn’t afford it so sold it. He told me that some people paid upfront but was never reimbursed. My insurance doesnt cover this treatment, I struggle everyday but maybe I’m suppose to know because I think my son has tbi from multiple head injuries. I have no one who gets it or understands as my friend Charlie isnt ‘ with us anymore. I AM HOWEVER SO GLAD THERE IS SOMEONE THERE FOR THE PEOPLE COMING FROM WAR. BECAUSE WE ARE as I am invisable with our invisable wounds. GOD BLESS

  13. According to a pilot study published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Healing and Caring, veterans with high levels of PTSD saw their PTSD levels drop to within normal limits after treatment. They reported that combat memories that had previously haunted them, including graphic details of deaths, mutilations, and firefights, dropped in intensity to the point where they no longer resulted in flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD. The study involved veterans from Vietnam, as well as more recent conflicts. ,

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