A request to interested parties for humanitarian project funding.
Fact: at least 300,000 military personnel who have come home from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD.
Clearly, something needs to be done to help those who have helped their country. This situation cannot, in any decent consciousness, continue. These soldiers have given so much, and for those with intense suffering we all must help them with ways to remove their horror and helplessness, and regain their health and valor. It is up to private investment and donations to see this happen.
Therefore, this is what we propose.
PTSD CLINICS is the establishment of clinics for the treatment of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The initial focus is on the returning military personnel from war zones because they suffer the most severely from PTSD and the military hospital is simply not equipped to handle this problem.
These clinics are designed as mostly outpatient facilities. However, we determined the need for residence facilities for the more acute cases.
The clinic sites are located across the country starting at locations close to military facilities where personnel from war zones would be stationed. Other locations in major cities where abuse to women and children is high would be the next focus area.
The initial budget is for the procurement of facilities and equipment, as well as the recruitment of qualified personnel and training of that personnel.
It has been estimated that one family out of five in this country has family member who suffers from mental illness. This affects not only the patient, but also other family members.
The problem is more frequent and severe among the members of our military forces than among the general population. Estimates run as high as two out of five returning home from the war suffer from PTSD. lt is a form of mental illness of more serious nature than what you could call “average”. Mental illness to any degree is debilitating to the individual who suffers from it and those from PTSD suffer the most severely.
An unpleasant (even scandalous) series of events began to happen within the families of the servicemen returning from Iraq. The military hierarchy began to look for solutions.
First they turned to their medical personnel. The response was, ‘we are equipped to deal with physical problems. This is mental. It’s beyond the scope of our practice.”
They next turned to the Chaplains’ Corps. The response was, “We deal with spiritual matters, not mental illness”.
It became apparent that no one branch of the service was designed to deal with this type of problem. A combination of skills is needed. When you look at the total population, then add drug and alcohol addiction, dishonesty and moral decay in general, America is being overwhelmed. We need not repeat stories here to make the point. Everyone is aware of how large the problem has become.
Left untreated, the PTSD victim exhibits
- Behavioral difficulties, such as impulsivity, aggression, sexual acting out, eating disorders
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Self-destructive actions
- Extreme Emotional difficulties, such as intense rage, depression, or panic
- Mental difficulties, such as fragmented thoughts, disassociation, and amnesia
All of these cause an economic drain on police and medical resources for both the individual and the family, and others with whom they associate.
The dollar amount that could be saved, as well as the lives saved, although impossible to calculate, nonetheless is a significant number.
Therapy always is individualized to meet the specific concerns and needs of each unique trauma survivor, based upon careful interview and questionnaire assessments at the beginning of (and during) treatment.
Trauma therapy is used only when the patient is not currently in crisis. If a patient is severely depressed or suicidal, experiencing extreme panic or disorganized thinking, in need of drug or alcohol detoxification, or currently exposed to trauma (such as ongoing domestic or community violence, abuse, or homelessness), these crisis problems must be handled first.
When a shared plan of therapy has been developed within an atmosphere of trust and open discussion by the patient and therapist, a detailed exploration of trauma memories is performed to enable the survivor to gain a realistic sense of self-esteem and self-confidence in dealing with bad memories and upsetting feelings caused by trauma.
Trauma memories usually do not go away entirely as a result of therapy, but become manageable with new coping skills. Trauma exploration is done in several ways, depending upon the type of post-traumatic problems a survivor is experiencing. These types of problems are not limited to PTSD, but include at least five different post-traumatic conditions.
Usually within several months after starting treatment, the patient will report feeling better and will probably seem more cheerful and optimistic.
The patient’s performance improves at
- School or work, for example increased attendance, better grades, or improved performance evaluation at work
- Home or family, for example, improved ability to get along with family members, or increased participation in family chores
- Friends or community, (for example more frequent socializing with friends
The number of people that would benefit is exponential because not only does the individual benefit, but so does everyone the patient has personal contact with (family, friends, co-workers, employers, students, etc.).
The PTSD Clinics are to be established clinics located across the country and available to those individuals who have been diagnosed with PTSD or think that they may have PTDS. Most of the clinics are storefront facilities that can be built up to create the setting needed to make the patients feel at-ease and provide offices for one-on-one therapy.
Estimates of PTSD run as high as two out of five returning home from the war suffer from this malady. These numbers demonstrate the need for an extensive number of clinics to treat even a small percentage of those afflicted.
PTSD Clinics plans for an in-patient type facility to treat the acute cases that arise. One or two suggested acquisitions are a small hotel or motel could be converted into the proper in-patient clinic.
The staff size would vary depending on the size and demand of the clinic, but anywhere from 10 to 40 professionally trained people per clinic would be ideal: the needed personnel would include Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Therapist, Nurses, and clinical assistants as well as administrative personnel.
The most effective kind of treatment for PTSD is cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. Medication is sometimes used in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients who are at risk to hurt themselves or others, have symptoms that are extremely debilitating, or who do not respond to psychotherapy. However, cognitive-behavioral therapy involves working with the individual’s thoughts to change the way he or she thinks, feels, and acts, and is far more effective than drugs.
Exposure therapy a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is especially effective for PTSD, requires the patient to imagine the trauma in a safe, controlled environment. The therapist helps the patient confront, and gain control of the fear and distress that is associated with the trauma. While the patient recalls the traumatic memories, he or she uses relaxation skills to cope with the distress brought about by recalling the trauma.
Relaxation skills are taught early in the treatment and may include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing retraining. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also include cognitive restructuring, in which the patient learns new ways of thinking about the trauma that minimize anxiety, guilt, or depression. Patients also learn to recognize “triggers” for the symptoms and use coping skills such as relaxation and cognitive restructuring to minimize the likelihood of experiencing a complete relapse of symptoms. Usually the mental health specialist will gauge the success of intervention services by observing changes in the patient’s behavior and functioning and by administering standardized rating scales for PTSD when appropriate.
We plan on using professional organizations to recruit our staff and we have developed a training program to standardize the treatment at each of the clinics. The key members of our organization have extensive contacts with military, veterans, and medical organizations to identify those people that we want to help.
We plan to develop educational programs on PTSD that will be given to the military and other organizations that will help them in identifying those that might be affected with PTSD.
Our business plan uses medical insurance billings to insure that the program will continue after the humanitarian funds are depleted.
Dr. George Demos, Chairman and President/CEO
A retired Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at several universities in Southern California
Dr. Earl Beecher, Vice President
Was a Professor of Business Administration. He served full-time 33 years at Cal State University at Long Beach, CA, and part-time at seven other universities (UCLA, UCI, CSULA, Pepperdine, etc.)
Anthony Merson, CFO
Mr. Merson, MBA (from Pepperdine University) has worked at various companies for the last 20 years. He is a retired Army Captain with 27 years in the California Army National Guard.
Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, Director
Former Lieutenant Governor for the State of Nevada (1995-1999), member of the UNLV Board of Regents and the State Board of Education. He is an accomplished neurosurgeon and invested several years as a NASA flight surgeon. In Vietnam, he was the Commander of the 25th Medical Detachment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Rev. Joseph P. Howe, Director
Pastor of the North Shore Baptist Church and Director of World Ministries to the Armed Forces co-located in North Chicago, IL. He has been a chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel, in the U.S. Air Force, and has lectured for many foreign militaries and universities throughout the world.