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Due: 3/5/2019For this Discussion, you review a video of three U.S. military service members previously deployed in the Middle East. Each experienced combat in unique ways, and each experienced trauma differently. As you watch the clips, pay attention to who experienced vicarious trauma and who experienced posttraumatic stress disorder. Consider how each man experienced the trauma, the symptoms of each condition, and what makes their experiences similar but also distinctively different from the others. Please note that the military personnel in the video discuss graphic details of their combat experiences, which may be disturbing. Please consult your Instructor if you experience trauma related to the video. If after consultation, you feel you need further services, please contact the Walden Counseling Center. Post a brief explanation of which individual(s) has vicarious trauma and which has posttraumatic stress disorder. Then identify the symptoms of the individual(s) with vicarious trauma and explain how each symptom informed your selection. Finally, explain how you might apply what you have learned from the video in your future role as a helping professional. Be specific in distinguishing the two and use current literature to support your response. Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the resources.ReferencesLaureate Education (Producer). (2014d). Vicarious trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in military personnel [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu Morrissette, P. J. (2004). The pain of helping: Psychological injury of helping professionals. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.Chapter 2, “Stress”Chapter 3, “Acute Stress Disorder”Chapter 4, “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder”Chapter 5, “Compassion Fatigue/Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder”Chapter 7, “Vicarious Traumatization”
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Vicarious Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Personnel
Vicarious Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military
Personnel
Program Transcript
NARRATOR: In this video, you will meet three veterans who were deployed into
combat and have experienced either post traumatic stress or vicarious trauma as
a result of their time there. As you listen to their experiences, think about how
vicarious trauma and post traumatic stress disorder have similar symptoms and
characteristics, but also what makes each condition distinctively different.
CLAUDE BOUSHEY: My name is up Claude Boushey and I work for the Virginia
Wounded Warrior program as a Veteran Care Specialist. My military service
started in 1983. I joined the Army at 17 and retired in 2010.
STEVEN MATOS: My name is Steven Matos. I served in the United States
Marine Corp from ’98 through ’05. And I served in Iraq back in January ’03 to
August ’03.
RICHARD MALMSTROM: My name is Richard Malmstrom. I’m a Lieutenant
Commander in the United States Navy.
CLAUDE BOUSHEY: I was nearly killed in a helicopter crash June 13, 2004 near
Tel Tashi, Iraq. I was evaced out of theater, Iraq theater, into [INAUDIBLE]. I
broke my back. I broke my leg. And they were saying that pretty much a good
chance I might not be able to walk again, or I might have some issues, or I might
not make it through. I went through four surgeries. One lasting about 16 hours on
my spine and my leg. And I’ve got a bunch of hardware in my body now. So my
initial goal for me was just to recover. The second goal was to get back in the
cockpit and fly again. And the third goal for me was to get back to Iraq.
RICHARD MALMSTROM: Probably the biggest experience or the most notable
experience would be when I was assigned to the Third battalion 25th Marines.
We were assigned to the Sunni Triangle in Iraq just outside of Al Asad in 2005.
We were at a place called Haditha just along the Euphrates River. But while we
were there for seven months, we had 48 Marines who were killed in combat
along with probably several hundred who were wounded in combat as well. I
didn’t want to go out too far into the field. I wanted to get as far as I could without
putting myself at undue risk.
So I had to remain back a little bit quite often. And as men were being killed and
injured, they were often brought back inside the wire. And I would go up with the
aid station and primarily my first priority were those that were either already dead
or those that were expected to die very soon. But by the time they got to me, they
were usually in pretty bad shape by the time they were there. And I would make
sure that they were secure. I would make sure that we put them into body bags,
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Vicarious Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Personnel
that we identified them. I made it a habit of mine to go and put my hand on the
remains and say a blessing for them.
And I would say it for the benefit of those that were there around us and for the
families, because I know it was important for them. But I would say a blessing
over the body or what was left of the body. And soon after putting them into a
body bag, we would put them on a helicopter to send them back home so that
they could be interred with the family. But it was tough because I would go from
there and then have to go take care of the Marines that were left behind. It was a
reserve battalion so many of the men had been friends for years.
They weren’t just guys who met a few months ago and then started to deploy.
But they were high school buddies and friends from grade school that they now
saw blown to pieces, missing heads, missing arms, legs. So damaged that the
bone structure just didn’t hold anymore. You could flex the body any way you
wanted it to or any way you wanted it to move so you could get it into the body
bag. So I’d go right from putting them in the body bags and sending them home
to taking care of their buddies as best I could.
STEVEN MATOS: I was part of the initial push into Baghdad. I don’t think
anybody was really ready for that. It takes that first gunshot to go by your feet for
you to realize, holy smokes, I’m really getting shot at. And, of course, I’m giving
you the edited version. But a lot of people say before they go, I’m ready to do
this, do that. And when that first shot goes over your head or hits in front of your
feet and, you know, stuff hits the fan that OK, I have to get it. Remember my
training and do what I was trained to do. I got wounded the first day of war.
March 21, 2003 we got caught in a mine field. It was a Iraqi gun position. We
went into the position, we took over the guns, they were still hot. Realized there
was a bunch of holes in the ground looked like rat holes, sand rat holes. Realized
that something wasn’t right. Within about two hours of us being there, the first
one off and injured the Chaplin’s driver. During that time, I ran down, ran down
the field to tell everybody to get back into their vehicles. And about five feet from
my truck one of the staff sergeants was pulling a gurney out of an ambulance to
set up a triage for the ones that just got injured, and he took two steps back and
set one off. And it took his right leg from the knee down.
And it also hurt seven others at the same time, myself. My injuries were treated
on the spot. I was walking around with a limp for a couple days and started
smoking heavily. I wouldn’t get out of a vehicle without checking the ground. I
was just a little nervous on stepping on something myself. You’ve got a better
perspective on what’s going on around you, because you’re always looking
around and you’re always trying to make sure everything is OK.
RICHARD MALMSTROM: The mobile assault platoon, as they call it, they
dropped me off down in heat. And they took off to go take care of some other
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Vicarious Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Personnel
missions. And I was getting myself settled in, getting ready to do some services,
and I felt a blast. My door actually popped open. I could feel the impact from a
blast. And I thought something just hit right outside my door. So I grabbed all my
gear and went outside. I didn’t see anything immediately, so I went to the
battalion aid station. And I could see the plume of smoke from the other side of
the Euphrates River. So it was quite a ways away.
And again, had to sit and wait for the injured and the KIA to come in. One of my
close friends was medevaced out and waited for weeks to hear what happened
to him. And in the meantime, they brought back one of the KIA. And from the
torso down he was gone. And he was hit by a suicide vehicle born IED. And it
took him, from the waist down there was nothing left. And they brought him in, we
had him in the body bag, I said my blessing. And what they call the combat
operational center called up and said, do we have all the pieces and parts or do
we need to go looking for everything else?
So we opened it back up and started looking through. And we found two left feet
and two right feet. We found the feet of the bomber along with the feet of the
marine who was there. And we started to have this conversation. Well, what do
we do with the feet of the bomber? And the gut reaction of a lot of the people
there was to throw them out in the dumpster, throw them out with the garbage
and let the dogs take care of these feet. And as Chaplin, part of my job of being
command advisor user it was my task to stand up at that point and say, no, you
can’t do that.
We have to treat them with respect and dignity. We have to put them in a bag.
We have to send it off to Al Asad. And we need to return to the family if we can.
We need to do whatever we can for his grieving mother to return these body
parts so they have something. And that was a pretty difficult spot to be in, to have
to argue on behalf of the man who just blew up a Marine who is laying right there.
That was a difficult one. The most notable aside from that was just the sheer
volume that we had. I was very close to our snipers. Their hooch as we called it,
the place where they lived, was just right down the hallway from me at Haditha.
And so we got together all the time.
I was very close with one of the corpsmen who was attached to them. And one
day they called me up, and they said, well, we just lost two of our sniper teams.
So seven of these snipers their position was compromised, and they were killed.
Excuse me. So they asked me to go in and tell the other snipers what had
happened. And to make matters worse one of the younger brothers of the sniper
he was so impressed with his brother, so enamored by his brother that he
decided to join the Marines as well. So he was in our battalion also. The
insurgents had taken his body, and we couldn’t find it. And they were doing
things to his body.
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So I had to sit with this young Marine while we waited for his brother to be found.
And had to sit and counsel with him, get him calmed down, and try to refocus him
on what was now his new task while they were waiting to find his brother. And
then immediately following that, we sent out some quick reaction forces to try to
find the men who had done this. And we lost 14 men in it’s called an AAV, an
amphibious assault vehicle. So we lost 21 guys in three days. It was
overwhelming. You can’t even imagine what that’s like to lose so many people in
such a short amount of time. And you kind of go through a funk for a while
afterwards, for years afterwards.
It takes a while to get past something like that. There were times too where I
would see the aftermath of an event and take care of those Marines as they
came in. And then as my corpsmen would come in, they would describe to me all
the things that they’ve done to try to keep these Marines alive. And they would
describe in detail the way the scene looked, how the bodies were positioned, the
extent that they went through to try to keep these men alive. I mean, one of them
he was trying to give mouth to mouth resuscitation to one of these Marines.
And there was so much internal bleeding that this Marine had vomited blood
back up into his mouth as he was trying to resuscitate him. And so he had the
smell of blood on his breath. And I could smell that. And having them describe
everything that happened along with seeing the aftermath, it’s another one of
those images that gets imprinted on your brain that you can’t escape from. I was
having the flashbacks, the intrusive memories.
I can remember probably the worst one I had was as a reserve chaplain I was
serving as a school administrator along with being an associate pastor. And I had
set up some training for my teachers. And I set up a room for them to get training
on CPR. And when I walked into the room to see the dummy’s scattered all over
the floor, and it’s just the training dummies it just has the head and the torso, and
in my mind’s eye I was seeing the real thing, not just a training dummy. And
having the same visceral reaction to it, the increased heart rate, the sweating, the
inability to concentrate, all of those things. It was just like I was back seeing
these things again.
So I had a lot of the intrusive memories. I had trouble concentrating. I had trouble
remembering simple words like telling my kids to pick up their bowl to put it in the
sink, I had to motion to pick up your, you know, your the thing. And my boys
would say, you mean the bowl? And I say, yeah. I couldn’t even think of that. I
think what really freaked me out was sitting at a stoplight one time and not
knowing where I was. I’d stopped at a stoplight and for a good minute or so I
didn’t know if I was going to work or coming home from work, why I was in the
car, what time of day it was. I had no clue what I was doing in the car period or
how I got there. And it shook me quite a bit.
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Vicarious Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Personnel
I found myself very short tempered. I could go from zero to 60 just like that. It
took nothing to get me to lose my temper. I didn’t want to even go outside for a
fireworks display around 4th of July. The sounds, the sights, the smells, all of it
was too familiar. Even just driving down the road seeing an animal that had been
hit with a car it would bring back memories and I would see these things. Even in
the church giving communion, I would see the faces of some of these dead
marine sometimes. It was very difficult. I had a lot of the intrusive memories.
Numbing as well. I had a hard time showing empathy. One of my secretaries
when I returned home, her son was murdered on his doorstep, he was shot dead
in front of his daughter. And my immediate reaction was there’s just one, what’s
everybody so upset about? It’s only one, let’s have the funeral and let’s get back
to work. And I didn’t see the problem with it I was smart enough not to say that
out loud, especially talking with the mother. I knew the right thing to say, to say,
I’m sorry for your loss. And this is awful and terrible. But inside, I just couldn’t
connect. I just didn’t think that it was that big of a deal.
It took a long time to regain some of that empathy. And eventually my wife, God
bless her, she finally said, well, you need to go get some help. And she was at
the point of saying, if you don’t get some help, I’m going to leave. So eventually I
said, well, OK, fine. I’ll call the VA. They got me to see a doctor right away and
started seeing somebody and talking with them. But that took about three years
of working on it. It didn’t happen overnight, it took about three years of talking
with the counselor to get through to the other side and finally get onto an even
keel. And then to turn those experiences around and use them for positive
experiences rather than negative.
CLAUDE BOUSHEY: The kind of things I went through through my recovery
were both physical, mental, and emotional. Believe it or not, the physical part
was a lot easier to cover than the mental and emotional. Because physically you
kind of know, you’ve got a broken leg and it needs to heal. The bone needs to
grow back. You have a crushed spine, so the spine needs to grow back. Those
were easier than dealing with the mental part. I actually lost a buddy in combat
during my recovery. So that was pretty hard.
I mean hitting that portion accepting what you are now, walking around or getting
wheeled around in a wheelchair, walking with a walker or a cane, having things
attached to your body that’s not supposed to be there to help you recover, of
course. But it’s mentally draining because you want your body the way it was
before, before June 13, 2004. And once I kind of accepted that, hey, this is the
new you, things got better mentally and emotionally. And it was a lot better on my
family as well.
And there was a time in rooms like this, I’d sit in the dark and just kind of hang
out and relax. And that was my time, because I just wanted to reflect on really
what happened. And you go through a phase of woe is me. Why me? Why did it
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Vicarious Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Personnel
happen to me? Why couldn’t it happen to anybody else? I never did anything
wrong, why did it happen to me? So you go through that phase. And you go
through a phase, whoa man, I destroyed a $6 million helicopter. I let my unit
down. There was one less helicopter in the fight in Iraq.
So you go through that phase I let my unit down, I want to go back. So
September of ’05 is when I went back on flying status. And then we started
gearing up for the next tour for Iraq. And I volunteered to get on the next boat
over to the next tour with my unit. So that was a goal that I needed to fulfill.
Because mentally I felt that I didn’t get the job done the first time, because I
crashed right in the middle of the tour. So I got sent home. And I wanted to
complete a full tour for me mentally. I was offered other positions, the PCS, to
change duty stations and go somewhere else and to stop deploying, but I elected
to stay there and deploy with the unit.
STEVEN MATOS: I got back in August of ’03, and it wasn’t really the best
homecoming. I ended up getting divorced. I ended up losing my youngest son. I
went home to see my mom and dad and my brother and grandmother back in
New York and that was nice. But living here in Virginia I dove into my work. I just
did everything that I could to keep busy. My sleep was horrendous. I wouldn’t fall
asleep until 7:00 in the morning the next day. I’d be up all night, just couldn’t
sleep. Until finally my body was tired enough that I would just pass out.
Relationship wise, the smallest things set me off. I don’t care if it was a little bit of
spilled milk or just a dumb question, and I’m jumping at the hinges. And that’s
when I realized, OK, something’s not right. And I had an incident at home. I got
arrested and I ended up doing time in jail for it. And that’s when I realized, yes,
something’s wrong. I need help, because this is getting to the point that it’s
dangerous.
RICHARD MALMSTROM: I’ve met vets that have tried just taking the
medications to make it go away. And I’m a firm believer that that doesn’t work.
That may be part of it for some people. It may help them get over the hump, but I
think in the long run just dealing with it, talking about it, getting it out in the open
and dealing with it helps in the long run.
CLAUDE BOUSHEY: Your body mentally and emotionally go up and down as far
as the hardships on the family and on yourself as far as what you go through.
You need people to talk to. You need people to encourage you. You need a
mentor to look up to and give you that next step, what to shoot for. I didn’t have
that. I had my wife looking out for me. I had my friends calling me quite often. So
having been down at the bottom, you kind of got to know how it feels to give back
a little bit.
That way you can see it in people’s eyes as far as their recovery. You can tell
them what you’ve been through in some cases. And that way they can be
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encouraged to move forward. You always give them something to move forward
for. It’s pretty much like being on first base. You want to get the second base.
And they circle first base forever, they can’t never get to home. So that’s kind of
an analogy I use is give them a resource or service for them to move forward or a
goal.
STEVEN MATOS: If you’re looking for a healthier PTSD, always know that you’re
not alone. That’s the biggest thing that we all look for is for being able to connect
with someone that’s either been there and done that or has done the same thing
as you and is looking for a helping hand. Never ever think that hey, I might have
done something that deep inside is killing me, but someone else has done the
same thing, if not something that’s just as bad or maybe even worse. And there’s
always somebody on the other side who would like to help you.
Most Marines don’t want to admit that they have PTSD because it makes you
look weak. You don’t want to tell a leader, hey, I think my head’s mixed up.
They’re going to tell you, hey, go home and sleep it off and come back tomorrow
and you should be OK. So you just learn to put it on the back burner for as long
as you can. And that’s a bad thing. I got back home in ’03, and I didn’t have my
first incident until ’06. And when it happened, it was just an explosion of emotions
that were put away for so many years, which is why I got in trouble.
CLAUDE BOUSHEY: I got involved in the Wounded Warrior program when I was
injured and doing my recovery. I knew how it was to recover from almost nearly
getting killed, c …
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