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medingenuityUrology and Post Traumatic Syndrome

What does Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) have to do with Urology? Essentially, very little.

What does PTS have to do with me? A lot.

This article has absolutely nothing to do with Urology so if you don't wish to continue reading, I understand.

My younger son, Josh, went to work for an organization called "Save a Warrior" (www.SaveAWarrior.org), as their Head of Awareness and Contributions. (NOTE: This article is not intended in any manner, shape or form to request any donations from you) Save a Warrior works with returning veterans (called Warriors) who have significant PTS, are highly suicidal, and have exhausted all other means of resolution of their problems. Josh and the creator/executive director invited me to embed as a civilian (called a "witness") for a cohort of 12 Warriors with significant PTS recently at the 5 day program in southern California. Ten of the 12 men have admitted to having had a gun in their mouth in the last month, and one admitted on camera to CNN's Soledad O'Brien, who filmed the entire week for a special to air this summer, that if this program didn't work, he was going to kill himself.

save a warrior, post traumatic stress and urology

Through a comprehensive, well-thought out and intense program, including open group discussion on pre-military traumas, understanding of different personalities, pathophysiology and pharmacology of PTS (on a basic level), fear confrontation (climbing 30 foot pole and jumping off to a trapeze bar and walking wires in tandem), equine therapy, music therapy, art therapy, and most importantly Transcendental Meditation; their PTS is addressed.

Over the course of 5.5 days, I witnessed 12 despondent, withdrawn, unhappy, depressed, and unemotional men transform into a smiling, communicating, emotional, interconnected, and optimistic group of men. While certainly not "cured," they have been given a blueprint and tools for a healing process that will allow them to change, deal with their addictions (participation in 12-step programs for various issues is highly encouraged), and rely and depend on their fellow Warriors and their cohort. Additionally, it is asked that they "Pay It Forward" by working with other alumni of the program, volunteering in the future cohorts as "Shepherds", and spreading the word among active and retired military personnel. The best example I can give is of one Warrior, 100% disabled for traumatic brain injury, PTS, two fractured hips and an immobile arm, during art therapy drew a picture of a heart in black with blood bursting out of it. By the end of the week, his drawing had changed into a brightly colored (predominately yellow) optimistic drawing of a scenic water view with all his cohorts represented. This total stranger, who started uncommunicative and blatantly hostile, turned into a caring, compassionate, sharing man.

A veteran commits suicide in some fashion every 65 minutes, leading to more deaths than occurred in any of our military conflicts. This tragedy will only continue with all of the military returning from Afghanistan at the end of the year. At the present time, Save a Warrior has locations in Southern California and Virginia and runs programs monthly which unfortunately can only address a fraction of the returning Warriors who are in need of assistance.

save a warrior, post traumatic stress and urology

What is the relevance to you as a Primary Care Physician? If, indeed, you have a patient in your practice who is a returning Warrior and suffers from PTS, refer him to the website. Whether or not that they are able to get them into the program, at least they can connect and get them into a system that could make a life or death difference. On a personal note, I went to the program because my son asked me to, because I wanted to know what he was involved with, because I wanted to witness firsthand what he spoke so highly of, and finally, to see if it could change me. I came home a much better man. I was able to connect, relate, interact and bond with a group of young men who changed me for the better. Where I have always felt I was compassionate, understanding, and caring, I, my staff, many of my patients, and wife noticed a positive difference in me.

In Health,

Dr. Kenneth Goldberg

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