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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Release of The Hidden Legacy of World War II by Carol Schultz Vento

Daughter of WW2 hero Arthur "Dutch" Schultz presents evidence of PTSD among WW2 vets in new bio

Carol Schultz Vento, the daughter of famed D-Day paratrooper Arthur "Dutch" Schultz, provides a stirring account of Dutch's life after the war, linking her findings to post-traumatic stress disorder among many World War 2 veterans.

The Hidden Legacy of World War IIPRLog (Press Release) - Dec 04, 2011 -

Camp Hill, PA - Sunbury Press has released "The Hidden Legacy of World War II: A Daughter's Journey of Discovery" by Dr. Carol Schultz Vento, the daughter of famed D-Day and Battle of the Bulge paratrooper Arthur "Dutch" Schultz. Vento's research attributes PTSD to many of the issues WW2 veterans experienced following the war, including her father's.

About the book:

Daughters, fathers and war - three words seldom used together. In "The Hidden Legacy of World War II: A Daughter's Journey of Discovery", Carol Schultz Vento weaves life with her paratrooper father into the larger narrative of World War II and the homecoming of the Greatest Generation. The book describes the seldom told story of how the war trauma of World War II impacted one family. This personal story is combined with the author's thorough research and investigation of the reality for those World War II veterans who could not forget the horrors of war. This nonfiction work fills in the missing pieces of the commonly accepted societal view of World War II veterans as stoic and unwavering, a true but incomplete portrait of that generation of warrior.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Portrayal of my father Arthur 'Dutch' Schultz the eve before D-Day

My father is portrayed by Richard Beymer as the young paratrooper who deliberately loses the money he won shooting craps. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Medal of Honor recipient speaks out about PTSD

Medal of Honor recipients urge those in the military to seek help.

Book Release 11/11/11 Veterans Day

My book, The Hidden Legacy of World War II: A Daughter's Journey of Discovery, will be published by Sunbury Press.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest Post by Author of Those Who Dare - A World War II historical novel

By Phil Ward, Author of:

Those Who Dare, a World War II historical novel--it’s all true except the parts I made up or accidently got wrong-- is the first book in the Raiding Forces Series. The concept is to tell the little known parts of WWII that were extremely important when they were taking place but that history has passed by as bigger events overshadowed them.

The story begins when Lt. John Randal an American volunteer serving in the British Army arrives in Calais France in 1940. The British Green Jacket Brigade consisting of a battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corp, a battalion of the Rifle Brigade and the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment were assigned the task of holding Calais against a German Panzer Corp that was racing across France and if not stopped would slam into the flank of approximately 500,000 Allied troops at Dunkirk waiting to be evacuated. If that happened the war would be lost.

Calais was in utter chaos. The ship Lt. Randal was on came under air attack as it docked, the destroyer escorting it was sunk, a riot was in progress on the docks as fleeing troops from disintegrating Allied units falling back on the port tried to force their way onto his ship to escape the German onslaught and long range artillery was intermittingly incoming. The Green Jackets were under strength and without heavy weapons while the 3rd RTR had been ordered to torch their tanks before they could fall into German hands and had actually burned several before cooler heads prevailed.

All of this is true.

Lt. Randal was assigned two platoons one each from the KRRC and the RB plus a handful of Royal Marines with orders to screen the right flank of the Calais defense zone. Since he had served in the US 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts) and had operated against the Huk’s Lt. Randal was experienced in guerilla tactics. He launched a seventy-two hour hit and run campaign against the oncoming German Panzers with Swamp Fox Force, as his men called themselves. Eventually Lt. Randal escaped the death trap Calais became (virtually the entire approx. 3,000 men of the Green Jacket Brigade were killed, wounded or captured) bringing out half of his original command.

This part is fiction though the escape is based on fact.

When Lt. Randal returns to England he is assigned to MO-9 commanded by Lt. Col. Dudley Clarke, the officer who originated the idea of British Commandos. The first raid is carried out. Everything that could go wrong did. Lt. Randal suggests a smaller force might carry out ‘guerilla war from the sea’ and is given permission to raise a unit to conduct pin-prick raids.

Lady Jane Seaborne, Special Operations Executive, adopts Lt. Randal’s outfit as her pet project. She volunteers it for No. 1 British Parachute School and Special Warfare Training at Castle Ackcancarry. Then Lady Jane arranges for Raiding Forces, as the small-scale raiding unit is called, to make alliances with various intelligence organizations such as Special Operations Executive, Political Warfare Executive and MI-9 (Escape) to carry out their direct actions operations.

While a blend of truth and fiction the details of the tactics, training and the organizations described are accurate down to the ground. Much of the history has never been written in fiction ever.

Those Who Dare tells the story of a small band of Commando’s learning the skills to become an accomplished raiding force able to attack unannounced from the air or sea and as Winston Churchill said, “snatch German sentries from their post”.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Overprescribing prescription drugs to Veterans - Huffington Post

Good article in Huffington Post about the problem of overprescribing drugs to our veterans by Leila Levinson, author of Gated Grief: The Daughter of a Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma:

The figures have become familiar: the number of veterans and troops in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are at record levels: 300,000 men and women. What isn't so well known is what most of these people experience when they turn to the military for help. They get prescriptions for serious drugs. Multiple prescriptions.
Prozac, Effexor, Elavil or Trazodone for depression. Paxil for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety. Zoloft for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety. Wellbutrin for depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder. Celexa for anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD. Valium for anxiety and insomnia. Klonopin, Ativan, or Xanax for anxiety and panic attacks. Topamax for migraines. Percocet, Lyrica, or OxyContin for pain. Adderall or Ritalin for ADD, or ADHD. Haldol, Risperdal or Seroquel for psychosis. Ambien, Lunesta, or Restoril for insomnia.

A group of veterans I had the honor and privilege of meeting with recently shared how this pharmaceutical approach to their physical and emotional pain and inability to sleep -- which I discovered is a universally disabling consequence of combat -- quickly alienates them, producing cynicism towards the VA. "They just push pills," one man told me. "They act as if there's a quick fix: just pop these pills."

The veterans know on a gut level that the remedy to their intolerable memories and nightmares -- both waking and asleep -- will not come through a pill. So they find themselves in the all but laughable situation of finding a way to get rid of the pills they are obligated to get -- once they sign on for help from the VA.
"You can't just flush them down the toilet, because then you're putting this crap in the water system." One veteran throws his in the trash, after spray painting all identifying information on the bottle. When another tried dumping the contents into a plastic baggie, the contents heated up and melted the bag. "So what the hell is that stuff doing to my insides?"

It is difficult enough for pharmaceutical companies to know the long term consequences of taking any one of the many drugs listed above, but what about when they are taken in combination? What are the synergistic effects of these powerful brain altering chemicals?

I have personally observed how psychiatrists cannot say with any certainty whether a drug will mitigate certain behavior or moods. Prescribing drugs is a crap shoot. And that only becomes more the case when multiple drugs are prescribed. The absurdity increases when we recognize that psychiatrists often prescribe drugs to address side effects of another drug. Adderall can make people insomniacs or create tics, and so drugs are given to induce sleep or stop the tics. Or stimulants are given when a drug is overly sedative.

Just getting a prescription filled can make a veteran wish they hadn't ever sought help. Many vets report that when they pick up their prescriptions, the pharmacists give them weird looks, as if to say, "What's your story, that you need all these drugs?" This only adds to the stigma our veterans and troops already feel.

Last week two excellent articles reported the military's reliance on pharmaceuticals to address the burgeoning mental health care crisis in our troops. The Feb. 14th issue of New York Magazine carried an article "The Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Effexor, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, Xanax, Adderall, Ritalin, Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ambien, Lunesta, Elavil, Trazodone War" that describes in detail how the mental health crisis within the Army and how medications are central to its response. "Nearly one-third of all active duty Army suicides in 2009 involved prescription drugs."

James Dao of the New York Times reported on Feb. 12 in "For some Troops, Powerful Drug Cocktails Have Deadly Results" that the military is using psychiatric drugs more than it ever has before, while at the same time experiencing a remarkable increase in drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents, many the result of a fatal combination of drugs.

The Department of Defense is paying attention, demanding increased monitoring of prescription drugs, restricting their use, offering more treatments like acupuncture, yoga, and exposure therapy, but "shortages of mental health professionals have hampered those efforts." The article goes on to say, "Given the depth of medical problems facing combat veterans, as well as the medical system's heavy reliance on drugs, few experts expect the widespread use of multiple medications to decline significantly anytime soon."
Why is the Department of Defense not issuing a public call of action to all mental health therapists to help in this crisis? Why are the mainstream media and the Department of Defense ignoring efficacious and inexpensive approaches such as those offered by Soldier's Heart and Operation Warrior Wellness? The veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan whom I met at a Soldier's Heart retreat last month began the retreat exhausted, strung out, anxious, hopeless. Four days later they had had the first nights of sleep that they could remember; their bodies showed looseness and energy; light had entered their eyes, and they expressed hope and confidence in their ability to reassemble their lives and those of their families.

The irony of the military's predicament is that the solution is the cheapest: connect our veterans to the love and caring so many of us civilians want to give them. Let's create networks of communities for them, their families. What is essential to this is to acknowledge that combat trauma is a wound to the soul, not some neurological aberration that pills can fix.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Prescriptions drugs overused for PTSD

Drugs used to treat war veterans’ pain, depression can turn deadly
Iraq, Afghan war vets get painkillers, psychiatric drugs that don’t mix well
Sunday, February 13, 2011 02:59 AM
By James Dao

After a decade of treating wounded troops, the military’s medical system is awash in prescription drugs — and the results have been deadly sometimes.

By some estimates, more than 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those. The Pentagon has looked to pharmacology to treat those complex problems. As a result, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the military than during any other war.

But those medications, along with narcotic painkillers, increasingly are being linked to a rising tide of other problems, among them drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents. An Army report on suicide released last year documented the problem, saying one-third of the force was on at least one prescription medication.

“Prescription-drug use is on the rise,” the report said, noting that medications were involved in one-third of the record 162 suicides by active-duty soldiers in 2009. An additional 101 soldiers died accidentally from the toxic mixing of prescription drugs from 2006 to 2009.

“I’m not a doctor, but there is something inside that tells me the fewer of these things we prescribe, the better off we’ll be,” said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, who has led efforts to prevent suicide.

The New York Times reviewed the cases of service members who died from what coroners said were toxic interactions of prescription drugs. All were classified as accidents, not suicides.

Given the complexity of drug interactions, it’s difficult to know what killed the men, and the Pentagon declined to discuss their cases, citing confidentiality. But there were important similarities in their stories.

All the men had been deployed multiple times and eventually received diagnoses of PTSD. All had five or more medications in their systems when they died, including opiate painkillers and mood-altering psychiatric drugs, but not alcohol. All had switched drugs repeatedly, hoping for better results that never arrived.

All died in their sleep.

Psychiatry and warfare
The military medical system has struggled to meet the demand caused by two wars, and it reports shortages of therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. But medications always have been readily available.

Across all branches, spending on psychiatric drugs has more than doubled since 2001, to $280 million in 2010, according to statistics obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency by a Cornell University psychiatrist, Richard A. Friedman.

Paradoxically, the military came under criticism a decade ago for not prescribing enough medications, particularly for pain.

Thousands of troops struggle with insomnia, anxiety and chronic pain, and that combination is particularly risky to treat with medications. Pairing a pain medication such as oxycodone, a narcotic, with an anti-anxiety drug such as Xanax, a so-called benzodiazepine, amplifies the tranquilizing effects of both, doctors say.

Similarly, antidepressants such as Prozac or Celexa block liver enzymes that help break down narcotics and anxiety drugs, extending their effects.

In the case of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Bachus, it is far from clear that he received the least amount of medication possible.

He saw combat in Iraq, said his brother, Jerry Bachus of Westerville, and he struggled with alcoholism, anxiety, flashbacks, irritability and survivor’s guilt once home.

“He could make himself the life of the party,” Jerry Bachus recalled of his brother’s behavior before serving in Iraq. “But he came back a shell, like a ghost.”

Christopher Bachus received a diagnosis of PTSD, and in 2005, doctors put him on a regimen that included Celexa for depression, Klonopin for anxiety and Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug. In 2006, after he had a period of stability, a military doctor discontinued his medications. But six months later, Bachus asked to be put on them again.

According to an autopsy report, his depression and anxiety worsened in late 2006. Yet for unexplained reasons, he was allowed to deploy to Iraq for a second time in early 2007.

But when his commanders discovered that he was on psychiatric medications, he was sent home after a few months, records show.

Frustrated and ashamed that he could not be in a front-line unit and unwilling to work behind a desk, he applied in late 2007 for a medical retirement.

In March 2008, a military doctor began giving him an opiate painkiller for his back. A few days later, Bachus, 38, called his wife, who was living in Ohio. He sounded delusional, she told investigators later, but not suicidal.

“You know, babe, I am really tired, and I don’t think I’ll have any problems falling asleep tonight,” he told her. He was found dead in his quarters in North Carolina nearly three days later.

According to the autopsy report, Bachus had in his system two antidepressants, the opiates oxymorphone and oxycodone, and Ativan for anxiety. The delirium he experienced in his final days was “most likely due to the interaction of his medications,” the report said.

Nearly 30 prescription bottles were found at the scene, the report said.

Jerry Bachus pressed the Marine Corps and the Navy for more information about his brother’s death, but he received no further explanations. “There was nothing accidental about it,” he said. “It was inevitable.”

Trying to numb the pain

In his last months, Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Mena rarely left home without a backpack filled with medications.

He had deployed to Iraq in 2005 but saw little action. He got the chance to return in 2006, when sectarian violence was hitting a peak.

After coming home, he spoke often of feeling guilty about missing patrols in which a sergeant was killed and several platoon mates were seriously wounded.

He returned from his second deployment complaining of back pain, insomnia, anxiety and nightmares. Doctors diagnosed PTSD and prescribed cocktails of psychiatric drugs and narcotics.

Yet his pain and depression only deepened. “I have almost given up hope,” he told a doctor in 2008, medical records show. “I should have died in Iraq.”

By the summer of 2008, he was on half a dozen medications. His back and neck pain worsened, but Air Force doctors could not pinpoint a cause.

In February 2009, he received an honorable discharge and was given a

100 percent disability rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs, meaning he was considered unable to work. Yet for all his troubles, he seemed hopeful when his mother, Pat Mena, visited him in early July 2009.

The night after his mother left, he put on a new Fentanyl patch, a powerful narcotic often used by cancer patients. With his increasingly bad memory, he often forgot what pills he was taking, his mother said. That night, July 21, 2009, he forgot to remove the old patch. He died early the next day. He was 23.

A toxicologist found eight prescription medications in his blood.

“The manner of death,” the autopsy report concluded, “is accident.”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daughters of D-Day facebook page

The Daughters of D-Day facebook page is a resource for information about World War II veterans, PTSD, and veterans' children.!/pages/Daughters-of-D-Day/471455020396