Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our Story: Stuck

My husband has served our country for 21 1/2 years in the Navy, Navy Reserves, and Army Reserves. We have been married for 21 years this year (2013), and we have been friends since high school.

I have been advocating for my husband since 2007 when he returned from a deployment to Africa in support of OEF. Prior to this deployment, he served two tours in the first Gulf War on the flight deck of the USS Saipan (amphibious assault ship) and again in Bosnia (human intelligence). He also served several years in CONUS working with JICPAC, and in the Army Reserves (OPFOR and 60 gunner). He was repeatedly recognized for his good work over the years.

For his most recent deployment, Marc was sent to Africa as an Individual Augmentee in 2006, performing Intelligence related work in support of OEF. He holds a TS/SCI clearance. He was a committed and affectionate husband and loving father of 4 young children (ages 6, 2, 2 and 1).

In 2007, he returned broken, angry and badly depressed. He was a different man. He began drinking heavily given half a chance. Life was changed. We could no longer go to public events, he would get confused, struggled to remember things and kept a notepad constantly, then would forget what he wrote down (or where). He was standoffish and cold towards me and our children, often flipping out/angry over the smallest things. He refused to talk about anything overseas. Watching the news would set him off (to this day, we do not watch the news in our home). He could be downright mean.

He went to great lengths to push me and our kids away, tried infidelity and other things. He was flailing around trying ANYTHING to get away from himself. He had flashbacks where he thought he was in a combat situation in our yard. I had to carry him into the house where he collapsed. We were at an elementary school event at a college stadium when it started to thunder & lightning, and we got separated in the crowd. I found him, crouched down near an exit as though he were holding a large gun and one of our sons standing there crying next to him, and he was completely unaware of his own child's presence. Our neighbors helped with the kids, and I was slowly able to get him to get into the van. When he snapped out of it, he was dreadfully ashamed, confused and upset. He withdrew further and things worsened. These are specific examples of actual events, and the majority of these symptoms continue in various degrees of intensity to this day.

In looking back, I can see went through some of these symptoms when he initially returned from Bosnia, and to a greater degree when returning from the first Gulf war (we were married months after he returned). I thought he was just having trouble adjusting from the military to regular life and it was a minor thing. I could not have been more wrong.

On his out-processing paperwork from Africa, they flagged him for "severe PTSD." Neither of us had any idea of what that was, or what it meant. We pretty much ignored it, to be honest. He never got treatment from the military, he separated and that was it.

All I knew, is that my husband was falling apart. In December 2008, I took him to our family doctor, who prescribed Cymbalta. This seemed to help for a while, enough that I was able to convince (ie, dragged) him to go to a vet center so he could get some counseling. He was adamantly against ANYTHING that had to do with the VA. By that time, I read a bit about PTSD and heard that EMDR could be a helpful counseling tool.

After his first EMDR session, either the counselor either didn't close the session properly, or Marc didn't communicate what was going on. As I was driving him home, he flipped out and attempted to jump out of our moving car on the highway. Thankfully, I was close enough to the side of the road, and pulled over before he could do it. I made him get into the back seat that had child locks and got him back to the center. The counselor was clearly angry about him coming back, and we left. He did try to go to a support group, which helped a little. But he never went back to that counselor.

By this time, Marc had gotten a civilian contracting job in the Intelligence field, due to help from a friend from his unit. This job required a lot of travel, and in some ways, that was a good thing for our family, though it's hard to say that. Marc further withdrew into himself. When he was home, he wasn't there, mentally or emotionally. He continued to have flashbacks, and started smoking (without my knowledge) for the first time in 15 years.

He did see a different counselor at that Vet Center, and I saw the same person for help for myself in coping with Marc. I also had come down with Multiple Sclerosis and was struggling with the implications of a lifelong chronic disease while I was trying to hold my family together. I was starting to have concerns when this counselor basically was telling me that the very REAL symptoms I was experiencing were in my head, and that he knew someone with MS who was a ballet dancer. I was thrown into a deep depression. My MEDICAL DOCTORS were taking me more seriously than my Vet Center counselor.

And then the suicide attempt. Marc has a habit of morbid thoughts and thinking about suicide, but had not taken serious action. I didn't realize how bad things were getting for him, I guess I had gotten numb to it because it was such a constant. I was so distracted with the day to day problems, my own health, our 4 kids (by this time, we found that our twin boys had serious learning disabilities), our house & finances... etc. I can't believe I missed it.

I called Marc, by chance, on his way home from work. He answered his cell phone, but he was flipping out and making no sense. I had no idea what was going on except that he was clearly in a bad place, and tried to calm him down and then called his Vet Center counselor (same one that I had), who spoke with him briefly (1-2 minutes) and called me back to say things were OK (they were NOT). I called Marc back, and he was all over the map and crazy. While Marc was talking to his counselor, I also called a good friend of his who was a former Ranger/sniper. Tim called Marc immediately, and talked him down. I firmly believe that Marc would not be alive today if it were not for Tim. By the time Tim reached him, he was on the roof of a parking garage and getting ready to jump. I also called our family doctor, who said, get him to an ER and have his medications checked. This sounds like it took hours, but it all happened in minutes. After Marc talked to Tim, he called me in a rage... he was PISSED that I'd called Tim, now he couldn't do it, and he blamed me. He screamed at me until his phone ran out of battery. While he was on his way, I rounded up some friends to keep our young kids, expecting that we would be at the ER for a while.

When Marc got home, he was seething, but not raging. I got Marc to go in the car with me and told him that our doctor wanted to have him get his meds checked, but since their office was closed, he wanted Marc to go to the ER. Marc was MAD. He did NOT want to go to the ER. He was sure that something horrible would happen to him, he would lose his clearance, etc. I did my best to talk him down, kept repeating, this is only for a medication adjustment, that's all that our doctor (who he liked) wanted him to do. It took me driving him around for nearly 2 hours before he agreed to walk into the ER on his own feet. I didn't want to go to the police or bring in any kind of law enforcement. In spite of what we were going through, I still deeply respected my husband and I was doing my best to get him some help.

So, he walked into the hospital. I purposely picked GBMC where one of my friends (who was part of our wedding party) worked, so that Marc might feel a little more comfortable. I knew she couldn't really do anything, but it helped somewhat for him to know that there was someone there that he knew. We checked into the ER. I said calmly that our family doctor wanted Marc to be seen for a medication check as things were not going well. The intake person started asking some questions and Marc totally lost it, started telling her about every way that he was planning to kill himself. That was when he was admitted. He was so angry, at me at our friends (some came by to be supportive), at himself. He was raging and like a wild animal in a cage. He told me to get out. At that point, I told the doctors what I knew about PTSD, that he had no treatment except Cymbalta and counseling, about his suicide attempt, etc.

Later, I found out that Cymbalta effectiveness could be cut by nearly half from smoking.

They offered to send Marc to a bed at the Baltimore VA. I knew that Marc would flip if he was "tricked" into going to the VA. I pushed for him to go to a different hospital, and Shepherd Pratt was right next to GBMC. They had a bed, but no treatment for PTSD at that time. I figured that was better than the VA at that moment.

Wow, was I wrong. He was transferred to Shepard Pratt, I got in to see him the next day. They had him so medicated that he couldn't do anything. He was on an addict ward, and they made him go to their classes and such, even though he didn't have a substance abuse problem like that. He was almost convinced that HE was an addict. I got him out of there as soon as I could. They didn't know what to do with him, and he was getting angrier and angrier, even though on the surface, "compliant" with the program.

I was desperate. My friend's ex-husband's dad was Dr. Thomas Murtaugh, who was a leader in treating veterans with PTSD and had done some groundbreaking work in the field. I called him and told him everything that was happening. Even though he was retired, he wanted to help. He referred me to Tom Pinder, Director of the Elkton Vet Center. I called Tom, and I was a desperate wreck and had a hard time even explaining what was happening. He listened, and agreed to see Marc as soon as he was discharged.

It was very difficult to get Marc out of the hospital. They wanted him on these heavy medications and Marc wanted nothing to do with those. They finally released him into Tom Pinder's care. Marc went to talk to Tom. Our family doctor upped the Cymbalta dose. Marc stopped smoking in Fall 2009.

For the first time, I started to have some hope. Tom Pinder has been a lifesaver for Marc and for our family. I am so thankful for his expertise and genuine care for Marc and our family.

Tom treated Marc for PTSD since August 2009 to the present. He has been able to reach in and help Marc deal with his memories and has walked with him through the many traumas that Marc experienced in the military. Some of which, he is just now starting to be able to talk about, starting with the Gulf war, where he stood nearby when a Marine backed into the blades of a helicopter, exploding his head. Where he saw a buddy get his neck broken by a rotor blade, slamming him into the ground.

Where he volunteered to "help at a school" in Kuwait and ended up picking up body parts in the bay, making sure that there were 2 arms, 2 legs, a torso and a head in each bag. Where he was present for evacuations in Africa under heavy fire, where he worked in support of Marine operations. In Bosnia, where he was strongly directed to use a false name due to previous threats to families back home, where he was pursued, witnessed torture in order to obtain valuable information that was used to prosecute and convict various war criminals. In Africa, where he was in the middle of a highly volatile area, witnessed children being used as human shields, gang rapes, and many more deaths & atrocities.

In the meantime, Marc was dealing with a lot of problems in his Navy Reserve unit since returning from Africa. They were sending him to medical, medical had no idea why, then he would return, and his command would be mad at him for not "completing his appointments." Marc was unable to figure out what they wanted him to do, and he became increasingly frustrated and angry. Finally, he was given direct instructions to go to Bethesda for an evaluation. Nobody told him what kind of evaluation. It turned out that it was a mental health evaluation. Again, he was diagnosed with PTSD and a few other issues. He never received the treatment recommended from that evaluation.

In January 2010, Marc's contract ended. His unit moved him to another unit about a month before his contract ended, and his retirement paperwork was lost (as far as we can tell). We were able to confirm that the Navy did send his military medical records to the Veterans' Benefit Administration in Baltimore.

This is important, because we have been trying to locate these records for more than a year currently, and it is preventing Marc from getting important diagnostic services which may explain why he has additional symptoms more consistent with TBI than PTSD even though he only had a minor head injury in the Navy.

In the time between January 2010 and November 2011, we had many ups & downs as a family. Marc continued to exhibit many of the aforementioned symptoms. He was all over the map emotionally when he was home. He would stop taking care of himself, to the point where he was written up at work for it.

I had to negotiate to get him to shave and cut his hair and shower. He continued to be angry, avoid me, avoid the kids, avoid himself. He loathed himself, as a man, as a human. He didn't want to go to counseling. He didn't want to take his medication. He was constantly exhausted. He had severe GI problems. He couldn't sleep, and would have violent, violent dreams. I woke up in a headlock or because he punched me in his sleep when he did sleep. He would exercise to the point of falling down.

He continued to have flashbacks, would react to any loud noise. We could not go to public events where there was any kind of crowd and the 4th of July and New Years were days to dread, shut the windows and stay inside. Many times, he would hole up in the basement.

Our kids don't understand this stuff. They are at the point where they accept it if Dad is having a bad day, and I have done my best to protect them from the worst of it. Due to all that we have been through, my memories of our kids being young is nearly non-existent. I have been in survival mode for years and struggle with my own issues as a result. Again, I am thankful for the Elkton Vet Center, as their people have been incredibly supportive of our family and our kids. Our oldest sees a counselor there as she's been harmed by all this turmoil, and we have had some family counseling sessions as well. Supporting the FAMILIES of wounded warriors is JUST as important as supporting the warriors themselves. I know that if Marc didn't have us, he would likely be homeless and desperate. If we didn't have this support, we could not be there for him as we have been.

So, fast forward to fall 2011. Marc started falling apart again, but in a different way. He was becoming unable to handle the responsibilities at work. He still struggled with self-care. He was extremely paranoid. He continued to be angry and withdrawn, though he was beginning to turn a corner in our relationship. He wasn't blaming me as much for the things he suffered. He still was dealing with symptoms previously mentioned. He still was dealing with a lot of anger, nightmares, patrolled the house at night, etc. He started getting lost going to & from work. He was not doing any bad behavior, but was getting honestly lost. He started relying heavily on his GPS in the Prius to get from one place to another. His stress level was rising exponentially. This was strange, because the fall was usually a better time for him than the summer. When the heat would come on during the summer, all his symptoms would spike. When the fall came, and coolness set in, he would normally get a little relief.

At the end of November 2011, he broke. He called me from his car, he was lost, he was exhausted, he couldn't keep going. He was broken and sobbing. I talked him home. He was a mess. He talked to his boss, who said that he should get help and helped him get on short term disability via Cigna. We called Tom. He recommended Coatesville as a good option if Marc could get in there. First, Marc needed to get to a VA hospital. He did NOT want to go to Baltimore (in his words, it smelled of vomit and cigarettes and he didn't trust them). So we went to Perry Point. They had no beds, they were going to send him to Martinsburg, WV or DC, but at the last minute, something opened up in Baltimore.

Marc was not happy, but at that moment, there was nothing he could do. He was in crisis and he needed help.

They put him on the 6th floor, and he shared a room with a guy who had been blown up. They connected and watched each other's backs. Always vigilant, and in spite of their injuries, they tried to be a help to the nurses with the other patients.

We got the application going for Coatesville, and Marc was transferred there. At first, it seemed ok. He was really trying to participate. He brought a notebook to every meeting (kind of like a shield) and was on time. The groups were hard, and left him in tears. He was falling apart, and told the doctors some of the things he tried to avoid dealing with stuff.

For whatever reason, they didn't get it. Even though he wasn't diagnosed with TBI, he had "other symptoms" not consistent with PTSD and they felt that this wasn't the right environment for him. They had no options, just that this wasn't right. And this was the VA's "world class" PTSD treatment option??

No answers, no follow up care. Just, you don't fit exactly with our expectations, so goodbye. I spoke at LENGTH with the young PhD, and she said she had problems with Marc getting emotional, with the fact that he was on time, and had a notepad. She had problems with some of the things he did to avoid pain. She outright refused to contact Tom Pinder who had been treating him since 2009, for insight, or at least to consult. She said that he was delusional because of having to use an assumed name, basically questioned the validity of his service and what he did when he was overseas!!

So Marc was told to leave, and before I could get up there, he was wandering the streets of Coatesville, with nowhere to go and a bag of personal belongings, starting to walk home to Towson (just north of Baltimore). They basically kicked a wounded, combat-trained vet, onto the streets in the middle of January in Pennsylvania. I could not get up there, I had 4 young kids, it was late in the day, the soonest I could go up is the next day, had to pull everyone out of school, etc. I convinced Marc to go back, and they put him in a high-risk ward overnight. This discharge was handled TERRIBLY. Marc already had enough paranoia and now it was directed at the VA.
I was desperate. Marc was in bad shape when I was able to get him home. I got him up to see Tom several times just to try and keep him stable. Coatesville added meds to the Cymbalta, which somewhat helped.

At some point, a VA doctor tried to put Marc on Zoloft, and said to stop Cymbalta cold-turkey and start Zoloft over a weekend. He became violent and psychotic!! I was afraid for myself and our kids. I immediately stopped that and returned him to Cymbalta. Their reasoning is that the VA doesn't usually prescribe Cymbalta because it's expensive (no generic). Unacceptable. I had very few options. Marc was falling apart, and in December, I got connected with Family of a Vet.

They helped connect me to a VA FIRC. What an amazing program! Maureen connected me with Hope for the warriors. They helped get Marc into the Military Wellness Program at Holliswood hospital in Queens, NY. They offered a DOD certified program for PTSD and TBI. Marc was admitted (he was on short term disability through Cigna / his employer so we had health insurance). They diagnosed him AGAIN with PTSD. He was finally getting help!! But because it was through private insurance, they kicked him out once he was 'stable' and before he completed the program. He came home, and was a mess again. He was referred to the Aspen outpatient program even though that was not a military PTSD program. It did not work for Marc, there were folks there who were extremely anti-military (at least that was Marc's perspective) and he couldn't let down his guard.

After this, Marc attempted to return to work. He does not want to be on disability/etc. His goal was to get back to regular life. He did OK for the first week, and then things began to slip again. His symptoms spiked, in spite of the additional medications, he was falling apart again. He hung on for about a month, then went back on short term disability to try and find help.

He attended the PRRC program at Baltimore, because it was just about the only thing that was available locally. It was somewhat helpful, it gave him a place to go, some coping skills groups, etc.

He was designated as a patient community leader. But this solution was primarily for people who were much less functional than Marc, so while there was marginal benefit with the coping skills, it wasn't really helping Marc. Certainly not to the level that Holliswood had helped.

In August, Marc contracted a pasturella infection from an animal bite. He went to the VA hospital, who prescribed a basic antibiotic. It didn't work, and the end result is that Marc was hospitalized through the fall of 2012 due to life threatening infection. This is not the first time that Marc has had trouble with infections going from simple and blowing up. It's like his immune system just doesn't respond the way it's supposed to. At one point, he was on 2 IV antibiotics and an oral antibiotic after the PICC line was put in. It was terrifying.

During this up & down with the infections & hospitalization, the PTSD group was trying to evaluate Marc. He was all over the map mentally and emotionally after the previous months of trying to get decent treatment and continually falling out of the programs. Because he was able to complete the PRRC program, it seemed that maybe he would be ready to tackle the PTSD program and take the next steps towards getting well. But he was extremely spun up and the hospital had taken him off all meds except cymbalta (without my knowledge) which meant that Marc was even WORSE than before in terms of mood swings and anxiety and highs & lows.

When I read the report, it sounded like Marc was a completely different person, or at least that the person administering the test & evaluation was seeing him as a completely different person than he is.

She indicated that he was malingering, which in my interpretation says, "faking it" to get income. Let me be clear: Marc had a $115,000 / year salary, full benefits for the family, and a PURPOSE in his work, prior to his falling apart in 2011. NOBODY would do that in exchange to the 30K / year in VA disability, with no health coverage for your family. Our mortgage alone is 2,300/ month. I have a chronic medical condition, our kids have learning disabilities and my oldest daughter is dealing with depression.

It was (and still is) EXTREMELY PAINFUL to be told upon reading these records, that everything we have personally experienced, EVERYTHING that we continue to experience, is basically a lie in her professional opinion?!?! Again, the people in the PTSD area REFUSED to speak to Tom Pinder, Marc's VA VET CENTER COUNSELOR who has been treating him for PTSD since 2009.

And we have no recourse. There are no options.

In spite of the fact that Marc did complete a sleep study in March (I believe) 2013, which he was told AGAIN, that his sleep patterns were consistent with PTSD & nightmare disorder. At least that was encouraging in a way, because it VALIDATES the multiple diagnoses of PTSD that he's received. You cannot "fake" sleep.

And then we had a C&P evaluation, which seemed to echo the PTSD evaluation and didn't even take into account the more recent sleep study, he basically discarded the letter written by Tom Pinder that said he's being treated for PTSD for the past several years, he interrupted repeatedly during the interview, and basically blew off the reality of what Marc struggles with, and our family experiences, every single day. His priority was was talking about Marc's childhood, which had problems, which have never been denied or hidden, and for which Marc had received early intervention, as well as adult counseling. His conclusion reflect his disregard for what Marc told him, what I told him, and tries to deny the fact that Marc's problems ARE service connected. So, today, except for very basic medication management and counseling, Marc has been out of treatment for anything since August 2012, more than a year.

He was given a part-time psychiatrist in the mental health clinic to mange his medications. She has been supportive, but she is only in the office one day a week, and cannot be reached using secure messaging. She at least, called Tom Pinder and spoke to him about Marc, and noted it in the records.

I have asked REPEATEDLY for referral to support groups, mindfulness group, something, ANYTHING to help him develop and use new coping skills. ANYTHING to help us get way from dependence on the VA and back on our own feet.

But truly, nobody has responded. The answer that keeps coming back is, maybe through the PTSD clinic. But Marc was told that he is not allowed to go there for any support because they "don't know what's wrong" and they "don't want to make it worse" since not all of his symptoms are an exact fit with PTSD alone. And at this point, it would take a miracle to get him to walk in there due to his severe mistrust and paranoia about talking to these people.

But no further investigation. No speaking to his counselor. No trying to even figure out what is going on. Just, sorry, you don't exactly fit here, goodbye. No thought given to the fact that he was off and on his medications when the tests & interviews were done. No offer to re-evaluate him using a different tool or try and determine what's going on.

This is consistent and disturbing pattern, where no actual treatment is provided:

• When Marc went in for GI testing, they basically sent him on his way, in spite of the fact that he suffers with gut problems for hours a day. They wanted him to try a medication that might slow his guts down (and that one of the side effects was to cause more diarrhea), but no idea what was really wrong, and no further diagnostic tests.

• When Marc went in for the sleep study, it was helpful that they diagnosed him with PTSD with Nightmare disorder. I did not see that noted in the health records office notes, however. And there is no treatment. No treatment was offered for the "non interruptive" apnea (severe snoring), and no real treatment options for the sleep disturbances either.

• When Marc was at Coatesville, the verdict was "you don't fit here" but there was no treatment or follow on care

• When Marc finished the PRRC program, there was no transitional help in getting back on his feet, or helping him to move forward.

• When Marc goes in for medication review, asking for help/treatment, the answer is "Sorry, we don't have anything" in this area.

This is not treatment.

This is not going to help Marc get well.

On my own, in looking for answers, I have done additional research about the areas where Marc was deployed, the medications he was required to take for the military, and there is one possible option that may explain some of the anomalies that have prevented Marc from getting any kind of real treatment.

No, it's not TBI, while he fell off the deck during his first deployment and busted up his head, he cannot recall ever being blown up or near an IED.

One answer may be Mefloquine / Lariam. He was required to use this on every major deployment, and it is being phased out since 2008, due to the problems it causes. Some of the problems it causes are permanent brain damage.

We have been trying to get into the Wartime Injury & Illness group for a comprehensive evaluation because Marc was deployed from 1988-1992 during the first gulf war, again in Bosnia in 2002, and back to Africa in 2006. During every one of these deployments he took Mefloquine (Lariam), an antimalarial drug. The symptoms can appear as TBI symptoms, they can also show up (and exacerbate)PTSD symptoms. This is finally being reported by the FDA, and the DOD only uses it as a "last resort" medication now.

However, I need his primary care physician to REFER him for an evaluation. I am not looking for them to immediately check the box, I want him to GET TESTED. That's all. His PCP refuses unless we provide proof that he was on such medications during those times.

The Navy sent all of Marc's military medical records to the Baltimore VA Benefits Administration. We confirmed this with Navy PERSCOM. They sent them in 2010. We have not been able to put hands on them, and our copy was destroyed in a flood from a hurricane (which we still haven't recovered from).

Nobody returns calls, and we can make no progress.

So, it's another Catch 22. Here is a VIABLE possible explanation for some of the additional symptoms that Marc experiences. Yet, I cannot get him in for TESTING without the records that the VBA has in storage in Baltimore. He has his DD214s that prove he served in the affected areas. I cannot get those records because nobody seems to know who to talk to. I recently found out that the Baltimore VBA is the second worst in the nation (after Los Angeles) for errors and delays.

It should never be such a fight to obtain care for injuries sustained during deployments! If Marc didn't have me to advocate for him, he would be a statistic. How many men and women are statistics because of these obstacles to help EARNED by serving our country?

And as caregiver, it falls on me, to keep Marc stable. To manage his medications. To try and help him remember skills that he was briefly exposed to 1-2 years ago. To help him feel like he is not alone. To manage every single thing in our house & family because he is unable to do so. Finances. Home repairs. Kids. School work. Debt. Mortgage. Medical care. Schedules. Yard work. Even completing minor tasks is difficult for him. To take care of all administrative issues, military stuff, etc.

And I am grateful for those who HAVE helped or try to help, like Maureen Merkl (FIRC, an angel), Tom Pinder (Director Elkton Vet Center), Dr. Murtaugh (Retired, Passed away), Dr. Lankerani (Psychiatrist), Dr. Eby (PCP), Janet Ramsey from the Baltimore OIF/OEF office (retired last year), the Ortho team that helped repair the damage from the infections.

I am not angry at the VA or any individual person, I think that the load is increasing exponentially and that most of the time they are trying to help while overwhelmed. But there is no excuse, even if there are good reasons. We are not the only ones who are hurting.

The fact that I have to fight so hard is WRONG.

Marc has unfortunately been one of the guys who has repeatedly fallen through the proverbial cracks. I am getting really, really tired of it. We are heading into 2014, and I have no idea what is going to happen one month to the next. I do have Champ VA, but nobody seems to take it, and I don't have the cash to get care for MS. It's only a matter of time before my health fails, and then what??

We are in pain in so many areas. Marc individually, and both of us as a couple. Our kids feel it, my teen daughter is in counseling for depression and I'm really worried about all of our kids.
This letter covers the "high" points. We continue to struggle with the military and other issues that I am working with legal via Navy Safe Harbor to remedy. And looking for non-profit "free" treatment, too.

So, in the meantime... here are THREE things that would help our family TODAY:

• Re-evaluate Marc at Perry Point (or somewhere OTHER than Baltimore) for PTSD, from scratch, independently.

• Order the comprehensive and mefloquine/lariam evaluations through the Wartime Illness & Injury group, based on his DD214s since the VBA can't provide his records at this time. (And/or, locate Marc's military medical records that were sent from the Navy to the Baltimore VBA in 2010)

• Make support groups and coping skills groups more accessible, not only to Marc, but to every veteran so that they have the support they need from other veterans and can develop the skills they NEED to manage their health and well-being.

This is just three things. Just three!!

I know Marc’s C&P will be a problem at some point, but my priority is to get him TREATMENT so we don’t have to rely on that.  We want to move FORWARD and towards independence, and get back to a regular life and work.  But without treatment, without help for the injuries Marc sustained during his military service, we are stuck.

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