Americans universally express appreciation for the service of our troops overseas. Yet so little is done to support the re-acclimation of our courageous soldiers upon their return home. This problem, which has been with us through many wars, will be exacerbated in the near future with the impending return of tens of thousands of veterans from Iraq – many of whom have served multiple tours of duty.
Every soldier loses something in the battlefield. Certainly, the profound effects of PTSD, depression, and traumatic brain injury are only part of the story. Extended tours of duty under the most challenging conditions of urban warfare have made these and other problems worse. Medical advances are now allowing many soldiers to survive injuries that would not have been survivable in previous wars. But there is no comparable remedy for the mental health consequences suffered by the soldiers. These veterans need assistance they are not currently receiving as they come home to rebuild their lives, their families and their businesses.
The recently published Rand Corporation study finds that some 30% of our 1.6 million veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars have been impacted by one or more of these mental health issues. These 30% are “above the line,” meeting clear diagnostic criteria. Many more are to be found “below the line,” where veterans are unlikely to qualify for help and yet remain substantially diminished in their life prospects.
There is no recognized effective medical treatment for minor traumatic brain injury; the pharmacological treatments for anxiety all carry risk of drug dependency; the treatments for depression offer only a 30% likelihood of full remediation; and no satisfactory treatment for PTSD currently exists within standard practice. To this state of affairs, neurofeedback presents an attractive alternative.
We see this as an opportunity to do the right thing, in first instance, by offering our services at no charge to returning veterans. To that end, we have initiated the program “Homecoming for Veterans” (www.homecoming4vets.org), which has already drawn participation from a large number of practitioners, even some who are located abroad!
While we can feel good about what we are doing, we have yet to be overwhelmed by the demand of veterans entering into the program. Veterans are not yet lining up at our door in droves. More visibility is clearly needed for the program. To that end, we have asked Pam Tarr to serve as Project Director for Homecoming For Veterans (formerly EEG4Veterans). Pam Tarr has been highly successful as a consultant and producer here in the entertainment community in Los Angeles, with a wide variety of experience working with non-profit organizations to bring visibility to worthy issues and projects.
A number of exciting opportunities are already being developed with our organization, including a pilot program to treat numerous homeless veterans in residential facilities in the Los Angeles area; the release of stunningly impactful SPECT imagery of the healing results of neurofeedback on PTSD; proposal preparation for NIMH-funded research; and outreach to academic institutions, politicians and government agencies for support.
To Sue Othmer and the EEG Institute:
“The day I left after my last session was hard, my soldier guy kicked in while I was crying of joy and sorrow inside. I want you to know I have done great things for many people and never asked for anything. The only way I can understand your generosity is by accepting that the universe noticed my good deeds and that I am being helped. My father told me years ago he was certain that someone would help me, you are the ones.”
- Veteran and Former PTSD Sufferer
But we need your help. We are currently seeking donations to fund the launch of a campaign that will involve high-profile support from the entertainment community and from major organizations. Donations to Homecoming For Veterans are tax-deductible and can be made through (www.homecoming4vets.org). Any amount is helpful. The initial donations, though they may be modest, are the most impactful, in that they get the ball rolling. They are also a message to larger donors downstream that they will be contributing to something that has broad support within the community of neurofeedback practitioners.
We appreciate your support for this important and timely initiative.