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PURPLE MIND – TV SERIES? 08/01/2012

Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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I’ve been seeing promos for a new TV series featuring contestants (celebrities) who go on combat missions with Special Forces or Navy Seal teams.  Wow.  Along those lines, I think PTSD may also be on the way to claiming its very own specific film genre.  In the press and on the web, PTSD is getting nearly as much attention as romance, science fiction & action-adventure.  While the audience for PTSD themed films is nowhere near as large as those for the better established film genres, my sense is that we will be dealing with the consequences of Iraq and Afghanistan for a long time to come (many seasons, eh corporate sponsors?).

Certainly, there is plenty of drama and conflict attached to PTSD.  Joseph Bobrow’s recent article in Huffington Post told us “the most frequent reason soldiers gave for attempting suicide was… intense emotional pain.”  He then asks, “Did we need to spend $50,000,000 to find that out?”  The apparent stupidity of psychological researchers could drive a normal person over the edge.

The question Army researchers seem focused on is that because people who try to commit suicide do so in an effort not to harm themselves so much as stop the pain, that this supports developing new therapies which focus on “quelling” emotional pain rather than on dealing with “underlying issues” such as depression or post-traumatic stress.  Don’t VA shrinks already prescribe killer amounts of pain killing drugs just to mask the symptoms?

But there may be hope.  Bobrow reminds us that since time immemorial people have been using a combination of small peer support groups, expressive arts, vigorous recreation and secular ritual to transform unbearable trauma.

Good deal.  Our film, “Purple Mind,” focuses on Roy Matthews, a veteran suffering the unbearable trauma of having taken part in the Battle of Falujah where he not only lost his best friend, but also ripped apart families, killed women and children and imprisoned countless innocent Iraqi males.  Certainly, Roy Matthews’ experience of war represents a disturbing story of the trauma of war, but it is only one story.  There are as many variations as there are soldiers and veterans suffering PTSD, many who never saw a dead person, and more still who never left their homes.  Roy’s story is just one of many hundreds of thousands, twenty percent or more which will go untreated and unresolved… at least until it becomes an accepted practice within the military to see soldiers as whole people with mental and spiritual lives in addition to meeting the physical requirements of the battlefield.

But how long and how complicated is such an outcome to take?  Arizona provides a clue.  Last week we learned that if it turns out medical marijuana might help war veterans deal with their depression of PTSD, Arizona will treat veteran potheads  as hippie-no-good-nicks looking for a phony baloney excuse to get high.

“The decision to deny requests by veterans, care providers and others for medical marijuana use for PTSD, migraine headaches, anxiety and depression follows a recommendation by medical officials in the Department of Health Services.”  Bravo medical officials for keeping our veterans safe from pot!

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, yet another new study found that among soldiers, those who had engaged the enemy in combat were found to be twice as likely as others to admit hitting someone upon their return and one third of victims of the post-combat violence were said to be close relatives of the soldiers themselves.

“The association between performing a combat role and being exposed to combat, and subsequent violence on return from deployment, is about two fold,” Dr. MacManus told the BBC.

The conflicts between government interests and the individual interests of soldiers and veterans was highlighted in a press release from The American Federation of Government Employees today.  “Dr. Michelle Washington, a post-traumatic stress disorder specialist at the Wilmington, VA Medical Center, has seen her performance rating lowered, job duties altered and job titled changed stemming from her Senate testimony about mental health care access wait times, says AFGE.”   Washington and others have faced adverse actions from the VA in a “coordinated pattern of retaliation” for bringing to light mismanagement at the VA.

“For eight months, Dr. Washington has been under attack for speaking the truth about the unmet needs of veterans facing severe mental health problems,” said AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer J. David Cox. “It is time for the agency’s highest level appointee over our veterans’ health care system to take prompt action to fix this situation and make Dr. Washington whole in terms of her job duties, job title and performance ratings.”

Cox called the VA’s treatment of Dr. Washington, “highly illegal, extremely disrespectful of the Congressional hearing process and threatening to the VA’s ability to identify deficiencies in services it provides to veterans.”

Mini-series anybody?  No?  Not enough drama?  Well, here’s more…

Former Connecticut Supreme Court Judge Barry Shaller’s recent book, “Veterans On Trial: The Coming Battles Over PTSD” suggests that, “Since courts in America stand uniquely on the front lines of dealing with the unsolved problems of society, courts will bear the brunt of postwar mental health problems.”

The key-art of our film “Purple Mind” tells the story in a nutshell.

“THE ARMY TRAINED US TO GO TO WAR.  
BUT NOBODY TRAINED US TO COME HOME.”

Judge Shaller seems to agree.  “We should really look to our veterans with all their training and education, their experience to be leaders and model citizens. They are, after all, law abiding people who go through an experience that changes them in some ways, and causes them problems. I don’t think it’s enough that they just recover. I think that that’s setting the bar too low. … What the military should institute is a training program for soldiers’ re-entry into society, comparable in duration to basic military training.”

Very enlightened, Your Honor.  Wanna hit?

 

 

 

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