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‘Real Warrior’ Describes Post-traumatic Stress
American Forces Press Service ^ | Elaine Wilson

Posted on 01/11/2010 3:52:17 PM PST by SandRat

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2010 – When Staff Sgt. Megan Krause returned home from a deployment in Iraq in 2006, she thought the scariest moments of her life were over.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Jill Herzog, of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, comforts Army Staff Sgt. Megan Krause after her speech about her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Krause spoke during the 2010 Suicide Prevention Conference sponsored by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., Jan. 11, 2010. DoD photo by Elaine Wilson

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
At her homecoming, “I ran to my mother in that hangar; we both cried tears of joy,” said Krause, now an Army Reserve medic attached to a combat engineering unit in Pennsylvania. “I told her it was over and I was fine.

“Boy, was I wrong.”

Krause later found herself waging a terrifying war with post-traumatic stress disorder. She described the battle and her road to recovery here today during the Real Warriors Campaign session at the 2010 Suicide Prevention Conference sponsored by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Krause said she hit rock bottom while a student at Penn State University about two years after her deployment.

“It was when I found myself face down in the mud pit, in the middle of a pigpen in State College, Pa., running from the insurgents that I thought were chasing me, that I realized I had not yet survived,” Krause said. “I might not have been having suicidal ideations, but I was well on my way to killing myself.”

Krause said she drank a bottle of red wine every night just to get to sleep.

“It’s scary because you know you party harder than the average college kid and then get behind the wheel of your car because you just don’t care anymore,” she said. “It’s scary because you know you’re not going to class or work and you’re throwing your life away.

“And you don’t know how to stop the cycle.”

Her nights, she said, were filled with nightmares of explosions and friends she couldn’t save in time.

“I didn’t want to die, but I wasn’t leaving myself with many other options – until I asked for help,” she said.

Help came in abundance, she said. “My [Reserve] unit wanted nothing more than to help me. They encouraged me to talk to the VA, talk to them.” Her first sergeant admitted he, too, was seeking help for post-traumatic stress and told Krause it was the best decision he ever made.

“His words were ringing in my head that scary night as I rolled over [in bed] and called [the VA] for help,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t keep going down the path I had chosen.” Two “battle buddies” showed up at 3 a.m. to drive her to the hospital.

Through the VA, Krause found the help she needed and, despite her initial embarrassment, “I discovered here was no shame in admitting that I was in trouble and needed help,” she said.

“In fact, I earned more respect for seeking help and facing my problems head on than I ever had while failing to be the [noncommissioned officer] I wanted to be.”

Wanting to help others waging similar psychological battles, Krause volunteered to share her story through the Real Warriors Campaign.

This initiative, launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, features stories of servicemembers who have sought treatment and continue to maintain successful military or civilian careers, according to the campaign’s Web site. These efforts are aimed at combating the stigma associated with seeking psychological health care and treatment.

Krause appears in several public service announcements on the campaign’s site at The response to her coming forth with her story has been amazing, she said.

A short time ago, Krause said she received a late-night call from a college friend, also a veteran, who had seen her PSA.

He “was driving his Mustang down the back roads of Pennsylvania at 70 mph, drunk, willing himself to turn into a tree,” she said, fighting back tears.

Her friend was the same “battle buddy” who had driven her to the hospital a year prior, “and now he needed a return favor.”

He asked her to tell him her story and she poured forth every detail -- the sleepless nights, drinking, terror, stress and that “moment of clarity, all the while begging him to pull over to the side of the road.”

He did pull over and, like Krause, sought help for his post-traumatic stress.

“He said, ‘Promise me you will keep doing what you’re doing because there are people out there who need to hear it,’” she said.

Krause encouraged conference attendees to use the Real Warriors site, which includes links to resources, a live chat room, and information about the Defense Centers of Excellence Outreach Center, a 24/7 call center staffed by health resource consultants. The Outreach Center can be reached toll-free at 866-966-1020 or via e-mail at

Krause said coming forth takes courage, but it’s well worth the effort.

“Our stories need to be shared with anyone who has struggled or may struggle in the future, so they too can win this terrifying battle,” she said.

“I’m winning the battle with PTSD and you can too.”

Related Sites:
Real Warriors Campaign
Real Warriors Resources
Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
Special Report: Warrior Care
Video Profile
More Video Profiles

Click photo for screen-resolution image Army Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, talks with Army Maj. Jeff Hall and his wife and daughter at the 2010 Suicide Prevention Conference sponsored by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., Jan. 11, 2010. The Halls are part of the Real Warriors campaign aimed at helping combat the stigma associated with seeking psychological health care and treatment. DoD photo by Elaine Wilson  
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TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: ptsd; real; warrior

1 posted on 01/11/2010 3:52:17 PM PST by SandRat
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To: SandRat

Get ready for the PTSD deniers to come flying to this thread.

Thanks for posting this article.

2 posted on 01/11/2010 3:58:23 PM PST by EggsAckley (There's an Ethiopian in the fuel supply. W.C. Fields)
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To: EggsAckley
Sorry, but it doesn't pass the smell test. I am on my 3rd deployment to Iraq. I have never met a soldier who has nightmares about being "chased by insurgents". Plus she is a female, which means unless she is a combat MP, the only chance she has been outside a FOB is on a convoy. Other than the occassional ambush the main fear in convoys is IEDs.

If she said she had a nightmare that she saw her friends burning or something, that I could believe. Anyone who has been in a bit can relate that while some people probably have real PTSD, and it probably sucks, the majority who claim PTSD are attention seekers of some sort or another.

3 posted on 01/11/2010 4:36:31 PM PST by douginthearmy
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To: SandRat

I don’t believe this woman could possibly be the example of a “real warrior”. She obviously has some serious problems dealing with war, and that by itself is fine.I’m not denigrating that or her experience in a war zone. No matter how “experts” want to slice it, mens and womens brains are totally different, therefore they process things differently. If these people want to get a “real warrior” they need to find a man, who is or was in a combat arms MOS who has been in the think, who does have PTSD. Then the article can be written.

4 posted on 01/11/2010 5:20:20 PM PST by vpintheak (How can love of God, Family and Country make me an extremist?)
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To: douginthearmy
Sorry, but it doesn't pass the smell test. I am on my 3rd deployment to Iraq. I have never met a soldier who has nightmares...

With respect, your personal experiences are not yet valid to this discussion. The part of PTSD you are forgetting about is the "P" - Post. That means after - not during. And it doesn't mean the night or few days after some particular action. PTSD kicks in when you get out of the combat mindset. At that point, the deeper part of your mind and emotions which you have simply shoved to the back in order to stay in survival mode, come out.

It's like if you are physically wounded during an action - the normal parts of self-protection become irrelevent. Instead of paying attention to blood, bruises or pain, it become extremely important that you ignore them, because they get in the way of your ability to fight. But afterwards you have to tend them, and even longer afterwards you might find they form disabilities you have to deal with for a very long time.

Same with the mind. No one can morally judge another's threshold of psychological trauma, and in PTSD especially, it's a person's very power not to "give in to" the fears, that blocks dealing with them later - simply because they don't know how, and see such "giving in" as always being weakness, or a threat to personal safety.

Combat is hardly the only source of PTSD. It's found in crime victims (rape, assault), cops, firefighters, hospital personnel and emergency services, of course. But it's also the same mechanism found in "burnout" cases in engineers, scientists, researchers, writers, artists and others whose sole strain has been mental and emotional under conditions of extreme stress. It also hits students who've push far too hard for far too many years.

And it's found a lot in relationship abuse cases, too, in both men and women.

Criminals from abusive homes are a commonplace concept, but PTSD explains a lot of them as well. And just to be clear, the explanation of a psychological mechanism is not the excusing of crime, abuse or self-destruction. Yes, liberals use it that way, but that's a perversion. A mechanism is a mechanism, and the more we understand mechanisms, the safer we can be. Not everyone gets PTSD, and some fake it. But many do, and the syndrome is very real, very destructive, and often deadly.

Oh and one more thing, for all you unconvinced military types - PTSD is the basis for a lot of long-term interrogation techniques. Only in those cases, it's not being studied to help the victim, but to create it in a prisoner, in order to create anguish so intense that it brings about the confession of information. Ironically, some of the best understanding we have about the mechanisms of PTSD has come from studying such circumstances.

As for therapy, rather than dealing with these issues by letting them come up and out, a lot of people reach for antidepressants. IMO, this "alternative" has been an absolute catastrophe for our world, turning people into heartless zombies who can explode whenever all the pent-up emotions cease being suppressed with enough chemicals. Many FReepers have had experiences with liberal family members becoming far more angry, abusive, aggressive and even hysterical - I think this is the reason for their bizarre behavior.

In the case of a liberal, PTSD is experienced when they are forced to accept personal responsibility for their lives, or admit they are wrong. To which they respond in a liberal fashion - they take antidepressants in order to help them deny the stress of facing their own hypocrisy, and support the rage and hatred and abusive cruelty they have become so famous for.

5 posted on 01/11/2010 5:41:53 PM PST by Talisker (When you find a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be damn sure it didn't get there on it's own.)
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To: EggsAckley

PTSD is probably over diagnosed but it is real. Some of the guys I know who were in the thick of severe combat conditions were not affected by it (yet) and others were severly affected. A slammed door causes an exhaggerated startle response and there are night mares that tend to go away with time thank God. I know a Pearl Harbor survivor who still jumps with sudden noises so some of it is hard wired and you just get used to it.

6 posted on 01/11/2010 5:43:28 PM PST by jesseam (Been there, done that)
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To: Talisker


7 posted on 01/11/2010 6:41:33 PM PST by Eagle Eye (The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it is still on the list.)
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To: Talisker

Uh huh.....they’re HEeeere.

Thank you for that post. I really have given up trying to discuss it with the non-believers. (Old saying: “If they don’t know, you can’t tell ‘em.”)

It never really goes away, and it doesn’t have to be war-related. It can be caused by surviving a major earthquake with your “name on it”, and then burying 9 loved ones in seven years, the last one found ten-days-dead and maggot infested.

It’s a very real condition. Deniers be damned.

8 posted on 01/11/2010 9:23:40 PM PST by EggsAckley (.)
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To: EggsAckley

I am a US Navy vet that served during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979/80. I disagree with you statements that many people are faking it.

I was ready to bombard you and the readers on this site with my story but I have come to conclusion that would of little use in changing anyones mind. Not because it didnt happen,because you so strongly feel it doesnt exist.

First, what are your medical qualifications? These were not mentioned in your post.

Second, why do people drink? Do you drink alcohol? Drinking is an easy way out of what you are going thru. A way to forget bad things or let bad days go and to have a laugh or two with a buddy. Alcohol is a drug, just like pot, one is legal and one is not. Your body doesnt know the difference from a legal drug versus an illegal one. My point is they are both still drugs and if you use them you are trying to escape from something arent you?

Many of us who have proudly served have seen things or done things that we never would been a part of in civilian life. I am not talking criminal acts. We have been placed in situations that we hope we never see again. I wont go into detail but if this is your 3rd tour in Iraq you have an idea of what I am talking about.

When we come home our families are wanting the very same person that left a year ago to return and take up where your lives parted. That is not possible, too much time has past and we have seen things that has shaken us to the core. If you ask for help our military leaders take this as a weakness and it affects your career. I mean if the military life and what has happened since 9/11 and other wars is so great then why do we have people leaving the military. True, they leave for a variety of reasons and that is their right. How many leave because of what they did, what they saw or maybe they cant get the bad things out of their heads. Not everyone is going to come out and tell you all of the bad things out of the appearance of being a weak minded person. The reason you may have not seen anyone with nightmares is that they dont want you to see them as a so-called weak person. They are America’s great warriors and warriors dont let this kind of stuff bother them.

Until recently, our military leaders have ignored PTSD and the effects it has on people.They have left us veterans alone to fight the battles of our demons in our heads as we see fit. Many of us take right back to the bottle as we did when we were not on the battlefield. We drive around drunk out of minds, endangering the public, our friends and family and ourselves trying to feel better, like it never happened. I did this and it didnt help one bit, I just spent alot of money that I could have used better elsewhere, woke up with massive hangovers and puked on my shoes on more than one occasion.

Some of us took painkillers and smoke pot to kill the pain. Our kids go without so we can have another fix, joint or line of cocaine. Our marriages go to hell because of it and we head to the bottom of barrel in life. Veterans struggle to understand what is going on, we try so hard that we burn out on it and give up on ever fixing it and dive headlong back into the drugs, booze and pills looking for some kind of magic to fix us but we are never fixed and our actions get us sent to prison or we try to end it with suicide to stop the pain we have caused or is caused by it.

Many soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are returning home and trying to readjust. A number of them will have problems because they trained us to kill, turned us loose on the enemy and now we are unable to turn it all off. I have a friend who has had 2 Iraq tours and 1 in Afghanistan and have watched his eyes key in on my hands every time I use them to make a point. I am trying to learn to not use them in order to make him feel more comfortable. To him, it is now second nature but his family is scared to death of him. Not having been thru that training they dont understand why he is so jumpy all the time. Once I explained what was going on they are helping out too to make him feel more comfortable.

My point to all of this is how do we help the ones coming back that are having problems? Calling them PUSSIES and WEAK WARRIORS is not the answer and may get your nose broken or worse. Go back and read the accounts of or Google “Soldiers Heart” during the Civil War. We have known about PTSD for many years but our leaders in the military keep changing the name of it and pretending that it doesnt exist. Whats worse is that they leave us to fend off our demons by ourselves, our families are hurt as a result, our prisons fill up with veterans who have not got the mental health treatment that they deserve. HELL, look at the way they treat veterans in VA hospitals for GODS SAKE! That alone is all of the proof someone needs to see if what I am saying is true.



There are people ready to help, search them out, give them a call. Dont be someone who loses everything because you were afraid someone was going to call you a name. I have and I havent regreted it for one second. Now I am helping other veterans to try to regain what they have lost. Believe me when I say there is no better feeling in the world a veteran whose is having PTSD problems hears another veteran say to them
“I am here for you, I have gone thru it and made it out, now, lets both go and find someone to help you.”

I will say a prayer for you tonight eggsAckley.I hope you are able to return home to your family and loved oneS soon.


9 posted on 01/12/2010 4:59:37 AM PST by MRBIGMUTTS
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Hey, you got me totally wrong bud. I DID NOT say anyone was faking it. I said it’s very real, but there are people who simply do not believe it. I’ll never get rid of it, I’ll simply learn to live with it and not let IT control me.

I appreciate your passion in your post, but please realize that I am a total believer in PTSD.

10 posted on 01/12/2010 7:12:24 AM PST by EggsAckley (.)
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