"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Argument with a Military Mental Health "Professional"

Things like this piss me off ...

by CJ Heck

A Special Caution:  If you go to a mental health professional to get help for PTSD, or any other military service-related issues, make sure they are experienced in helping veterans, specifically Vietnam veterans ...

The following is a conversation between myself and a so-called "professional" in a national military mental health group where I post to foster awareness of Vietnam veterans and what they deal with now, as a direct result of their military service.  For obvious reasons, I will not use his name.

The specific post the conversation was about:  My Experiences In Country: by Dannie Watkins

MH "Professional" [directed to Dannie about his blog post]:

Dannie, you say, "The mind never heals from the trauma of war." -- That's bullshit.

Your words are false. Your scars mean nothing. Being wounded should have been expected. It was no big deal.

You can't go about trying to help others, until you help yourself. Give your mind permission to release those negative thoughts and emotions.


With all due respect, (name omitted), each person is different. These things may be true for YOU, but not for someone else. The mind can and does recall the trauma of war and it reacts to that trauma by flashbacks, survivors guilt, and night terrors -- this is PTSD, sir.

Dannie's scars may mean nothing to you, but they do mean something to Dannie.  They are a constant reminder; however, Dannie was NOT complaining about his scars, or anything else, in his post.

The only negative thoughts and emotions that I see being expressed here are yours ...

MH "Professional":

CJ, I understand every word in the post, completely. War does, and always has, returned home. Today 1 in 3 people who return home will suffer from PTSD. It was once 1 out of 4 who had, or developed, a mental illness coming home from war.

An aggregate total of those who commit suicide from being in a war equals the casualty count during the war. It doesn't matter which war in the past 110 years is referenced, or what side is being studied. Only 6% of these people are in treatment, recovering. The others go untreated or cannot overcome their emotion, with recall of trauma by flashbacks and night terrors, just as you say.

Triggers, such as looking at your scars, creates a crisis. Once we had 600,000 beds for those in crisis. Now there are less than 40,000 beds nationwide with a greater need than ever before.

I discourage all memoirs, especially when promoted as a good read. Yes I am extremely negative on remembering the 'bad old days', as you explicitly noted. We have an unseen pervasive epidemic where no cure has been found and even less research to find one.


What?  Who the heck is promoting the writing of memoirs as a "good read"?  I'm certainly not, and I resent your implication, as well as your pompous attitude.

Writing is therapeutic and that, sir, is a fact.

It's obvious you haven't read the blog, so stop going on and on about it. Read any of the posts these men have written and shared with each other, or don't. That is your choice; but you are out of line to say what he wrote was "bullshit", or that his words were "false".

It is obvious you were never in Vietnam, nor in any combat situation, so there is nothing to be gained by taking a self-righteous stance and spouting facts and figures

I suggest in the future, you make sure your brain is in gear before putting your mouth in motion ...

**I checked a few minutes later, and I'm glad I saved what he had to say to my computer, because his comments were removed from Dannie's blog post in the group.  Only my answers to him appear.

I don't know for sure, but he may have been removed from the group, comments and all.  After sharing this conversation, I may be booted, too, but I thought this was important enough to share with you.

Please be sure, if you go for help for PTSD, that the person you're going to see is familiar with Vietnam veterans and their particular issues.  

I don't ever want you to be subjected to someone like this ...

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Do you have an opinion, or a comment, you would like to share about this post? Click on the comment button.


  1. CJ, this is the second time I commented on your site, pressed publish, and ended up with a blank screen. And this comment was a scathing remark about the ignorance of a so-called professional, who's not even smart enough to call PTSD a disorder, a mental illness is a chemical imbalance. ANY professional would know this. He's a pompous ass who doesn't have a clue but more than willing to cause greater harm because of his know-it-all attitude. I feel sorry for anybody under his care. I usually save my comments to wordpad, in case it gets lost, seems like every time I trust a comment box to work right, I get screwed. But keep those articles coming, even more now than ever, you're doing GREAT!!!!

  2. Good morning, my friend. I'm sorry you had that experience with the comment box. I think sometimes there is a delay, because both of your comments popped in at the same time. I removed the duplicate.

    I agree with everything you said ... moreover, they should cover PTSD and its devastating effects on veterans in all universities, BEFORE graduating these so-called professionals and allowing them to practice. You're right, they do cause more harm than good.

    Thank you for your support and encouragement -- I really do appreciate it.

  3. Michael LansfordJune 28, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    I usually don't comment about people like this. Doesn't sound like a professional anything except trash talk about Viet Nam Vets. Must have either been a protester from our war or related to one, & the media wonders what's wrong with the VA system? Where did he get his degree, authority, & who set him up in the job he has? Could be getting bonuses for each Vet he gets rid of saving more money for those much earned bonuses by removing as many Vets as possible from the system that's suppose to be helping. Maybe he should sit down with a room full of combat Vets & see how he handles his new found personal PTSD he will receive fielding our questions, comments, etc. More to say, but that is enough about this clown. His 15 minutes of fame are over. Sad thing is he probably is still doing the same job with NO supervision, just his, worthless opinions using a closed mind.

  4. You are so right, Michael! He should sit down with a room full of combat vets and if he is willing to listen, really listen, and with his mouth closed, he might learn something. I don't think he's the type who would have the courage to do that, though. Thank you so much for your comments, my friend.

  5. Hi CJ,
    Good lick, my friend! You showed remarkable restraint and etiquette in dealing with that condescending, ignorant son of a sea biscuit. Difficult to imagine anyone as a therapist who is totally void of compassion, an essential part of dealing with PTSD.

    Dannie Watkins made some excellent and valid points. Regrettably, our friend you spoke with did not seem to even be interested in understanding PTSD. He certainly displayed no real knowledge of causes or effects. Correct, it has been around for centuries and all wars have returned veterans with varying degrees of PTSD.

    There is a Dr. Harry Croft, MD, Psychiatrist, here in San Antonio who has for many years done independent PTSD evaluations for the VA as part of disability claims. I had known of him for some time, but, when I met him for my interview he stated he had evaluated about 2800 veterans or there about. His profile on LinkedIn now claims 7000 and that is easy to believe. Dr. Croft is executive director/founder of two non-profit foundations with emphasis on PTSD. He is published, speaks frequently about PTSD, and is considered to be an, or the, authority on the subject. His credentials are impeccable, he is well known and highly respected. And he does not have a big head. Very genuine and like you CJ, talks to, not down to, people.

    He is an Army veteran and again like you CJ, has contributed so much for veterans. It should be simple to conclude what I think of Dr. Croft. Can't speak for him, but, I think he would agree that writing, expressing, what is inside has therapeutic value. If you can access his profile: Dr. Harry Croft, MD, Psychiatrist, great. If not, I will forward you what I can; I don't think he would object. Later will tell you of a program we called 'Children's Theater', a group of Drama students and Psychology majors (we nicknamed it Psycho-Drama) working with extremely underprivileged children in an attempt to get them to act out some of their fears, frustrations and what they were keeping inside that was preventing them from achieving more. Later.

    CJ, I thought Dr. Croft would be of interest to you, if you are not already aware of his work.. Then the PTSD discussion came up. Dr. Croft has a warm personality and PTSD has been his focus for decades. He is completely the opposite of what you had to deal with.

    And Dannie, thank you for your insights.
    Tony Lobello
    Public Affairs Officer, District 20 Texas VFW

  6. You Handled That Very Well - All Expressions Are elcome - However Should Be In A Professional & Factual Manner - Thanks, CJ

  7. I'm glad you approve and I thank you for your kind comments. It was very difficult for me to be civil to him.


Feel free to comment.