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Chat Transcript with Dr. Cantrell, October 19, 2007
USMC Combat Stress Brochure
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Educational Purpose NOTE: The chat discussion is intended solely for educational and informational purposes and not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical or mental health professional if you have questions about your health.

No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information discussed. The speakers and/or MarineParents.com assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the participation in the discussion or use of the information discussed.

The following is a transcript of the "Chat with Dr. Cantrell" from October 19, 2007. Links to additional resources and information from the chat transcript are included to the right.

Dr_Cantrell
Good Evening Everyone!!

JaxTraxMom
Thank you Dr. Cantrell for taking the time to be here with us tonight. I know everyone is looking forward to talking with you

Dr_Cantrell
Wonderful I am happy to be here tonight

Dr_Cantrell
Lets take one question at a time and let me answer it before posting other questions please

Pacermom
My son has been back since April and since he has been back has been very distant; we used to be very close and talk every day

Dr_Cantrell
This can be a way of him distancing himself so you are not burdened with what he is dealing with. It is something to watch though because it can be a sign of something larger. Allow him space to process, and be with his feelings, but if you see that he continues down this path encourage him to get some help and maybe find another vet buddy or an older vet to take him for cofee.

BurningBarrell
dr. cantrell are you a former military member (active duty or reservist?)

Dr_Cantrell
No I am not, but I grew up with a father who served for nearly 10 years and is combat veteran

Laurie
Dr. Cantrell, my son will be coming home from his first deployment in a few days, what is the best way I can support him without intruding on his own way of dealing with his experience?

Dr_Cantrell
Give him space and do not expect him to respond the same as he did before and do not take it personally if he is somewhat standoffish with social functions. Take it slow and allow him to ease into his position once again. Do not treat him as a boy, because he has transformed into a man and has been responsble for many decisions etc. he has grown and needs to be treated as an adult.

levismom
i am Bonnie and son will be home soon, he has told me has read your book and he will be fine

Dr_Cantrell
This is all well and good and the fact that he has read our book is even better, because at least he is willing to explore and to understand himself and his stress reactions better. Support him and keep an eye on unusual behaviors around drug and alcohol and isolation.

rosbrig
Just wanted to say that I just read your book and it really help me understand things better and what to expect. My Marine is coming home tomorrow so this is amazing timing!!

Dr_Cantrell
How exciting!!!! Wonderful, I bet you won't get too much sleep tonight. I am very happy for you.

rosbrig
LOL - I know, right, I haven't slept much the last 3 weeks. :)

Dr_Cantrell
I bet not, now look at the anticipation which is positive even disrupts our sleep patterns, so just imagine what it is like for our troopers who are running on Adrenaline.

rosbrig
I can only imagine....just learning to accept and support them, even if I don't understand 100% of the time.

BurningBarrell
i will get your book and read it because I am interested in seeing how Iraq vets will compare to Vietnam vets upon re-entering the workplace and society in general

mel
Dr. Cantrell, my boyfriend (now ex!) broke up with me a week after coming home from iraq (3rd deployment!). its been 4 months now. he has been diagnosed with PTSD by the VA... i have given him his space.. weeks go by and he will not contact me and then out of the blue he will contact me again. it's really hard to move on because ever time he does contact me i'm hopefull that he is doing better. what's the best way to handle it... i want to be his friend but he's pulling me along on his roller coaster

Dr_Cantrell
Be careful not to get yourself pulled down with the undertow of his stress. He is having a really difficult time, and it not unusual for peopel to find it is hard to relate to their relationships when they get home. Both people have changed dramatically and it is good to distance yourself, but also let him know you still care, but you need to set your own boundaries so you are not hurt more by the ebb and flow of his emotions.

BurningBarrell
i was on active duty for 4 years during peacetime and when i returned to civilian life it seemed to crawl with slowness

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, life is boring after being on active duty, whether it is in a waar zone or not, and boredom is certainly something that can cause some issues. This is why people seek high risk behaviors or jobs just to feel vital again.

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, not understanding is a good point, none of us will truly ever understnad but we must be supportive and be there 100% for them.

MomofIan
Dr. Cantrell, my newly commissioned son informs there is an 80% divorce rate in the MC. Is this true? What features have you observed in enduring Marine marriages?

Dr_Cantrell
I have heard even stats of 85% divorce rate in the Army, so it is a very difficult time for relationships. They are showing that those with more maturity and years in the relationship fair better but never the less it is a challenge sorry to say

rosbrig
It's interesting because I believe my Marine has PTSD from his childhood, although never diagnosed, so he's now returning from his first deployment, do you think this makes him more prone to PTSD from combat now?

Dr_Cantrell
There are different school of thought on whether PTSD. We can look at it two ways, having childhood trauma may allow one to develop better coping skills early on.

Dr_Cantrell
It can be that they are better equipped to meet lifes challenges or they may be more prone to stress reactions, everyone is different.

lyndam
Dr. Cantrell, in the first few weeks back is it typical to have very active dream like states in which there is lots of movement mimicking trying to load a magazine, fire a rifle, etc

Dr_Cantrell
Lets talk about the mimicking behaviors for a moment here

Dr_Cantrell
Dream-like states are a disociative state which is like checking out emotionally to deal with stress. This can be problematic if it goes too long.

lyndam
what do you mean by too long? too long as in repeatedly over time or too long in one event?

Dr_Cantrell
If you are seeing your Marine staring off into space, not participating and being more distant this is what is referred to the 1000 yrd stare. It may mean that he is thinking about something that he can't really talk about our he is having problems just fitting back and life doesn't mean the same as before, only he will know what this means.

Dr_Cantrell
go ahead with another question

MomofIan
Thanks for your time Dr. Cantrell. Hope to see you again at the DC conference.

Dr_Cantrell
I will see you all in Wash DC conference

patricksoneandonly
Dr. Cantrell i just have to say that i love your book

IronMike
I just was offering perspective of a PTSD survivor if you needed some one to volunteer a subject

patricksoneandonly
patricks parents and i have read it

Dr_Cantrell
Thank you very much, I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

rosbrig
Wow, that's an incredible feat IronMike

patricksoneandonly
im am truely grateful

IronMike
10 years now

patricksoneandonly
especially since my Marine will be coming home soon

Dr_Cantrell
It is an honor to be helpful to people

rosbrig
me too patricks, it really helped gain perspective, huh?

patricksoneandonly
ya it did rosbrig

patricksoneandonly
and talking with my grandpa who is a Vietnam vet

rosbrig
Knowledge is really power I believe!

rosbrig
Wow, that has got to be interesting to say the least patricks

patricksoneandonly
and i have been voluntering at the VA here with ptsd vets

patricksoneandonly
so its really an eye opener

Dr_Cantrell
Both our books Down Range to Iraq and Back and our new one Once a Warrior Wired for Life will be out on CD recording very soon and available for MP3 too.

rosbrig
I heard about that new one Dr. Cantrell, how does it compare to Down Range?

Dr_Cantrell
The warriors of the past are a great resource, we can ALL learn so much from our elders.

mommiema
how do you help your Marine son when he doesn't think he has a problem? i'm new here

Pmuse
Dr. Cantrell, is there anything our Marines can do to prepare against PTSD before they deploy?

patricksoneandonly
it truely is Dr. Cantrell

patricksoneandonly
he has taught me how to be patient and take a step back at times when needed

Dr_Cantrell
If your Marine son doesn't think he has a problem, he may not, and this is not unusual, there are many

JaxTraxMom
we have a Book Discussion on the following link on our message boards for those interested : Once a Warrior, Wired for Life http://www.usmcparents.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=63357

Dr_Cantrell
are you wanting me to answer the previous quesiotn

levismom
So Dr are you saying that some may less problems with PTSD

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, we are all different, and the thing with PTSD, we never know when or how someone will be affected. It does not matter if they are "strong" or not. The best thing to prepare them is to have them read books such as Down Range to Irq and Back and be as suppoortive as possible when they return.

levismom
Thank you, this was my son's second deployment and I did notice many of the things you have written about the distance etc after the first, but he did well over all

Dr_Cantrell
This is wonderful and it was great that you were able to notice these things and not question

levismom
He sounds good when I talk to him and just tells me he can't wait to see me

levismom
Oh I was hurt at first, your book helped a lot

Dr_Cantrell
This is great

Dr_Cantrell
I am glad you found some answers in our book.

rosbrig
I found a lot of answers to questions I didn't even know I had. :) Things to prepare for so I feel so much better in getting ready to greet my Marine because things won't come as so much of a shock.

jenijay
I'm trying to convey to my family members (his in laws) what to expect and not to expect so much when he first gets home. I'm assuming the book has answers about that?

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, expectations are critical and so important for all concernd to understand this.

rosbrig
If this book helped that much, I can only imagine how good the new one is. Thanks again Dr. Cantrell

JaxTraxMom
ready for another question Dr. Cantrell

Dr_Cantrell
Of course

dianna9676
The wired for life...I am interested in hearing a little more about

JaxTraxMom
I found a deep conncetion between my husband and son after my son returned home, how inportant is the vet to vet contact?

jenijay
I don't have questions so much as just uncertainty of what to expect and what to do so the transition is smooth for both of us

rosbrig
The Down Range book is great for that jenijay

Dr_Cantrell
Once a Warrior Wired for Life is a book to address the issues of knowing that our troops are now warriors, and they have behaviors and traits having to do with their training, and sometmes it can interfere with their reintegration, but we want to give them tools to assist them in returning back into society in a positive way.

rosbrig
It really helped me at least...plus, reading the handouts on base at the homecoming meetings are always good too.

rosbrig
Wow, that sounds really good Dr. Cantrell

Dr_Cantrell
Abandon expectations and let it all fall together at a new level that works for both the Marine and his loved ones.\

Pmuse
My son has been with his girlfriend since they were 15. They are 19 now. I asked them to wait to get married until after my son's first tour was up. They would be 22 then. I'm sure they won't wait that long, but is it unreasonable to ask them to wait another year or two? He would have this first deployment behind him by then.

dianna9676
Thank you

rosbrig
My friend just got home on Tuesday and called me and said he was confused at to why he had to stop at the red lights when driving. Made me laugh, but not always a funny thing.

Dr_Cantrell
In an ideal world asking your son and his GF to wait until after the first deployment would be good, but in reality they will do what they feel is best, and many young soldiers etc are getting married right away.

Dr_Cantrell
I know the red light thing, over there they do not stop, they do not want to get bunched up as this leaves them very vulnerable for attack.

Dr_Cantrell
This is where road rage stems from and is a big deal and quite prevalent. Driving as we do here in our country is very difficult for someone who is used to convoys etc.

jenijay
Is there a difference in adjustment between those who return on ship and those who return by plane (thus getting back from Iraq to family quicker)?

rosbrig
I live in Hawaii Dr. Cantrell and therefore am surrounded by Marines and soliders and sailors, etc.....so I am friends with many that have already been to Iraq, are going again and some who ar getting back from their first ones. It's been a life changing experience hearing and seeing them live

JaxTraxMom
my son said mom I have been driing in 26 tons now I have to get in a car, give me some time

rosbrig
Sometimes theirs eyes can tell an entire story....it's amazing and scary to be a part of something this big!

Dr_Cantrell
In WWII our guys came home on ships and gave them more time to tell their stories to cry to laugh and relieve their stress they had witnesses to their experience. When they come home so quickly now it is a shock and they do not have a transition time, which makes it very difficult to deal with.

rosbrig
Oh, that makes so much sense!!

jenijay
Thanks, it was something I wondered about

bob
i have a question an was wondering if someone might be able to help

Dr_Cantrell
I will be living in Oahu for the next four month working with the troops at Schofield who are now coming home from Iraq and it is very difficult. The multiple long deployments are really taxing their systems

JaxTraxMom
agree Dr. Cantrell my dad did the ship said that was good time to think and get use to things, sons said it was like a culture shock coming home

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, the eyes are the windows to the soul and these are wounds of the soul, so you can see it in someone's eyes when they are not present or they are in pain.

Dr_Cantrell
Please contact me on my email and we can talk about me doing something for your group while I am in Oahu.

rosbrig
Your email is in the book, right?

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, inquire@heartstowardhome.com

bob
my question is pertaining to our youngest sons deployment on 18th this past wednesday

Dr_Cantrell
Please go ahead Bob

bob
thank you didnt really want to interrup

bob
we were at camp lejune for our sons deployment on wednesday were from michigan and there was a gentleman there taking photos of deployment familys an said we could go to the camp web site to print it off but so far i cant find anything pertaining to photos taken

bob
was wondering if anyone might have any ideas of where to look

JaxTraxMom
Bob you may want to check with the public relations office at the base for more info on photos

bob
momma was in tears an would like a copy

bob
hes our third son in the corp still never easy

JaxTraxMom
understand Bob, I'm thinking that the PR is the best place to start to find out about those pics

MaynardsMom
Just a comment. I just finished reading Once a Warrior Wired for Life. I had to laugh at a few times. My husband has been out of the military for 40 years and still does some of the things you mentioned.... tho nothing bad

JaxTraxMom
you are very welcome if I can help contact me through the message baords I'm JaxTraxMom on those Bob

bob
ok i will do that and thank you very much

Dr_Cantrell
somethings never change even after 40 years

MaynardsMom
nope Wired for Life.... for sure!!

Dr_Cantrell
Wired and good at keeping us safe

linda038
My father is a WWII vet and still suffers, He and my son talk alot

Pmuse
My father was a WWII vet. He NEVER talked about the war when I was a child. But he and my son had many conversations about his experiences. The older he got the more he talked.

linda038
they can relate to each other

Pmuse
I guess that's it.

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, this is healthy, sometimes the years will take the sting out of some of the memories, and it takes sometimes years to build up enough trust to discuss things

JaxTraxMom
my son and husband talk alot hubby is a Vietnam Vet

linda038
although dad never talked to mom

bob
my dad was the same way to he was in ww2 an korea never said much at all

Dr_Cantrell
man to man warrior to warrior a great combination

linda038
my dad gets very emotional when ever he goes to the VA for appts

Dr_Cantrell
my Dad didn't talk either, WWII and Korea but when I started working with Veterans he now shares his stories with me

Pmuse
Hubby has his alive in 75 pin, but was too new to go to Vietnam, but he at least had an appreciation for my dad's war stories

bob
god bless him linda i wish my dad was still here to talk

JaxTraxMom
husband don't really talk to others but his and our son relation ship has really gotten close

Rocky
what kind of classes do they have before returning 'in country'

Pmuse
I wish my dad had lived to see my son in the Marines. He would have been amazed and proud

JaxTraxMom
me to

Dr_Cantrell
It is amazing how the military transcends time, age etc. there are just so many common experiences

linda038
My father and my son are closer now than they ever were

linda038
the first time he saw Dru in his blues, he sobbed

Dr_Cantrell
Also now that there are so many women in our military they too will more than likely be closer to their warrior fathers

JaxTraxMom
true I didn't think of that Dr. Cantrell

jack_and_janet
My son just returned and we had time (10 days) to spend with him. He has a short fuse and had trouble walking in the front door of everywhere. He is used to kicking out the air conditioner and entering a house that way. It took about 3 days and he started eating 5 times a day. His fuse is getting better even now. He is handling information better. He was overwhelmed for a while.

Dr_Cantrell
Seeing the young marines, soldiers etc. reminds our fathers of their youth and the best years of their lives. They were so proud and patriotic

Dr_Cantrell
Great that your son is calming down a bit, it is so hard for them, and it is even better that you just accepted him despite his anger issues. You did great!

jack_and_janet
Your advice to let him set the pace worked

Dr_Cantrell
Perfect you allowed him to settle in at his own rate of speed.

Eleanore
I think we may have skipped Rocky's question.

linda038
Its hard to just sit and let things unfold, but seemed to work best here also

bob
jack an janet i know what your saying, Eric was one of the 1st marines when we invaded iraq an when he got home he was not our son at all took a long time for him to get back to himself after he got out

Dr_Cantrell
Eric what was your question

JaxTraxMom
here is Rocky's question what kind of classes do they have before returning 'in country'

Dr_Cantrell
He is still your son, but his assumptions about life and his perceptions have changed

Dr_Cantrell
The type of education given to the troops before returning home really depends on the branch and the command structure.

jack_and_janet
I met the person whose idea it was to send them to the rear for a couple weeks. I gave him a hand shake for you all.

Pmuse
I've enjoyed this so much, but I must go now. Thank you Dr. Cantrell.

Rocky
both of my sons are marines

Dr_Cantrell
I think it would be great and very helpful for all our warriors to go to the rear for a month, and just veg and relax and ease back in without the pressure of family, work etcf.

jenijay
the rear?

bob
i wish there would have been some type of class when my son eric got back from iraq but there were none at the time

Dr_Cantrell
Ah I mean having a place to return to where they are in paradise for a while, good food, music, classes, physical exercise, walks in the woods, whatever it takes to get them to a state of preparation.

lyndam
what are typical stress reactions when first returned from close combat?

Eleanore
Dr. Cantrell, all the things you mention are ways of repairing the soul.

Dr_Cantrell
Sleeplesssness, nightmares, anger, hypervigilence, startle responses, drug and alcohol issues, but it depends on the person, not all are affected the same

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, all are ways of repairing the soul

barb822
my son just returned to Kaneohe Bay today, I am so glad that you will be there to help his unit.

bob
thanks Dr. Cantrell you spoke of everything our son went thru when he returned

Dr_Cantrell
I will be working with the Army, but if the Marines want me to do some work with them I would be happy to do so.

Dr_Cantrell
Bob, I hope your son is doing well.

bob
doing a lot better now thank you

barb822
thank you, I will mention this to my son.... he already is experiencing wide ranges of mood swings

Dr_Cantrell
WONDERFUL

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, it is difficult , have him read Down Range To Iraq and Back and Once a Warrior Wired for Life

linda038
my son drank ALOT when he first got back. He said he drank so he could sllep and not have nightmares

barb822
I have already purchased both books they are waiting for him when he returns home in a few weeks

linda038
that has passed, but was very scary

JaxTraxMom
Dr. Cantrell it won't be long now until we end this evenings chat. Would you like to tell everyone about your books before we have to go?

bob
his biggest problem now is he's not proud of what he had to do but like i tell him it was either them or you an you came home at least

Rocky
can they be prescribed sleep meds?

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, Alcohol is used for sleep, avoidance, and to not remember, but it is very harmful

linda038
Yes it was

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, there is quite a bit of remorse and fear of sharing what they did over there. This is where a good therapist comes into play or another vet who can quietly listen and support your son as he deals with his moral conflict which is all normal.

JaxTraxMom
Dr. Cantrell it won't be long now until we end this evenings chat. Would you like to tell everyone about your books before we have to go?

Eleanore
Bob, your son did what our country asked him to. We bear that burden as well.

bob
yes we do

Dr_Cantrell
Sure our books are Down Range To Iraq and Back which addresses the issues of PTSD and the behaviors, and Once a Warrior Wired for Life talks about the issues of a Warrior coming home and readjusting back into Society and learning how to adjust these skills so they do so in a positive manner.

bob
are your books offered here on the internet?

Dr_Cantrell
We also have workbook course Turning Your Heart Toward Home, which address issues of combat readjustment and gets the communication started with family members.

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, our books are available on your Marine Parents website

Rocky
are both books for just the military person , family , both?

Dr_Cantrell
No, they are for anyone, and not just helpful for military personnel.

JaxTraxMom
we have a book Discussion on Once a Warrior, Wired for Life http://www.usmcparents.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=63357

cjv
is it too late for a question?

Dr_Cantrell
They are written as much for the family members of the military as much as for the troopers themselves

Dr_Cantrell
No please ask

JaxTraxMom
The books are both easy to understand for non military. They are great reads

Dr_Cantrell
thank you

cjv
thanks, my son has been home for about 3 weeks. I have noticed that he can accept the honor, thanks and respect from older people easier than from people his own age. Is that common?

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, because their souls have seen so much, that it is difficult for them to relate to their peers, they fit in well with older people who have the wisdom and life experience under their belts.

cjv
will they in time again connect with the ones their age?

Dr_Cantrell
Are there any other questions or comments before we leave here?

barb822
thank you so much Dr. Cantrell....this has been so helpful!

MaynardsMom
Thank you so much for your time and wisdom, Dr. Cantrell.

bob
yes in closing i would like to say God Bless all our troops an there familys

Rocky
do most combat marines come home ok

linda038
Just Thank you so much for your time and help

JaxTraxMom
Dr. Cantrell Thank you so much for being here with us tonight. I know it helps me alot in understanding so much.

dianna9676
Thank you so much!

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, most come home ok, but all are affected

Rocky
thank you

cjv
thank you for your time and helping us understand our Marines

JaxTraxMom
Thank you for all the work you are doing with our military

Eleanore
Thank you, Dr. Cantrell for addressing the matter of soul.

Eleanore
You are very wise.

linda038
It was great talking again. I can't wait till our next chat

Dr_Cantrell
My thanks is to each and everyone of you, and to your precious children, spouses or loved ones who are serving in our military. Many blessings to all of you, and it is always difficult for me to leave these chats. Until next time my prayers are with all of you and our troops.

barb822
thank you and goodnight Dr. Cantrell

bob
Thank YOU DR Cantrell an have a wonderful evening

Rocky
do you have military family dr

JaxTraxMom
Thank you. Lets say good night, Prayers for all our Marines and teir loved ones. Thank you to each of you for being with us tonight for this very special chat with Dr. Cantrell

Dr_Cantrell
Rocky not sure of your question

Eleanore
God bless you, too.

Rocky
do you have family in the military?

Dr_Cantrell
No, my father served for 10 years WWII and Korea.

Rocky
thank you for writting the books

Dr_Cantrell
It is my pleasure and honor to be of service to you and our military. Good night.

JaxTraxMom
Good night all, take care of you for your Marines

linda038
nite

linda038
thanks again

JaxTraxMom
Good night Dr. Cantrell Thank you so much!

Dr_Cantrell
Good night All

   
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