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Chat Transcript with Dr. Cantrell, January 29, 2008
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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 January 29, 2008. Links to additional resources and information from the chat transcript are included to the right.

linda038
Hi Dr. Cantrell. Its nice to talk to you again. How have you been?

Dr_Cantrell
Wonderful. I am in Oahu working with the Soldiers and my internet goes up and down. My apologies in advance if I disappear.

Fryone55
Dr. Cantrell, my son is going to be coming home from his 2nd deployment soon

Dr_Cantrell
This is wonderful, how is he doing?

Fryone55
are there any things that I need to be looking for?
I think he is doing okay, last I knew he was bored

Dr_Cantrell
He may be a little more standoff ish than he was before, but it is hard to say. Yes is it quite dull at home compared to be on doing their job Down Range, they feel they don't quite fit in as they did before they went It takes time

Fryone55
thanks Dr. Do you have a question cjv

cjv
no, my son says he feels good and that we should not worry about him

Dr_Cantrell
this is what most of them say, so you must honor his wishes, but also don't take things at face value. Hopefully he will let you know if he needs some help.

cjv
I try to keep a close eye on him from a distance but we dont get to see him often

Terrys_Mom
I work at the VA in ____, so I do see alot of PTSD

usmcmom1981
dr cantrell r u here for questions from the parents of deployed soldiers?

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, that is all you can do cjv, at least you are aware and observe as much as possible. Yes I bet you do, it is interesting we all see it from varying perspectives

usmcmom1981
dont mind if I sit here for a bit do you?

cjv
he tries not to give us any reason to worry about him

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, I will take questions from anyone please

Fryone55
remember, one at a time though so Dr. Cantrell can answer

Terrys_Mom
My concern is Drugs and etoh

usmcmom1981
I come on this site dr cantrell to hopefully support alot of the parents on here
they can see the other side
of what I am going thru but will let the others talk

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, this is a BIG deal, and it is causing some issues, and on Post here at Schofield we openly talk about this in my workshops. Most of the motor cycle fatalities andetn

Terrys_Mom
We get alot of depression with ETOH in the ER- their friends usually bring them in. They tell me they feel like they have nothing in common with their old friends now.

Fryone55
I'm sorry, but I am not familiar with the term ETOH

Terrys_Mom
Alcohol--drinking

Fryone55
okay, thanks

Dr_Cantrell
and domestic violence is brought on by Alcohol. Anger is fed with the alcohol they are self medicating, and trying to let lose and forget
Thank you for being here usmcmom1981
unfortunately, it is part of the culture, so I would suggest that you monitor it, and if they are open to hearing there is a safe place for them to have fun and DD

usmcmom1981
yw dr cantrell

Terrys_Mom
Dr Cantrell can you tell us about the availability to them in Iraq of the etoh, drugs

cjv
do you see any patterns, like more troubles the more often they are deployed

Dr_Cantrell
Etoh is alcohol
what does yw mean I am sorry

Fryone55
yw=your welcome

Dr_Cantrell
It is my understanding that Iraq is a dry country, but it is available to some of the military, this just goes without saying.
It is when they come home that it creates the most issue

linda038
I hear that alot

Terrys_Mom
How long are they usually allowed to stay off base when they come home...how much leave?

usmcmom1981
dr cantrell yrs ago when hubby came back from 2 tours viet nam he had ptsd and went to alchol but quit in 1981 and is doing great

Dr_Cantrell
WHen they are in the Combat zone they are on 24/7 and barely have enough time to party.

usmcmom1981
so there is hope and faith for allIpray

Terrys_Mom
I guess that is good and bad.Isuppose that leads to some of the depression when they do not get any "down time"

Dr_Cantrell
This is wonderful. The VN vets did not have the help available to them and many just hid their PTSD symptoms by alcohol, so people would think this was the issue and it helped them with their sleep etc. but it has been very hard on them

usmcmom1981
yes it was

marine1faith
I am just worried thatIwill still want to be a Mom to my son.I know he will need space and time to adjust..don't want to over whelm him

usmcmom1981
and still is for many

Dr_Cantrell
It leads to fatigue, but this is esssential for them in the warzone, they are pumped full of adrenaline and it is very difficult to sleep under those circumstances.

usmcmom1981
I am so thk ful
true dr cantrell

racecardriver
my son is not in a combat zone but I wonder if he too will have probs with PTSD

usmcmom1981
lots get loss of sleep

Dr_Cantrell
You can certainly still be a mom, but remember he is no longer a boy and he will do much better if you step back a little and not smother him.

Terrys_Mom
When the returnees come to Erie, we refer them to our coordinator who is retired military also. He does a wonderful job in helping them. Problem is they do need to come

racecardriver
hard not to smother them cause you still want to protect them\

Dr_Cantrell
I openly tell the 7100 soldiers I am talking to that just returned from a 15 month deployment that all of them will be affected, but we don't know to what degree until they determine that themselves

racecardriver
so even tho he is over there and had seen no combat he may still be affected

linda038
My son didn't realize how much it affected him till he started some couseling at the VA

cjv
at what point can we think they are okay , how much time

marine1faith
How long before we know things are affecting them. Right away or months down the road

Dr_Cantrell
Yes absolutely he can be affected. On the FOBs they have some concerns as well for their safety.

racecardriver
k
what can I do as a mom to help him

Dr_Cantrell
Post Traumatic Stresss is post, it can be months down the road, when something triggers them, so we cannot say. We do know the more they learn and that goes for their families as well the better they will be. The earlier the intervention the better outcome

Terrys_Mom
I guess too, it is important to know that you can log onto the Department of Veterans affairs, they have dvd's they can send for families about PTSD and Poly trauma.

Dr_Cantrell
All you can do is just support him, do not pry or question him, let him do the talking otherwise this may push him away

cjv
it seems like they just get back and settled in and they have to go again

racecardriver
thank you dr. I am off to family room now

Dr_Cantrell
Yes there are all sorts of resources out there, learning about hte behaviors and why they exist is very important and that goes beyond the symptoms

Terrys_Mom
The tough thing is they want to be with their friends--not necessarily family.

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, they are bonded with their buddies, unlike any relationship they will have in their lives, and this is who they shoould be with, and you just need to be there in the background. I hear this all the time from the soldiers, and it makes them very upset.

cjv
one thing that worked with my son was to invite his friends to dinner. I got to see him longer and he was happy to have his friends at the same time

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, perfect, you include them and this will go a long way toward keeping him around then you wil be seen as awesome in his buddies eyes too!!

marine1faith
I just ordered your book Dr. and plan on sharing it with my other children so they can also help out in the adjustment back home. My son is the youngest & has 3 older sisters all in their mid to late 20's. They are extremly concerned with how their brother will be once he comes home.

Terrys_Mom
It makes them upset that we want to be with them?? How long will that last. I can deal with all the vets at the hospital, I am scared to death of my own.
Where can we get your book??

Dr_Cantrell
This is wonderful. It is very hard for them to meet all the expactations of the family, so they need their own time to readjust at their own pace. I
You can get my book on the Marine Parents website, from Amazon or from my site Heartstowardhome.com

cjv
do you seem more troubles with each time they deploy

gumhealer
Here is a link to our page on books:
http://www.marineparents.com/USMC/books-iraq.asp

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, the more deployments the more issues, they get more comfortable with being away from Civilians and want to be with their marines

Terrys_Mom
Thank you! Dr Cantrell- going to family room. Wish you all well

cjv
I did notice this past holidays that my house seemed to have more Marines than before

Dr_Cantrell
those with multiple deployments are 50% more likely to experince acute stress symptoms
this is great

gumhealer
if they find themselves having issues, does it then help them to be with other vets?

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, it certainly does. I tell them that there are vets out there just waiting to shake their hand and they will be pleasantly surprised about what comes back to them.

cjv
my son is deploying with a different unit this time, do you think that could put hijm more at risk for trouble?

gumhealer
my son is out, but recently had an accident....he was in bad emotional shape after, and I found that he really turned to his vet friends

Dr_Cantrell
If he is not familiar with this unit, it may take some time to get familiar but I am sure he will adjust just fine because they are all marines.
Yes, they are men who have walked in his boots and they can help a lot. I do hope he is doing better. Sometimes they may need more than just a relationship they may need some help with issues, medication and even sometimes hospitalization

gumhealer
he is in contact with the VA as well, but the vets have really helped him
I just wasnt sure if being around them was a good thing, I'm glad it is

Dr_Cantrell
Wonderful, it sounds like they really were in tune with what he needed and they guided him well. Good for them, what a great loving group of veterans, watching out for eachother!!
you know sometimes we all have to take an assesment of the people we are around and they can be down sides if the veterans are all down and not doing anything to help themselves because of their own issues of PTSD, and Depression, but it sure sounds like this was just the medicine he needed

cjv
my sons best friend who is also a Marine may be medically discharged. He is struggling with the fact that he never deployed and not being active duty. Would you book be helpful for this family on how to help him deal with this?

gumhealer
a lot of the vets he met up with are older ones: one was even at Iwo Jima

Dr_Cantrell
yes, because it is an adjustment issue. Even our new book loods at these types of issues, once they are trained how do they reassimilate. This is difficult when a marine is not deployed with his unit, they always feel that they let their buddies down, and really it just can't be helped.
Perfect mentors, and they have had years to figure out what works and what doesn't

linda038
my son and father have bonded. They feel they have so much in common. My father was in WWII
They have had some long talks

Dr_Cantrell
This is often what happens, and it is truly a remarkable gift that they are giving eachother.

linda038
My son says his pap understands what he is talking about and he isn't afraid to tell him things he can't tell us

Dr_Cantrell
Telling their stories is extremely powerful, and I am sure your father is also sharing with your son some of his war stories. We don't have enough of that in this culture, and we need to start using this venue because it does bring about healing.

linda038
She is the author of Down Range
do you have any questions?

parentsrus
No, my son isn't back yet

Dr_Cantrell
when does he return

parentsrus
and he is on a MEU so .....it may be different for him
Spring

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, I would imagine

parentsrus
He hasn't really been where a lot of the guys have been nor seen some of the things either

Dr_Cantrell
Well this is perfectly good, he is still a Marine and will be very proud of his duty

parentsrus
Yes he is and we are very proud of him as well
I wonder though, maybe I will ask one question

Dr_Cantrell
Of course ask many

parentsrus
not really about PTSD but it relates kinda

Dr_Cantrell
go ahead

parentsrus
sometimes I don't know how to talk to other moms who have sons who are not as lucky to be on a MEU. I feel kinda guilty since we talk all the time
I haven't been very good support to some of my friends

Dr_Cantrell
Maybe you can ask them how you can help them. You have no say so where your son is called and it does not mean that he is not in harms way. They all do their jobs and none are more important than the other

parentsrus
I know but I still feel very fortunate that he isn't "there" or whatever

Dr_Cantrell
It sounds like you may feel like you don't fit in with them beacause you are feeling unworthy because their sons are in a different situation

parentsrus
kinda I guess, I don't know. I just feel for them because they don't hear from their Marine often and I talk to mine a lot

Dr_Cantrell
You are fortunate, and they all wish they their sons were in your son's position. There is a sense of helplessness, none of us ever want our children to be in a dangerous situation

parentsrus
We are very fortunate. I'm grateful that his first deployment has been "easy"

Dr_Cantrell
By reaching out to them and not focusing on your son, but on their sense of loss while theirs are not calling much may help you a great deal

parentsrus
We've sent packages and letters and my youngest sons class wrote to some so we are supporting them

Dr_Cantrell
Of course this is something to be grateful about. We all do a lot of bargaining with ourselves to make it through hard times, and when your sons are in a hot spot you are thinking perhaps well it could be worse. We are all resilient more than we realize

parentsrus
I mean my other sons
they are all "our" sons

Dr_Cantrell
This is great.

marine1faith
I am concerned with my sons friends back here at home. How will my son adjust to his friends lives and his once he comes home for his leave. Everyone's lives have changed somewhat here since his depolyment.

Dr_Cantrell
Many times they no longer can relate to those back here, because your marine has grown in so many ways, and they surpass those who have not had a similar experience. It is for him to sort out.

gumhealer
I was lucky, my son had a couple of good friends that he never had a problem reconnecting with

Dr_Cantrell
this is great, and everyone is different and have needs that may or may not be met by those back home.

dorkpiesgirl
are there ways to make him feel like he hasnt lost so much time at home though with his friends?

Dr_Cantrell
I don't understand your question

dorkpiesgirl
because I think even when he hangs out with them, he feelslike they don't care so much once thier 'new college friends' show up

Dr_Cantrell
He will have to come to that decision. One thing our soldiers, and marines realize is how precious time is, and you can never recapture a moment in time, and they know this all too well. So based on this he will soon determine if these relationships are empty and he will move on.

linda038
Unfortunatly my son has really not reconnected with his high school friends

Dr_Cantrell
It is not unfortunate!

linda038
He seems to be more comfortable with an older crowd

gumhealer
Ben only does with a chosen few.......and in school now he does say that he can't relate to those his age (22).........his friends there are closer to 30

Dr_Cantrell
They get very angry when they see people who are wasting their time, or have their minds on something that they think really has no significance, it is part of his life, and he has moved on and they are stuck in the letterman Sweaters so to speak. He will find his way and make much more deep relationships with those with whom he serves.

gumhealer
that is interesting.....that is exactly what he says about the younger guys ....."they are spending THIS kind of money on school and they aren't taking it seriously"

Dr_Cantrell
Most of the time they like being with people who have prior military service, and are mature. Whereas maybe some like to party and hang out with a younger group it just depends on what they are needing in themselves.
Wasting time and resources is very annoying for them. They have come to understand the importance of time and being efficient with it and not squandering opportunities

linda038
thats a perfect descrition. He feels like they are 10 years behind him in life
I am so glad to know thats normal

Dr_Cantrell
and they are, so we want our kids to find their way and be comfortable with their lives, and it may not be what we have in mind, but it works for them
It is normal, they have aged way beyond their chronological years.

linda038
Yes they have

marine1faith
My son has said that he has learned so much and has such great respect for the Uniform he has now earned to wear. He has studied harder and done more during this past year while being in the military then he did in High School. He seems to accept his responsibilty of doing his job.

Dr_Cantrell
He is a MARINE!!! and a proud one at that, and I bet you are just exstatic.

marine1faith
YES I AM>>>>and having a Smile most days when I am not having melt down moments.

Dr_Cantrell
It is those beautiful smiles that are going to sustain you. Put those in your heart for a rainy day, when it seems like its a little too cloudy:)

chickenfarmers
Dr Cantrell, is there some way of profiling who is more likely to develop PTSD before they leave for combat, and is there anything we parents can do in advance to help protect our Marines? Mine deploys for Afghanistan soon, and I must admit that I am worried about what he will be like when he returns.

Dr_Cantrell
There is a quote by Goodwin "even the strongest, and toughes are affected by PTSD", and it means that all will have some affects, but we can't say they will all have a diagnosis of PTSD. They may have issues with sleep, isolation, anger, maybe drinking more than usual, this is what happens, it takes time to readjust. I think one of the most important things is to educate yourselves, and many of our soldiers are reading Down Range in the warzone. The soldiers are getting innoculated so to speak with what to expect, this is very important, but remember we cannot predict who will be affected, or to the degree they will be affected.
oops "Even the toughest, strongest and bravest are affected my PTSD"

gumhealer
I really thought my son was doing good until his accident.........and for him, it was like hiw whole world caved in .......I think it all caught up with him
he cried for days and days......we were so worried

Dr_Cantrell
All you can do is just be as solid as you can be when he comes home and be very aware of when you need to intervene and know your resources like other buddies, VA, vet centers, and old warriors from the past

marine1faith
my hero

gumhealer
I would recommend they connect with a Marine Corps league in their area........that is where my son found the older vets

dorkpiesgirl
is it more likely that they will have temporary effects of ptsd that will go away once they reajust?

Dr_Cantrell
Is he doing better now? I have a lot of soldiers tell me that they just burst into tears. Sometimes they are afraid of crying because they don't know when they will stop, but it is a good release for them. THey often times use anger as their emotion of the day, so tears are good and healing.

gumhealer
he seems to be better, but he is across the country from us, so can't SEE him to really see his eyes

Dr_Cantrell
PTSD symptoms can be reactivated years down the road by a smell a sound a memory, they learn to live with it if they get help. They learn better coping skills and what sets them off and they learn to manage their behaviors, but it is with them. It is like if we all saw a Motor vehicle accident and it was traumatizing to us, we would not forget, and everytime we heard the screech of a tire of glass breaking we would probably go back to that point in time, but we would learn how to manage our reactions over time.

marine1faith
I worry that I am just going to fall apart at Homecoming when I see my son. I don't want him to feel guilty that he made this happen to his Mom. His mom will be ok....I do know this.

Dr_Cantrell
WOW, this is wonderful, it will be a happy happy day, and don't worry he will be okay with that and your might find that you will so happy that only smiles and tears of joy will come

Fryone55
tears of joy are exactly what come Dr.

Dr_Cantrell
So many family members think that because they are home and they are out of their uniform that they are going to forget and get right back to where they were before they left, but that does not happen. So many of my the military people I work with tell me I wish my parents had a clue, they think because I am in one piece I am just fine. Truly this is converation I had a couple of days ago.

chickenfarmers
Is PTSD awareness/symptoms etc taught to our troops? Does someone screen them during the deployment or just when they get home?

Fryone55
I always tell my son I am there when he wants to talk
I don't push or ask questions

mommybeth
so what should we do when he comes home? try to talk with him? or just let him be?

Dr_Cantrell
I do not know what you Marines do. I know that the soldiers are carefully watched, but it really depends on the command and how willing they are to be open to having your Marine take care of themselves.

mommybeth
what happens when the Marines come home? do they get any counseling?

Fryone55
my son went through screening the last time he deployed and came home

Dr_Cantrell
Talk but dont ask a bunch of questions. Try your best just to be there, and not be invasive.

jeromyspa
I have a lot of marines that stay here with us because we kive close to base. They all come back different. I have seen mild to bad PTSD. They all have some sort of it

jeromyspa
These young men try to be "macho" and don't open up in screening

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, it varies in severity. Yes, you are so right on, they do have some sort of it!!!

mommybeth
so what does one do if one's sone has PTSD? do we talk with him about it?
do we notify someone?

Dr_Cantrell
You are right there too, they don't want to be labeled or thought of as a weak link, so if the command are open and real then they will get help

mommybeth
what kind of screening happens?

jeromyspa
We went to an event at the SD convention center and took 5 of them 5 days after they got back. A balloon popped and they all dove to the ground.
I felt so bad for them

chickenfarmers
yes, I can see that Marines in particular would feel that way, Ron.

Dr_Cantrell
You can talk about it, have a friend who is an older vet take him out for coffee, get his battle buddy on the phone and tell them your concerns.
They do a paper test with questions to determine the areas of concern

mommybeth
Battle buddy is a new term to me

jeromyspa
One marine just got out. He did not tell me anything until he was out. Then he let out the floodgates. I don't know what top tell them except it is their job and the get a pass on it

Dr_Cantrell
Yes sudden sounds are very disconcerting, but at least they were all in good company and everyone there understood what was happening.
Battle buddy is an army term, a fellow marine from his unit that he is tight with

jeromyspa
What do you tell them when they express concerns about killing?

Tennis_Mom
How about having an open line of communication before PTSD. Is there someone to talk to before this happens?

Dr_Cantrell
Often times they will not talk openly because of the committment.

chickenfarmers
When do we know that problems are beyond just adjusting back to being stateside? What do we look for?

mommybeth
my marine already said that he doesn't like groups of small children...but maybe it was just that day.
chicken- that is an excellent question.

Dr_Cantrell
I talk very openly about this in my workshops, because it is real. do you mean they talk about what they did there

jeromyspa
I had to make my son tell me what he wanted if something happened to him. It was hard, but glad I did. Shouldn't the marines make them do that before deployment

Dr_Cantrell
About the killing is this a desire to this stateside or is this telling you about his experience in Iraq?
this is good that he is talking about this, they did a great deal of this, and if he is talking this is very good. If you find that you cannot handle it, then tell him in a gentle way and redirect him somewhere else. You either have to be with him where he is, or not be. He is reaching out and that certainly says a great deal about his trust in you.
You will look for problems with nightmares, sleep, anger, poor impulse control, alcohol, isolation, and these kinds of things.

mommybeth
I understand that driving very fast is vey common.

chickenfarmers
yeah, but he does that now!!

Dr_Cantrell
The marines cannot make them talk, no one can, they do not feel comfortable disclosing and being vulnerable especially in the eyes of the marines. They will do it a their own pace

mommybeth
question- when they come home- do they get set right home? or do they spend some time on base before coming home?

jeromyspa
I suggest a letter to be opened only if somethig happens. That way the parents can observe their wishes

Dr_Cantrell
Yes, driving very fast, pedal to the metal, is a form of survival, if they poke along they are targets, must get there in a speedy fashion and unfortunatley this comes home as well

jeromyspa
They have to wait a week or 2 before getting leave

Fryone55
beth, they usually spend at least 2 weeks on base before getting their leave

mommybeth
Fryone- so we see them and then leave them on base?

Fryone55
yes, after a 96 hr leave

jeromyspa
They get a 96 right away.

Dr_Cantrell
this is not much time.

Fryone55
no, but it is wonderful

mommybeth
ok, they get a 96 then have to be back for a bit and then leave again?

Fryone55
it is a glorious 96 hrs
yes beth

dorkpiesgirl
I cant wait for the 96

mommybeth
we've promised our Marine a huge steak!!!

marine1faith
I will take any amount of time after this very very long camping trip

Dr_Cantrell
They need that time with their marines. Many find coming home difficult because of the expectations of family, the decisions they have to make etc.
Yummy thats sounds great to me as well

mommybeth
homecoming sounds wonderful, yet not so wonderful.

jeromyspa
They also have the memorial detail for fallen friends

marine1faith
Mine just asked for the real deal in home cooking

Dr_Cantrell
Just take it one day at a time, and know when they want time at the base they are working towards readjustment to be with you.
Home coming is difficult and sometimes expectations are failed and hearts hurt, but it all comes around

Fryone55
thank you Dr. Cantrell, for spending this time with us and answering our questions

chickenfarmers
Dr Cantrell, this is a little off topic, but do you think it is better while they are deployed to keep bad news from home away from them, or is the surprise of finding out bad news when they get home worse because they feel left out?

Dr_Cantrell
Thank you all and good nite, I will see you next month in February.

marine1faith
Thank you Dr. Cantrell, you have helped given us some insight to what to do and expect.

Fryone55
that will be great dr.

Dr_Cantrell
Bad news may be worse if they don't know because they will think you are trying to protect them and they will doubt their own resources to take care of themselves, so you have to weigh this out, but if you isolate them they may be very angry at you for not letting them deal with it themselves. Be careful with that one.

chickenfarmers
It's a tough call. Thank you for taking time with us, Dr. We appreciate you.

mommybeth
can we talk about this more next time?

Dr_Cantrell
Thank you for giving me the honor to be here with you all.

DebR
I should have signed onto chat earlier. I will check back in February to join again. Dr. Cantrell - thank you for writing the books. They have helped me amazingly. G'nite

Fryone55
yes beth

Dr_Cantrell
You are most welcome. See you next month, I can't wait!!!

Fryone55
good night all

chickenfarmers
thanks again, good night.

Fryone55
and thank you again

Dr_Cantrell
I just made my hotel res for your meeting in Wash DC. so I will be there as well
Perfect!!

   



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