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Chat Transcript with Dr. Cantrell, January 15, 2009
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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 15, 2009. Links to additional resources and information from the chat transcript are included to the right.

Dr. Cantrell:
Hello

Mama V:
1st time for me - my son just finished 4 yrs in Marine Corp - 2 Iraq tours and 1 Afghanistan -

Dr. Cantrell:
How is your son doing?

Mama V:
sometimes I am afraid he drinks to forget

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, he is probably doing this to cope, some do it for sleep, to forget, or to take the edge off.

Mama V:
he was in the infantry the boots on the ground and I don't want to pressure him but wonder if I should be doing something to persuade or suggest to him to seek counseling or assistance

Dr. Cantrell:
When did he get back.

Mama V:
I read all your stuff off the marine parents page - your holiday suggestions were right on. thank you so much. Truly believe the best thing for them is to talk to others that have experienced the same horrible things - I can't image! He got back in Sept 2008

Dr. Cantrell:
If you push he may resist. I would just keep my eyes on him and be available for him. Also you can have another one of his buddies check in on him and let them know your concerns.

Dr. Cantrell:
It is not necessary that they talk with someone who has been through the same thing, but they do need to start talking, Not all mental health professionals have ever been in the military, but that does not mean that they cannot help a Marine with their issues.

Mama V:
how true - seems a little bit more calm here lately - but certainly does not ever want to be too pushed into any specific conversations and I truly do not want to do that at all. My concern is his drinking to pass out to be able to sleep - also made the comment that is the only way to forget

Dr. Cantrell:
In other words there are very good counselors who are non military, but your son must feel comfortable and feel that the person is well versed on military culture.

Dr. Cantrell:
If this be the case with his drinking some of this is certainly normal when they first come home, but after a while if it continues and gets worse then an intervention is certainly warranted.

Mama V:
I have a brother who was a chopper pilot in Viet Nam and he can't wait to visit with my son and I think that would be wonderful.

Dr. Cantrell:
He would be a perfect person to put on this situation. These veterans who served in prior conflicts are wonderful mentors, and have the right to call them on their behaviors.

Dr. Cantrell:
Please tell your brother your concerns and have him start right away with at least phone calls. It is just an amazing thing to witness when Veterans who have served in the past have their memories tucked away, and suddenly with a nephew, niece, or a friend who is currently serving comes into the picture, they start sharing about their lives, that have been kept tucked away for decades.

Mama V:
My son said they told him he has ptsd and I said well there is help out there for you and he said - no way - no one would ever hire you with that on your record

Dr. Cantrell:
This is NOT TRUE. There are many organizations who are soliciting our troops who have served for employment and career training. If we looked at all the troops who served in VN and how many of them have PTSD and are very successful.

Dr. Cantrell:
There is help out there, and if he is concerned about the information being passed on he can see someone on the outside of the military

Dr. Cantrell:
military oops

Fryone55:
my son has a job offer when he gets out Dr. Cantrell

Dr. Cantrell:
PTSD is not a mental illness, If we look at the symptoms I can show you how many of these are coping skills.

Fryone55:
and he is being watched for PTSD signs

Dr. Cantrell:
THIS IS WONDERFUL

LCPLDarkside:
I've been told 4 times i have ptsd

LCPLDarkside:
i still don't believe them

Dr. Cantrell:
LCPL, why do they say that?

Mama V:
I told him that and that medical information should remain confidential -- but being the macho - marine = tough guy -- how would one convince them that's is okay and acceptable to seek help

LCPLDarkside:
They've told my entire unit that based off our psych tests

Dr. Cantrell:
Well you are in Good Company, most of you will have some issues, and this is normal.

Mama V:
darkside - when did you get back

Dr. Cantrell:
I tell all the thousands of troops I do my workshops for: "PTSD is not a mental illness, it is a reaction to events that are outside of normal human behavior" Look at some of the symptoms: Hypervigilence- situational awareness required to survive right? I can go on and on

LCPLDarkside:
April 08

Dr. Cantrell:
Usually what happens is about 90 days out from returning things can get a bit more annoying

Dr. Cantrell:
You have expectations of getting back into your life as it was before you were deployed, and your family members also have some expectations along these lines, and this is not how it goes. It is now time to redefine who you are and how you see the world, and help your family to also do the same with their role in your life

Mama V:
thank you - i tried to reassure my marine that ptsd is not a mental illness - they have endured and gone thru things we'll never imagine - just want them to realize that --- we must remember and realize and appreciate that they will never be the same young person they were before deployments.

Dr. Cantrell:
I am sorry LCPL left the chat. It was great he joined us, I would have liked to have talked him more. I hope he has one of my Down Range Books.

Dr. Cantrell:
Is there anything that you would like to discuss

Dr. Cantrell:
Does anyone know how to get in touch with the LCPL

Dr. Cantrell:
I would like to send him one of my books

Mama V:
any suggestions on how to bridge that tough, macho, nothing will get me, attitude that many might feel on the outside but are hurting on the inside

Fryone55:
I don't know if he is ready to talk yet or not

Dr. Cantrell:
This is what we are up against. I have had so many hardcore macho warriors, come up to me after my workshops and they admit they were blown away and see themselves all over my slides.

Dr. Cantrell:
Its ok, please give him my personal email and let him know I would like to send him some books for him and his buddies.

Fryone55:
okay, I will let him know that

Dr. Cantrell:
I totally understand. I am so glad that he at least came into the room. I will always answer his emails.

Dr. Cantrell:
No one will know

Mama V:
I think it's important to stress to our young marines and military that this is confidential and that it's okay to talk to someone - I think some may feel weak if they do seek help

ltsmom:
Dr, Cantrell, I have a question about my almost son in law

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, this is true, there are so many stigmas and especially with the Marines.

Dr. Cantrell:
Please go ahead with your question

Dr. Cantrell:
We must all work to normalize and break thru these stigmas.

Fryone55:
Dr. Cantrell, darkside will think about contacting you

ltsmom:
he was in a situation where he earned a high award, he seems fine with it, wont talk about it, which I believe is expected and we donít ask, however, do you have any suggestions as how I can deflect my ignorant family from inquiring

Fryone55:
I have given him both of your emails

Dr. Cantrell:
Thank you so much, I am hear for him, please let him know it is confidential.

Fryone55:
and he understands that too

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, just tell them point blank "Leave it alone", Some of these awards are given for very heroic acts, which more than likely involved death of some kind. So calling attention to these things are often very painful for our warriors. In due time they will talk, and perhaps if you are real close to him you can ask to read the citation.

ltsmom:
I have Dr Cantrell, it is as you stated

Mama V:
I am not sure he believes it - but yes it is really true --

Dr. Cantrell:
Can both of your please elaborate

ltsmom:
me?

Dr. Cantrell:
Both please

ltsmom:
he received a Silver Star for saving his Marines in a really bad incident, he deflected all the praise to his Marines, however, we have family members who are extremely pacifists, and they will notice the award at the wedding, I am terrified they may say something, but it is not in my power to not invite them

Mama V:
I have wondered many times about 'survivor syndrome'' - or why them and not me -- that must present a horribly large burden on so many young and brave men and women.

ltsmom:
he can get rather vocal when confronted with ignorant remarks

Dr. Cantrell:
Why is the award being noted at the wedding, this does not seem the place to have this exhibited

ltsmom:
it is worn on his uniform

Dr. Cantrell:
This is setting up for a major event such as explosion emotionally. This is a very sacred star and they are humble because of the corps cohesion. Can you leave the silver star at home.

ltsmom:
how would you suggest that is approached?

Dr. Cantrell:
I understand, then most people will not know what it is, but he must be prepared to acknowledge their inquiries using emotional control.

Dr. Cantrell:
I would tell him ahead of time, since he is wearing his uniform he must be prepared and even practice how he will respond appropriately to these questions. He does not have to give the details, and those who have served will know that this was a painful thing to accept.

Mama V:
so very true - the marines are so humble and so unwilling to accept thanks and appreciation when so many of us here at home want to express it to them

Dr. Cantrell:
He will regret deeply if he comes unglued, can he leave it off of his uniform for his wedding.

Dr. Cantrell:
I know this is a disconnect. We want to honor them and they do not want the attention. It is so difficult at times.

ltsmom:
thank you Dr Cantrell, that sentence about being painful to accept was exactly how he and our family feels, some want to glamorize it, some want to skewer him for it...so you suggest avoidance?

Dr. Cantrell:
He should check on the protocol and perhaps he can leave it off for this event

Dr. Cantrell:
NO I just think that everyone should be respect that fact that this is part of the military. Do not ask questions, do not pass judgment, and accept that this is a very sacred and distinguished award and let it go.

Fryone55:
Denise, can you send a note to these relatives

Dr. Cantrell:
He made the commitment to his brothers that he would lose his life to save theirs, and this is what he did and lived to accept the Silver Star. What an incredible young and Marine you have in your midst!!!

ltsmom:
oh I wish, but this is the family that screamed at Stephanie that she would die if she joined

Fryone55:
I would still do it Denise

Fryone55:
be brave

Dr. Cantrell:
WOW this is what destroys families, and this is why our troops feel so disconnected and uncomfortable sharing their experiences with some of their friends and family. I would have to say STICK up for your Son in Law and it may mean taking a stand and making a choice, who would you rather have watch your back?

ltsmom:
easy choice for me, however we have kept most of the awful remarks made away from my daughter and son in law to protect them,

Fryone55:
you know, i think I would continue that by making sure they know that if they cannot respect the military at this wedding, they need not attend

Mama V:
another true statement Dr Cantrell - why our guys feel so disconnected and uncomfortable sharing their unimaginable experiences with us here at home with all of our comforts and freedoms

Dr. Cantrell:
Stop protecting them, this is interfering with the process of finding his way home. If these family members have something to say, then they say to both of them, and it will be probably time they say anything derogatory about his service to our country.

Fryone55:
hmm, I think I like that Dr. Cantrell

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, we have no idea what they go through, nor will any of us truly know.

Fryone55:
J is a good guy Denise, he will probably kill them with kindness

Dr. Cantrell:
Ah ha a true warrior, this will work

ltsmom:
wow, after reading your books and thinking I know what to say or not say, I still find myself struggling with letting them deal with it, thanks for redirecting me Dr Cantrell

Dr. Cantrell:
i can assure you that your Marine will be able to handle this little glitch himself.

Fryone55:
and his lovely bride will be standing right next to him

Fryone55:
supporting him all the way

Dr. Cantrell:
BTW, it is something to note here, that there have even been some who have tried to return the silver star because they felt that they were not deserving because they were doing job, and to them it did not deserve special recognition.

ltsmom:
I think J probably thought that as well

Dr. Cantrell:
What an honor to have her at his side. I think they both need to know that some of these feelings are going on, and even in society some have these feelings as well, so this is as good as time as ever to learn how to address them

Dr. Cantrell:
when is this lovely wedding?

ltsmom:
I think we are blessed as my daughter is a Marine as well, so she understands him

ltsmom:
July 4

Dr. Cantrell:
Perfect, then she sure does understand him. This is amazing. They must be precious together

Mama V:
congratulations - all my best wishes

Dr. Cantrell:
I second the motion, what a happy day!!

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, indeed you will have to send pics.

ltsmom:
thank you, they are really a great match, guided by God's hands , so I have confidence in them, I just have been tainted by bad mother in law, so I am trying my best to do the right things

Dr. Cantrell:
You are doing it right, wow what a great way to start a life as a family. God's guidance. Here is a saying that I love: To know who you are, you must know who you are not. So this is the guide you are using to be the best mother in law.

Mama V:
ask God for guidance and you will do good -- you will be shown what is right in loving your kids

Dr. Cantrell:
How may I help with a question

mykeetagirl:
suggestions to get my son and me talking again without his rages

Mama V:
would one need to go to a VA hospital for Ptsd Treatments or counseling and will they have to pay out of pocket for these services

Dr. Cantrell:
So he gets a bit uptight and has some anger issues?

Dr. Cantrell:
If they are discharged they go to the VA and it will not cost. They can also go to Military One Source for free while they are still in.

Dr. Cantrell:
Can you tell me if you have seen specific things that set him off

mykeetagirl:
many anger issues, blames me for things i haven't done. he would refuse help at a va or elsewhere. states he never wants to see me again. he and i were alone from his age 2 until he enlisted out of school, then he went to college did very well, opened his business. after 9/11 he re enlisted asking me to take over his business, home, 2 dogs and 3 apts. gladly i did it. says he hates me. his dad wasn't a huge part of his life but now he is.

mykeetagirl:
my son has almost put his girlfriend of 8 yrs out. he screams at her (calling her names). lashes out hurtful words. Iím afraid for him.

Dr. Cantrell:
It sounds like he knows that you will not turn your back on him. It is an approach/ avoidance kind of relationship. Often they will lash out at the ones they are closest to because they know you are safe, however this being said there are boundaries that need to be established so you are not in harms way

Dr. Cantrell:
I can imagine you are afraid of him, and I would venture to say that most of us here would be as well.

Dr. Cantrell:
It sounds like he is out of control and really does need someone to call him up short, but it cannot be you. You must always make sure you are safe

Dr. Cantrell:
is he still in?

Dr. Cantrell:
Are you afraid of him as well as afraid for him?

mykeetagirl:
before my son's last deployment, he says he doesn't remember almost hitting me. before all this, my son adored me and showed only respect for me or any other woman. Iím not so much afraid for me, Iím afraid for him. Iíve read about recon/snipers committing suicide.

mykeetagirl:
he is still officially in as of 1/25/09

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, they are very intense and used to controlling ALL the variables. It sounds like he has gone over the edge a bit, and really needs someone to step in. Do you have any friend or relative that he has a relationship that can give him a call or spend some time with him.

Dr. Cantrell:
If you have any fear of him taking his life, DO NOT WAIT, do something, be proactive!!!

mykeetagirl:
i am taking care of my ill mom. he and my son have always been very close and now he said he will never have anything to do with my side of the family. he wants to move away with no fwd address.

mykeetagirl:
if i call someone to help he will find out it is me and the rage will begin again. i am afraid of losing him both ways.

Dr. Cantrell:
He is on emotional overload. Think about this for a moment. He loves his grandmother, and she is failing, and he can't do anything to change this situation. This goes along with his need for control in order to survive.

mykeetagirl:
who would i call to help him without him knowing it is me

Dr. Cantrell:
Which would be worse, losing him physically such as him moving away (but he is still active duty) or losing him forever if he were take his life?

Dr. Cantrell:
Do you have a family member who is a veteran?

mykeetagirl:
i understand the overload that is one reason i decided before he returned home not to give him anything to worry about. i so much as did the inside of the house over. during his 4 yrs i had to put one dog down as she was so very ill. my son was in ca at the time. he and i promised before his leaving for ca, we would not sugar coat anything, only honesty. when i called him about the dog, he couldn't talk and hasn't yet about it.

Dr. Cantrell:
I am so sorry, that you both have gone through a lot. His dog represented something that would love him unconditionally and this is the worst for them, Often this is the only little thing in the world that represents humanity. He knows about his dog, there is no need for you to talk to him about this anymore unless he brings it up.

mykeetagirl:
have a cousin who come home from Vietnam a different person. if Joe calls my son, he'll know it's me behind it.

Dr. Cantrell:
It could be with the dramatic change in his attitude toward you and his girlfriend that perhaps a woman did something in the warzone that cost lives. Who knows or perhaps he hears of some of the women not being faithful to their Marines, it is just hard to say.

mykeetagirl:
i never bring up the dog. my son doesn't like to think of the past. also, my son is on the computer with military things and the military channel is on constantly.

Dr. Cantrell:
It does not matter if he knows, you want someone to reach out to him. Don't be passive here, you may also need to get help yourself in dealing with these major issues

Dr. Cantrell:
Military is his life, his passion, it is in his blood and perhaps his anger centers around a mission in which he thought he failed.

mykeetagirl:
his gal friend said he is accusing her of cheating when she is working or gone off to the store. maybe i did something terrible wrong when he was a young boy. i have tried to think of something. if i had, he would have approached me about it long before the usmc.

Dr. Cantrell:
This i where he feels at home being around military culture

Dr. Cantrell:
These are his issues, and I am sure did the best you could. He is no longer a little boy and he has life experiences which are coloring his perception.

Dr. Cantrell:
This anger is used as a way of pushing those they love away

mykeetagirl:
he lost one of his good friends while in combat, a bullet went past my son into the head of his buddy. my son only talked briefly about it. he wouldn't let me fly to ca when he was injured during one tour (ruptured his pcl) being i assisted an orthopedic surgeon for years, i could help him, it's not a comfortable surgery. he refused to let me go out. i find out later he was alone in his barracks. i don't know his friends from his bn so i couldn't go there, besides i don't trust a

mykeetagirl:
when injured in Iraq, he refused to let me be with him at time of his surgery. i know no one in ca he was in combat with or roommate

Dr. Cantrell:
This is an extremely traumatic death, so he is probably harboring severe survivor guilt, "it should have been me, not my bud". With this survivor guilt they minimize their own pain (like he did with the Surgery) it was nothing to him, and did not compare to the death that his friend just experienced. They do not want attention brought to them.

Dr. Cantrell:
They do not accept love or recognition, they feel they are not deserving of the good things in life.

mykeetagirl:
he just had 3 wisdom teeth extracted. didn't tell me before hand but stopped after to c if i needed anything.

Dr. Cantrell:
Well this fits the profile. He eventually will need to forgive himself for living and I pray he does this in time

cuffnya:
ok how do you get a stubborn marine to talk to someone that hasn't been in the fight Iíve suggested military one source and or a Chaplin and he says no way they havenít been there

Dr. Cantrell:
You will not convince them. We who have not served must earn the right to speak to your Marines. It is like a hazing process, until we who are non military prove our intentions are genuine and that we have knowledge of their culture we will not be taken seriously. Some of your Marines will not feel so defensive about receiving help, but for the those who do, it would be best to get a veteran or even one their buddies to lead them the way

mykeetagirl:
hmm, my son lost his best buddy in high school to a drunk driver, think this comes from way back then?

cuffnya:
I've told him they aren't there to analyze his shooting but to sort out whatís in his head and whatís going on

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, indeed this is just another part of the layering process. Your mentioned that you raised him alone and even then you were not able to protect his heart. He must also forgive you for not being omnipotent and able to save him from all these painful experiences.

Mama V:
we are not judging any of them or their actions - who knows what they have gone through just to survive - they are all heroes

Dr. Cantrell:
yes, this is correct. The treatment providers are there to help with the transitioning process, be a non-judgmental person to vent with, and help look at things are a variety of perspectives. We are not there to evaluate their competency as a Marine, but to offer support on an emotional basis

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, they are all heroes, and this is something that many times they will let you know they are not the heroes, the ones who gave their lives are the heroes.

Mama V:
how true - they do not want the thanks and recognition that they deserve and have fought so hard for

Dr. Cantrell:
We have about two minutes left for tonightís chat are there anymore comments or questions?

ltsmom:
mykeeta, before I leave, I wish you courage, wisdom and strength

Mama V:
thanks so much - Semper Fi

gabrielette:
I am a 2/7 mom.... what do they actually appreciate the most when they come home, or is there a pattern

Dr. Cantrell:
I want all you to know how much I admire you and your Marines. Be proactive and never just sit back if you suspect things are not quite right.

Joan:
Thank you for the support and insights you provide each month, Dr. Cantrell.

Mama V:
Iím a 2/7 mom also --

Dr. Cantrell:
They appreciate peace and harmony, and not being asked questions, and just letting things gently unfold without pressing any issue. OOPS and GOOD home cooking!!!

Dr. Cantrell:
Good night, see you next month!!!

vpm_of_josh:
Is this a monthly chat?

Dr. Cantrell:
Yes, every month I am here.

Dr. Cantrell:
Good night

   
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