US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

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US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:14 pm

Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity

Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented is a serialized form over the next few weeks.

1. TV Can Save Your Life-1: I walked into the COB Speicher Dining Facility (DEFAC) located across from the main gym. I had to show my weapon to gain entry. This was a large warehouse with a protective sombrero roof. The building was clean and air conditioned. Multiple flat screen TVs were high on the walls around the two separate dining rooms. Usually they were tuned to various sporting events and during daytime viewing, some of them showed the news on Fox News Network. It was rumored that at night CNN was shown as the news channel. KBR had their act together and there were many options for troops to eat. There was a standard mess hall line with hot meals; there was a sandwich bar, a Mongolian stir fry bar and a healthy food bar. And it was all you could eat. The dessert bars offered pastries and ice cream. Beverages included milk, soda pop, coffee, tea and alcohol free beer. I was on a no contact order with my unit during an investigation so I almost always ate alone to avoid my friends and colleagues violating this order. It wasn’t a happy time or a pleasant experience the two or three times a day I visited the DEFAC. The enormous quantity and diversity of food was clearly a comfort move by the Army to upgrade the proverbial “three hots and a cot” which still goes a long way to improve troop morale. I felt pretty low as I ate my food. All of the television shows are brought to troops by Armed Forces Network. AFN doesn’t run commercials, but instead has a series of public service announcements. I remember vividly that afternoon the AFN spot came on with a suicide prevention message. The message simply said, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” I took a deep breath. I got it, Hang in there, things will get better. I cleared my tray into the garbage can and walked back to my hooch, alone. Always alone. Inside, I took off my weapon and hung it up on the wall and sat down on my bed to read. I looked across the room and saw my Beretta hanging there and I took another deep breath. “Not going to do it,” I told myself. Good old Army, they hurt you and then in the most unexpected manner they help you.
Last edited by philiplisagor on Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:37 pm

Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity

Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented is a serialized form.

2. TV Can Save Your Life-2: A favorite movie of troops in Iraq was “Ground Hog Day.” The monotony of life in a combat zone isn’t easy to describe. There is a sense of grayness that hangs over each day. The heat and dust doesn’t help either. And if you are troubled by problems, it becomes hard to find the joy that punctuates days and weeks. Time becomes a blur. I was eating alone in the DEFAC, trying to concentrate on my food but my mind was ruminating on the bad things that had happened to me. I was overwhelmed by fear about the future and uncertainty as to what my future could possibly hold for me. My only companions were boredom and idleness. Things were not good. It must have been an NFL game on the tube, or maybe it was a news show. The AFN spot came on and someone was telling me that “if you commit suicide, you are increasing the chances of your children eventually killing themselves by over fifty per cent.” I looked up at the TV. I heard this right into my core. I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt my children and with this new information I immediately realized that I had to endure the pain I was having. I would not subject them to this increased risk. Back in my hootch, I took out my Beretta and field stripped the weapon. I cleaned it and oiled it. I wiped it down and put it back in the holster and hung it up on the wall. “Good old Army,” I told myself, “They are taking care of me on preventing suicide.” Maybe some people never even think about suicide. In my case, when the despair became great, when the pain was overwhelming, I would think about killing myself. Ending it all. Sometimes, I wouldn’t be thinking about it, but the thought would come into my head. Often, I thought the Army was treating me in a manner to encourage suicide. No contact orders and no one from the unit ever came by to check up on me. Thoughts of suicide and thinking about suicide aren’t uncommon. But when you start planning suicide, making plans to kill yourself, that is when the alarms need to go off.
Get professional help. The TV spot messages helped me never get to the planning stage. TV saved my life.
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:52 pm

US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not


Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity


Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented is a serialized form.




3. Belief in self: In between “Be all you can be,” and “Army Strong” there was a time when the Army recruiting motto was “An Army of One.” I never understood this motto as the main attraction of the Army for me was groups of people, often large groups of people, working together to achieve extraordinary accomplishments. This ranged from small squad tactics crossing a field in Botswana, to erecting a field hospital in central Turkey, to liberating Kuwait. But, when you are in trouble, you will be shunned by your unit. The unit is the basic strength of the Army. Guys fight and die for their buddies and for their unit, not for their country. But in times of trouble, buddies can become scarce and the unit may deal administratively with a troubled soldier or officer but not humanely and compassionately. I am reminded of a red molly in my small fish tank at home. One day I noticed that his tail had been bitten off. He was treading water vertically in a corner of the tank. I figured he was done for, but he proved to be a survivor. Day after day I noted he was in the same vertical position, head down and treading water. If I tapped the tank, he was able to swim away and then return to his corner. The other two red mollies shunned him and the other species of fish only came near to harass him. Maybe we are not so different from these fish. I had to find the strength to believe in myself. Easy to say, hard to do. And you don’t have to do it on your own. Even in a combat zone, help is available. The usual sources include the mental health resources at a Combat Stress Center, the clergy, possibly friends and family. Within each of us there is a will to live, to continue on, to endure and see what happens. Inner strength and access to inner strength may come and go, it may waver, but it is always present. Even if you are feeling only 3 feet tall and with a small voice; alone, afraid and miserable, you must believe in yourself. You will get through, time will pass, and miracle of miracles, as time passes you will find that you will become stronger. Pressure makes diamonds and stress will strengthen you. And by the way, that molly fish who had lost its tail learned to swim in a slightly diagonal manner and after four or five days, was all over the tank again. I looked at my Beretta and it was far away.
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby emilystehr on Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:45 pm

hello sir,
thanks so much for your 13 reasons why not to kill yourself. i was only able to read reasons 1-3. first i would like to say thank you for "coming out of the closet" with your mental health experiences. as you know, the stigma with mental health issues in the military is intense. i truly believe that the more people who talk about their experiences, and esp. how they coped and overcame their personal adversity, the more we can decrease the stigma and encourage mental health, better relationships, increased mission accomplishment, etc. regarding the AFN commercials, i too, have to give props to AFN. my crisis day when i knew that i would either be admitted to the hospital or i would be dead, i remember saying to myself, talk to someone, tell someone, that's what those silly commercials tell you to do. so the commercials really did help me not terminate myself. good job AFN. regarding believing in yourself, i absolutely agree 100%. i'm sorry that you weren't supported during your situation, but i applaud you for looking inward and saving yourself. what an outstanding role model for the rest of us struggling with mental health issues and suicide. i look forward to seeing reasons 4-13. thanks for writing sir. please keep it up.
thanks
emily stehr
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:34 pm

US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not


Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity


Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented is a serialized form.


4. Belief in Personal Mission: Each one of us is here for a reason. I think we all know this down deep, even if it takes us our entire life to understand and find out what that reason is. We are singing a song without knowing the words, doing an unnamed dance without knowing the steps. In my case, I was genetically programmed to take care of the sick and injured and to do this with my mind, my hands, and a knife. I was also here to bring up my two daughters, Jessica and Sara and to be a husband to Susan and a brother to Nancy. Yes, there were other missions; to fear God and keep his Commandments. And that was a lot and I was lucky to have these missions and even luckier to be aware of them. The Army had taught me to take care of the people under me and they would take care of the mission. In this case, once I was under the gun in Iraq, I was the person under me and I focused on taking care of myself. This meant making sure I ate properly, slept enough and kept myself physically and mentally active. Again, easy to say, hard to do. Eating alone in the mess hall, the one place for comfort from the heat, dust and grayness of Iraq was always difficult and never became easier. Still, I made sure I ate at least two meals a day. I went back and forth between eating very healthy and going for the comfort food. That was okay. And I grabbed a pocketful of snacks and drinks for a generous snack later on as I didn’t have the strength to come in to the chow hall alone three times a day. Sleeping enough? Without a job and with no social life on account of the no contact order, I had way too much time. Sleep was one way to pass the hours, but with my mind racing it was impossible to put together a full night’s sleep. Maybe it was the adrenalin flowing through me but I was up at least three times a night to urinate. And then I’d wake up with bad thoughts about the uncertainty and fear of what would happen to me. I tried to deal with this by doing yoga and meditation and exhausting myself at the gym. But it didn’t work. Next thing I knew, I was taking Benadryl pills to put me to sleep. But they didn’t keep me asleep. Then I was taking Ambien sleeping pills along with Seroquel to sleep. Seroquel is a major tranquilizer, but in low dose is used for sleep. Its side effect includes calming down a racing mind. This combination of medication took ten hours to wear off each night and it did give me relief. Eventually, I felt myself becoming paranoid and stopped taking the Ambiens with the Seroquels. Seroquels are called Suzie Q’s by the inmates in the LA County Jail where they are a favorite drug. If you are taking Suzy Q’s, you aren’t there! Sleep is good, even if you need drugs when compared to the panic of nighttime coming and knowing that sleep will not come. Physical activity was important to keeping me going. At sixty three years of age, I can only work out so much each day. I would vary my routine with long walks, yoga, light weight training and spinning classes on a stationary bicycle. However, I wasn’t able to have the physical break through that could have been possible with this much time on my hands. Anxiety and fear chews up inner energy and there was just enough energy left in me do my work out once each day. Mentally, I began to read fiction from the local lending libraries. Mostly this was what was available, but someone donated their New Yorkers each week and these lengthy articles in addition to the steady steam of adventure books let me know that my mind was still working. Fiction took me away, and “I wasn’t here” even without the drugs. It was a challenge to take care of myself so I could complete my mission which was to endure the uncertainty and delays of military injustice. But I was able to do this. Alcohol wasn’t available for me in Iraq, but upon returning home I returned to having a few beers with my friends, some wine with dinner and a shot before bed. I quickly came to realize that as a result of the stress I no longer handled alcohol the way I used to. More than two beers and I’d be out of it and would remain a little bit off the next day. Plus the alcohol hurt my sleeping which was tenuous at best. If I drank within four or five hours of bedtime, I’d wake up like a shot about two in the morning and would be unable to get back to sleep. If I really drank too much, I would wake up with a headache. I had to make myself pay attention to the change in how I processed alcohol and drink less and not drink at all prior to going to bed. Inside the wire, where there was no threat back in Iraq, I wore my Beretta, it was only a part of my uniform.
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:33 pm

US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not


Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity


Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented is a serialized form.

5. My Wife: A week into my social isolation in Iraq brought about by a no contact order, I spoke with the Commander who had put this upon me and I told him I needed to discuss my situation with my wife, Susan. He granted this and I thought how I would inform her about what had befallen me. I decided to share my situation first with a military and surgical colleague who was a friend of the family. I did this with him by phone and by email and then made arrangements with him to visit Susan after I had spoken with her. Susan never dropped a beat and after she heard the story and from that moment on she had total support for me and faith and belief in me as a person and as her husband. She participated in finding me the best civilian attorney for a military case and continued to have a bright and upbeat outlook even though I could tell that inside she was suffering. We discussed my problems but kept our eyes on the rest of the family including our two daughters who were away at school. She told me money was not an issue and she soldiered on amazingly well. When I finally returned home, the first thing she did was to take me to a Buddhist meditation weekend which was perfect as I didn’t feel like talking too much anyhow. Then we made arrangements for a get away mini-vacation to Jamaica. Susan never wavered in her support for me and what I was going through. Even when we thought I would lose my civilian job and have to live on a couple of pensions and social security, she stepped up and said we could sell the mountain home she had hoped to keep. She ran the numbers and concluded we could probably get by without selling anything, just living much more frugally. She was always there to hold my hand and touch my cheek in the morning. She loved and accepted me and was there with understanding and support. Sex was different. I know I felt the desire but at the same time felt I didn’t deserve her favors. Or if I was all jazzed up, she had other things on her agenda. This isn’t unusual for spouses to become more independent while their mates are deployed. We talked about this together and with a therapist. Slowly with time, things improved. I think when I found the ability to laugh and smile a little more; I also found the ability to become a lover once again. Don’t think that alcohol or sex will make the problems go away. No way! When I was home, I arranged for us to deal with the stress that added to our lives and weighed on our shoulders and hearts with family counseling. Surprisingly, the stress, counseling and experience have strengthened our relationship. A good wife is a great ally.
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:34 pm

US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not


Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity


Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented is a serialized form.


6. Family, Home and Pets: Iraq was gray with a polluted sky. It was hot and I was miserable, living inside my own head accompanied by feelings of fear, uncertainty, boredom, loneliness and anger. Armed Forces Network had already made me aware that killing myself would increase the chances of my children becoming suicides by fifty percent during their life times. I looked at the pictures of my children that were on the wall of my hooch and on my computer and I knew I couldn’t burden them like this. I was able to recall the sweetness and love we had in our lives and I would hold the small letters and mementos they had sent me as if they were present themselves. They were busy with their own issues and my wife and I discussed that I would not include them in the situation I found myself in. This was good for them but also served to keep me from the love and care that would have come my way. Still, it was our decision and we stuck with it. Months and months later, after I had passed the shame, embarrassment and humiliation I had suffered, I found the time was approaching to tell the girls what I had been dealing with. But initially, keeping a positive outlook when I talked with them on the phone or emailed them was all I could do. I thought of my home, not just living there with my family, but the physical aspects of my garden and my pasture. I imagined the irrigation ditches, the flowers and the snow in winter. Home is a warm spot and with some imagination, relaxation and concentration, it was possible for me to tap into the positive energy that existed for me back home. I found that this sort of travel visit in my mind was a good way to drift off to sleep after my eyes grew heavy from reading. And of course, the animals and pets in my life were there for me to connect with. This included my three dogs, Whoopsie the Border Collie, Maddie the Jack Russell Terrier and Daisy, my aging German Shepherd. Also present was Muffin the house cat, a tank full of small fresh water fist and my two horses, Max and Fashion. Many were the times I would remember riding Max with Whoopsie and Daisy alongside through the spring pasture by the Truckee River across the street from our home. I knew I wanted to get home to see them again. I knew I wanted to get home to work the land again, expand the pasture and redo the garden. In a time of fear and uncertainty about my future, there was no uncertainty about the greeting the dogs would give me, the future growth of pasture, or the nuggering my super horse Max would direct my way as he nibbled on my hands. Living to see how things change, grow and evolve is the connection with the future that bridges the past through the troubled present into the hopeful future. Meanwhile, find the good in the present. It is there!
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:29 pm

US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not


Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity


Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented is a serialized form.

7. Friends and Humor: I was on a no contact order and not communicating with my friends except for minimal contact when one or another would secretly drop by my hooch to see how I was doing. There wasn’t much humor in the situation. True, I found the charges and the situation to be absurd, but I wasn’t laughing. Laughter took eighteen months to come my way. Only after I’d be notified of investigations by the Army, the VA, and the state medical license board, was I able to say, “If you aren’t investigating me, you ain’t s**t!” Then I laughed about it with some professional colleagues back in the US, way past the no contact order. Once I found even this small bit of humor, I found other laughter elsewhere in my life. It was like the laugh switch had been turned back on. Even the gallows have their own sense of humor and laughter eventually becomes the balm of Gilead that we all need for the wounds were suffer and inflict upon ourselves. It is important to remember not beat up on ourselves as there are always plenty of others willing to do it for us. The road to humor was paved by establishing my narrative of what had happened to me well enough that I was able to share it succinctly with a few select friends and colleagues. I learned from doing this that my friends’ acceptance of me was not affected by my revelations. After three or four such disclosures, I began to feel better about myself and there was laughter back in my life. Although laughter is a valuable thing to have, it may not come easily. In this case, the return of laughter is a valuable marker that things are going in the right direction. It wasn’t easy and it took a long time, but it happened. I field stripped and cleaned my Beretta as part of my personal upkeep.
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:18 pm

US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not


Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity


Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented in a serialized form.

8. Colleagues: I have spent much of my life in contact with my colleagues, other doctors and surgeons. This includes time spent together in the hospital, on committees and the operating room. Once I received my suspension along with my no contact order for members of the unit, I was isolated from my colleagues. Even after I returned home, I was subdued and beaten down by the remaining thoughts of shame, embarrassment and humiliation that I continued to be estranged from the goodwill of talking about real things with my colleagues. I thank my wife and the psychologists I worked with as they helped me move beyond the shame, embarrassment and humiliation to the point where I could talk about my situation with some chosen colleagues. And make no mistake about it, every one of these colleagues was supportive, reassuring and willing to help me in any manner possible. I grew stronger and more confident in myself from these conversations and encounters and even began to make new friends and colleagues in the process. The acceptance I felt from my colleagues was like a ray of light that penetrated months of darkness. Getting past the things that isolate you from your family, friends and colleagues is a strong way to improve how you think about yourself and your future. If you need help to do this, make sure you get it either through the military, the VA, Tricare, your local clergy or your psychologist of choice. Do not remain isolated!!! My Beretta was secured in my hooch exept for admission to the DEFAC.
philiplisagor
 
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Re: US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not

Postby philiplisagor on Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:07 pm

US Field Manual to Not Killing Yourself/13 Reasons Why Not


Conversations with my Beretta about Coping with Extreme Personal Adversity


Preface: I served a third combat tour in Iraq in 2007-2008. I was a senior Colonel and Chief of Surgery at a Combat Support Hospital and I had over twenty years of service in the military that included more than a dozen deployments. Three of these were combat tours. In 2007 there were unit related mission issues and I insured that the mission was successfully carried out. The unit had a broken leadership chain and was without technical expertise in trauma surgery. Eventually, I was accused of vague allegations and was subjected to being in Iraq without a job and in a non-contact status with my colleagues for five months. This was a period of extreme personal adversity for me. I was subject to two 15-6 investigations, an Article 32 investigation, an Article 15 Hearing and a Professional Peer Review of my clinical activities and a Command ordered Psychiatric Evaluation. When I returned home, I was investigated by the Veterans Administration where I worked as Chief of Surgery and by the State Medical Board. I was sixty three years old and possibly had more resources available to me than younger soldiers and officers to deal with this adversity. Still, I had to pass through many feelings of anger, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, fear, uncertainty, idleness, boredom and suicide. I have detailed some of the ways I survived the ordeal that came to me. I hope this is helpful to anyone undergoing a period of extreme personal adversity whatever the cause: family relations, problems with love and relationships, health problems, death, employment issues, financial problems, peer relations or problems of growing up or growing older. Everyone says, “Don’t kill yourself.” Here are 13 ways I didn’t kill myself and they will be presented in a serialized form.


9. Religion, God and the Clergy: “From where will my help come?” begins the 121st Psalm . The author of many of the Psalms was King David. David was no stranger to adversity and he expresses himself directly and clearly in Psalms such as Psalm 3, Psalm 35 and the Twenty Third Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd….” I have my favorite Psalms and they gave me comfort. But still, I would wonder why this was happening to me? I read the book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” in addition to reading the Book of Job which is the ultimate story of bad things happening to an innocent individual. I desperately wanted to speak to a clergyman, but none of my religion was available. When I finally found one, it was the day I received my Article 15 non judicial punishment and it was also the Jewish Holiday of Passover. There was a Rabbi at Camp Victory on the West Side of Baghdad and I went early to meet with him. He took one look at me, I was pretty robust and trim and in my Colonel’s uniform, and he came up to me and threw his arms around me and told me how much I reminded him of his father back in Chicago and shed some tears right then and there. I was too devastated to share my burden with him given his elation at seeing me. Later at the Passover Ceremony, he had a discussion group about God and why bad things happen and he said, “God’s not there to see that only good things happen or that no bad things happen, but God is there to give us individually strength to get up off the ground and to keep on going after bad things happen to us.” This was just the message I needed to hear that day and was the same message Rabbi Harold Kushner comes up with in his book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” So this Rabbi, gave me the message I needed and strengthened my belief in my daily prayers, which now became a prayer for strength to endure, not prayers for deliverance or avoidance of the bad. And I have continued to only ask for strength and to find strength in belief so I might endure the hardships that have come my way. Hermann Hesse, the Swiss author of the sixties cult book “Steppenwolf” discusses suicide in great detail . His character Harry Haller describes suicides as those "people who see their release from pain and suffering in death, as opposed to seeing it in life". This is no different from what Moses told the Children of Israel shortly before they were to cross over into the Promised Land when he tells them in Deuteronomy 30.15-20 that ”……I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose Life….” Although most religions are against suicide, it is more helpful to find the positive that they are for and it is in this choice of life instead of death, be it religion as in Deuteronomy or in the nonreligious existential works of Herman Hesse, that I found the common theme: Choose life!
philiplisagor
 
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Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:02 pm

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