It is with great sorrow and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dear friend and colleague Chaplain Dave Fair. He was a long-time member of The American Institute of Stress and most recently the author of the “Chaplain’s Perspective’ section of Combat Stress. He will be greatly missed.
In the profound words of Chief (RET) Richard Biehl, “Yes, it is hard to dwell on these images and not feel a profound sense of sadness. I remember a Police Sergeant from Cincinnati PD, Mike Gardner, once commented that the depth of our pain is a measure of our love. Perhaps this is one reason to elevate the deep grief of traumatic loss in law enforcement, to recognize that it is our love of our families, friends, colleagues and community for which we respond with dedicated and selfless service, and too often great sacrifice….” This is quite the summary statement for our winter issue. The unparalleled service of our Wounded Warriors, whether the tireless “troopers” of the thin blue line or those who have worn the uniforms of the Armed Forces, the sacrifices are mistakably heart searing and gut wrenching. We dedicate this issue to all of these fallen warriors, whether by injury or death and within the first responder, Veteran, and military communities; heroes one and all. There are an infinite number of tears to fall, but it is the boundless strength of the life force that resides within each of them that has enabled them to navigate a daily hell that the rest of the populace will never come to know.
In the very same spirit, Dr. Marla Friedman, Chairman of Badge of Life and police psychologist, has enabled us to peer into the depths of that hell and to come face to face with the issue of suicide within the first responder community. Too many of us would be remiss in admitting that we did more than just fantasize about eating the barrels of our weapons (in the combat theater for me). There is a point when yearning to exist fails to endure. The despair and desperation inherent in law enforcement, the fire service, and both the military and Veteran communities deserve much more than just attention and awareness. Time to act is long overdue.
It truly is shocking to be confronted with the damages committed against the innocent victims of trauma-focused therapies for the treatment of PTSD, often resulting in doing significant harm and violating very clear Ethical Principles of the American Psychological Association to which clinical psychologists are sworn to subscribe (I have witnessed this type of patient abuse up close and personal.) Dr. Louise Gaston, known for her expertise in all things trauma-related throughout the entire North American continent, walks us through the trail of psychological injuries too readily caused by those caught up in trauma therapies, with complete disregard for patient safety and wellbeing. This will hopefully serve as a wakeup call for those mental health professionals and clinicians who believe that any single form of evidence-based trauma interventions should be blindly perpetrated upon all of their patients.
United States Air Force civilian engineer (RET) Scott Kuhnen once again offers us his most unique perspective on service and sacrifice gone unnoticed and unappreciated by the masses in his next provocative piece. The primary focus of his writing is to put readers on notice about the nature of military service and the terrible burdens born by Service Members, versus the political elites who have generated enormous betrayal for politicized ends. To date, the vast crater has never been more pronounced.
COL (RET) DJ Reyes, nationally recognized and celebrated advocate for the Veterans Treatment Court movement, Senior Veteran Mentor Coordinator, 13th Judicial Circuit (Tampa, Florida), and recent honoree for the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, has returned again to walk our readers into the stark awareness of the terrible predicament involving homeless Veterans across the land. This amounts to a national disgrace and beyond. COL Reyes has guided us on a personal tour of their CDS Life Transitions Program in Rochester NY, a model for low-cost, affordable housing for this often-forgotten population that he will now be expanding into the State of Florida. This is exclusively due to his efforts and that of President and CEO Andrew Sewnauth, fulfilling the promise to leave no Veteran behind.
Captain (RET), US Army Special Forces and Sinclair Community College Police Officer Tom McMurtry has returned to delight and inspire us poetically speaking, as is his habit, with his successful running of the US Air Force Marathon, right here in the Dayton, Ohio area. In my book, he is a national hero for resetting the bar for rising to every conceivable challenge and adapting and overcoming adversities of unknown quantities. This was not only his very first marathon, but he ran it at the age of 63. This is not the first time that he has qualified as my personal hero either.
In the spirit of the work of TAPS (the Tragedy Assistance Program celebrated in our fall issue) and the seminal work of COL (RET) Paul Bartone, I have included my Gold Star Families keynote address in this issue, delivered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base last June in support of too many local families who have lost loved ones in time of war and in memory of our local heroes gone too soon.
Within the short span of ten months and without ever having met one another, three heroes of the Vietnam War and the editor collaborated to publish a coffee table book for the bicentennial of our alma mater, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY. This included an F-4 back seater, LTC (RET) John Norvell, an F-15 pilot, COL (RET) Lucky Anderegg, and LTG (3-star, RET) Jack Woodward (all USAF). Combining forces to capture the valiant service of every Veteran who attended the Colleges through personal accounts and historical documents, the tales of service, sacrifice, and heroism dated back to the 1860’s. This is the first time the editor actually wrote the first-person account of the Fort Hood Massacre, an exquisitely painful process. These 3 magnificent historians and heroes of the Vietnam War, convened for a Veterans panel and book signing during the Colleges’ bicentennial celebration.
Click here to see the events and photos of the same regarding the Veterans Panel and book signing.
May our winter issue thrill, inspire, motivate, and provoke. Throw another log on the fire and read a spell!
Kathy Platoni, PsyD, DAAPM, FAIS
COL (RET), US Army