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April 25th, 2012 by Dr. Phil

Heroes in Pain

HeroesInPainWe’ve received a lot of response about last week’s show, “Heroes in Pain,” which focused on the epidemic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition that torments so many lives, including soldiers who’ve put their lives on the line serving our country. Some viewers expressed concern, and even disappointment, with the show’s original title, “Heroes to Monsters?” Our intent was to acknowledge the question so often cited in the media, not to make a statement, and to emphasize the severity of the pain and suffering our guests say they experience. In doing so, we unintentionally offended some of our viewers, and have therefore changed the title to more accurately reflect the show’s content.

I’m glad the show stirred so many of you to respond. Our goal is, and always will be, to call attention to the challenges our returning soldiers face, including PTSD. I really wanted you to hear firsthand the effects that PTSD can have on war heroes and their families, and I’m grateful to our guests for being so candid and honest about their experiences. I hope other media outlets will join us in talking openly about these challenges and our need as a society to respond with compassionate action. Two of my three sisters married fighter pilots (Vietnam era), and my nephew flew many missions as a Navy fighter pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan, so the lives of our veterans hits very close to home.

The stories our guests shared last week told of the realities of PTSD, and I hope, stressed the need for both awareness and treatment — not only for the veterans reliving the nightmares of what they saw in battle, but for their parents, spouses and children as well. I will never forget what our guest Beth confided about the day her son Mathew returned from Iraq. “I looked at him and became paralyzed,” she said “I just knew from his very faraway, dark look on his face that our own private war had just begun.”

It’s estimated that post-traumatic stress problems affect at least one in five veterans who’ve served in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s especially significant among soldiers who’ve served multiple tours; many of whom are getting treatment, but others are still falling through the cracks. Here’s a figure that just stuns me: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hand.

I couldn’t be more proud of the team here at Dr. Phil for being so passionate about raising awareness and offering solutions. Over the last several years, we’ve taken on the VA and other agencies, and we’ll continue to do so. It’s critical that those who serve our country and keep us safe receive the best and most comprehensive treatment available.

For this show, we called on everyone to pay attention to this very real, typically brain injury-based disorder. And we brought in the best of the best to help shed light on treatments, including Dr. Frank Lawlis, one of the leading PTSD experts in the world. I encourage you to check out his book, The PTSD Breakthrough, and download — for free — his PTSD program, Retraining Your Thoughts, by clicking here. Both provide valuable information to help you understand how the brain works, its anatomy and how it can be fixed after a traumatic event that leads to PTSD.

I also encourage you to check out the deep and relevant resources available on DrPhil.com. It’s a disgrace that so many of our veterans are suffering, sometimes alone, the unintended consequences of their heroism. Let’s educate ourselves and work together so they suffer no more, and I personally pledge to continue to support our men and women who stand in harm’s way so that we may live in a peaceful democracy.

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95 Responses to “Heroes in Pain”

  1. Laureen says:

    Is it possible to see this program on PTSD ? I have a friend who has PTSD and would like to understand him better.

  2. Terri Herrmann Patterson says:

    I applaud you for doing this show. It is something our country as a whole should be more aware of. I beg you to use your voice and influence to petition our legislatures to be more in touch with the needs of our country’s heros. I believe we should have a program in place immediately for our vets when returning home, and a consistent follow up with them and their families. Their families MUST be involved in their treatment, for it is those people who knew them and know them now the best.

    Thanks for listening!

  3. Hi Dr. Phil,

    I am so glad you are addressing this serious problem. My book The Trauma Tool Kit: Healing PTSD From the Inside Out was just released this week. It is full of interventions ranging from the physical to the spiritual with practical ways people can help themselves and their loved ones with PTSD. It is born out of 35 years as a mental health worker and therapist as well as my own journey of healing from trauma. I would love to send you a copy!

  4. Kevan Beck says:

    I have a deep respect for Dr. Phil. I am a member of Chaffee VFW post no. 3127. I was in the Navy during the Viet Nam war stationed in Guam, and the US. I have never, thank God, seen combat, but have know some who did. If the people who are saying that vets who have PTSD are monsters, and are damaged with no hope to help them, were sent to Afghanistan or other front line wars and left over there for a year duty, I would say they would not come back the same. If they were wounded or had a very traumatic episode they would more than likely have PTSD also. Then where would they be. All the US should thank all the veterans who have been KIA and WIA, and give them the help they need. Thank you.

  5. Sara Jacobson says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I watched this show and was blown away! I didn’t realize the realities of PTSD and my own daughter suffers from it!!! She was not at war but was a victim of a brutal bite on her leg from a student in her behavioral class. She has been working hard for 3 years to get the “demons” out of her head!………and believe me it has NOT been an easy road. Thank you for shedding light on this horrible illness and for your compassion towards these men and women. I totally agree that more should be done for them. I also have the utmost respect for you for explaining and changing the title but it was the content of the story that had me spellbound. Thank you for all you do!

  6. amy arjes-maddox says:

    Dr Phil my son went into the army as soon as he turned 18.he has been on 2tours in Iraq and now he’s going out for special forces.he scares me.Hes very outgoing and a very good soldier and a good man.I won’t lie I worry about him a lot he’s the only son I’ve got and he’s got a really good heart. He can admit that he has ptsd I tell him to make sure he gets help if he needs it.he says hes fine and can.handle it and to an extent he may be able to but other times he may not he promised me that he would get the help he needs I believe him because he’s always been very honest with me but somebody.does need to nip this in the bud I want to keep my son alive and happy he’s doing well he’s 24yrs. Old and has 2biological kids and 1 step daughter being raised as his.I think It’s wonderful that you all are trying to help our soldiers they deserve to be respected and honored and taken care of for their jobs

  7. Linda says:

    I have a son who served 2 tours in Iraq. The first time he came back I knew he was not right but I lived in SC and he was in CO. I was there when he got home and he spent his time off in SC. But what upset me the most was when he was told real soliders don’t have PTSD. He was drinking all the time in ended up with a DUI. One year later he was back in Iraq this time for 14 months. Though he can back better this time. My hearts go out to those who served there country and not getting the help they need. But there is another group who can function but are not right. My son fall into that group. He is out of the service now but could not find a job. He is working now but he never moves on, he make plans to move forward but never quite gets there. What the Army did to my son is so wrong, made promises they never kept, I could go on and on. But what I will say is my son joined the army a confident young man with plans for his future and did 2 tours in Iraq and was so disharted with all they did that he came out a different young man who can not move forward. Very very sad how they have treated these hero’s.

  8. Heidi Smith says:

    Thank you for keeping PTSD in the spotlight. My husband has suffered from severe PTSD since he was deployed to Iraq in 2003. He ended up getting out of the Army after two deployments without the medical benefits he should have received. It’s important that current Soldiers, Veterans, and their families get the support they need. When my husband first tried to go to the doctor for get VA benefits for his PTSD he was told he was too young to have it. I was outraged that a medical professional with the Veteran’s Administration would tell him that. He was immediately discouraged and it took a long time for him to start fighting again for the benefits he deserves. I work in a Warrior Transition Unit with wounded and injured Soldiers so now I have the information I didn’t have when he was first deployed. There is always more that can and should be done.

  9. Erin Lang says:

    We are a Military Family of five. One Soldier (Erik-combat medic), me, and three teenagers who are still living at home. Erik returned from Afghanistan last July, with four LOD’s including one for PTSD, and this was his 4th deployment in 10 years. The deployment was difficult…however post-deployment has been equally challenging, if not sometimes more. This topic regarding PTSD…is our reality. We are living it. And Erik is one of those Soldiers who has “fallen through the cracks”, on more than one occasion. Honestly, I find it impossible to even try to sort everything out enough to put it into words on this blog. To sum it up (which is not even doing our reality justice)…I can say with 100% certainty, that not only does Erik need counseling, but our entire family needs counseling. I have so much to say, and so many emotions about this…that I could just explode on this blog…but it would all just end up being a mess because I do not have a clue where to begin. Thanks for listening! And thank you Dr. Phil, for confronting this issue for the soldiers. Somebody needs to put a stop to this trend…for the soldiers, and their families. Every single soldier, fallen or still fighting, has sacrificed their life for our Country…because we lose a large part of them, every time they deploy. God Bless.

  10. Danette says:

    I wished I had seen this episode. I know my brother has been diagnosed with PTSD after a tour in Iraq. I also my believe my husband suffers from it after 22 yrs of being a volunteer fireman and 18 yrs as a police officer. He has seen a lot as well. He recently lost his job and benefits so now we are unable to get him any medical help.

  11. Ana Carter says:

    I was diagnosed with PTSD after a car accident. Let me tell you first hand it is not fun. If you suspect someone having PTSD you need to do everything in your power to make sure they get the help they need. It’s been years since I’ve been diagnosed, and it’s gotten better, but I still deal with it every time I get in a vehicle. I recognized that I needed help. I was lucky to have family to support me and friends who were willing to be there when I needed them most.

  12. Liz Liddell says:

    I suffer from Chronic PTSD after suffering a breakdown while working in the Perth Central Law Courts in Western Australia. I spent 9 weeks in the Hollywood Hospital where they specialise in PTSD and was told that I just have anxiety! This was to cover up the company Sodexo not doing anything about the blatant abuse and sexual harassment that was being dealt to the female officers by their own colleagues. I was even deliberately shut in a cell with maximum security prisoners by a fellow officer and he received a promotion instead of being charged and I was demoted…despite the fact that I had followed due procedure and had 2 officers ’supposedly’ holding the door while I rescued an inmate who had self harmed and was unconscious. Thankfully, the other inmates knew that I was helping their mate and that the officer who pushed the door shut was the one in the wrong. 6 months after that I witnessed the death of another female officer, and 6 months after the Inquest – of which I had to appear as a witness for the company – I just stopped! I have no memory from then to when I ended up in hospital, lost 37 kilos in that 3 months, have terrible flash backs to this day… and yet they said I only have anxiety!
    The world of MAN is so corrupt that I now add Man Hating Heterosexual to the list of my problems.

  13. Ron Keffer says:

    Dr Phil

    I saw your program on PTSD and it is a long time coming. It should be shown to each and every veteran since WW II.

    There needs to be something available for the Spouses, the children, and the families that are left behind while the soldier is in harms way. The military has resources they could provide to those at risk of having that soldier return with PTSD. As you stated, it is as important that the families go through some informational training as it is for the soldier themselves. I for one still have problems with personal relationships. I chose not to remarry since divorced in 1980. The reason: I do not play well with others of closeness. If I am around (close) to someone for a period of time they seem to take an exit. Why because of my attitude, my feelings, my nights of waking up and not being able to sleep, the self medication with alcohol, my not being capable of viewing anything as being permanent, my having a problem not being angry and not being able to control that anger. (I am not talking about physical abuse, but mental abuse…it sucks) as you know mental abuse is not good……it doesn’t get better………

  14. Rhonda Graner says:

    I would like to Thank You for your show on PTSD as it helps to bring the awareness of a very serious issue in this country for both our veterans and many others. We all need the awareness because people going through this don’t always have the realization that they need help. For our veterans it seems unless they themselves request the help then the VA refuses to admit it. My 26 year old son spent 5 years in the Marine Corps. He was and is a great guy. Will do anything for anyone. But he fails to do for himself. He has a minimal part time job. His drinking is a huge concern as he admits he has a problem but can solve it on his own when he wants he says. He has tried, it hasn’t worked. I spend almost every night in fear of the phone or someone coming to the door to say he is dead. He has threatened to kill his father a few times. We tried to get him help but the VA says they have to talk to him and that he needs to call them. While in the service, his closest friend was killed, not in action. Then while on a ship in the Persian Gulf I had to let him know that his brother was diagnosed with cancer. Nine months later we had to get him home on family emergency as his brother died. He is so lost it seems. He doesn’t know which way to turn except to the alcohol. He mentioned to me the other night that when he walks into a bar he doesn’t think about what he is going to dring. The first thing he does is figures out how he can kill everyone that is in there. I am scared. I feel I will certainly lose him either to a tragic death, suicide, or prison. PTSD is very serious and is taking a huge toll, not just on the person suffering it but also on their families who also suffer from it then. I don’t know what the answers are but hopefully there will be some coming soon.

  15. Felicia says:

    I’ve been married to a USMC Combat Vietnam Veteran for 38 years. The one thing you said in your show was that PTSD is just as if they had lost an arm or leg. We know that’s true but for the combat vet, it is not. My husband was in Vietnam in 1968-69. It took him until the late 1990’s to seek help from the VA for PTSD. He still had both arms and both legs and did not want to take away from those that did loose thier limbs. That’s how he thought since his wounds were not visible. It wasn’t until he came across a few other USMC Vietnam Vets that spoke with him and talked him into getting the help he needed. The first 11 years of our marriage was hell due to his drinking. Then he quit drinking and life was good until after 9/11 then he started again. So that’s what we’re dealing with now.

  16. Dionna Pritchard says:

    Thank you for this Dr. Phil, you lifted a weight, even though you never intended to lay it.

  17. Sam says:

    This is for Felicia. I served in Vietnam 68-69 in the army. You struck a nerve when you said your husband had a relapes due to 9-11. After the end of my second marriage and many years single,I was on my third marriage, I thought i had a good handle on things, I did not know my problem was PTSD. Then I was down town Oklahoma city three blocks from the Murrah building when it was blown up. It really messed me up, My third wife said “you’ve changed”, It wasn’t until I picked up a phamplet about PTSD that I realized I had all the symptoms. Lucky for me i found one of the leading doctors here in okc. Still under treatment doing well. Tell your husband not to feel guilty for taking money from the VA. They owe it to us…

  18. Dr Phil I urge you to please do another show. This show while needed would have been better to do as a 2 or 3 episode series showing not only the dark struggles of PTSD, but also the veterans who have been in that dark place but are getting better. You also need to include more on from the spouses about how their options are limited for getting help before the situtation escalates to extreme violence.

  19. Crabb says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I am a “proud” Air Force Brat! My father, who recently passed away, August 31, 2011, served in Vietnam. He retired as a full Colonel, and wanted my brother, to go the Air Force Academy and become a pilot. My brother chose to go into the Army and become a medic. He went to Saudi Arabia, in 1990, during the first Gulf War, while we at home ( U. S. A. ), watched on CNN, the missiles being shot in the night. My point is: While my brother was tending to those who were harmed in battle and worked hard in SAVING LIVES, came home “mentally” harmed. Since that time, my brother has been in and out of our court system for drugs. As he says it: “my drug of choice is crack/cocaine.” He has chosen to self medicate. I get frustrated because I have knowledge that our prisons are full of our Veteran’s, who in my opinion made BAD CHOICES, because our government isn’t there to help, nor is our cities. My significant other who just retired from being the longest sitting District Court Judge, in Nevada, would tell me often, that he would hear attorney’s say: “My client is suffering from P.T.S.D.”, he felt it was an excuse, while I firmly believed that it was and is a FACT. My brother, will be released from his third visit from Indian Springs Prison. I am concerned. What help do our prison’s have for those, who at one time, wore a military uniform with pride and now wears an ORANGE uniform with shame. How do we fix this problem? I am willing to do what I can, but I need the education just as much as my brother does. I believe in the saying: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

  20. Karen Hartman says:

    Dear Dr. Phil, I thought of writing you many times for many reasons and though I have not yet watched the show(i still have it saved on my dvr) this is the one that’s done it. My brother Kenny served in the first Gulf war he was in a mechanized unit First ones in and all and though there was not a lot of fighting he was almost killed by a bullet that was accidentally shot from another soldiers gun and he saw his share of a lot anyway there a year. He was never the type that should have went into the Army he didn’t believe in guns but Half my family on my dads cousins side were all military and my cousins husband was a recruiter and recruited him and my other cousin with an understanding that they would get Germany (we are German) and such. Well his brother in law(the recruiters did) and my brother got a year on the DMZ A year in Saudi (I digress) to make my father proud. He never felt that he could do anything to make him proud and boy was he proud now. His son the soldier. My brother was diagnosed with PTSD finally after years of going to the V.A. I went on almost every visit and he had therapy 1 time a month for about 3 months. Then He almost O. D.ed on ambien. I knew he had just got them the day before and during the night he had taken 14. He never could sleep. He went to a 3 day place here called New Hoizons and was released because he had a v.a. shrink. They took him off the ambien but the Xanax was then raised. My brother died 13 days before his 45th birthday, 1 week before Christmas. It was not an intentional suicide he just took to many for him and stopped breathing. Here is my question, you said family members can also suffer from PTSD. I looked in his room that morning early and he was sitting cross legged on the floor with a blanket wrapped around him and was sleeping with the T.V. In front of him or so I thought. I was happy he was sleeping. A few hours later when I knew he should be up I went to check on him and he was in the exact same position and I touched his cheek to say Kenny, time to get up and he was Ice cold. I knew right away he was dead. He had color,even the funeral home said he needed no make up. Things from there are a blur and I am happy I don.t remember When we layed him down I saw the blood pooled on his stomach though my son says he was told to try mouth to mouth, by 911. There was no service for my moms sake she blamed the army for how he was and wanted nothing from them and there will probably never be another Christmas, Dr. Phil after this amount of time I don’t expect the grief to be gone. I never expect that but I think you can imagine the quilt I feel for not waking him sooner. I know it’s not rational. But I still live it everyday. I saved his life when I was 5 and he had climbed with his highchair and got the baby asprin and ate the whole bottle. I asked my parents could he have that…go to later as he is having his stomach pumped. I saved him once but I could not save him a sec. time, I feel that as much crisis as he was in the v.a. should have had him in 3 days a week, everyday whatever it takes. Maybe they are getting it now but it’s a bit to late for Kenny. Do you think it is possible that I may have PTSD? I never really allowed myself to grieve because I thought my mother would die from this. I really don’t know what I want from you except to tell you about the funniest, cutest brother a girl could have and he has left me alone. Thanks for listening, your’s truley Karen Hartman.

  21. Linda Stanley says:

    Dr. Phil, All thou I applaud you for doing a show about combat stress and PTSD the damage you did cannot be reversed. By calling the show “Heroes to Monsters” the stigma of this condition is fed and results in people not wanting to get help. Monsters…how could you use this word. I am a combat nurse who was at the top of her profession never thinking I would end up with PTSD after my deployment. Although I had PTSD, at no time was I a “monster”. These kind of words do more harm as far as I am concern. This continues to feed the notion of “all veterans with PTSD are out of control, are violent, and we should be afraid”. Yes, ask someone what you feel about a monster? It is not empathy but fear. Shame on you again for using such poor judgement with you words. I now am an advocate for our veterans who are trying to reintegrate back into this country. I speak out on this subject because so many of us who have this cant be in public, speak out about our condition, and try to get the VA to provide quality care so these heroes can go on with life. But everyday we face this prejudice. Look at what is happening down here in San Diego with the Aspire clinic. This is a treatment center for PTSD and TBI for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. It will be one of the few centers that will really focus on providing holistic care for these veterans but their is a fight in the community because they don’t want these “monsters”(your words) in their community, right next to a school. Your words hurt and will give them all the backing to say that we are monsters who should be feared.

  22. I myself….my husband and many people I know live with ptsd…..I am raising awareness through education. I also have an ever ribbon in place.
    The other 99% of veterans that were not on Dr.phils show are not all monsters and shouldn’t be feared as scary people we are human and need help and support from others even a simple thank you goes a long wayand we never forget it!

  23. I forgot to mention all money raised goes to the va for educational awareness for veterans and civilians.

  24. Jill says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I personally do not approve of this, Your title “Heros To Monsters” is disrespectful, Please Tell me, who are you to say anything about a soldier with PTSD, Have you ever lived with somebody who has it, do you have anybody in your family with it.? Its a very difficult thing to deal with & you probably have no clue about it, i understand if you would like to understand how it feels to have somebody close to you suffer from PTSD, but how dare you call a soldier a monster, Our men & women out there serving there country so you can talk on tv, so you have the freedom of speech, and you dare call them a monster. How about instead of makeing a tv show, why dont you go visit one of the countries medical centers that are taking care of our wounded soldiers & then write a show about it. My step father, deployed last year on my birthday & had a son on the way, he got hurt december 22 2010 & has been in the medical treatment center since, he lost both his legs & some fingers, the docters say he may have a small amount of PTSD, so i know what its like, liveing at the medical treatment center & being around these people. They are not monsters, they may be hurt but they are still human beings with feelings, & im not a wonder soldier & i take offence to the things youve said, imagine how they feel. Just because your “famous” gives you NO right to talk down on somebody, all these soldiers need is some love & caring, somebody there to help.. not call them monsters. Think of it like this, there was an American, & he decided we had to go to war, now because of one persons decision we have loved ones & friends coming home hurt, because they want to protect whats rifally theres, all im saying is your show was ignorant & very uneducated in many subjects,

    Thank You,

  25. Sherri Hord says:

    Dr. Phil,
    Thank you so much for addressing PTSD. I really tried to convince my husband that we should contact you regarding this serious issue. After his deployment to Iraq he, and our whole family have dealt with this horrible consequence of war. I would like to know if there are resources that I could check into for myself and our children. They are older but are definitely aware of what their dad is going through. I think spouses and children need to seek help also. Our soldiers have lots of treatments and help for them to attempt to deal with PTSD but it is more difficult to find help for ourselves and our children. Thanks so much for all you do!

  26. cindy says:

    I think its great you changed the title .. honestly I feel it shows the ignorance and insensitivity that our heroes and their families go through on a daily basis even with the military in which they served!!! Working with Veterans everyday helping those who get no help from their own branch of service, VA.& our Government, they turn their backs on our heroes and treat them like old used up combat boots and that is a disgrace .. they had our backs & we as a nation need to have theirs! … if the show want to continue to bring things to light look into the issues within the military and the WTU, if someone truly cares they will and bring the issues to the nation because that’s not something they want done … a great book about What PTSD does to a family had been written by shawn gourley” The war at home ” I suggest u look at it, it could help a lot of our heroes.

  27. Robin says:

    Yes I am to offended by the title heroes to monsters. I am one of your biggest fans but very disappointed in the examples you had on your show. Especially the mother who bated seeing her son walk thru her door! You should have chewed her and his girlfriend for their lack of support and trying to be an advocate for this man. My son did 2 tours and came home alive but with ptsd. We didn’t know what it was but we educated ourselves. He stayed in our home to recover and just get therapy. You didn’t mention what families should do. What is available through the va. Columbus Ohio has the best OIF/OEF program. My son has been going thrum intense therapy for 2 year. He is back in school made the deans list and starting an internship in a juvenile detention center. He is a success and we should be sharing stories like this to give hope and help to our soldiers. President Obama and Michelle and his team are standing with us to support our soldiers and I know you and Robin will too. Show the success of our soldiers they deserve our respect and support. A mother who is proud of her successful son who showed the strenght to seek help from his loved ones and the VA.

  28. Karen Horner says:

    Dr Phil,

    I think your title for the show, “Heros to Monsters” is ironic when it comes to my story. The headlines to a local newspaper read, “MY SON IS NOT A MONSTER.” My son is an Iraqian Vet. He done three tours but his last deployment destroyed so many lives. On April 6, 2009 got was arrested for fatally shooting two people and seriously injuring another. He has been in solitary confinement since that day. Last month his case went to court and he just got sentenced three days ago. Two life sentencing and a few more years for other things.

    Three years ago Nick got a medical discharge because of his PTSD. He was collecting 100% disability because his problems were that severe. In fact, during his last deployment, only after being in Iraq for a couple of months he started having problem. He was hospitalized a few times, his weapon was taken from him, but the last one was because he totally lost it. After a few days in the hospital he was sent back to the states and weeks later was discharged.

    Months before he deployed he was in counciling and getting medical treatment. I seen Nick pack up for his deployment and he had at least 8 bottles of pills that the doctor prescribed. When I questioned him about them he said one was for anxiety, one was for depression, one was for hypertention and….. These were mostly new drugs that he never took. The doctor wanted him to stay in the states for an extra month to be sure he would be okay without side effects or whatever, but the Army said NO! It was obvious Nick wasn’t ready to do this again but he went. And that’s when the problems started.

    After his discharge he moved close to home but in a town where there was a VA hospital because he knew it was going to be a long road back to normalcy. We had no idea how bad he was mentally but it didn’t take long. This wasn’t my son. It wasn’t the son the Army took from me. The very few times we did see Nick he acted as though we were strangers. He would have a HOLLOW look in his eyes. He would argue and refuse to let us see his children. We found out later that he had guns hidden all over his house, under couch pillows, under beds, in his garage, in the basement. He also had a gun permit so needless to say he carried one on his person and he would go in his basement, stand in a corner and just cry. He had trouble going in public, shopping, socializing with friends and family. After reading Nick’s medical reports from the VA it stated that he asked to be placed as an in-patient in the VA hospital but was told “we will discuss it at your next appointment” (which was a month later). Nick’s next appointment never came. A week before was when the shooting rampage happened. To think this all could have been prevented!!!

    Nick and his wife got into an argument at a Walmart and he jumped out of the car and disappeared. He went to a bowling alley, had some pizza and beer and somewhere along the way he went into a deleriem. He went a few blocks away and started shooting the back of a Subway Shop. He did a few other strange things like disconnecting the power, shooting out power meters but then he got into the shop and that’s where he shot two people, they say he robbed them with a total of $130. He then walked out of the shop, went a few block more and shot another man.

    This tragedy is the worse nightmare a family could ever have. Two innocent people are dead, another wounded. As selfish as this might sound, we two have lost something – our son. My daughters lost their baby brother, and my two grandbabies lost their loving father. Nick has lost many things. Not only did he lose his life, he lost his children and his wife to another man only months after this happened. She is a nurse and reassured us that she was taking good care of Nick and we didn’t have to worry. She kept the truth from us. We never knew how serious Nick’s illness was until we got his medical records. Everything was in black and white.

    The court denied Nick to plead insanity even though he has PTSD and the VA had him addicted and loaded with drugs. He still can’t remember anything that happened that day and I feel that is a blessing because I know Nick could never live with himself he he could. Nick’s passion in life was LIFE. He is sweet, kind and caring. He always has a way to make your day a little brighter, a little sweeter. This was nothing that my son is made of. This would have never, ever happened if Nick wouldn’t have seen war or if he would have gotten the proper care. Our soldies give it their all and get nothing in their time of need.

    God Bless all our soldiers and vets for everything you gave for all of us. Please, if there is anyone out there who feels they need help, please find it and don’t give up. I would never want this to happen to anyone or any family ever again. If this happened to Nick, it could happen to anyone.

    Thank you Dr Phil for trying to educate our country.

  29. Felicia says:

    People need to know that the PTSD that our veterans have are due to prolonged traumatic events and not just one single event that a person would experience. People who claim or have been diagnoised with PTSD that have never served in combat are just not in the same league. As spouse of a Vietnam Combat veteran I know the difference.

  30. Dezaree says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I have been an faithful viewer of your show for all 10 years you have been on and have learned so much. My own children tell me to stop “dr. Philling” them due to me repeating your advice. My husband, who is an Iraq war veteran, and i sat down to watch your PTSD show in hopes it would help us. You see, he is now 100% disabled from PTSD and TBI due to injuries he suffered during his deployment. Within the first 30 seconds of watching he had a panic attack due to the graphic nature of the explosions. It took him right back to being over there. I watched the rest of the show alone a few days later so i could get the information for us.

    I want you to know that i deeply appreciate you taking your time dedicating your help to the service members on the show that day and for those families watching from home. I pray that you do more shows on this is topic as there is so much more information that you can teach us. All i ask is that next time you do a show with explosions and gun fire, you caption it in the beginning warning viewers that the content will be graphic in that nature. It took my husband 2 days and many valium to return to “normal”.

    Thanks again for all your teachings that your show provides and look forward to more shows on this difficult topic.

    Sincerely, Dezaree Harding

  31. our son, currently in the army is suffering from PTSD, severe anxiety and traumatic brain injury, [just diagnosed]. On his second tour to afghanistan, he was diagnosed in Germany with PTSD and severe anxiety. He was sent back to the states in September/October to get further treatment, which did not happen untill this past week. He has been denied mental health treatment, including medication prescribed to him. Instead of treatment, they put him to work on guard duty on the main gate with a loaded weapon and made his life a living HELL. on top of all this, they gave him an article 15, with a reduction in rank, cut his pay and are trying to chapter him out of the military, along with trying to break his spirit. when he does go to mental health, they consider him AWOL. Please do more to help our troops, thank you.

  32. Susanne Marie Tuttle says:

    As a woman veteran suffering from PTSD and MST (Military Sexual Trauma) I can tell you that there are many veterans out there suffering. The problem here at home is not only the insensitivity of the general public but the insensitivity of the Veterans Services. Female PTSD patients who also suffered sexual trauma while in the service have long been neglected and have been treated with substandard care when compared to their male counterparts. The services tend to lable these patients as having personality disorders, simply refuse to take the reports, or prosecute the victims and not the perpetrators. My colonel told me “Boys will be Boys.” Combat trauma is devastating beyond imagination. Now image the horror of those you must trust being the enemy as well.

  33. Stanley Mercier says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    2 and 1/2 years ago, i was diagnosed with PTSD.. we need to be aware that PTSD is not just a military problem , but a civilian problem as well… I was in the Navy and served during the iranian crisis..i was wounded in my own country, by an iranian Lt. that we were training.. I have PTSD from not only that incident , but also from my childhood. I was abused in every way imaginable.. physically , sexually, and emotionally.. I was suffering from PTSD when i entered the service , and had no clue.. I wanted to die in the line of duty to prove to my family that i could amount to something… I thank you for taking the time to get this sickness out in the open where it can be dealt with.. i got the help i needed and am a much better person today because of it, even if the help came 40 years after the fact.. I am still going through counseling , just to stay on the right path..
    As a Dr. , you should realize that PTSD is not a cureable sickness, just a controlable one… It is up to us veterans to watch out for our own.. A sad fact is that too many PTSD veterans slip through the cracks in todays society.. we need to wake up and get these men and women the help that they so desperately deserve.. i would love to be on your next show dealing with this topic…

  34. I wish to GOD that you, Dr. Phil, or Oprah, or Dr. Oz would do a show with the NAMI ‘Peer-to-Peer’ consumers, or the ‘In Our Own Voices’ presenters. I have lived with PTSD my entire life, and was undiagnosed until 1994, when I was in my second marriage and a young mother. Equating PTSD with violent outbreaks is such an injustice to those of us who deal with this issue. There is SO MUCH that can be done to help someone when they are in a ‘hot mess’, and to perpetuate that PTSD = VIOLENCE/SUICIDE/DESTRUCTION is an unfair label to the millions who live with it, deal with it, and manage it.

    It is not easy to learn to cope, and I never was in combat, but it is difficult enough for a human being to have the panic attacks, the anxiety, the depression, etc. which makes you feel ‘less than’ and diminished already, but to perpetuate that we are somehow ‘less than’ is the EXACT STIGMA that needs to be STOPPED.

    I did not see the show, I just found out about it through some research today, however, I have seen so many shows that depict individuals who are living with a mental health challenge in a very negative fashion.

    Step up, Dr. Phil. Do an entire show with individuals who live with these challenges and let them talk about their ‘life tools’, their experiences, and help BREAK the stigma!

  35. Julie says:

    While I understand the intention of the show, showing such extreme examples of soldiers dealing with PTSD only makes it more difficult to convince soldiers to acknowledge their less-severe cases. It makes it simpler to dismiss their own symptoms when they see such dramatic cases. I’ve always agreed when you state that people can’t change what they don’t acknowledge, and this show will set back soldiers’ acknowledgments. I can imagine how much easier it will be for these men and women to dismiss their own problem. If they haven’t set their spouse on fire, do they really have PTSD? If they didn’t dismember a body, do they really have PTSD? Surely those sleepless nights, recurring fears and statements their spouse is making about how different they are don’t mean anything because they don’t abuse drugs or beat their spouse.

    It took years to convince my spouse that he had changed. YEARS. He saw extreme cases like those featured on your show and could easily dismiss his anxiety, anger issues and other symptoms because he wasn’t “that bad”. We’re lucky. He sought treatment before he became “that bad”. How many problems could have been avoided if the attention given to extreme cases didn’t create such a negative stigma? These are brave men and women who are reluctant to admit weakness; shame on you for for making it harder.

  36. vickie deschenes says:

    hi Dr. Phil i have PTSD and I understand that the term ‘monster’ was never used with the intent to afront. Frankly, PTSD in its active state can make one feel like a monster. I wish that everyone could appreciate the intenseness of this disease and the need for help, but, it is invisible and intangeable, therefore, people tend to see a physically sound person (others that is, I am in a wheelchair). I often feel as though I am in a lottery machine the type with all the pingpong balls bouncing around when I experience an episode, i sleep very little and raw fear grips me along with anxiety. I deal with it by using biofeedback and prayerbeads and professional help. Though strives have been made these intageable and invisible diseases need a more visible.

  37. Patty says:

    I say thanks for the show, however its not pretty. My son is on his third combat tour. He has lost both corenas, and will have surgery when he returns, I hope. My first son was killed in a single person car accident. I have never been the same. My son struggled with his brothers death, and now the death of his friends. Mike drinks till he pass’s out, so he can sleep. When the phone rings at night my heart race’s, and I can barely catch my breath. I have PTSD from the death of my son Nick. I can not wait till the day my son leaves the military, however, I struggle with how he will cope, will be employable, and a functional part of society.

  38. Robbie says:

    My problem is that many people dont realise, and you didnt stress, that PTSD is caused by a chemical inbalance in the brain. Being on high alert and extreme stress causes this change. I wont go into the number in my family that has it, but being a woman exmilitary in the mid to late 70’s is all I will say about that. Its just the stigma that not only the press, but the attitudes of people that keep our soldiers, in which ever branch of service it may be, from getting help.

    Why are PTSD sufferers labeled as bad, or monsters?? Because thats what they see in shows, and the press. They are not taught what actually happens to the Veteran or its family.

    Dr Phil of all people you should know that stressing what happens to the body is as important as what happens to the emotions of a person. Telling a diabetic person they dont need insulin, just eat right and dont think about it, they will get over it. Is the same bandaid effect the public has toward PTSD Veterans! They are scared to ask for help, because it labels them as weak in the public eye.

  39. Adrianne says:

    I understand the nned to bring awarness to PTSD, but should the word MONSTERS be used? My husband was shot in 2005 while in Mosul, Iraq. He has always suffered from PTSD, but never to the extent of being potrayed as a monster. The use of that word in comparrison to a HERO completly disgusts me. The saddest part is you found people to go aloing with your story, did you even think of maybe interviewing a few Veterans that are able to control there PTSD? Did you think of the ramifications for soldiers who are now civilians?

  40. campana says:

    Good morning sir,
    I agree with a previous response about how the show should’ve done a 3 part segment showing the issue of ptsd on all scales, not just the the extreme moments. I will only disclose this about myself, that I currently work with and have family members dealing with ptsd and the signs are on a very large range from withdrawal of crowds to drinking to partying like there no 2mrw. More light needs to be shed on the recovery progress for those who seeked help and are now able to cope with it, not just show those families who think they’re helpless with their loved one. I hope to see a more prepared and informative segment on ptsd in the future and appreciate the attempt at raising awareness.
    Respectfully sent,

  41. David McRaney says:

    Dr. Phil,

    As a Wounded Warrior with PTSD I appreciate the change in name for the show. I did not see the program, so I can not commit on the content of the show. I can however express my disappointment in the choice for the original title. It was a very inappropriate choice and showed poor decision making on part of your staff, and ultimately you. It is hard enough living with this, we do not need to see it sensationalized or demonized. Despite what the actual show may have contained that is what the original title conveyed.


  42. Amber says:

    My BF is a 2 time war HERO with the Marine Corps and he has severe PTSD. This lead him to drink heavily and be very violent at times. He has since been sober for 2 years now and seems like a totally different person due to him reaching out to the VA hospital in our area. With the help if an intense therapy program in Conn he has found other outlets to take out his guilt and anger. All these vets need is someone to take the time to listen without judgement, consideration to their feelings. Of course some cases are different and dont always turn out so well, but i wanted to comment to let you know he is NOT a monster. He is a caring, loving father, man and Marine. Their job is something that we as civillians can NEVER understand. They will not be open, they will not be bragging of what they did. This is a pain that a normal person can never understand. With the help of group and individiual therapy he has risen above the PTSD stigma and become an amazing person. HE still has his emotional scars…but has leanred a much better way to cope.

  43. Phil D says:

    I served in an Army special operations unit for six years and deployed to OIF and OEF three and two times, respectively. I am writing to address the initial title and title change of your PTSD episode. As I type now, I can feel my heart pumping stronger in my chest as adrenaline/ anger (call it what you will) course through my body and wake me up. The sun is shining, and I’m getting tired. This is a familiar feeling as I conducted night ops while wearing boots and toting guns. Last night the boots were that of a firemen and the sirens were not for rockets or to rapidly launch to kill/ capture the enemy, but to respond to 911 calls. Please forgive me if this response if visceral because it is for me. You have offended me, and it’s difficult not to respond in kind.

    I don’t think name calling, bullying, labeling, or nuances to media advertising are beyond your scope and the scope of knowledge of your team. Would you talk about other health issues with the titles, “Skinny kid to heifer”? Yeah, it’s a metaphor, and I intend for it to sound gruff. Would this be a way to, “acknowledge the question so often cited in the media, not to make a statement, and to emphasize the severity of the pain and suffering our guests say they experience,” to quote you? I do not think so, and so I can only conclude that you were stupid, ignorant, callous and/ or a mixture of the three.

    I contend insult to injury in that you never apologized for calling me and my brothers and sisters in arms monsters. You blamed it on the media of which you are a part. I believe you made a mistake and did not claim ownership of it. I would lie and say that the military taught me that, but I already knew it. Sure, they preach and teach values, but words are so much fluff like a bird’s chirp, engine backfire or flatulent. Actions are the currency of leaders and heros. I don’t mean to be semantic, so I’ll tell a few stories of such and such. I dislike talk of leadership as much as I dislike and slinging of the word hero. Sure, friends and family wanted to wish me well and call me a hero, but that was the end of the discussion. They recoiled if I made mention of difficulties of the inhumanities of war and the corresponding internal conflict arising. To paraphrase, I’d hear, “Ah, I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about you being a hero,” they’d repeat. To wit, I would say something of the sort: “With all due respect then, if you don’t want to listen or talk about this, I request that you refrain from calling me a hero.” Gradually, I learned to just shut up as it was more important to eat the unintentional hurt than shatter the glass house of hero an outsider had.

    Plenty of people have relatives who were deployed in the military. Less people were actually deployed. Even less saw combat and/ or were wounded. If you are telling the story of the affect of the wounded on the much greater population, as a member of the wounded, I would appreciate it if you treated me with more respect. I am thankful that the times I was at my worst, I never seriously harmed anyone. Confused and scared, I ran away with a backpack filled with kitchen knives, a handgun and ammo, and a jar of honey. I was out of the house in under a minute, running. I ran fearing for my life and fearing even more that I would be concerned and forced to protect my own life.

    The look of a real hero can be haggard. You should dig up a show about the wellspring of empathy and its actions have deluged from wounded veterans. I would be hard pressed to find someone blaming this type of attention on media bias. Call it, “Scars and Jail or Whiskey Bars, part 2.”

    Tougher or more psychopathic men than me are still fighting the war. They’ve seen more dead friends and families than me, some having deployed more than a dozen times. They aren’t so patient as me when responding to situations such as this. They usually put down folks who have trouble as weak or quote Nicholson about questioning the methods of providing an asked-for security blanket.

    Let’s call monsters those things under the beds of children who are made safe by a tuck-in and hero story. You may want to avoid Grimm, as real war stories aren’t neat as an armchair.

  44. john says:

    im from the netherlands, served in lebanon 1979, for unifil (united nations interim force Lebanon) now its 2012 and manny psychologists say i have a extreme ptss. the netherlands say its not our fould . but when id go i was 100% in okay and when i came back i was not souteble for active duty. now 30 jears later wearing dutch purple heart but can not work and Netherlands say to me (and to manny others) Not our fold where not responceble solve jour own problems ( we solve the greek ???) also the UN do not take their responcebility. put this on the dutch television also i asked why i dont get a Insigne voor Optreden onder Gevechtsomstandigheden = Dutch millatary order. the awnser was this order is from a later time and not for the time u served the un and the dutch dont give us UN soldiers the credit we need and also not give us our pension we worked and some died for. so dit we go for nothing and now we see we can not function in a sociaty where he have to function. more than 500 veterans in holland are send by the ministery away they do not get a invaliditeits pension, ask the BNMO site BNMO.NL (i think) . an other question is for manny of us veterans WHY dID I GO noboddy appreciates it and i did trow my life away the PLO stil lives, bin laden and go on put this in the news in holland , ireland and france also take it to the UN

  45. Hello Dr. Phil, Dr. Frank Lawlis, and the Incredible Team of the Dr. Phil Show

    My name is Diana Cruz Navratil I am a Certified Performance leadership Coach. As a Coach my purpose is to step forward in support to all who have raised their right hand to defend this great country of ours. To take a person from where they are to where they desire to be.

    After watching the show “Heroes in Pain” and listening to Dr. Lawlis discussing his breakthrough PTSD program, I knew immediately my client would benefit from this program. My question is can you and your team assist me in getting “reprograming your thoughts” by Dr. Lawlis to my client who is currently in the Santa Barbara County Jail. I am limited to the materials I can send him. He was a decorated Army corporal, leading a combat team as a senior gunner in the battle for Afghanistan.

    He had difficulty adjusting to the challenges he was facing. He shared with me what he needed once he returned was SUPPORT for what he was experiencing “The war in my head” he and I have partnered together in creating awareness and support for our returning Veterans. His message is to share his story and prevent one suicide.

    I trust with the proper treatment he will lead a productive life as positive father to his three year old daughter, have a full time job, and a man who contributes to society.
    Jail is NOT where our “Heroes in Pain” will get the help they need, as Coach I am committed to reaching our Heroes first before they end up in jail. It is our responsibility to support our troops once they return home.

    Thank you,
    Diana Cruz Navratil

  46. Sophia says:

    This is one of the most important shows I have ever seen. Dr. Phil, please do a follow up show soon. I would like to celebrate any successes these men and their families have made.

  47. I live near McCord Air Force base in Las Vegas, Nevada. I see men and women in uniform all the time in the grocery store, video store, subway sandwich shop, etc….. To show my respect I always say the same things. “I love your uniform”. Most of the time I get a thank you. They are usually passing me walking, but if I get one standing in line with me, and I get more time, I thank them for serving our country and smile.

  48. OOOPS! I meant to say Nellis Air Force Base. McCord is where my uncle was previously stationed.

  49. Kristin Linde says:

    I`m sitting in Norway watching the show “From heroes to monsters” and have one comment and question to you, Dr. Phil; I heard you thank the soldier for fighting for your freedom, and my question is; Do you really believe that? As I see it, it is one of the biggest lies Americans are exposed to. I wonder what makes you believe in it.

  50. tati says:

    vickie deschenes says: said it best for my situation “Dr. Phil i have PTSD and I understand that the term ‘monster’ was never used with the intent to afront. Frankly, PTSD in its active state can make one feel like a monster. ”
    As other says hollywood has a play. Maybe I find monster a better description of myself in those moments because females are rarely seen as “heros”, so i feel it for what it is inside a chaotic jungle of anger. I avoid EVERYONE for fear that monster will come out. The VA doesnt treat females the same. Society doesnt treat us the same & the unspoken expectation for me to be more composed than males is a pressure i become victim to more times than not. I want to scream & yell & hit & throw things, but no no that is not ladylike, that is just emotional drama biatch. So after all these years (i was injured iraq 03 & left army srping 07) i sit alone in a cave. I reached out for help & I dont fit anywhere. Yes I was told I dont fit by civilians, yet the VA i was at didnt have many females oif/oef thus no viable programs. Can’t sit in with male groups & don’t fit into the female groups.
    Yah so i stay alone, for the safety of others til I can calm down. I leave the house only to go at the grocery store if i must. I avoid alcohol & drugs for fear of making me even worse, but in reality i want them terribly bad. I have the hotline for moments of extreme sadness. yes Monster fit. It is our biggest fear. To become that monster that is under the surface of our “yes, thank you for thanking me” smile. I appreciate people wanting to thank soldiers, & by no means am i trying to take that from them or those soldiers that like that attention, but personally i cringe because i know what is inside me. I look at my fellow battlebuddies & know some of their secrets of what they cant say. Yes the monster :/ If I speak truth of what some of us did over there Im considered unpatriotic for exposing the reality of circumstances that put people in situations they never thought they would do or react violently to. It changes the way soldiers look at fellow soldiers & if everyone knew it would change how they look at us too. They all imagine, but they never say it outloud, so it remains the pink elephant in the room. We can easily become monsters & unintentionally lash out at those around us if PTSD is not taken care for. It is a reality & to try & flower it up is only putting yet another elephant in the room.

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