I had a rather strange e-mail. I wrote a piece a while back about PTSD and Melody Hensley.
For those who don’t want to read that gigantic wall of text again? TL:DR I have PTSD from being a refugee in the 1st Gulf War aged 5. And I do not think that Melody’s experience of PTSD necessarily denigrates mine or anyone else’s by association. I see no point in declaring a hierarchy of PTSD. And since then I have gotten some charming hate mail including one waste of carbon who insisted on trying to post my triggers to me. Classy, but sadly thwarted by the reality of the Internet in India.
This was from Rhino Den on Ranger Up. And I knew nothing about the place except it has a biggish readership. 2200 Facebook Shares? Holy moly? I don’t get that many myself.
So I did a little digging. And Ranger Up seems weird to a Brit.
“Ranger Up launched on 8 September 2006. We make shirts and goods for the military and the patriotic Americans who love the men and women of the Armed Forces. The guys that own this company either were or are still in the military.”
While most of the guys at Ranger Up are Ranger qualified or served in Ranger Regiment, and we certainly support that community, Ranger Up is not simply for Rangers. We fell in love with the name because Ranger School does not teach a specific skill like Advanced Individual Training, or Airborne School, or Dive School. Ranger School is simple – they starve you, they deny you sleep, they give you impossible missions, and they see if you keep on moving. Ranger School is the least common denominator of soldiering: Are you tough enough to drive on
Those of you that have served get it. Whether it was on a long road march and your feet were toast, or you were flying a cross-continental bombing mission and you wanted to rack out, or you were diving into ice-cold water to save your comrades, or you were at the end of a twelve-hour guard shift on the deck of a carrier in the middle of a freezing rain, you’ve been there.
You’ve wanted to quit.
You’ve wanted to find the easy way out – but you didn’t.
You remembered that there were people counting on you.
You remembered that quitting is never an option.
I think this is what harms soldiers the most. When we push them beyond breaking points and consider it gung ho frankly.
What Ranger Up Stands For:
- AMERICA. Nothing like her anywhere, anytime, in the history of the world.
- Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coastguardsmen, Firemen, EMS, and Police Officers.Basically, the crazy SOBs that put their lives on the line every day for less pay than they deserve so that we Americans can sit in front of our plasma televisions and watch crappy reality TV shows, drive nice cars, eat great food, and generally not have to worry about anything of substance.
- Veterans. From George Washington to the newest recruit and everyone in between – Thank You.
- Patriots. We’re talking about the people that believe the Fourth of July is more than just an excuse to set off fireworks, that flying the American Flag all year long is a civic duty, that taking the time to send letters to our troops is an honor, and who realize that America wasn’t forged on the backs of journalists, politicians, or campus rallies, but rather through the suffering and discipline of steely-eyed men who refused to accept defeat.
- Dogs. Never trust anyone that doesn’t like dogs. They’re loyal. They’d die for you, and all they want in return is some dried food, some petting, and the occasional piece of bacon.
- Reversing the growing oppression of the proletariat in today’s society. We…uhhh…think this is a good idea.
- Hot chicks. Honestly, aren’t they the reason we do everything?
What Ranger Up Despises:
- Unappreciative Americans. You know these losers – the guys that profess that America is the worst country ever created, threaten to leave if things continue the way they are, but never do and continue to churn out their 6, 7, and 8 figure salaries, complaining all the way to the bank. Anyone with the balls to compare any of our elected officials to the Nazis should be shot on sight.
- France. They never support us. They lose all their wars. They break all kinds of UN trade restriction with our enemies. Their “culture department” made using many English words illegal. All this, and they still have De Gaulle (oh, we’re sorry) to try to play the “high moral ground” card as they take a back seat in the world’s struggle to defeat an enemy that threatens the very fabric of western civilization. We understand they’re busy, but how much time does it take to practice weapons dropping and white-flag waving?
Note: Per the “Hot Chick Rule” we do not consider Hot French Chicks to be part of France.
Officers that roll into Combat Zones the last day of the month and leave the first of the next month. Seriously…We know you guys get a tax break, but come on now, don’t Colonels and Generals make enough to cover their integrity?
Spoiled Rich College Kids. There’s really nothing like hearing a 19-year-old tell you how the world really works, while disregarding your experience overseas. That rocks.
Pseudo-Intellectuals. Particularly anyone that combines any of the following: Econo, geo, political, socio, neo, and landscape OR anyone who uses a philosopher’s name as a descriptive term (Kantian, Machiavellian, and Orwellian are our least favorites). When combined with number 4 (above), we believe this is a crime against humanity.
Actors. We prefer puppets.
Paper Cuts. They really, really sting.
So? ‘Merica Fuck Yeah!
See when Americans do this, I kind of forget that Team America was a parody. Or maybe this is a parody? I don’t get American Comedy, not all of it is funny but then again, I puzzle Americans.
Whatever it is? It is home to this piece.
Americans love labels, and we can’t wait to show ours off. We look to distinguish ourselves by the physical labels attached to things ranging from the clothing we wear, to the cars we drive, to the beer we drink. Then there are the labels we give ourselves. “I’m conservative…” “I’m African-American…” “I’m a Packers’ Fan…” and the list goes on and on. It’s interesting in a society consumed with “not labeling” others we are so quick to label ourselves—and to make sure everyone else knows what our labels are.
Which is why you are on a site dedicated to veterans that portrays yourselves according to some stereotype of “good old boys who drink hard, fight hard and fancy women”. Nice job bucking the system there, considering the site description reads like the fevered dreams of Yosemite Sam.
Labels are important, because they tell us who we are, they tell others who we are, and they tell us who others are. In short, labels are closely tied to our individual identity. But in the hashtag-and-selfie-driven world we live in today, labels do more than just establish our identity: self-labeling generates attention and sympathy. Labels can also excuse our bad behavior, or even make us money. And I’ve come to understand that there are no “bad” labels, as long as the label makes the individual in question look like a victim.
There is a specific irony in this. See the label “Veteran” gives you a free ride in America. Its okay, I can be a complete bag of dick, I am a veteran! Just because you did something remarkable doesn’t mean you get a free ride to say idiotic, bigoted or hateful things. You wish to be placed on a pedestal but here is the thing? If you want to honour your soldiers? Treat them with dignity. Lobby for free VA care. Lobby for post Military education. Don’t demand they get a free ride.
Don’t lobby for douchebags to go free and say whatever they like. This site weighs in on a topic it doesn’t understand and stokes the fires of dislike. I noticed another prominent Military man do it. Rock Beyond Belief discovered me first under Justin’s leadership. Paul unfortunately ran with the PTSD/Daily Mail angle and that was rather sad. I hope he changed his mind after reading what I wrote before.
PTSD in a tragedy but there is no rank of PTSD. You don’t compare PTSD by trauma but by who needs help.
Case in point: self-described atheist and feminist Melody Hensley made worldwide headlines recently after she claimed the PTSD she was diagnosed with was “on par” with that of war veterans. No drama there; veterans know that we don’t have a monopoly on PTSD, and as a group we are usually loathe to try to one-up someone else’s PTSD and the way it affects him or her. But what really got people fired up was how Hensley claimed she got PTSD: from reading mean tweets about herself that other people made on the Internet.
Well all atheists are self described mate.
And she made headlines on the Daily Mail. As a source of Journalistic Integrity it would rank somewhere alongside Perez Hilton, Cosmo Magazine, Natural News and Fox News. In short? Gossip, Bad Advice, Bad Medicine and Attention Grabbing Bullshit.
Ah I see a link to A Voice For Men. So the Daily Mail and A Voice for Men are considered sources? Veterans would do well to realise that A Voice for Men doesn’t care about men. They just like bashing women. And Melody is a woman in a prominent position who had a weakness. Considering AVfM ran articles claiming India is worse for men because they have to sit away from women (because men couldn’t stop touching women and had to pay for Disco entry) and that Afghanistan was a society that treated women well.
Standing on the shoulders of idiots makes your argument very weak.
Think about that for a moment: Melody Hensley is pretty much saying something along the lines of “The Internet gave me post-traumatic stress disorder equivalent to that experienced by war veterans because someone posted something on the Internet that hurt my feelings.” Interesting. We’ll revisit that sentiment later. But first, if having mean things said about you is all it takes to develop PTSD, then consider this a trigger warning because a whole lot of people are about to get their feelings hurt… and it’s not going to just be Melody Hensley.
No. She said harassment gave her PTSD. By your logic veterans got PTSD from Newtonian Physics and Chemistry. As I have said. The entire dialogue here is denigrating the actual attack to cast doubt. So “Harassment and Bullying” becomes “disagreement” and “hurt feelings”.
I’ll go ahead and just say what’s on a lot of peoples’ minds: right now there is no “better” label for someone seeking attention or money than that of a PTSD victim. Need attention? Claim PTSD! Need to shut someone down who is getting the better of you in a political argument? Claim PTSD! Need an excuse for your own bad behavior? Claim PTSD! It’s the cure-all label for what ails you. No one can criticize you after you say you have it, because you’re a victim. People are reluctant to punish you for your misconduct, because you’re a victim. Even better, the government will even pay you for it, because you’re a victim. You don’t even have to prove you have it, you just have to apply that label to yourself, and *poof* instant victim status, instant attention, and maybe even instant money.
That doesn’t work at all. And is completely false as a time line and indeed here are the flaws with this statement.
1. We are supposed to assume veterans all have PTSD?
2. Who died and made you the Queen of PTSD?
3. PTSD gets you paid? Since bloody when? Do you know how many people with PTSD struggle for gainful employment?
4. Attention? PTSD is a curse. Are you mad? Why would you even want this sort of attention? I don’t sleep and when I do I have nightmares. If you want to pretend to have this for sympathy then be my guest. Because you don’t find sympathy. You find pity.
5. Aren’t you doing precisely what you wrote? Declaring that no one can criticise veterans because of PTSD or because of a mythical get out of jail free card.
And it is rather amusing. Melody and indeed Me pooled our “Instant Money” by raising money for charity. I make £2 a day off this blog. And when I wrote about PTSD? I ran a fundraiser. Melody didn’t translate her PTSD into money. She translated it into money for PTSD victims.
And you know what doesn’t help real PTSD victims? Doubting us.
PTSD is real. It is a real disorder with real consequences for those who suffer from it and the people who love them. Unfortunately, PTSD is also the perfect tool for frauds and fakers because it relies almost entirely on self-reporting, and its symptoms can be easily faked. Oftentimes doctors can’t even tell the real cases from the fraudulent ones, and a whole little“cottage industry” has cropped up to help people fake PTSD. There are perverse incentivesassociated with claiming PTSD, and very little chance of ever getting caught for a false claim. There are all kinds of sketchy PTSD claims these days, including ones that involve nothing more “traumatic” than watching aerial video footage… or getting your feelings hurt by things you read on the Internet.
So you claim Veterans Advocacy and are trying to claim that you seriously doubt veteran’s PTSD claims?
I don’t think your blog defends soldiers. Instead? It defends machoness. I don’t think you even really worry about PTSD but instead want to place it on a pedestal. This man (and it is a man in your head) suffered these many wounds and now he is a tortured soul…
PTSD is a subjective diagnosis and we cannot really read minds. And here is the thing?
The majority of people who claim they have PTSD do have it. Many people with PTSD do not seek help. So in exchange for a few yahoos pretending to have PTSD and claiming disability (Which I Must Point out? Melody is not doing since she has a day job) pay as veterans, more veterans with real PTSD are helped out.
If you made PTSD more strict to diagnose then a lot of PTSD sufferers would not get the help they deserve.
I wrote about Spike Milligan. You may not know him but you would probably know who his friend Peter Sellers was. Both? Had PTSD. Bomb Happy. Spike got it from a tiny wound. Peter from just being through flak. They were perfectly healthy men who endured far less than many other veterans in WW II but had PTSD. It wasn’t aerial footage, it was hours of staring at victims and seeing them live normal and unassuming lives before killing them.
And so in your drive to protect veterans from Melody Hensley’s claim of PTSD, you have thrown veterans who have PTSD from drone operation under the bus.
I agree with points 1 and 2. Point 3 I do not because “Frankly? What are they going to do about it”? Not all veterans have PTSD because not all experience trauma. By definition rape victims are 100% trauma victims and so logically PTSD would be higher. And most Veterans don’t have commanding officers because many are not in the army. That’s like me calling up your old school teacher.
This brings us back to Melody Hensley. Not only do we not know for sure that she really has PTSD right now, we don’t even know for sure that she was even really diagnosed with it. All we know right now is that she CLAIMS she was diagnosed with PTSD; she carefully avoided naming the doctor who diagnosed her, or to offer any other supporting evidence. Based entirely on her own self-labeling, hordes of people are rushing to give her sympathy, attention, and other support. Predictably, Hensley has weathered a backlash against her outlandish claims, receiving particularly withering criticism from the veterans’ community. To this, she responded by threatening to contact service members commanding officers, a tactic I find laughable given 1) most COs are likely to think she’s just as full of shit as the troops do, and 2) most of the “veterans” responding to her don’t have a commanding officer to begin with, since it’s even easier to fake being a veteran than it is to fake having PTSD.
This is the Internet, if we call doubt into everything claimed online this entire enterprise would collapse. I mean we could claim to be anything out here but there is a modicum of trust. You claim you are a Veteran. I claim I am a medic and soon to be doctor (Come August). We show each other enough respect to not doubt each other’s claims.
The fact is you are not a psychiatrist. You cannot do everything, in fact if you are in the Army you would know this. It’s why they don’t send cooks and engineers out with rifles.
And if you knew who her doctor is? What would you do? Harass them too? You do realise doctors wouldn’t reveal their patients details? Not unless you subpoena it under a recognised court of law. Waggle your veterancy all you like but no doctor is going to give you details on a patient.
And here is my deal.
1. If CO’s are willing to allow their men to harass people then COs have faults too and the entire culture of the army is faulty, harmful and outright dangerous.
Remember this habit of closing ranks lead to the Lynch incident where people died and were ignored for a “hero story” to justify war and the atrocities. Yes, I paid attention to Jessica Lynch’s story.
And remember the Mahmudiyah killings and the amount of wheel spinning that the US Military did with regards to that before convicting Steven Green. You don’t get a free ride to be superior to others. No matter what you do in life.
2. ExVets don’t get a free ride to be arseholes.
3. You are distancing yourself from these people by claiming that they could be fake veterans. But when we start casting doubts on their qualifications we must doubt all dissent equally. Perhaps you are just as fake.
This is foolish. Your literal argument is to cast doubt on all sides to distance Veterans from any backlash. You imply “IF” Melody has PTSD to point out the doubt on her diagnosis. You imply a culture of closing ranks and tolerating bullshit within the army. You imply that the people harassing her may not be real veterans thus insulating yourself.
Many people think that Melody Hensley is crazy for claiming that she got PTSD from mean Twitter posts, but I don’t think that at all. Whether or not she legitimately developed PTSD from something she read about herself on the Internet, I think she is shrewdly manipulating the wave of attention being thrown her way by attaching a sympathy-garnering label to herself and adroitly playing for sympathy by claiming to have a disorder that very few people actually know anything about. And the backlash that has been generated against her simply plays into her hands; all of the (largely justified) attacks against her merely make her “victim card” easier to play, and gives her even more attention and credibility in the communities in which she is seeking to make a name for herself.
Yet everywhere I look I see armchair psychiatrists. It’s like a Medical Conference without the free pens and the tortellini.
If these attacks are justified? Then I doubt you have any understanding of PTSD beyond the lay. Your entire argument is that you don’t think her PTSD is from a sufficiently severe cause and that she has many inherent failings.
Do you have any idea how daft that is?
That’s like me saying that veterans should suck it up. That they have a disorder that affects 5 year olds who lived through a year of war instead of just 180 days as a career. Your veterans had a choice, I did not. What sort of adults get a disease that affects children? Suck it up and get on my PTSD level.
But here is the thing? This line is stupid. And it is precisely what you are doing. I just raised the bar a bit higher excluding all Veterans rather than just the ones who operate drones. We don’t make the bar. We don’t set it. PTSD is a subjective experience and no one is denigrating what veterans have done. What you are doing is declaring other people’s traumas to be insufficient to be sharing a diagnosis long considered to be solely a “Veteran Thing”.
Given the backlash directed against her from not only veterans but also from survivors of rape and other violent crimes, I suspect we’ll see an “evolution” of Melody Hensley’s story. Over time, the “Twitter gave me PTSD” story will probably drift into a narrative of some other underlying event, for which the mean tweets were merely the “trigger” instead of what actually gave her PTSD, in order for her “PTSD” to have been acquired in a more politically-acceptable manner. Time will tell.
And she also got support from survivors such as myself. No one wants to read that though.
In the meantime I have some advice for fellow vets who are outraged by Melody Hensley’s PTSD claims: don’t feed the trolls. Treat Hensely and others like her the way you would treat the Westboro Baptist Church or a crazy ex: ignore it when you can, confront it when you have to, but ALWAYS comport yourself in a manner that reflects credit on the service. Don’t do dumb shit that reflects badly on all of us.
Melody Hensley says “I will not be silenced.” No one wants to silence you Melody, we just don’t want to hear you saying stupid things at the expense of those whose PTSD couldn’t have been prevented by pushing the “off” button on their iPad.
Then I repeat. Why the hell are you taking on Melody. Why not take on Dan Savage’s It Gets Better? Hells Bells, she’s the Executive Director for the Centre for Inquiry, she is a public figure. You want her to hide away from her job and be a ghost? What sort of Veteran’s advocacy group encourages PTSD victims to sit outside the common social groups and hide away?
Have you considered there are people with PTSD who had absolutely no choice in the matter? Like the victims of car accidents and the victims of rape.
You picked war as a career choice. What did you think soldiers did? You may romanticise it by claiming you fight for freedom and are heroes, but do you want to know something? No one ever thinks they are the baddies. No monster in history ever considered what they were doing was good. You can do great evil while claiming you are doing good. No, I am afraid you weren’t fighting for freedoms of Americans. Americans were free, they lost a lot of freedom during the war. Information was kept out of the hands of the public and your government effectively spies on it’s civilians. No, if you were defending freedom then someone took a baseball bat to that mate.
No, they tell you that you defend freedom because what you do is kill for your country’s interests. And frankly? In hindsight? I don’t see any real reason for Iraq, maybe we did some good in Afghanistan but we didn’t do a proper job. Iraq? Iraq we fucked up royally. We effectively destabilised another nation and created a civil war with more than a million deaths at this point. But the thing was many of you chose to be soldiers. You may have had few opportunities but no one held a gun to your head and signed you up to war. You like to use the lingo of WW II’s Draft. The fact of the matter is in the USA and the UK we have professional armies and you chose to sign on. And if you told yourself you were defending freedom you were lying.
What you did was learn to kill.
And you learnt to kill to defend the USA and its interests. Now here is the thing, the USA’s Interests are often not the people of the USA’s interests. Do you think the people in the USA are benefited by Invading Afghanistan? Do you think their freedom was threatened? Oh don’t say 9/11, if that were the case we would have invaded Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan’s deadliest weapon is the Kalashnikov. They were no real threat to the USA. Iraq was more interested in not falling to pieces. We marched our young men and women to death for your war in Iraq on the basis of a lie, so forgive us if we don’t buy into the bullshit line of defending freedom because that the lie we were fed too. And now the blood of a million Iraqis and our own soldiers is on our hands. Whose freedom did we defend? I don’t see any winners in this war except for hand full of military contractors. We all lost, least of all the English language where the term “Freedom” stopped meaning what you think it means.
You defend the USA and its interests. It is the duty of citizens to therefore ensure a transparent and liable government to ensure that the interests it picks are for the good of America and indeed everyone involved rather than for the interests of the few and quite frankly with the “War on Terror”? The USA failed in that.
When you strip away the bunting you realise you had a choice to sign on or not. You had a choice to go to war or not. Don’t blame the party line, you fell for it. No one asked you to play the game. You signed that dotted line of your own free will.
I did not. I had no choice in my war.
And now you are angry, good.
Now you know what Melody feels like. See, the problem with trauma olympics is that someone is always worse than you and if you rank trauma like this you end up hurting people who desperately need help. There is always someone worse off than you. I did nothing here but change your arguments to place me in the “Trauma group” and veterans out of it by drawing the line at choice.
But that’s not helpful now is it? That doesn’t help anyone. That doesn’t make me a good person, if I truly believed the above, I would be a dick. I believe your choice was your own and it was yours to make and that your trauma is real. I believe Melody endured her harassment as a choice too, just as you made one. Had she folded the trolls would have declared victory. She didn’t and her cost was PTSD. Just as your cost to that signature was PTSD too.
Some of us never had that choice. But that doesn’t make our PTSD worse or more valid than yours. PTSD severity is judged by how you deal with the world around you. I consider my PTSD to be more controlled than others. If I wish to retreat from the world I have methods to deal with that and I do so in a more productive way. And I know I had years to deal with this while many of your PTSD sufferers have not.
So my advice is this. Your PTSD is your own. It doesn’t matter how you got it. There are bigger issues to worry about that veterans pretending to have PTSD or civilians with PTSD. You don’t know everything about other people and nor do I know everything about your PTSD. The simplest trick is to simply deal with your own and help each other. Not draw lines over whose PTSD is worse. Especially not when your entire diagnosis is based on pop science and a layman’s view of the disease.
And even if Melody is faking it? So what? Let her fake it.
And a word of Advice? Daily Mail and A Voice for Men are not paragons of honest reporting. Quoting them doesn’t make you come off as all that sensible. It would be like quoting a “Aliens abducted by Dog” story from one of those weird newspapers.