We'll dive right in today, as I've run across a fascinating story.
In our decades of war, I've run across many veterans returning to civilian life. Most of them return from duty and go back to their lives with nary a bump, but here and there I have encountered veterans with varying degrees of PTSD and other mental trauma.
One of my Scout Parents had to leave the room when the kids were running around playing "stomp the balloon", as those simple sounds proved to be a 'trigger' for him.
The V.A. has spent endless time and treasure trying to help veterans with mental health issues, and have sunk much into research. There has been an interesting find
- as it turns out, some veterans have a genetic disposition that makes them more susceptible to PTSD. Whether it's a statistical quirk or not is unclear, but the story notes they were able to replicate the data, so maybe there is something to it.
A study based on the Million Veteran Program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has identified multiple locations in the human genome related to the risk of re-experiencing traumatic memories, the most distinctive symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Researchers from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Yale University School of Medicine, the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and the University of California San Diego collaborated with colleagues on this large genome-wide association study of more than 165,000 veterans.
In addition to providing valuable information on genetic factors that may put people at risk for PTSD, the study also demonstrates "the immediate utility of the MVP sample for disorders prevalent in U.S. veterans," say the researchers.
The results appear online July 29, 2019, in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
PTSD is usually considered to have three main clusters of symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal. Avoidance and hyperarousal are common to other anxiety conditions as well, but re-experiencing is largely unique to PTSD. Re-experiencing refers to intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks of the traumatic event.
Using the vast genetic and health record data available through MVP, the research team set out to identify gene variants that increase the likelihood of PTSD re-experiencing. This study was considerably more powerful than previous PTSD genome-wide association studies (studies that look at the genomes of a large group of people for connections between shared gene variations and medical conditions or other traits) because of a larger sample size.
The researchers compared the genomes of 146,660 white veterans and 19,983 black veterans who had volunteered for MVP.
The study revealed eight separate regions in the genome associated with re-experiencing symptoms among the white veterans. It did not show any significant regions for black veterans, considered separately as a group, because there were far fewer black study participants available, making it harder to draw conclusions. The association between PTSD re-experiencing and common variants in three of these genome regions were highly significant: gene CAMKV, a region near genes KANSL1 and CRHR1, and gene TCF4.
Key results were replicated using the UK Biobank sample, which has about 500,000 participants.
The results also showed genetic overlap between PTSD and many other psychiatric, behavioral, and medical conditions. Two genes previously associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were found to be linked to re-experiencing in PTSD. This could mean that the hallucinations experienced in schizophrenia may share common biochemical pathways with the nightmares and flashbacks of people with PTSD, say the researchers.
One can hope that something good will come out of this research.
We'll change gears dramatically here; human trafficking feels like it should be one of those things that the military fights against. We could hope that the Coast Guard, or other branches that serve at the 'point of the spear' would always be vigilant to find and stop this crime wherever it may be found. Except maybe when it's found on a military base.
Sixteen junior enlisted infantry Marines were arrested Thursday during morning formation for alleged human- and drug-smuggling crimes as part of a widespread and ongoing investigation.
Leaders with 1st Marine Division have been working with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to carry out the arrests during a battalion-wide formation at Camp Pendleton, California, officials said in a news release.
"The 16 Marines were arrested for alleged involvement in various illegal activities ranging from human smuggling to drug-related offenses," the release states. "... An additional [eight] Marines were taken aside to be questioned on their involvement in alleged drug offenses unrelated to today's arrests."
Some of the Marines have been charged, Maj. Kendra Motz, a spokeswoman for 1st Marine Division, told Military.com, but that information has not yet been released.
The Marines' ranks range from E-2 to E-4, she said. All of them are currently assigned to the infantry, though the probe remains ongoing to determine whether personnel from other communities were involved, she added.
Officials declined to say how long the Marines arrested Wednesday are believed to have been moving people and drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border. Information gained from another human-smuggling investigation led to the Marines' arrest, Motz said.
Two Marine riflemen with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines -- Lance Cpls. Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero -- were arrested July 3 after they were pulled over about seven miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border near Jacumba Hot Springs, California, Marine Corps Times reported earlier this month.
The pair were allegedly transporting three undocumented immigrants, who told Border Patrol agents they were going to pay $8,000 to be smuggled into the U.S., according to the paper. The Marines are now facing federal charges.
Officials with 1st Marine Division are "committed to justice and the rule of law," they said in the release, and "will continue to fully cooperate with NCIS on this matter."
"Any Marines found to be in connection with these alleged activities will be questioned and handled accordingly with respect to due process," according to the release.
But....that's not the only breakdown in military discipline of late. An elite Navy unit has just been recalled from Iraq
over disciplinary concerns, lack of unit cohesion, and even drug use in the ranks. Is it just me, or do we think that maybe some in the military are getting tired of war too?
A Naval Special Warfare platoon has been recalled from the war zone after their leader lost trust in their ability to carry out their mission -- an extraordinary move for a command that has faced recent troubling discipline problems.
The commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq ordered a SEAL team platoon to return to San Diego "due to a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline within the team during non-operational periods," officials with U.S. Special Operations Command announced in a Wednesday night release.
"The Commander lost confidence in the team's ability to accomplish the mission," the release adds. "... All Department of Defense personnel are expected to uphold proven standards and to comply with laws and regulations. Alleged violations are thoroughly investigated."
While officials did not say in the statement which SEAL team the unit belonged to, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported it was the West Coast-based SEAL Team 7. The SEALs were sent home for drinking while deployed, the Washington Post reported.
If "the best" of the military are behaving like this, one can only wonder what is happening with the rest of the rank and file?