Thursday, August 22, 2013

Remember Always & Act Often

As a retired, disabled retiree from the U.S. Army I grasp with some clarity both the magnitude captured and personal impact reflected in the following statistics:
  • An estimated 400,000 warriors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • An estimated 320,000 warriors suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Over 51,300 warriors suffer from physical injuries.
During  the Vietnam Conflict, with rapid improvements through out this war, the United States demonstrated a marked ability to stabilize our wounded warriors at the point of combat and then rapidly transport them to "in-theater" trauma centers.  As such, many Vietnam veterans owe their lives to the men and women who made this capability work.

Today the United States has a world wide medical reach that can evacuate a wounded solider from an on going point of combat and provide medical treatment during the flight to major medical centers located in the UK and the US.   Within hours from the point at which a solider is wounded, he/she is in a state side hospital in the hands of highly trained doctors armed with state of the art medical equipment and skills.  Because of the medical reach, many of our wounded warriors survive and return to loved ones and family almost in a blink of an eye.

On the one hand, this is a great blessing to those who survive sever wounds in battle but on the other, the rapid transport from the struggle of combat allows little time for a wounded warrior to transition.  One moment there is the great chaos of a pitched battle and the next moment our warrior awakes surrounded by medical devices in the pristine white of a state side hospital room.  No decompression, no after action comradeship, no time to process what has happened to him/her, no time for the adrenalin rush to subside.

As such the number shown above of soldiers dealing with PTSD is not surprising.

The point here is that I want to encourage you to become aware of the unique needs of our wounded soldiers as they work to re-enter civilian life.  Learn what PTSD and how it can reveal itself in our returning heroes.  Be open to supporting organization like The Wounded Warrior Project as well more local groups seeking to support these men and women.

Enough for now - more over time and latter.

Thanks for listening (reading)!
Dr. Bill Maloney, LTC, US Army Retired

Have a blessed Day. Betty Maloney
Longing For Home Bed and Breakfast
"A State of Mind, A Place of Grace, A Way of Life*"
* Taken from the book, How to be a Better Southerner by Carolyn Kent.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Discover Orienteering in Alabama

There are few things more enjoyable than heading out into the wilderness with friends to ramble away an afternoon or longer. The feeling of getting out onto the trails in Huntsville make for a superb way to keep fit, seeing the countryside and spending time with friends and family. Given the fact that Alabama has an arguably perfect environment for orienteering, it is well worth while getting to grips with some of the facts and information, with a view to getting into the wild and giving it a go.
Orienteering is especially good for children as it can teach many useful skills in addition to some useful techniques that could prove very useful in survival or difficult situations. For those on a budget in these financially challenging times, getting out into the wilderness provides a great day out in addition to offering an educational and fitness element. Depending upon the severity of trails you choose in Huntsville, navigating your way over state lines can be quite a testing workout. You must of course be fully prepared and have all the suitable equipment with you.
Making sure you have all the equipment is always essential, even if you are walking the most straightforward trails, weather or an unexpected injury can turn into a problem if not properly equipped. Given the quite hot temperatures during the summer months it is crucial to remember to take sufficient fluids, which are best stowed in a backpack. Although it may be tempting it is not always best practice to drink from free flowing water due to the fact that it is often difficult to know what contaminants may lay up stream. In all cases using clothing layers is good idea when hiking as altitude and weather conditions can provide for a huge variety of temperatures and climate conditions. Most of the trails are marked well and there is a plethora of information online to guide those unfamiliar the area. For those looking to go off the beaten track there are many very rewarding and challenging routes to take, though they will require good traditional orienteering skills or a GPS computer. Sturdy walking boots are another great investment sure to provide you with many years of walking and outdoor enjoyment. These days there are many modern materials apart from leather that make for very reasonably priced and effective footwear. Ankle support is important in mountainous regions, as it could be a problem if an ankle injury was sustained at higher altitude. Good ankle support will mitigate against this to a large extent, but if an injury did prevent movement from an exposed area, then your equipment will become quickly important. For these reasons, even if it seems a little like overkill, it is sound advice to take the standard emergency provisions of a first aid kit, rudimentary camping provisions and of course the right basic equipment to start with.
The wildlife is fantastic reason in itself to venture out and see all that Alabama has to offer, being an education for both adults and children alike. It is of course worth noting that there are some poisonous animals indigenous to the area so some restraint/knowledge is useful. Again, wearing the correct shoes is a very good start as they will protect against anything in the undergrowth that you might inadvertently startle. When entering any area, use caution and although there are actually very few poisonous snakes in Huntsville it is always best to leave them alone. Snakes usually only become defensive if they feel threatened and cornered. Passing this information onto to children in a group before setting out for a hike is usually a good idea (without of course scarring them too much!).  
If anyone in the party is unfortunate enough to be bitten by a snake then you do need to seek medical attention immediately. Try and remember what the snake looked like and try and keep the victim calm and immobile. They should not be moved unless absolutely necessary.
A note on Alabama's Hunting Season
Hikers should also make themselves aware of the various hunting seasons when those using the trials or exploring the wilderness should wear orange. There is some very good general information available from the Alabama Hiking Trail Society which can give you detailed information about trails and points of interest and places to rest.
In essence, although there are some sensible precautions to take and so long as the correct equipment is brought, anyone can have a fabulous time in the vast and beautiful landscape of Alabama. Be a safe, ethical hiker, and enjoy the delights of Alabama.

Have a blessed Day. Betty Maloney
Longing For Home Bed and Breakfast
"A State of Mind, A Place of Grace, A Way of Life*"
* Taken from the book, How to be a Better Southerner by Carolyn Kent.