Study: Virtual-Reality System Helps Treat PTSD In Soldiers

This is such a fascinating concept. Maybe video games are good for more than just entertainment!

CBS DC

WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder could be treated with a virtual-reality program, reports Live Science.

Researchers say simulating the combat environment has been shown to help veterans suffering from PTSD to relive their traumatic experiences without the risk of physical harm.

The work builds on exposure therapies, which allow patients to confront their fears in a safe environment.

Using the virtual-reality program, called “Bravemind,” allows therapists to insert “triggers” that stimulate the original traumatic experience.

“The format may appeal to a generation of service members who have grown up with the digital world, and feel comfortable with it,” said lead researcher Skip Rizzo, a psychologist at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles.

The first versions of the program, called “Virtual Iraq” and “Virtual Afghanistan,” were adapted from the first-person video game “Full Spectrum Warrior,” which was released for Xbox in 2004.

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TOUR OF DUTY: A son retraces a World War II soldier’s path through Europe. His discovery? What matters most is not where you go, but what you leave behind.

RON THIBODEAUX

Cpl. Paul Thibodeaux stands in front of a jeep at one of the airfields built in Europe by the 843rd Engineer Aviation Battalion during World War II.Cpl. Paul Thibodeaux stands in front of a jeep at one of the airfields built in Europe by the 843rd Engineer Aviation Battalion during World War II.

Dad loved his work, never complaining about the six days he had to toil every week to keep his small grocery business afloat. He loved to cook — and he was good at it, like so many Cajun men of his generation. He loved the church, taking us to 11 a.m. Mass at St. Gregory every Sunday, always reciting his prayers there in a whisper, as a sign of reverence.

He loved his two sons, and he positively doted on his wife of 46 years.

But there was something else about Paul Thibodeaux. As children, my brother and I certainly admired him for it. As adults, we concluded with amusement that it — much more than parenthood — was the defining experience of…

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The Guns of August

The next on list is “The Guns of August by Babarbara Tuchman.”

This is a Pulitzer prize winning history of the opening months of WWI.

Wow, this book is dense!

It’s one I will have go back later and read in the wisdom of advanced age.

Much of this epic  narrative flew right over my head. Then again, the history of the First World War is a confusing thing.

It was like reading “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, there was so much to absorb it was overwhelming!

From what I could gather before I read this, the “Great War” started because some famous Austrian dude got shot and a bunch of people made some confusing treaties. Now, this is something I’ve known since high school.

Now, I realize that progress toward war was being made much earlier throughout the later half of the nineteenth century.

Events and peoples in Europe were on the war path long before, and it seems this moment was only inevitable.

All it took was the right moment, and the right people to set events in motion that had been in the planning years earlier.

The book brought a level of depth and portrait of the people involved the made the event more real to me.

Much of it went right over my head, which only indicates to me the need to read it again.

Tuchman’s work is thick with facts, that require Wikipedia  to be on hand in order to understand what she is saying.

That said, somehow this work is still very readable.

Through the dense fog of facts, one can still clearly discern the people of the past. The first half of the book was especially enlightening for me.

One sees the great power of the world on a collision course, which Tuchman brilliantly describes. We see the desires of nations clash in the most devastating fashion.

What I really discovered was that war seems to have been inevitable. It was only a matter of time in world where the paths of peoples were clearly locked in war and antagonism.

People think that wars start all at once, but this book demonstrates that wars start long before shooting starts. They start in the hearts, desires, and beliefs of men toward others.

I also discovered that the book itself, participates in the time period in which it was written, the 1960s.

It was written around the time of the Cuban missile crisis and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

At a time, when many felt another world war was inevitable, no wonder President Kennedy recommended this book to everyone he met.

At the very least this book makes us think about what causes, and what we might do to prevent the next one.

I’m glad I found this little historical gem at a library book sale, I may not have read it otherwise.

Rating: 5/5

Content: It’s a history book about war. People die, but never graphically.

Status: If you want to borrow it, let me know.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book check out: http://www.amazon.com

Book Review: Baa Baa Black Sheep

A picture of Gregory "Pappy" Boyington in pilot's gear.

A picture of Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, author of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” dressed in pilot’s gear.

Next on my list comes on of the best accounts of a WWII fighter pilot I’ve ever read.

“Baa Baa Black Sheep” an autobiographical account of one of the WW2’s great fighter aces and the famous Black Sheep Squandron, the Marine pilot, George “Pappy” Boyington.

He was one of the navy’s best pilots throughout the war in the pacific.

He flew with famous “Flying Tigers” in China, shot down nearly 27 enemy planes, and lead a squadron marine misfits that called themselves the Black Sheep Squadron.

You know he’s cool they make a TV show about him.

Although filled with lots of flying action, the book could be alternatively titled, “Being a fighter pilot was great and drinking is really bad for you.”

Much of the narrative focuses on the terrible consequences and darkly funny moments that came from too much drink, and a life of debauchery.

Here is a man who bares his soul through the written word.

A man plagued by years of stupidity which at the time of writing the book, he’d only just managed to recover from.

It is a reminiscence, on the follies of youth, and the wisdom that comes from both our best and worst moments.

His story is an inspirational that can certainly give hope to those struggling with alcohol.

One thing I really appreciated was that this story does not glorify his riotous behavior, he’s know what he did was wrong and is truly sorry about it.

Too many soldier’s accounts glorify their sexual conquests and excessive drinking while ignoring the terrible consequences.

If anything it’s brutal honesty is it’s greatest virtue.

Outside of his own incredible story, what really opened my eyes were his descriptions of imprisonment at the hands of the Japanese at the end of the war.

Although I’ve read a lot about the misery of being a POW, but his personal account threw somethings into perspective for me.

His account made me realize how humiliating and down right barbaric such imprisonment was.

It even turned Allied pilots against each other, either in stealing other people’s food or simply fighting to pass the time.

It blew my mind how cruel and debasing captivity is. For prolonged periods it can turn the best men into animals.

So in all, it was really a great WWII yarn that puts a human face on a well known war hero.

Rating: 5/5

Status: You’re more than welcome to borrow it. 

Content Rating: 13+ No language but some pretty intense moments associated with drinking. There also a lot of suggestive moments, but nothing graphic. I know this is vague, but the themes and content of this book will probably appeal to a more mature audience. 

 

As a bonus: Here’s a news reel of Boyington being rescued from a Japanese POW camp mentioned in the book. There are some cool shots of aircraft.

Black Sheep Squadron's official patch design