FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Healing Arizona Veterans?
Healing Arizona Veterans (“HAV”) is a grassroots organization dedicated to helping our recent returning veterans to heal from their Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) conditions suffered in combat in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  HAV is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.  Because of funding we are only able to provide free treatments to combat related TBI/PTSD veterans.  We hope in the future our program will be adopted by VA hospitals and military hospitals throughout the country.

What type treatments does HAV provide that is not available at the VA hospitals?
For mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (mTBI) HAV provides free Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) combined with a nutritional program to help the veteran to heal the injured brain.  This type program is standard of care in many countries of the world but has not been approved as yet for use in our VA hospitals.  It has over 40 years research backing its proven results.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is treatment that is provided when a patient sits inside a chamber, under pressure that is greater than atmospheric pressure (typically for neurological conditions that is 1.5 ata or one-half atmospheres above ambient pressure) and patients breathe 100% medical oxygen.  Typical treatment time spent in the chamber for recovery from TBI is one hour under pressure.  A minimum of 40 treatments (called dives) is required for mild TBI brain recovery.

Oxygen Therapy is the basis for biological healing in the brain.  More than 2000 intracellular processes are oxygen dependent.  Oxygen provides energy to the cells.

How does your organization determine if a veteran has mild TBI?
The best way to determine if a veteran suffers from a mild TBI is a combination of the neurological interview and exam as well as a brain SPECT scan or a MRI with DTI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Diffusion Tensor Imaging) that will reveal the area of the brain damaged and the extent of damages.  Often veterans suffering from PTSD also suffer from TBI and a brain scan is necessary to determine the condition and the necessary treatments required.

What happens if a veteran does not get proper treatment for the healing of their TBI?  Are there any long-term consequences?
It has become clear with the cumulative effects of injury of NFL players that untreated TBI leads to increased risks of Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).  This same correlation is becoming evident in military veterans.  This is why it is urgent to treat as soon as possible.

Are other treatment programs available through HAV?
Yes, HAV has developed a comprehensive network for our veterans, as we do not believe “one size fits all“.  Whereas, HBOT is the only proven therapy to actually heal the brain in cases of TBI, but for conditions with PTSD, HAV is working with several professional organizations to provide other proven adjunctive programs such as Neurobiofeedback, Acupuncture, Meditation, Equine Therapy, EMDR, Qigong, Physical conditioning, Yoga and PEMF (Pulsating Electro-Magnetic Frequency).  All programs are DRUG-FREE, have a PROVEN record of benefits and are performed by professionals with long histories of success.  Most of these treatments will be performed at our HAV headquarters.

What is the cost of all these adjunctive therapies for veterans?
All healing programs through HAV are free to qualifying veterans.

Where does HAV get their funding to enable them to give FREE treatments to veterans?
Being a non-profit organization Healing Arizona Veterans is totally dependent on individual and corporate donations to allow them to do this for veterans. They are presently looking for major sponsors to allow their program to be provided free for veterans.  Individual donations are received on their website.

How does HBOT work?
The patient spends about one hour per session in a hyperbaric chamber, breathing pure oxygen under pressure which saturates the body’s tissues and reaches damaged areas that had lacked blood supply and oxygen. With repeated treatments, the oxygen flow stimulates the body’s healing process and allows more patients to experience rapid recovery of cognitive and neurological functioning without surgery or drugs.

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NFL Legend Joe Namath on Bloomberg discusses his HBOT experience

Brig. Gen. Patt Maney describes his experience with HBOT after unsuccessful conventional treatment

NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Bill Romanowsky explains why he feels HBOT should be standard treatment for concussions

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Sadly, this is several years old but as most veterans know drug treatments for PTSD is still happening at our VA hospitals. ... See MoreSee Less

BENZOS and PTSD?
Read this:
All the way, Boone

ARMY WARNS DOCTORS AGAINST USING CERTAIN DRUGS IN PTSD TREATMENT

The Army Surgeon General's office is backing away from its long-standing endorsement of prescribing troops multiple highly addictive psychotropic drugs for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and early this month warned regional medical commanders against using tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium to treat PTSD.

An April 10 policy memo that the Army Medical Command released regarding the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD said a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which include Xanax and Valium, could intensify rather than reduce combat stress symptoms and lead to addiction.

The memo, signed by Herbert Coley, civilian chief of staff of the Army Medical Command, also cautioned service clinicians against prescribing second-generation antipsychotic drugs, such as Seroquel and Risperidone, to combat PTSD. The drugs originally were developed to treat severe mental conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The memo questioned the efficacy of this drug class in PTSD treatment and cautioned against their use due to potential long-term health effects, which include heart disorders, muscle spasms and weight gain.

Throughout more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military services have relied heavily on prescription drugs to help troops deal with their mental health problems during and after deployment. In a June 2010 report, the Defense Department's Pharmacoeconomic Center said 213,972, or 20 percent of the 1.1 million active-duty troops surveyed, were taking some form of psychotropic drug -- antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedative hypnotics or other controlled substances.

The Army, in a July 2010 report on suicide prevention, said one-third of all active-duty military suicides involved prescription drugs.

Mental health experts say the military's prescription drug problem is exacerbated by a U.S. Central Command policy that dates to October 2001 and provides deploying troops with up to a 180-day supply of prescription drugs under its Central Nervous System formulary.

That formulary includes Xanax, Valium and three other benzodiazepines to treat anxiety: Ativan, Klonopin and Restoril.

Broken Warriors is an ongoing series on mental health issues in the military.
The Army's new PTSD policy makes it clear that the risk of treating combat stress with benzodiazepines outweighs the rewards: "Benzodiazepine use should be considered relatively contraindicated in combat veterans with PTSD because of the high co-morbidity of combat-related PTSD with alcohol misuse and substance use disorders (up to 50 percent co-morbidity) and potential problems with tolerance and dependence."

After becoming dependent on these drugs, soldiers face enormous problems when they try to discontinue their use, the report said. "Once initiated in combat veterans, benzodiazepines can be very difficult, if not impossible to discontinue, due to significant withdrawal symptoms compounded by underlying PTSD symptoms," the document said.

The Army policy memo highlighting problems with benzodiazepines for PTSD treatment dovetails with a study published in the April issue of Current Psychiatry Online by Jolene Bostwick, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy.

Bostwick wrote "benzodiazepine administration fails to prevent PTSD and may increase its incidence." She added, "use of benzodiazepines for PTSD is associated with withdrawal symptoms, more severe symptoms after discontinuation and possible disinhibition, and may interfere with patients' efforts to integrate trauma experiences."

Army clinicians who prescribe Risperidone, Seroquel and other second-generation antipsychotic drugs "must clearly document their rationale concluding that the potential benefits outweigh the known risks and that informed consent has been conducted," the policy memo said.

Seroquel has been implicated in the deaths of combat veterans and the Veterans Affairs Department reported in August 2011 that Risperidone was no more effective in PTSD treatment than a placebo. VA spent $717 million on the drug over the past decade. The military has spent $74 million over the past 10 years on Risperidone, a spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency said.

An Army doctor who declined to be identified told Nextgov "these long-overdue policy changes are welcome, but they will further shift the mental health care of soldiers to an already overstressed VA and will result in the separation of many mentally stressed volunteers, who just months earlier had been counseled to steel themselves for a career of perpetual deployment and had been willing to sacrifice the best years of their lives to do so."

This long-serving Army clinician said, "the nation needs to take a long, hard look at what delayed the institution of these policies, and why the priorities of our Army medical leaders have too often favored the manpower needs of the Army rather than the mental health of its soldiers."

Dr. Grace Jackson, a former Navy psychiatrist who resigned her commission in 2002 "because I did not want to be a pill pusher" said the new Army policy shows "they are finally admitting to some problems associated with at least one class of psychiatric medication." But, Jackson said, the Army policy does not address problems with other classes of prescription drugs, including antidepressants and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, in the treatment of PTSD. Clinical studies, Jackson said, have shown these drugs to be no better than placebos -- but far more dangerous in the treatment of PTSD.

The Army also has ignored the role antipsychotic drugs play in the "sudden deaths" of troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury due to undiagnosed endocrine abnormalities Jackson said.

The use of antipsychotic drugs to treat troops with TBI can cause changes in growth and thyroid hormones, which can in turn trigger a variety of cardiac-related events that could result in sudden deaths, Jackson said.

Though the Army has adopted a new policy on the use of benzodiazepines, Jackson said the Defense Department overall is still wedded to a policy of using drugs to treat metal problems even when scientific evidence "demonstrates poor risk-benefit ratios."

The Army policy memo encouraged clinicians to look beyond drugs to treat PTSD and suggested a range of alternative therapies, including yoga, biofeedback, acupuncture and massage.

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This is an altar I created for the Dia de la Muerte exhibition here in Tucson November 2 at Raices Taller 222 gallery. The closing ceremonies took place last night. It was done to present the tragedy of veteran suicides taking place hourly in America while sadly our Congress members sit by doing little to change these numbers. The flag was furnished by a gallery member that lost her fiancé to suicide after Vietnam. ... See MoreSee Less

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7598 N. La Cholla Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85741
Ph. (520) 229-2122

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