Hi there my name is Holly I am currently engaged as a full time PhD Psychology Research student at the University of Birmingham.
This is me:
I am an author of comedic fiction and I would like to share the experience I had which propelled me to commence this valuable project.
When spending time in the US, I met up with some soldiers at a starbucks where I was writing a script, a war script called "The Truth About War" - far from comedic it was a new venture for me to create a true account of current war from soldiers (not hollywoods) perspectives. The soliders I met was out of the blue they had recently returned from Afghanistan: average age 21yrs old. They were shy and polite Canadians who each told me their tragic stories especially as I explained it was of interest for my movie script. Without revealing their private stories verbatim, all of them had lost friends in a variety of terrible ways including the added trauma of failing to save them and one soldier hearing his friends screaming as they burned alive in a light armoured vehicle while he tried valiantly to release them from the inferno.
CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE THAT? - COULD YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT? ME NEITHER!
Reluctantly, one by one, they revealed they also suffered varying degrees of debilitating nightmares and embarassing public flashbacks. I strongly suggested they seek counselling through army channels however, there was a united reluctance to seek help because the words "mental disorder" would be stamped on their records - basically, they felt they were on their own now, in what seemed like an alien world . The injustice served to returning servicemen is well documented since the Vietnam war - not only were these soldiers injured physically and mentally but abused by the very public they served as a home coming welcome - and on top of that - financially disadvantaged - Currently the public view is not a negative one and there are many societies set up to help returning veterans in many countries, but systems require the individual to come forward for help of their own volition and there are many suffering in silence, alone in their own personal hell, not able to address their disabling symptoms for fear of perceived weakness or ridicule.
Getting to know this group of young Canadian Veterans I empathised with their plight and promised I would find a way to assist, I didnt know how at that point, perhaps through screening of my moving motion picture - so, I phoned up the Canadian Army :) They invited me to their Garrison in Edmonton, and gave me many a weepy moment as I listened and interviewed officers and soldiers. They were amongst the most unsung heroes I had ever met. All the good work they did in Afghanistan, never being publicly revealed on news programmes or the like. amazing, I learnt even more about deployed soldiers and also from their families and wives who described the ordeal they all suffered, pre and post deployment.
Returning to the US I was compelled to investigate if the US Military suffered the same as the Canadians, I then contacted the US Military who were also accomodating, happy that a media person could be interested in their united plight. They invited me to their National Pre Deployment Training Centre in Nevada, Fort Irwin. I stayed there for a few weeks as a solider eating the foods the deployed soldiers get to eat (high energy, or should I say high calorific crap) and enduring the weight of the clothing, guns and artillery they have to carry and the searing heat - it was a mock Iraqi village and the troops were trained pre deployment with full Hollywood works- RPG's, IED's, mutilated people covered in blood (all theatrix designed to inflict a real life combat scenario on young personnel as young as 19) It was a terrifying experience just watching it, let alone imagining these guys going into the front lines and it becoming their reality. This is me in that Iraqi village and below on top of a Canadian Tank!
I dont want to bore you with all of my research at that point, but I began to read about PTSD and the main symptoms that cause the disorder to disturb normal life, it was flashbacks and nightmares. If only I could do something that could prevent these flashbacks and nightmares perhaps it would help a lot of people to endure the everlasting memories in a way that would not become intrusive. I SIMPLY HAD TO HELP AND FIRST STOP GO GET A DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY.
4 years later :- 1st class degree under my belt, I revisit military personnel and interview the deployed on skype and on their return: this was a project I had to work on - Due to the confines of the experiment which has yet to happen I cannot reveal the premise or details of the study as it would influence the outcome if participants were to read it. But I can tell you that I came up with a unique methodology, looking at it not so much from a laboratory perspective but considering first a workable solution that could be delivered easily, unobtrusively, something cost effective and that has world wide application bein fully flexible in its approach so there would be no cultural boundaries. Furthermore my solution could be applied in any setting where trauma is experienced for example : ER Medical staff, Paramedics, Police Officers etc
SO ITS A REALLY REALLY VALUABLE RESEARCH STUDY AND WE ALL NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
The only way to test my academic hypothesis was to prepare a preliminary research academic proposal and submit to the top Universities. I did, and the University of Birmingham (amongst a few others) came back to me and offered me a PhD place in the Psychology Department !
The only problem, MONEY or lack thereof! I have started my research but I need around £50,000 per year, to do my research. I am currently working full time in an attempt to fund this research myself, but this will be short lived as I need to run experiments and focus on the research 100%.
If successful this research study has a second focus using the same premise to help those that already suffer PTSD