Caring for Our Veterans

13 March 2007
a BioFeedBack Resources International e-mail newsletter
edited by Harry L. Campbell, BCIA, NRBS Past President
technical editing and production by Edwin Johnson

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I.Caring for Our Veterans
II.Mental Health Issues of Veterans
III.Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans
IV. Spring and Summer Training Opportunities


  1. Caring for Our Veterans

    Whatever personal opinions are about the current U.S. Military actions in Iraq, everyone seems to agree that the soldiers who are serving should be appreciated, respected, and most importantly cared for.

    Recently it has come to light that in many instances we have been falling short of taking proper care of our veterans. I’m sure that by now you have seen many news reports on TV, internet, and in the newspapers. Some of the items that were disturbing include the poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Building 18, higher rate of traumatic brain injury (TBI) with many cases of missed diagnosis, and problems veterans are having with the paperwork required to receive medical care.

    According to a February 21, 2007 article written by Dana Priest and Ann Hull, The White House and Congress are promising fast action to correct the problems at Walter Reed.

    Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman who is the commander at Walter Reed said that he has been promised by Army leaders that he will get the additional staff he requested to address the problems.

    There is also talk of new legislation to make the veterans medical paperwork easier and to add case managers to assist as well as more psychological counselors.

  2. Mental Health Issues of Veterans

    On September 28, 2006 Cathleen C. Wilblemo, Deputy Director of the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division, Commission of The American Legion, testified before The Subcommittee of the Health Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – US House of Representatives on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    She discussed the seriousness of the problems of PTSD, as well as other mental health conditions like depressive disorder, acute reaction to stress and substance abuse. Ms. Wilblemo described psychological treatment as most effective for PTSD. The importance for making treatment available was stressed in her statements.

    It was stated that research shows that a high percentage of soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from mental health problems including PTSD. Some possible reasons for the higher resulting mental health problems are that a high percentage of those serving are from the National Guard and Reserve, more are women, and more are married.

    Three new centers were appointed to specialize in mental health in the VA system in December of 2005. They are Waco, San Diego, and Canandaigua.

    The VA Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 budget included over $3 billion for mental health services. The American Legion which is one of the organizations that advocates for veterans wants to make sure that this money goes to the intended programs in order to best help the veterans.

    Biofeedback including EEG/Neurofeedback has been an important modality of psychological treatment in the VA Healthcare system. Some of the most important biofeedback research ever done was done in the VA Healthcare system. Dr. Eugene Peniston, who recently passed away, did research on Biofeedback/Neurofeedback with PTSD and Substance abuse in Vietnam Veterans. The reference is listed along with references on other related work.

    Peniston, E.G. & Kulkosky, P.J. (1991) Alpha-Theta Brainwave Neurofeedback Therapy for Vietnam Veterans with Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Medical Psychotherapy.

    Peniston, E.G. Marrion, D.A. Deming, W.A. & Kolkosky, P.J (1993) EEG Alpha-Theta Brainwave Synchronization in Vietnam Theater Veterans with Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Alcohol Abuse. Advances In Medical Psychotherapy.

    Saxby, E. & Peniston (1995) Alpha-Theta Brainwave Neurofeedback Training, An Effective Treatment for Male and Female Alcoholics with Depressive Symptoms, Journal of Clinical Psychology.

    Peniston, E.G., & Kulkosky, P.J (1991) Alchololic Personality and Alpha-Theta Brainwave Training, Medical Psychotherapy.

    Peniston, E.G. & Kulkosky, P.J. (1989) Alpha-Theta Brainwave Training and Beta-Endorphin Levels in Alchoholics, Alchohol: Clinical & Experimental Research.

    Putnam, J. (2000) The Effects of Brief, Eyes-Open Alpha Brain Wave Training with Audio and Video Relaxation Induction on the EEG of 77 Army Reservists Journal of Neurotherapy.

    Raymond J. Varney, C. Parkinson L.A., & Gruzelier, J.H. (2000) The Effects of Alpha/Theta Neurofeedback on Personality and Mood Brain Research & Cognitive Brain Research.

    Graap, K. Ready, D.J., Freides, D., Daniels, B. & Baltzell, D. (1998). EEG Biofeedback Treatment for Vietnam Veterans Suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Journal of Neurotherapy).

    Hammond, D.C. (2005) Neurofeedback with Anxiety and Affective Disorders Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America.

    Moore, N.C. (2000) A Review of EEG Biofeedback Treatment of Anxiety Disorders clinical Electroencephalography.

    Norris, S.L. Lee, C-T Burshteyn, D., & Cea-Aravena, J. (2001). The Effects of Performance Enhancement Training on Hypertension, Human Attention, Stress, and Brain Wave Patterns: A Case Study Journal of Neurotherapy.

  3. Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans

    Traumatic Brain Injury is being called a “signature wound” of the Iraq war. This is probably due to the many roadside bomb type explosions that many of the soldiers have come in contact with. There is often no physical sign of injury to the head but sometimes the damage is still done internally. TBI causes a disruption of normal brain function. This can of course affect many things since the brain has so many functions.

    The VA has been working to address the TBI issue. They set up four Polytrauma Centers in June of 2005. Still, more needs to be done. The media has brought it to the attention of the public. Now more activity and funding seem to be coming from the federal government to address the problem.

    There is some interesting work being done with neurofeedback and traumatic brain injury. Here are some references:

    Ayers 1987 Electroencephalic Neurofeedback and Closed Head Injury, Head Injury Frontier, National Head Injury Foundation 380-392.

    Bounias, M, Laibow, R.G., Bonaly, A., Stubblebine, A.N. 2001 EEG -Neurobiofeedback Treatment of Patients with Brain Injury, Journal of Neurotherapy.

    Byers A.P. 1995 (Neurofeedback Therapy for a Mild head Injury) Journal of Neurotherapy.

    Hoffman D.A. Stockdale 1996, Symptom Changes in Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Using EEG Neurofeedback, Clinical Electroencychalograpy.

    Thatcher R.W. (2000) EEG Operant Conditioning (Biofeedback) and Traumatic Brain Injury, Clinical Electroencephalography.

    Thornton K. (2000) Improvement/Rehabilitation of Memory Functioning with Neurotherapy/QEEG Biofeedback, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

    Thornton K. & Carmody DP 2005 Electroencephalogram Biofeedback for Reading Disability and Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Tinius T.P. and Tinius K.A. (2001) Changes after EEG Biofeedback and Cognitive Retraining in Adults with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Attention Deficit Disorder, Journal of Neurotherapy.

    I was invited to attend the 10th annual conference of the New York Academy of Traumatic Brain Injury March 23 – 24th. The conference is titled Polytraumatic Wounds of War and Terrorism, Brain Injury, Somatic Injury, and Stress in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietmnam, and the World Trade Center. It will be held at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. The event is co-sponsored by NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and The New York Daily News. I plan to share some of the information that I gain from the conference in future newsletters.

    I have had the privilege of supplying many VA Medical Centers as well as several military bases with biofeedback equipment and professional training for over 15 years. Many of the VA and military facilities are using biofeedback as part of stress management, substance abuse, rehabilitation, psychological services, behavioral medicine, and pain management services. I believe that biofeedback will become an increasingly more popular tool for the VA and military healthcare system as the pressure increases to improve patient care.

  4. Spring and Summer Training Opportunities

    Biofeedback BCIA Certification Training: April 20-24, July 13-17 – Hawthorne, NY

    EEG/Neurofeedback BCIA Certification Training: May 11-14, August 3-6 – Hawthorne,NY

    For More Information:

    Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society Spring Conference
    Co-Sponsored by Biofeedback Resources International:
    Sunday, April 22

    Long Island University
    C. W. Post Campus
    Hillwood Commons Fishbowl
    720 Northern Boulevard
    Brookville, NY 11548

    For More Information:

    ISMA-USA/BFE Conference
    The Globalization of Stress
    July 9-13, 2007
    Montreal, QC, Canada

    For More information:


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