Archives for category: Uncategorized

This was written and added to my book in 2015. But I feel it is a stand alone section that can improve anyone ability to transition from the military into the Veteran and Civilian communities.

 

I’m adding this Chapter in after 10 months of retirement. I honestly cannot believe that it has been this long already since I got out. There have been some hic-ups along the road. We did a trip to California to meet with Genie Labored with 18 other Combat veteran’s ranging from Vietnam, Somalia, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. We were blessed with the opportunity to learn Neuro Linguistic Programing (NLP) from one of the pioneers in that industry. It was pretty awesome, not going to lie. I was given the chance to sing in front of billionaires, the children of kings and queens from Africa and people in the movie, television and music industry. It was pretty amazing! Not long after that trip I was afforded the chance to be at the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s (FVC) National Stakeholders conference. A Trip to Des Moines Iowa and some amazing contacts were made.

I’ve had the blessing of getting to know some of the best group of veterans ever. Radio hosts, fellow authors, Musicians, and so much more. In January of 2014 I came to Franklin Tennessee to finally meet in person my publisher Robbie Grayson and his amazing family. We started looking for a house while we visited for four days. We looked at about three houses and the last one we looked at is the one we got. Brentwood, TN. Loving life more than I ever have. The one thing that I have going for me that other Veterans don’t? A “Mentor”. Now here’s the best part. There is a method to my madness. In the Army we have what is called Battle Buddies. Whatever you do, wherever you go you always have a battle buddy. Someone you trust and have confidence in. Someone you trust. Veterans by nature (specifically combat veterans) can be a very non-trusting people. I’m one of them. Luckily for me I was able to get to know my “Mentor” over a two year period before I needed to completely lean on him.

Here is what we need in our period of transition which covers before during and after.

  1. A Mentor on the outside. Someone who has already transitioned or someone who is already in the area you are going, if it’s somewhere new. They should be tied into the local networks of business owners or at least veteran friendly companies.
  2. Creating a solid resume. I cannot express enough how important this is. Most of us don’t realize that our military occupations actually do transfer over to civilian skills. It’s just how do we sell it? How about an example that a lot of us don’t think about. Equipment and accountability. I was signed for 2.4 million dollars in Medical equipment while in Iraq. I owned it and took care of it and turned it in with every penny accounted for. Accountability and supply resource management. That’s a pretty great way of saying it. Let’s be perfectly honest here. If you were in a leadership position of any kind, then you more than likely you can use this kind of experience situation. So having someone that can help you word your resume so that your military experience translates into a language that transfers into what civilians will understand.
  3. Get plugged in. If you’re not going home back to the place where you entered the military then you need to get plugged in. If you’re going back home then you need to get plugged back in! I can’t express how important it is. My buddy and publisher Robbie lived in the area we decided to go to for 16 years. He is an entrepreneur and very tied in to the local areal. He introduced me and my family to an entire network of people. By the time we ended up moving to Tennessee I had an entire network of friends and an interview already set up before I even walked into town. By having a Mentor, Creating a solid resume, and Getting plugged in I ended up walking into a house, jog, and community of friends. It was to the point of seamless.
  4. Get tied in. If it’s a completely new area like it was for me then you need to get tied in to the local veteran community. I’m not talking about getting set up and hanging out at the VA. The VFW or DAV daily. What I am saying is find some local vets. Connect and watch each other’s backs. It will make you feel better to have someone with the same background. I was blessed enough not only to make great civilian friends but I ended up getting tied into the local veteran community and making some amazing connections as well. A good friend I have made always says that we as Warfighters/veterans need to have a mission. It’s part of what is killing us. As a community we are sitting on our butts doing nothing. Working our 9-5 or collecting our disability. Find a mission. Help others transition. Heap others find a path to healing. Do something! Don’t just sit there and wait for things to happen. Make them happen.

Stay off the couch. It all starts with a decision. Not a choice! A choice is static; it has no intent or action to it. It’s a decision that has to be made by the warfighter who needs healing. The decision is dynamic. It is the result of having a choice to make. The decision in itself is action. We need to take not just personal responsibility but personal action. We need to have the attitude of “Get off the couch” and do something in order heal. Pills and therapy are not a cure! They are tools. We need to open up and dig into our “tool Box” and take inventory of the tools at our disposal. Warfighters at times don’t give themselves enough credit when it comes to personal healing. Will this road map work for all of us? NO. Just like PTS(d) doesn’t affect us the same from one to another. What does it boil down to? What decisions are we making? We make decisions based on the choices presented to us. The problem as I see it is we have at times blinders on to the choices laid out in front of us. It’s a combat created tunnel vision. Once we take off the blinders we are able to see all the other options.

 

Gardening, fishing, models, art, music, helping other Warfighters, working out, sports, writing, learning something new. These are just the tip of the ice berg for options on a path to healing. But we can’t do any of this will being passive about it. We can’t just have a choice to make. We have to make a decision. Find a hobby you can get lost in, one that at the end of the day you have lost all track of time. It’s not avoidance, it’s a distraction. It’s a decision to “get off the couch” and take an active aggressive stance in your personal healing. A great friend of mine coined the word “STAGREPA”, it means “Stand aggressive, React passive”. I don’t feel there is a better way to explain what we need to do without it! It’s a decision to change our thought process. When I talk about my situation I call it “My PTS(d)”. I have taken ownership of it. I have made the decision to go after it rather than let it have ownership of me. Creating an area of active healing over passive healing for me. For me it was three main things with a host of other smaller ones. The three main pillars were my Faith, My music, and my Gardening, things that I already had a passion for. For others it might me completely something else. But you have to get up and start somewhere.

 

Why gardening has worked for me? I feel it has a couple of things. First is hands in the soil. Allowing the skin to absorb the minerals. Second, is seeing and assisting in the creation of life as opposed to seeing or inflicting death in war. It creates a balance we have been missing. Hopefully it will create new memories that will eventually override and replace the negative ones. Music is another place where I probably will leave some people behind due to my feeling on it. This part and my faith kind of are intertwined and I speak only for myself on this part.  When I got home from my first deployment I scrubbed my entire music library and removed anything that wasn’t from a “Christian” artist. I have since selectively added “secular” musicians back in. Writing lyrics inspired by my internal struggles. For me it was a removal of all the negativity. I needed upbeat and positive things coming in. That part there is a choice. I also dug deeper into my Bible and focusing more on my faith. For you it might be something else. But let’s be real. You have to start somewhere. I hope this helps you or you share it with someone and it helps them.

 

Now understand that the transition also isn’t just transitioning from the Military into the Veteran community. I also transitioned from the Medications to organic supplements. I’m going to give a list of the different things I take but understand and remember I said before that I am not a medical doctor and I am only telling you what I have done and has worked for me.

Anxiety and Depression: Kava Kava powder. Kava is a root that grows in the Tongan Islands. When taken it creates a reaction in the intestines that causes your body to produce its own Serotonin.  Serotonin being the hormone in the body that helps with Anxiety. Gaba which is a natural Mood Elevator. I take 750mg a day. It helps with the dopamine receptors and with the ability to not hold onto anger when it arises due to a PTSD episode. Niacin 500mg non-flushing. There are hundreds of studies of people who take high doses of Niacin to help with depression and have seen some phenomenal results. I’m one of them. I started taking these three things in place of a high dose of Celexa. Yes it’s three pills in place of one. But I no longer walk around smelling like a fecal factory. True Story. For added benefit I also take a B-12 and a B-complex.

Liver Support: Due to the fact that Kava can cause damage to the liver if used for extended periods of time I take a Milk Thistle supplement to help with cleaning and supporting my liver. Once a year I go in and have what’s called a Liver Functions Test done or LFT. So far perfect levels!

Sleep: I was on 50mg of Seroquel which totally burned my ability to fall asleep without it. Even doing a double shot of Nyquil wouldn’t touch because of how strong that stuff is. And guess what a side effect is……Suicidal Ideation and Fecal smell. Seriously! I can’t make this up people! After I transitioned from the Celexa to the Alternatives I took about a week and then decided to start the transition from Seroquel to Melatonin with 5HTP. I actually went about 3 weeks of no sleep meds before I started taking the Melatonin 5HTP. The 5HTP is a heavy protein that helps the Melatonin get you into a deeper sleep once it all kicks in. The great part is not feeling like a zombie in the morning!

Night Sweats: Potassium, Magnesium, and D3. Studies have shown that the body when night sweating burns excess amounts of Potassium and Magnesium. Problem is that the body won’t absorb most of it without taking a D3 supplement. Not really a big problem in my estimation.  This adds to the not feeling zombiefied in the morning. So yeah again, I’m not a Doctor and I am not giving medical advice. This is a document of what I have done for me and what has worked. I have had hundreds of Warfighters come to me and ask what I am taking. I even had a Doctor at the VA give me kudos for what I am taking. I can tell you that since I have transitioned from the dope to the organics I haven’t felt better. If you want to try it then I highly suggest doing it under a doctor’s supervision. Good luck and God bless!

 

AWG Book

Advertisements

“Don’t let your brain fool you. Your body’s ability to heal is better than you have been told it is.”

One of my favorite quotes I have heard since I started my journey of self-healing. Here is my top 10 list of how to start and improve your self-healing journey in no particular order.

 

  1. Have a quiet place. Somewhere you can just have self-reflection or prayer time depending on your beliefs.
  2. Look at your diet and see what needs to stay and what needs to go. I am a big supporter of using organic and non-gmo verified food and supplements and try using CBD oil.
  3. Allow only the good in for as long as you need. As to what the good is, is up to you. My example comes from my music. I took out anything and everything that was negative and self-destructive and replaced it with uplifting and positive music until I felt ready to start adding some of my favorites back in.
  4. There is something about digging into the dirt with your bare hands and nurturing a seed to its maturity. Absorbing the minerals directly through the hands and seeing life grow and mature rather than be destroyed is amazing for the brain to process!
  5. Try more than one thing. Don’t get discouraged. Not everything works for everyone! Sometimes you need to find your own path and work at it from there.
  6. Start a Faith journey. Pick up your bible or religious text and live it.
  7. Know yourself. Lean the new you. If it’s a physical/neurological injury that masks as a psychological one learning how to navigate life with your injury is a new path you have to walk. It will take time and learning your new limitations will be key.
  8. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Don’t look for instant results. Healing takes time.
  9. Be active! No one gets better just sitting on the couch! Sometimes you need rest. But take a positive active approach to your own healing.
  10. Find a buddy to go on the journey with you! No one has to go it alone!

Yesterday I drove to Chattanooga, Tennessee and was blessed to speak and share my vision of A Warrior’s Garden  at the #PickTennessee18 conference and trade show. Cindy Delvin of Delvin Farms and Amy Tavalin of Tavalin Tails Farm were absolutely amazing at getting me to be a part of this and supporting me during it. This was the first time in my life since I started this journey that I felt as if I am a rock star. I had multiple people come up to me ask “Are you Malachias?” and then tell me how they have been waiting to meet me for several months or how people have been telling them they needed to find me at the conference and meet me. It was amazing! So Pick Tennessee 2018, thank you for your support and all your love!

 

I got to also hang out with fellow army veteran Charlie Jordan of Circle J Ranch of Clarksville, TN. If you live in or around the Montgomery county area in Tennessee you need to go check out his farm. He is an amazing man, Amazing, Veteran, and Amazing Farmer. You will not be sorry that you did.

I got to spend some quality time with Michael O,Gorman from the FVC  as well and share how things are progressing. Looks like I might be going to the FVC stakeholders meeting this year as a speaker. I’ll keep you all posted on that.

I met so many amazing people this week at the Pick Tennessee 2018 conference that I’m a little in awe of the “pedestal” I felt like I was on. I had an amazing introduction from Cindy Delvin. The accommodations at the Marriot were first rate! I really feel as if the connections made this week will be something to nurture and grow. They will be connections that are going to create opportunities to take A Warrior’s Garden to that next level.

I cannot express to you all how blessed I am feeling right now! I really can’t! Keep Watching! It’s happening. And it’s happening quickly!

Malachias

No review ever written will ever mean as much to me about my book as this one. Voo Doo was an amazing man! A Marine, and a Civilian Medic. God rest your soul. Until we meet again.

Something I normally don’t do is written reviews on anything. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever written a review. As the page creator I have been offered a lot of products to try out on the street from multiple companies. Each time I have respectfully declined. It’s just not my thing.

Recently just by pure luck I came across a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AWarriorsGarden . I skimmed over it and clicked “like.” Very shortly after I received a private message from Ralph “Malachias” Gaskin thanking me for liking the page, telling me I was number 500 and I won a free signed copy of his book ‘ A Warriors Garden.’(A Therapeutic Guide to Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)is a documentation of my journey with PTSD. Things I have tried and what has worked for me. What works for one person won’t work for everyone, but if we are going to heal we have to start somewhere.) Paperback (www.awarriorsgarden.com) or for kindle on Amazon(http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H5WDWWE)

I thanked him, but offered to pay for it which he respectfully declined. So I gave him my shipping info. I asked him to send me a friend request. Since then we have chatted a lot and became e-friends. We chat a lot, and have quite a bit in common. I received the book in the mail yesterday. I began and finished reading it today. It is an amazing book dealing with PTSD. Many of you know I personally struggle with PTSD. I don’t talk about it a lot, and I have never talked with a Dr. or a “professional” about it. I have done what I personally chose to do, and that is deal with it on my own, mostly through alcohol abuse for a long period of time, and even still at times turn to the bottle when I start going downhill. The main reason why I have never went looking for help is because I refuse to talk about my experiences with someone who “hasn’t been there.”

This book is a real eye-opener. It has a lot of information packed into a book under 100 pages. Ralph talks about things which have helped him out. He puts a lot of things into perspective. He talks about small things that have helped him and gives insights on how you can help yourself multiple ways. Everything from how to help deal with triggers to help save your family life with very simple steps. The best part is although his (along with my) PTSD stems from Military service, the book can be understood by anyone with PTSD no matter what profession you come from. I know many EMT’s, Paramedics, Cops, Dispatchers, along with a whole list of other professions which deal with PTSD that this book would be extremely useful for. If you are seeking help or know someone who desperately needs help, I highly recommend that you check this book out.

So for my first ever review of anything I give this a 5 star rating. No, I was not offered anything to do a review for the book. In fact I have now purchased a few for friends (non-military) who I know need the help. – Voo Doo

 

voodoo

How will this country recover? How will we come back from all the hatred that is and has been instilled over the last few years? ANTIFA, NEO-NATZIs, BLM, KKK, and need I go on? Oh wait, this has been going on for generations. Think about it. Black Panthers, KKK and all the others. The President of the United States whether it’s Obama, Trump, or whoever is an indirect influence. As a member of the United States Army we learn that you have to respect the position of authority, not necessarily the person in that position.  I’m by no means a “Trump” guy. I was pulling for Ben Carson the entire time and honestly had no clue who I was going to vote for or if I was even going to vote this cycle until the day I went in to cast my vote.

Being an “indirect influence” no matter who it is comes with the fact that everyone under that authority will try to “read in between the lines” and impose their own psychological understanding of what was said or not said, trying to interpret body language, all of that. Watching my twitter feed is amazingly infuriating. It’s literally Trump is saving the world to Trump is a racist , misogynist , xenophobic and so are all of his followers. God forbid you try to input some sanity into a conversation you immediately get labeled all that as well plus a bigot. As soon as you label someone a bigot you have become one.

I have to straight here. Most of the U.S. had no idea what half of these words were before the most recent election cycle. Now they use them to label anyone who has a differing opinion or view. Look as a veteran of the U.S. Army I can tell you this, for the mass majority of us we could care less what or who you are. Respect us we respect you. The minute you give us a reason to not it’s over. Doesn’t mean we don’t forgive you for it. You just don’t get a chance to do it again.

I’m not left or right, republican or democrat, I am an American. I believe we as one nation of citizens need to support and defend each other. All this antifa going after the alt-right. Violence by any group to stem their beliefs because they are deemed inappropriate in a modern society does nothing but deepen their beliefs. If I go out and find an Antifa Member and kick their ass all I do is add duel to their fire. Same goes for kicking the crap out of anyone from the Alt-right. Understand my point, Sometimes violence is the answer. It’s already proven here that it’s not. I feel like I’m watching the Outsiders  and the Greasers and Socs are going at it.

So here’s the thing, I know that we aren’t all going to get along, but we have to stop labeling people because we don’t agree on things. Disagreeing with anyone’s personal beliefs doesn’t make you an Insertword- phobic. (of which they have changed the definition to that over the last 6 months. It used to simply state ~to have an irrational fear of~) we are as a people going to have disagreements, but just because we disagree and just because we don’t support the same leaders doesn’t mean we care any less about each other. If it does maybe you should look in the mirror and do a personal assessment to what you believe. I don’t hate or think any less of anyone because they supported or voted for Obama once or twice. That is irrelevant to me. Same goes for Trump supporters. We are fighting against the wrong narrative here. We should be focused especially right now on #huricaneharvey and everyone in its path.

 

That’s all I have for now. God bless, STRENGTH AND HONOR

Malachias

I know it’s been a long while since I’ve blogged. Well a lot has happened. So here we go. In March of 2014 I was medically retired from the army for PTSD, mTBI, Arthritis, Bursitis, and tendonitis in my head shoulders knees and toes, Hearing loss, and a few other things. My book “A Warrior’s Garden” released and I wrote and released a workbook that partners with the book. I started and graduated with my Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Lipscomb University. I applied and was accepted for two Masters Programs, Sustainability, and Counseling. I took a one year deferment in order to complete Sustainability first so that I wouldn’t be taking two degrees programs for a Masters at the same time. The book is doing amazing, for those of you who don’t know it is based on using alternative forms of self-therapy for PTSD. There are three main pillars in my concept, Faith, Music, and Gardening, but it is so much more than that. It has been sold in almost all 50 states as far as I know of as well as seven other countries: Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Australia.

My wife and I finally took the plunge and purchased our first ever home. It is a four bedroom house on twenty-two acres in Columbia, Tennessee. This launched our farm Honor22Farms and we have lots of chickens and we are hoping to have some cattle and hogs in the next year or two.

In December of 2016 I was invited to travel to China to speak on using small scale organic farming principles. After a few days in Chengdu, China I met several Chinese military combat veterans and learned that they have been in a constant state of war since 2012. It changed my entire focus for being their once I learned of their issue with their version of the VA and how they have no homeless veterans. It inspired me to write A Warrior’s Garden the Chinese Way which will hopefully be out this year.

Adding the Workbook has given me the inspiration to write and launch my own seminar program that teaches the concepts laid out in my book. I wrote my Final research paper on how I would treat PTSD with the inclusion of Technology such as the my PTSD coach app from the VA and integrating therapies such as CBT, CPT, CBCT and STAIR. I believe that we as a group of people with PTSD have to stop trying just one simple thing as a way to treat our PTSD. We need to try something a little more in depth and I believe it starts with adding in a family member, like spouse or loved one, into the treatment. It will be the basis of how I officially pattern my seminar once I graduate with my Masters in counseling.

Well that’s the catch up and plan for the future. Thanks again for continuing to be a part of this crazy ride!

 

God Bless, Strength and Honor!

 

Ralph Malachias Gaskin

15392768_10206499575361967_7560576197344685493_o

David Fagin

 

This is a letter in response to David Fagin who write the article Becoming A Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect Of Serving Your Country?

 

David, I am a medically retired combat veteran of the United States Army. I am a Musician, and an Author. I wrote a book called A Warrior’s Garden that is based on using alternative methods of Self-therapy for PTSD. I just graduated from Lipscomb University with a Bachelors in Science for Psychology and have been accepted in the Counseling master’s program. I have been called by some people an expert in PTSD. Whether I believe that I am an expert in it is another story. I was retired for PTSD, mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury), hearing loss and arthritis in my head shoulders knees and toes. I recently read your article “Becoming A Racist: The unfortunate Side Effect Of Serving Your Country.”

 

David, David, David. I don’t know you personally and honestly after reading your article I could care less if we ever meet. But the spin you are putting on being a combat veteran radicalizing you into being a racist is a disgusting claim. We as veterans are in generally so far removed from even seeing race that your claim is ludicrous. To even use the sentence in your article which had no place other than to be an eye catching peace of trash is ridiculous.

“By now, we’re all familiar with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and even with proper treatment, the debilitating state it can leave a returning soldier in, sometimes for the rest of their lives.”

 

How is that even relevant to the discussion you are having? Are you trying to say that having PTSD makes you a racist or is the cause of you being radicalized? This is normally where I would make the comment that you are better than this. But I don’t know you well enough to make that assumption.  The security that was there that you called radicalized was provided by organizations such as the III%’s and other local militia groups. These groups aren’t racist. They are groups of veterans that are trying to continue being a part of something bigger than themselves and provide a service to their communities. Don’t get me wrong, I know that we have racist individuals in the military and in the veteran community just like everywhere else. However, it’s so much smaller of a number via population that it’s almost extinct.

 

I myself am a white male. I was an EO NCO (Equal Opportunity Non-commissioned Officer)  Part of my job was to assist in providing diversity training and helping my command team assess the climate in our unit. I pushed to get this job for years until it was finally given to me. And I excelled at it. For seventeen years I stood shoulder to shoulder with my fellow Soldiers and even spent a total of 28 months in Iraq fighting, bleeding, and supporting every one of every race so that a uneducated internet troll who has a blog with the huffpost can write as slanted peace of trash news calling all veterans racist because a group of individuals in Charlottesville took back up their oath and tried to keep the peace while people of opposing views gathered in public.

 

Where racists and racist organizations present at the rally in Virginia? Yes. Are all people who serve their nation “radicalized” simply because they serve? No. Is inserting a one sentence blurb about PTSD even remotely relevant to your story? No. All it does is increase stigma on an already misunderstood condition. You literally linked Racism to PTSD and military service with absolutely nothing more than your opinion and the actions of your Uncle who was a police officer which his situation doesn’t even relate. You want to blame President Trump for the poor treatment of our PTSD and our Veterans but apparently ignore the lack of treatment or care that happened under both Bush and Obama. Let’s also not ignore the fact that the 2012 NDAA  (signed by then President Obama) listed veterans and Evangelical Christians on the Terrorist watch list.

 

I would offer you this advice. Write more without your emotions attached to it and more of your intellect. Nothing you write had even a remote amount of proof or verifiable evidence. Writing about your family and making irrational assumptions on PTSD of which you obviously know nothing about is a waste of time and makes you look ridiculous.

 

Ralph Malachias Gaskin, Retired Combat Veteran