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March 2023

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Blogging – Wesleyan

A SOBER NEW YEAR.   Watchnight service is a late-night Christian church service on New Year’s Eve.   It provides Christians the opportunity to review the year that has passed and prepare for the year ahead.

Following the lead of the Moravian Brethren who began having such “watch” services in 1733, the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, originated watch night services in 1740, sometimes calling them Covenant Renewal Services…  Liturgy for this service is found in The United Methodist Book of Worship.

The powerful main prayer follows:

I am no longer my own, but thine.  Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.  Put me to doing, put me to suffering.  Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.  Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing.  I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.  And now, O Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.  And the covenant which I have made on earth, Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.


America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle.  We as a people have such a purpose.  It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.   – Pres. George H.W. Bush

I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, and religion, and philosophy, is cause for withdrawing from a friend.   – Pres. Thomas Jefferson

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.   – Pres. Dwight D Eisenhower


WATER, WATER, WATER.   Consumers Reports magazine asserts that bottled water companies owned by Coca-Cola and Pepsi primarily use tap water from public water supplies for their bottled product.

PROBLEMS IN EDUCATION.   Michael S. Roth warns that 45 states spend less per student on public colleges and universities in 2016 than they did before 2008.

MIXED MARRIAGES.  Colbert King, writing in the Washington Post, comments that in the 50 years since the decision in Loving  v. Virginia, there has been more than a fivefold increase in the percentage of newlyweds getting married to someone of a different race or ethnicity.

 THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA.  Philip Roth’s novel invites speculation on what would happen if Charles Lindbergh – admirer of Nazism and no friend to- Jewish Americans – was elected president in 1940.  In his novel, Roth invents a Federal policy to disperse Jews from urban communities and into America’s heartland.   A wave of severe anti-Semitism only ends after the death of Lindbergh.  The New York Times reviewed the book, describing it as “… dreamlike… preposterous and, at the same time, creepily plausible.”

Some may see the novel as a foretelling of the Trump administration.  But when approached whether the novel revealed anything of the future, Roth denied any such allegorical interpretations.

TECHNOLOGY AND AGENT ORANGE.   A new law, signed June 25 by President Donald Trump, allows former service members who served on a ship that operated within 12 nautical miles of a line of demarcation to apply for health benefits and disability compensation.

IT USED TO BE A NO, NO…..   In 2020, new uniform regulations allow male Marines to carry small black umbrellas while in uniform.

… THIS IS STILL A NO TODAY. Paratroopers deploying to the Middle East were told to leave behind their cellphones, laptops, tablets and other personal electronic devices, according to 82nd Airborne Division officials.

SEXUAL ASSAULT.   An Army colonel has filed a Federal lawsuit alleging that the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sexually assaulted her multiple times while at U.S. Strategic Command.

STALKING.  Nearly 60% of women experience stalking while serving, according to the Army Times.


CHALLENGES AT HALLMARK TV!  At Christmas time, the Hallmark Channel is being criticized on two fronts.

First, it is airing the story of two gay men getting married at the holiday season – drawing the ire of evangelicals.    Second, in an attempt to include the Jewish community in the season, it’s “everybody is really the same” attitude is being criticized as anti-Semitic.

DICTATOR.   Novelist Robert Harris writes about Cicero, greatest orator of his time – and the collapse of the Roman Republic. Some may see a parallel to our own times when Harris writes:

·        There is really no other occupation [than politics] in which human virtue approaches more closely the august function of the gods;  no individual, or combination of individuals, should be allowed to become too powerful… Politics is a profession, not a pastime for dilettantes….

·        Divide power three ways in a state and the nation is balanced; divided into two — sooner or later one side must seek to dominate the other – it is a natural law.

·        If the final episode in the long history of our Republic has arrived, then let us at least behave like champion gladiator s: they meet death honorably; let us see to it that we too – who stand foremost of all nations on the earth – fall with dignity rather than serve with ignominy.

·        No man – however gifted, however powerful, however ambitious for glory – should be above the law.  Whenever in the course of my 30 years in the service of the state we have yielded to temptation and ignored the law, often for what seemed at the time to be good reasons, we have slipped a little further towards the precipice

BURN PITS.   A new  law would require the Pentagon to identify all burn pit locationsThe U.S. defense policy bill contains several provisions aimed at addressing the military’s ongoing use of open-air burn pits for waste disposal in combat zones and documenting locations where they operated.


DIVERSITY.  Congress wants more diversity in the highest military ranks.   The services are urged to take aggressive steps to make sure that minorities and women have a better chance to become general officers.


LAW FIRM  DIVERSITY.  NACDL president Rick Jones comments on the persistent lack of diversity in legal firms.  He notes that African-American presence in large firms has regressed.  Black American law firm partners stand at only 1.83%.

COOPERATING DEFENDANTS – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.  Attorney Drew Findling uncovers a stark lack of consistency across the nation with respect to cooperation credit. There is no discernible geographic pattern about which jurisdictions are more generous with cooperating defendants.

P.T. BARNUM.  Robert Wilson’s new book on P.T. Barnum traces the history of his “greatest show on earth.” His venues became family affairs with discount tickets for the children – a prototype for later Walt Disney amusement parks.

ELECTION INTERFERENCE?  Ben Freeman notes that third countries have always tried to shape US elections. This became even easier after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. That opened the floodgates for foreign money to flow into US elections by making it easier to screen the source of contributions.  Freeman notes that the US went more than 150 years before passing meaningful legislation to regulate foreign influence in our domestic policies.

KEEPING KNOWLEDGE ALIVE. Violet Moller writes on how ancient knowledge was kept alive in the Dark Ages. The first stop on her map is Baghdad, a true “cradle of civilization.”  Paper arrived in 793 A.D. from China, allowing a great Mesopotamian spread of knowledge. Authors they translated and republished reopened multiple scientific fields:.  They included   Euclid, Ptolemy, and Galen.   For a time, other significant centers of knowledge in the medieval period were Cordova and Toledo in Spain; at its height, Córdova produced almost 80,000 books per year.

POWERFUL WOMEN IN WORLD WAR II.   In England, women did not normally organize sabotage. When Pearl Witherington, a trained British courier, ran an active French resistance of some 2000 men, she was strongly recommended for a Military Cross. Women were ineligible for that award so she instead received a “civil award.” She returned it, observing that she had done nothing “civil.”


BRITISH POLITICS. Ian Dunt notes the strict way British parliamentarians handle mavericks. He relates that the rebels will experience “having the whip withdrawn,” tantamount to exile from the party.   Interestingly, 21 Conservative MPs refused to buckle under to this tactic in a big fight over Brexit.

TEDDY ROOSEVELT ERRS.  Leigh Giangreco reports that Pres. Theodore Roosevelt was hardly a friend to black Americans.  He dishonorably discharged 167 black enlisted members of the 25th US infantry upon limited information alleging violence in Brownsville, Texas.

DRIVERS LICENSE.  The Washington Post reports on a Justice Dept. survey of 1000 former prisoners –83% had serious problems regaining a driver’s license after incarceration. 

BAD ZIP CODES.  Courtland Malloy notes that a citizen’s zip code might be more important than a genetic code for health.   Why?    Racism and segregation as well as structural factors perpetuating inequity. 

SPEECH, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND VIOLENCE.  Can harsh words inspire violence on social media?  Danielle Allen, Harvard political theorist, thinks so.  She cites three tests; does the speaker advocate a crime; is the crime imminent; and is it probable the crime will be committed soon?? 

ATHEIST IN THE WHITE HOUSE?  Max Boot points out that over 22% of Americans list “none” when asked about their religious preference, along with evangelical Protestants at 25.4% and Catholics at 20.8%.  He argues that the “nones” prophesy a nonbeliever in the Oval Office someday.

DIAHANN CAROLL PASSES AT 84.  This actress was the first black to star on a non-serving role on TV.   In a famous early scene, she told a farsighted future boss over the phone that she was ‘colored.’   “What color are you?” he asked.

ANTHROPOLOGY REVISITED.    Writer Charles King honors Franz Boas, an anthropologist who “reinvented” race, sex, and gender.   Formerly, scientists presented Euro-American civilization as the apex of an evolutionary process, with prior stages being viewed as barbarian or savage.   Boas died in 1942.

SEE JANE WIN.  Caitlin Moscatello demonstrates how times are changing. In 2016, 900 women contacted Emily’s list, an organization created to support female candidates for elected office.  In 2018, 40,000 did.  Over 100 women ran for congressional seats and 500 ran for state legislative seats.    Among those succeeding were women of color, gays, and those growing up in tough circumstances.

IMPEACHED SAMUEL CHASE.  He’s the only Supreme Court justice to face impeachment– it was more than 200 years ago.  He signed the Declaration of Independence, representing, Maryland; then, was nominated to the Court in 1796 by George Washington.  Chase proved to be quite an eccentric, and many found him temperamentally unsuited to be a Justice.   In 1805, the Senate heard more than 50 witnesses over 10 days.   The majority found him guilty of three of eight allegations, but none met the required 2/3 threshold.  Over more than 220 years, only eight federal judges have ever been removed from office via impeachment.

GUN DATA.  Anna Greenburg reports an apparent decline in gun ownership in the US. However, guns are concentrated in fewer hands; a 2015 Harvard and Northeastern University study reported that 3% of the population owns half of those guns.


Some interesting observations from David Householder’s mystery , FIRST, KILL THE LAWYERS.

Lawyers: ”When you become an attorney, you’re making a commitment to the values found in the Bill of Rights, the process  the government must go through before it can punish any one of us – the right to counsel, privilege against self-incrimination, the right to confront witnesses and to call witnesses. These are values that protect the dignity and freedom of the individual.  As a lawyer, you serve the public.  You act as an officer of the court by upholding those values all of your resources.  It’s the only way that we can maintain a free society.”

“Average people have become so accustomed to any number of personal inquiries on Facebook or Twitter or God knows what else that we are nearly incapable of telling people to mind their own damn business.”

Reasonable doubt?  “If a woman perceives that she was powerless to stop a sexual encounter, then she may develop symptoms that mirror those exhibited by women were actually raped, such as feelings of betrayal, fear, embarrassment, guilt, depression, and even symptoms of PTSD.  Defense lawyers often argue that she might mistakenly believe she was raped, even though the sexual encounter was consensual.”

LIBERALS AND STATES RIGHTS.  A recent Washington Post Outlook relates how liberals have changed their position on delegating more power to the states.  In the Trump era, this appears to be the best way forward for progressives – given a recalcitrant Congress.  The author – law  professor Ilya Somin — cites how this approach works with so-called sanctuary cities; they act “despite” Federal guidance to the contrary.   Important to the modern trend was Murphy v NCAA .  In that case, the Supreme Court struck down part of Federal law prohibiting states from authorizing sports betting.

CIVIL WAR, WOMEN, AND RULES OF ARMED CONFLICT.   Author Stephanie Belknap relates how the US Civil War forged new innovations regarding law of war.  In the US Civil War, Southern civilian women actively participated to a degree seldom seen before .  Union leaders had with no systematic legal guidelines governing the treatment of such noncombatants, but Union generals implemented to the so-called Lieber Code.   It eliminated the concept that women were always innocent; and implemented a loyalty test – all citizens, male or female, were entitled to protection if they rejected treason and remained neutral.

RULES FROM BILL GATES?  Going around on the Internet, his purported rules of the road.

  • Life is not fair – get used to it.
  • The world does not care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you ‘feel good about yourself’.
  • If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.
  • Your school may have done away with testing, but life does not “everybody gets a free pass.”

WHAT’S GOING ON IN NAVY JAG?  Navy Times reports that Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer has ordered a comprehensive review into the JAG Corps of the Marine Corps and Navy.

A Marine Corps veteran, Spencer ordered both the Chief of Naval Operations and the Marine commandant to put the reports on his desk within 90 days.

Spencer’s memorandum ordered the Navy and Marines to study the laws, regulations, policies, resourcing   then offer  “any corrective actions necessary” to revamp a host of topics – legal community training and professional development; organization and command relationships and oversight; staffing levels; and career progression of sea service attorneys.

Some believe this review is tied to the dismissal of a SEAL officer charged with covering up war crimes.

 Others point to court-martial sanctions of  a prosecution team for  violating the rights of accused military members – allegedly by improper warrantless surveillance, manipulation of witness statements, and unfair use of immunity grants.

Still others point to what they insist are violations  of Due Process at Guantanamo.

CHINA TRADE WAR?  A recent news story in the Washington DC area notes that the leases are up on two giant pandas lent to the Washington DC zoo by the Chinese government.  Will trade war force the pandas to return to China?


ON SOCIAL MEDIA SPEECH INCITING VIOLENCE.  Can speech on a social media site incite violence?   Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard, lists three criteria:

  • The speaker must directly advocate a crime; denigrating someone is insufficient.
  • The crime being incited must be imminent – more or less “now.”
  • It must be probable the crime will be committed soon.

TRAINING FOR JUDGES?   Bruce Cannon Gibney points out that judges are required to attend less training than manicurists, who need 400 hours of experience before they can be licensed in California.

WHITE COLLAR CRIME. The new Champion magazine contains interesting articles on white-collar crime including:

  • Challenging facial recognition
  • The law on body-worn cameras
  • Effective defense in cases involving decryption devices

CONGRATULATIONS, EF!    We recently received good news that our Coast Guard client EF received a disability rating of 100%.

MANY THANKS.  Client RB, whose native language is Spanish, complemented our rebuttal of his correction board packet, saying, Your letter is very powerful and smartly short and concentrated targeting strategic points…

GETTING AROUND TO THINGS….  Some articles from the Army Lawyer:

Emoluments clause and the DOD – June 2013

Jurisdiction over Reservists – August 2013

AWOL and fugitive entitlement –February 2015

The Writs process – February 2015

TMcK has a great sense of humor.  He offers

*    respect your elders.  They graduated from school without the internet.

*   Ive decided I am not old………………I am 25 — plus shipping and handling.

*    behind every angry woman stands a man who has absolutely no idea what he did wrong.

*    vegetarian:  ancient tribal name for the village idiot who can’t hunt, fish, or light fires!

*    my decision-making skills closely resemble those of a squirrel when crossing the road.

*    some things are just better left unsaid and I usually realize it right after I say them.

*    camping: where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person.

GREAT PEB MATERIALS.   Hats off to the Coast Guard for excellent handouts for personnel going through the PEB process.  

ETHICS CORNER.  Ethical?  Consider the alleged sexist conduct of world-famous tenor Placido Domingo.  Do you still attend his concerts or buy his CDs.  Presumably, he will get royalties based on your payment.

A similar question can be asked about purchasing the World War II recordings of the Berlin Philharmonic.   For many, their recordings of Beethoven or Wagner are breathtaking.  Yet they were created by the premier “Nazi” orchestra, which failed to protect its Jewish members.


Manker v. Spencer was recently filed in the Federal District Court for Connecticut.  It contains valuable information on those seeking an upgrade due to post-traumatic stress.

Main points:

News Update

On September 3, 2014, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed correction boards to give “special consideration” to PTSD diagnoses by the VA and “liberal consideration” to diagnoses of PTSD by civilian providers when adjudicating discharge upgrade applications submitted by veterans. 

Secretary Hagel issued a 3 September, 2014 memo.  In it, he directed military review boards to consider PTSD and “PTSD-related conditions” as “potential mitigating factors in the misconduct that caused the under other than honorable conditions characterization of service.”  

In 2016 Congress codified parts of the Hagel Memo.  Discharge Review Boards are now statutorily required to grant “liberal consideration “to the discharge upgrade applications of veterans with symptoms related to PTSD or traumatic brain injury (TBI).  10 U.S.C.  §1553(d)(3)(A)(ii).   Boards must now review each case “with liberal consideration to the former member” claiming PTSD.

On 25 August 25, 2017, commenting “that clarifications are needed regarding mental health conditions,” Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Anthony M.  Kurta issued additional guidance.   He stressed that “[l]iberal consideration will be given to veterans petitioning for discharge relief when the application for relief is based in whole or in part on matters relating to mental health conditions.”

“Bad Paper” – Historical Context

Since 2001, more than 2.7 million U.S.  military personnel—including approximately one million sailors and Marines—have served on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Over half have deployed more than once. 

In that time, approximately 15 % of all service members have left the military with less-than-honorable discharges.   By contrast, only 7 % of Vietnam-Era veterans and less than 2 % of World War II-Era veterans received less-than-honorable discharges. 

 Hundreds of thousands of veterans with “bad paper” are thus generally ineligible for numerous earned benefits  —  compensation for service-connected disabilities, special unemployment compensation programs, military burial, and benefits for surviving family members.

  • Veterans with a less-than-honorable discharge are categorically denied GI Bill education benefits and civil service retirement credits; they are generally denied veterans’ benefits provided by state and local governments.
  • Without these benefits, veterans are unable to access the health care they need, must pay out of pocket for educational and vocational training opportunities, and are left largely without the support vital to ensuring a successful transition back into civilian life.
  • Many employers reject applications from veterans with less-than-honorable discharges, even when those discharges are associated with only minor misconduct. 
  • Employers regularly learn of an applicant’s discharge status through a routine background check or by requesting the veteran to submit a discharge certificate, DD-214.
  • A derogatory narrative reason for separation, which appears with the discharge status on the veteran’s DD-214, can impose a similar or additional stigma.  For example, many less-than-honorably discharged veterans receive a damning reason for separation of “personality disorder “or “misconduct” without additional explanation.
  •  “Bad paper” carries a stigma that casts doubt on a veteran’s personal character and ability to perform as civilian.

Many veterans with “bad paper” were discharged due to misconduct attributable to undiagnosed PTSD, TBI, or other related mental health conditions triggered as a result of their military service and/or military sexual trauma.

Troubling Data on PTSD

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can result from experiencing, witnessing, or confronting a traumatic event.  Events that lead to PTSD are frequently life-threatening.   PTSD is the most prevalent mental disorder arising from combat experience, and it is also frequently developed after sexual assault.  Its symptoms include flashbacks or nightmares relating to the traumatic event, avoidance of anything associated with the trauma, and hypervigilance, which often manifests in difficulty concentrating and irritability.

According to the VA, 11 % of Afghanistan veterans and 20 % of Iraq veterans suffer from PTSD.  Similarly, 10 % of Gulf War veterans and 31 % of all vets have PTSD.   Other researchers estimate that approximately 16 % of servicemembers experience such stress.  Victims with sexual assault histories are four times more likely to suffer from PTSD compared to other veterans.

Researchers have found that, among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, Marines with a diagnosis of PTSD were eleven times more likely to have a misconduct discharge compared to their peers who did not have a psychiatric diagnosis.

The GAO estimates that from 2011-2015, more than 57,000 servicemembers were separated from the military for misconduct despite a diagnosis of PTSD, TBI, or another mental health condition that could be associated with misconduct.  This amounts to 62 % of all servicemembers separated for misconduct during the same period.  See Government Accountability Office, DOD Health: Actions Needed to Ensure Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Are Considered in Misconduct Separations, GAO-17-260 (May 2017) (“GAO Report”), available at

Rates of Relief

According to records released by the DOD in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, since January 2016, the BCNR granted discharge upgrades in just 15% of cases in which PTSD was alleged to have been a contributing factor.

By contrast, in the same period and subject to the same legal regime, the Army granted discharge upgrades in 45% of such cases, and the Air Force granted discharge upgrades in 37 %.

A GREAT WORLD WAR II READ.   As reported by skilled author

James Benn –

  • About 40% of all crimes in the Army in 1944-19 45 were related to the theft of materiel. 
  • Some got rich on the black market in England.  The rate for a single can of coffee in 1944 was $10 — equal to $140 in 2014 dollars.  A crate holding 50 cartons of cigarettes went for $1000, equivalent to $13,500 in today’s dollars.
  • About 39 British female agents were sent into occupied France.   Some 14 were executed.
  • Hitler issued an infamous Death Order – Allied commandos faced execution if captured.   Approximately 80 died as a result of this directive.

GOLDEN OLDIES.   My mother knew very little about the military.   So when I became an Air Force judge advocate, I would explain things to her, including the different forms of discharge from the service.

My mom was a quick learner– sort of.   When visiting me at an installation in Texas, she came upon a row of pictures showing the chain of command.  Typically, it began with the Secretary of Defense [”the Honorable Donald. Rumsfeld”] then went through civilian senior leadership, ending with military commanders…

“It’s pretty clear how these discharges work,” my mom commented.  “Look at these civilians.   They have honorable discharges…but the men in military uniforms have poor records – each has the name general under his picture!”



Positive thoughts:

  • A pleasure to watch the wonderful James Cagney movie YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.  Lots of wonderful  pro-American sentiment.
  • … and a moving picture in the Washington Post of immigrants from around the world becoming American citizens just before Independence Day.

But there are negative thoughts as well.

  • My Jewish racquetball buddies tell me that at their local synagogue, the Rabbi begins each service by reminding people where the exits are – just in case of trouble.  My buddies advise that there is a retired policeman/armed guard on duty at their Temple 24 hours a day.
  • The church where I play the organ likes “Gathering Music” each Sunday before the prelude.  For the Sunday before Independence Day, I selected the wonderful old Fred Waring arrangement of the famous Emma Lazarus poem – with the words “give me your tired, your poor….”.  I wondered if anyone in the congregation would protest any positive mention of “huddled masses” or “wretched refuse.”  Thankfully, no such protest at my wonderful church.

For what it’s worth, here is the entire Lazarus poem –



A lot of bad information about VA benefits exists.  So says the Swords to Plowshares website.   

We agree.

Those benefits are often very important – the include healthcare, education, housing, vocational rehabilitation, and even burial.

There is a little-known loophole – relief for GIs separated with “bad paper.” Cases typically involve veterans having more than one period of active military service.

If so:

  • A “bad” discharge does not necessarily bar an individual from receiving benefits.
  • The loophole – a separate period of service terminated under honorable conditions.

This happened to one of our clients recently.  She enlisted in the Air Force, served honorably, then completed her initial enlistment with an honorable discharge.  During her second enlistment, there were two uses of marijuana. This led to a discharge in lieu of court-martial and an undesirable-type discharge.

Our client was not necessarily out of luck.  As noted, VA benefits are possible based on the first tour and honorable discharge; this holds true even if the second enlistment‘s bad paper would normally deny benefits.

To say it another way: Suppose the claimant has two or more periods of service.  , He/she has “good paper” for the first period of service and “bad paper” for the second.  The individual may be eligible for compensation and health care for any disabilities that occurred or were aggravated during the “good” period of service.  

The situation can be complicated.    If applicants were injured during the “bad” period of service, they are out of luck unless the VA issues a good character of service determination.  An easy-read VA website clarifies that “you earned your benefits during the period in which you served honorably.”   

Based on this, the VA makes a case-by-case determination in “bad paper” cases, reviewing:

  • The entire military record.
  • Mitigating/extenuating circumstances.
  • Supporting evidence provided by third-parties
  • Length of service.
  • Performance.
  • The nature of the infraction.
  • Character of the service prior to the offense[s]

Overall, the VA typically denies Federal benefits to those sentenced by a general court-martial, deserters, or those guilty of a lengthy AWOL.

PTSD?    The VA does not close the door completely.  According to their website, the VA will take into consideration the impact of disabilities on the claimant’s misconduct in making a determination. The reader-friendly summary appears at the VA website.  Go to

Veterans Benefits Administration

PTSD Triggered by a Dead Body, Other Catastrophes

One of the mainstays of popular “haunted houses” is make-believe dead bodies.  Haunted houses use such fake cadavers to scare patrons, relying on strong reactions when humans confront corpses. 

The trauma can be profound after a person finds a dead body in real life.

This traumatic response is magnified if an individual discovers a human body undergoing decomposition.    

War zone experiences can trigger horrific post-traumatic stress; however, experiences in garrison can also lead to such trauma.  We recently completed a lengthy brief for an Air Force client – a medical technician whose PTSD was triggered by encountering dead bodies during his assigned duties. 

During the 1990s, the Center for Research on End of Life Care at Cornell Medical College discovered that many individuals acquired what is now known as traumatic grief.

Traumatic grief involves what are classified as intrusive symptoms. These symptoms leave a person to deeply fear that the event will recur in the future.  Disturbing symptoms include:

  • Nightmares
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Startle reactions
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feelings of insecurity

Coming across a dead body is not the only PTSD trigger. Situations that cause PTSD can include:

  • Combat
  • Kidnapping
  • Natural disaster
  • Catastrophic accident
  • Violent sexual assault
  • Violent physical assault
  • Witnessing a person violently killed or injured

Certain risk factors render a person more apt to suffer PTSD following the discovery of human remains. These include:

  • Previous trauma
  • Preexisting mental health condition
  • Lack of post-trauma support
  • The severity of the traumatic event itself.

We have gathered useful materials on encountering dead bodies – including comments from a national mortician association recognizing such dangers for funeral home staff.

We are available to discuss this aspect of PTSD with potential clients!