Facebook reminded me in my personal timeline the other day that it’s 12 months since I completed the 22 Pushup Challenge, 22 days of 22 push-ups, each day’s effort videoed and posted to Facebook, with my last pushups and post on the 6th October 2016.
The purpose of the 22 Pushup Challenge was to raise awareness of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, on returned servicemen and women. When I started the challenge I struggled to do 22 pushups and knew little about PTSD.
The challenge was also known as #22KILL on social media, taking its name from the sad fact that in the US an average of 22 veterans a day commit suicide. In my own country, Australia, Walking Wounded reported in January 2016 that 239 returned soldiers had taken their own lives since 1999.
I was nominated by two friends on Facebook to do the challenge, who had been nominated by their friends to do so, too. In turn, I was supposed to nominate a new friend on Facebook to take up the 22pushups challenge on each of the 22 days I did my pushups and posted the videos.
However, rather than nominate a new person with each post, I posted links to articles on PTSD and related resources. Over the course of 22 days, as I grew stronger doing my pushups, the PTSD links grew longer and more informative and for those who may benefit from them or would like to share the resources, I’ve included the links at the end of this blog post.
I commented in my Day 22 post (and in my Facebook video) that while I’d had fun doing the 22 Pushups Challenge (especially with the “help” of my nosey dog!), there was much sadness in the cause behind the challenge, in the US, Australia and elsewhere in the world.
I marched against the Iraq War in Sydney in 2003. I feared the cost of that war to Iraqis. I felt the same about the war in Afghanistan. What I hadn’t factored in was the cost to Australian, American, British and other “Coalition of the Willing” service men and women.
Our then Prime Minister, John Howard, described Sydney’s 250,000 anti-war marchers as “the mob”. We must hold our governments to account and not let them “Heh, heh” away our concerns, as Howard did in his infamous “mob” interview.
Up on top of my soapbox, I urged friends on Facebook to ensure our governments adequately compensate and take care of our current and returned servicemen and women and their families – they did not and do not have a say over disastrous deployments.
Sadly this remains as true in these dangerous days of Donald Trump in America and Malcolm Turnbull in Australia, as it should have been in 2003 under George W Bush and John Howard! And scenes and songs like A Soldier’s Memoir by Joe Bachman, posted by me on Day 22, will still happen!
Links to Articles on PTSD and Related Resources for 22 Pushup Challenge
Day 1: #22pushups for #22KILL website with background on and goals for the challenge
Michael Smith News #supportwalkingwounded – with the sad figures for Australian returned soldiers
Day 2: History of PTSD – explores post-traumatic stress disorder from early times to WWI and WWII, Vietnam and modern-day conflicts
Day 3: Beyond Blue – this page provides an overview of post-traumatic stress disorder, the signs and symptoms, a symptoms checklist and a summary of the treatments available
Day 4: Former commander of Australian forces in Afghanistan, Major General (ret) John Cantwell discusses his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and the prevalence of the disorder in the armed forces with Emma Alberici on ABC Lateline (24/09/2012)
Day 5: Dogs and PTSD – American article on research into the benefits of dogs in helping those suffering PTSD
Day 6: US Dept of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD – website resources for Veterans, General Public, and Family and Friends
Day 7: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson. This classic book deals with the dislocation of an American soldier who returns home to his wife, house in the suburbs and corporate working life after fighting in Europe during WWII. The book (and equally classic film starring Gregory Peck), is based on Sloan Wilson’s own experiences, of which he said:
“I really don’t know what I was looking for when I got back from the war, but it seemed as though all I could see was a lot of bright young men in gray flannel suits rushing around New York in a frantic parade to nowhere. They seemed to me to be pursuing neither ideals nor happiness – they were pursuing a routine. For a long while I thought I was on the sidelines watching that parade, and it was quite a shock to glance down and see that I too was wearing a gray flannel suit.”
Day 8: British Gurkha Recruits (2016) 22 Pushups Challenge [on YouTube] – as I said, it’s a global challenge!
Day 9: Invictus Games Foundation – How Sport and Exercise can help during and following treatment for PTSD
Day 10: Another story from ABC News (April 2015) on how Rescue Dogs are helping ex-servicemen recover from PTSD
Day 11: PTSD: A Solider’s Perspective – a blog site (which hasn’t been updated since April 2016), with a warning “this site contains emotionally charged and graphic accounts of Combat PTSD, MST and TBI.”: http://ptsdasoldiersperspective.blogspot.com.au
Day 12: Picking up the Peaces – PTSD Education and Awareness – Statistics (Australia, US and worldwide)
Day 13: The Battle After the War – an ABC News 24 piece on the true cost of Australia’s decade at war in the Middle East
Day 14: “The brave men and women, who serve their country and as a result, live constantly with the war inside them, exist in a world of chaos. But the turmoil they experience isn’t who they are; the PTSD invades their minds and bodies.” ~ Robert Koger, Death’s Revenge
Day 15: PTSD and Me: True Stories From Military Veterans published on Gawker, a blog site that shut down on 22nd August, 2016 (stories still available as October 2017)
Day 16: In the hope to make amends for an “unclosed chapter” in his life, a U.S. veteran leads clean-up of Vietnam War’s lethal remnants (via PBS News)
Day 17: The Australian Department of Defence Health Portal on PTSD, what it is, the symptoms and how to get help for ADF members and veterans: http://bit.ly/2cCI8J6
Day 18: Having had a few drinks before doing my push-ups tonight, I was interested in this article on PTSD and Addiction (of drugs and alcohol)
Day 20: Just so you don’t think it’s little old me and my friends doing the #22killpushupchallenge on Facebook
Day 21: Children of Veterans & Adults with PTSD by Jennifer L. Price, PhD on the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress website
© 2017 Robert Fairhead
Please feel free to share this post or the links to the articles on PTSD and related resources.
NB. You might also be interested in this blog post, My Week in Politics (October 2018).
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Among other things, Robert is an editor and writer at Tall And True, an online magazine, blog and forum for writers, readers and publishers. Share and showcase your writing -- fiction, nonfiction and reviews -- on TallAndTrue.com.