Derek Blumke – The Mad in America Veterans Initiative

James Moore
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This week on MIA Radio we turn our attention to veterans, service members and military families. MIA has recently launched a new resource for military veterans which will provide news, personal stories and resources specific to veterans and their families. So to explain more about the new resources I am delighted to have been able to chat with Derek Blumke. Derek is the newest member of the MIA Team and he is the editor of the new veterans section.

Derek served 12 years in the US Air Force and Michigan Air National Guard before attending the University of Michigan where he cofounded Student Veterans of America. For his work, Derek received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and was recognised at the White House by President Barack Obama for his leadership in supporting returning military veterans.

To listen and subscribe to the Mad in America podcast on Apple iTunes, click here. Listen also on Spotify, YouTube or Google Podcasts.

We discuss:

  • Derek’s time in the US Air Force and Michigan Air National Guard which saw him deployed to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
  • How, following his service years, he transitioned to Community College in 2005 and then went on to the University of Michigan.
  • How he came to feel that veterans were often isolated on campuses and this drove him to set up an organisation to provide support and connection for ex-service members, which became Student Veterans of America.
  • That SVA is now the largest student organisation in the US and also the largest organisation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the country.
  • That during his three years running SVA, Derek became involved in legislative action to help send military service members to college (the Post-911 GI Bill).
  • How veterans face unique challenges but shouldn’t be viewed as somehow broken or in need of specific support.
  • That it was post-service experiences that led to Derek’s realisation that our approach to mental health could be leading to damage and harm.
  • How Derek came to set up a tech company which he describes as ‘the most stressful and challenging time of his life’.
  • That these stresses and strains led to being prescribed psychiatric drugs, initially Adderall but later having Ambien and Gabapentin added and eventually Zoloft too.
  • How the side effects of this cocktail rendered Derek barely able to function and led to him moving back to Michigan.
  • That he stopped socialising, stopped posting on social media and his social circle reduced because of the effects of the drugs.
  • How these experiences led to questioning and some research and how he withdrew from five drugs over a month, with the most issues coming from the antidepressant Zoloft.
  • His description of withdrawal effects including tinnitus, brain zaps, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and extreme dizziness.
  • That he came to read the New York Times article: ‘Many people taking antidepressants find they cannot quit’ and realised he was in acute withdrawal.
  • That it ultimately took Derek a year to come off the Zoloft.
  • How he discovered Mad in America and realised that the messages in the mainstream mental health world do not do justice to the experiences that people are having with psychiatric drugs.
  • How Derek got involved with MIA and came to lead our news veterans initiative.
  • The suicide epidemic that has so severely affected the veterans community and how it results in more deaths than casualties from recent conflicts.
  • That he hopes that the MIA veterans initiative will be seen as the equivalent of Yelp for veterans who want to read personal accounts and learn from unbiased and alternative sources.
  • That Derek is starting a new non-profit: Walk There, which is designed to get people together to walk in their local area.

Relevant Links:

Mad in America Veterans Resources

Student Veterans of America

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

The New York Times: Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit

Walk There

8 COMMENTS

  1. I haven’t been able to focus on this yet but this is so important.
    Layers of topics and concerns.
    My one friend who lost her daughter to suicide was really helped by the support from vet families that had lost a family member as well.
    So thanks for this even though not yet.

  2. Thank you for speaking out against the suicide problems within our military, it’s a truly heartbreaking situation. And I’m quite certain largely caused by the grotesque over utilization of psych drugs, on our military. As well as our psychiatrists’ complete ignorance of the adverse effects of the drugs they force onto innocent others.

    Like, for example, the fact that none of our psychiatrists claimed knowledge of the fact that antidepressant discontinuation caused “brain zaps,” until 2005.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247806326_'Brain_shivers'_From_chat_room_to_clinic

    Having a bunch of arrogant, “omnipotent moral busy bodies,” who in reality now claim no knowledge of the adverse effects of the psych drugs they prescribe, was an insanely bad idea.

    Sarcastically, many thanks to “Rockefeller medicine,” the Bushes, and the other war mongering and profiteering globalist banksters, who also funded the miseducation of the US “mental health” workers, and the rest of our pharmaceutical deluded medical community.

  3. I found Mad In America shortly after the site went up, have commented a number of times and related my experience, but perhaps this is a good time to share it again.

    I am a US Navy Submarine Force veteran of the Cold War and Vietnam Conflicts. In the 1970s, before the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was developed, I was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder by Veterans Affairs psychiatrists. After eight years of hostile and unsuccessful treatment with psychiatric drugs which severely damaged me both physically and emotionally to the point of ischemic strokes and suicidal ideation, I was extremely fortunate to recover completely within a few months. I had learned about Orthomolecular Therapy based on tissue mineral analysis of a hair sample and Creative Psychology through my own research and in 1982 was able to obtain a source of these treatments independent from the VA and at my own expense.

    The cost of Orthomolecular Therapy and Creative Psychology is a fraction of that for biological psychiatry and the culture of life-long disability it creates.

    My VA-assigned psychiatrist, who later rose to the presidency of the American Psychiatric Association, refused to acknowledge my use of Orthomolecular Therapy, the hair test results, or Creative Psychology and termed my recovery a “spontaneous remission”. Since 1982, I have lived a healthy, productive life, free of not only the need for psychiatric drugs, but all other prescription medicines as well.

    I later learned that the lab I used, Analytical Research Labs, Phoenix AZ, recommended to me by friends in the nuclear field, was already a VA contractor. The VA was using tissue mineral analysis, not for therapeutic purposes, but forensic ones, to detect the presence of substances vets might have used in an attempt to self-medicate.

    In 2007, concerned about the suicide rate of veterans diagnosed with PTSD, I began to attend a PTSD group at a VA CBOC Clinic. After only a few meetings where I shared my story with other veterans, I was taken aside by an unlicensed VA psychologist and VA psychiatrist, a graduate of a one-star foreign medical school. In a twenty minute interview they diagnosed me with paranoid schizophrenia, a rare and extremely disabling condition, and banned me from further participation in the PTSD group.

    When this new diagnosis affected the renewal of my life insurance policy, I requested the medical records of my recovery in the 1980s. I discovered that all such mental health records in DVA VISN 1, in the 1978 to 1990 time period, had been spoliated. No records remain. I am convinced that thousands of veterans could have made recoveries similar to mine, with thousands of lives saved, had VA psychiatrists run studies on Orthomolecular Therapy and Creative Psychology instead of destroying all evidence of a veteran’s drug-free recovery and attempting to discredit him.

  4. Thank you James Moore and Derek Blumke for this important, powerful and compelling podcast, and for introducing readers to MIA Veterans Resources.

    It is hoped that this development will lead to a greater debate, awareness and understanding of AKATHISIA as the “harbinger of suicide and violence” in those taking psychotropic (and other prescription) drugs which commonly induce this acute, sub-acute, chronic, and withdrawal chemical brain injury.

    AKATHISIA is usually referred to as a “Neuro-Psychiatric” Adverse Drug Reaction – (ADR) – in the literature/P.I.L.

    I have concern that by avoiding the ?more correct “Neurological” ADR terminology, there is possible risk of prescribers misinterpreting AKATHISIA as “Emergent Serious Mental Illness”.
    The classification: – “Neuro-Psychiatric” may suggest an “underlying vulnerability to mental illness”.

    AKATHISIA is indeed vulnerable to misdiagnosis as “Serious Mental Illness” via toxicity induced changes in emotions, mood, feelings, behaviour and personality, with emotional blunting.
    These in addition to a writhing, intense restlessness and compulsion for constant movement.

    When AKATHISA is misdiagnosed, inappropriate detention and forced drugging with additional akathisia-inducing psychotropic drugs may increase ADR injury, and then increase the risk of suicidality and risk of violence to others.

    The importance of AKATHISIA has been documented on MIA by Dr. Yolanda Lucire: –
    “Mortality of People Using Mental Health Services and Medications”. October 29th. 2017.

    RxISK, MISSD and other AKATHISIA awareness websites address this issue in detail.

    TRM 123. Retired Consultant Physician.

  5. Such a powerful podcast, thanks James and Derek! Thank you for your military service Derek and for sharing your compelling story. It is very powerful to share a such a harrowing personal experience in order to bring attention to the dreadful harm being inflicted on society by psychiatry and their damaging labels and drugs, and as James noted a personal story “cannot be denied”. You have accomplished so much in the past and it is wonderful that you are now aboard to help MIA with the Veterans Initiative.
    I have to highly commend Robert Whitaker for what he has done with MIA.
    The definition of a humanitarian is:
    “One who is devoted to the promotion of human welfare and the advancement of social reforms.”
    Robert Whitaker is courageously all of that and more.