About Me

My name is Rod Deaton, and I am a psychiatrist who has been serving combat veterans since 2009 in a variety of settings, public and private, including at the United State Department of Defense and at the United States Veterans Health Administration. As a result of these positions, I have been able to work with and follow many brave men and women over an extended period of time and have had the privilege of hearing their stories and being part of their recovery.

Before 2009, however, I had been—and still, to some degree, am—in the private sector, working in Indianapolis as a solo practitioner doing short and long-term psychotherapy. As a result, I am well aware of the “cultural differences” that often exist between professionals in the community and men and women who have served in the military—and most especially those who have served in combat. I have brought to my work with combat veterans my ears and heart as a psychotherapist, and the men and women have bravely brought me their lives in return. Many have told me that I “get it” in a way that is very helpful to them. As long as they—and you—continue to tell me the same, I’ll keep writing.

I have never been in the military, nor has the military played any substantial role in my own life. My only previous, extended experience with ex-military personnel was my service as a psychiatric resident at the VA Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, where I trained at the Duke University Medical Center in the early 1980’s.

At a much deeper level, however, combat and its aftermath reside in me daily. During World War II, my father’s eldest brother, a dashing, talented basketball player from North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, was shot down over France. It was not until some time in the 1980’s that a relative discovered where he had been buried.

From all accounts that I have gleaned (my mother’s family knew my father’s family well), this single event devastated my grandparents and their children. My father was in elementary school, and even to this day cannot recall the events of that period without significant emotion. My grandparents were changed irrevocably, and thus, in spite of their best efforts, they simply could not be the parents to my father and his younger brothers as they had been to my uncle. My grandmother died in the late 1950’s hoping still that my Uncle Raymond might show up at the door one day. I never heard my grandfather speak of his eldest son up to the time of his death at age 91. The death of my uncle, or better, its meaning, infiltrated my generation as well, and to this day a part of me still understands, at a level that I can’t fully fathom, what it means to lose one’s beloved child to a violence that is bigger than all of us, a violence that at one level, sadly, makes sense, a violence that on another level, sadly, is forever senseless.

My immediate family moved to Indianapolis from Des Moines when I was a teenager, and I grew up there, received my BA in psychology from Purdue University and my MD from Indiana University. I then went to Duke University for my adult psychiatric training, followed by a stint in child and adolescent psychiatry training at the Children’s Hospital of Boston, at the Harvard Medical School. At that point, being young, in no debt, and far too ambitious for my own good, I entered the Harvard Law School, from which I graduated magna cum laude in 1990 (a year ahead of President Obama, my one claim to fame). My wife and I returned to Indianapolis soon afterwards, and for five years I worked in the public mental health sector in central Indiana, at which point I began my private practice.

I have been a member of the volunteer faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Indiana University School of Medicine, where I was an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry. There I supervised psychiatry residents in both psychotherapy and addiction psychiatry. I continue regularly to give professional and lay presentations on veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUD).

My wife and I have been married for twenty-seven years, and we are the proud parents of three young-adult children, with a fine “son-to-be” joining us in 2016. I’m a complete geek when it comes to fun: I read, help my son with his homework (all right, just sometimes), and sleep. And write. It was at the Law School that I learned the power of words—and their wonder. If my words can therefore help you in some way to make life better or to make the life of some struggling veteran better, then I will have done what I want to do.

32 responses

  1. Rod, thanks for putting into words what so many of us wish we could. I appreciate reading your blog. I appreciate the work you do with our veterans. I love these jobs, you and I have. The men and women we serve are some of the most incredible people I have ever met.

    • Sheri,

      It remains a true joy to work with you and with all the staff in OEF/OIF/OND. And I wholeheartedly agree: to a man or woman, they are indeed incredible.

    • Kristle,

      Thank you so very much–and as you can see from my Main Page, I am an equal fan of your blog and of the work that you are doing! As I said in another message to you, it has been a joy to know Nate’s uncle and his family for all these years, and I look forward to enjoying your own family’s growth in the years to come.

  2. Dr. Deaton,

    I really appreciate your writings here (I just signed up to follow your blog) and moreover your service to combat veterans. However ironically enough I was treated so poorly when I finally walked into the Roudebush VA center to speak with someone at the urging of my extremely supportive wife. (with my wife and 2 youngest by my side…) that I quietly walked out (caused no scene) on the [extremely rude] “pre-screeners” and I later called to make a complaint, was told that a supervisor would call me back directly and never once heard from anyone again… I am already 70% DAV (from physical issues…) so I wasn’t looking for to get anything but some guidance… some help… I am now going to be transferring all of my med “stuff” to the Louisville VA (By the suggestion of a couple Vet friends…) as I would rather make that drive than be treated as if I was someone who walked in to file a formal complaint on a business or something and to be grilled as I was as I was treated as it overtly obviously to me that they were looking to discount and delegitimize anything I shared with them. I have declared that I will never go back there, I don’t deserve to be treated that way, no one does… I can only imagine that if I were not someone who has a strong “warriors wife” and family how it might have played out. How many guys have walked in there only to be treated like that to also leave, not go back and then…

    I truly apologize for posting this here and I am glad to hear that the young man mentioned above made hios way to you…

    BA

    PS: I have since found “help” via the civilian sector and despite they not being as suited for it as the VA (should be) it has been a great positive for me, the people I deal with their treat me with a basic kindness that all people should share with on another…

    • BA,

      I’m truly saddened by your experience, and I do mean that. I am so glad that you are finding the help you both need and richly deserve. I also hope that one day we at Roudebush will have another chance to make life better for you and your family. My very best wishes to you all.

  3. I got out of the Marine Corps only a few months ago after serving multiple tours in the Infantry. I received a traumatic brain injury, lost friends, did terrible things, and am still here to talk about it. Though I got virtually no help through my unit, or the Marine Corps, after two years I managed to find a Neurologist who was willing to work with me with my cognitive issues and officially diagnose me with PTSD. Just skimming through your blog has given me hope that there are people out there who (pardon my language) give a shit. Thank you for putting these cases up, they have given me perspective and an affirmation that there are others out there like me with invisible scars that will last a lifetime.

    • David,

      Thank you so much for this. I’m glad that the blog shows you that you’re not alone. Even more, though, I hope it shows you that you, your brothers and sisters make a difference: you have all made such difference in my life, an impact that has changed me personally, a deep, personal awareness of the profound importance of honor and of courage. Thank you for that–and I do mean thank YOU, for your courage to write this, and even more for your courage to find a way to make your life work, to never take “no” for an answer. Hang in there. But then, of course you will, right? I mean, after all: you’re a Marine!

  4. Hello Mr. Deaton,

    I was curious to know if you treat non-military patients? I have someone very close to me who has been on Methadone for nearly 10 years due to a drug addiction. While she has not used any other drugs besides the methadone in that time, it is a very huge financial and social strain on her to visit the treatment clinic daily. I’m trying to find a reputable doctor to treat her that actually cares about her recovery. It seems the clinics in the Indianapolis area care only about profit. They make no effort to actually help their patients and I feel they care only about their bottom line.

  5. I just wanted to let you know what it is we are doing for our women heroes and for MI. https://www.facebook.com/OurHomeTransitional
    The plan is to acquire & renovate a large 10 bedroom house for our first transitional home to be known as OUR HOME TRANSITIONAL. It will be a place where our female vets and their kids come to when they are facing challenges & are in need of a place to call Home. The women who need services are not limited to the Flint area. As long as we have a room available we will take in any woman hero from anywhere in the US who may be in need of our services.
    While here, they will be provided various types of assistance in efforts to transition to civilian life and self- sufficiency. As home one is up and running successfully, we will be acquiring several others on the block/area to provide a haven for our family. Training and assistance programs to be provided by the Local, County and Federal Government will include: Job training/placement, mental and physical health, educational training, vehicle, and home placement assistance, to name a few.
    According to the MI Homeless Coalition, there are over 150 homeless or about to be homeless female vets, some with children, from Saginaw on down to Detroit, right now! The need is there!
    We have a Board of Directors (one of which is a 10 yr male Veteran who wears many hats in the success and progress of OHT and a female vet with 7 yrs Military service!), a fantastic group of experienced volunteers, many active and retired Military, VA reps, and an Advisory committee, all working hard to see this program succeed. We are registered as a nonprofit in the State of MI and we have filed for our 501c3 status via our lawyer. We are supported by Kettering Entrepreneurial Society and UofM Flints Innovation Incubator as well as many other local and national orgs! http://www.ourhometransitional.org/supported-by
    We are currently working with Genesee Co Land Bank, HUD, LISC and Salem Housing for a donated or low priced house for each veteran completing our program! This should be acquired within the coming months. Land Bank has committed to giving us some homes that are completely stripped as long as we have the funding/ability to rehab and upkeep which is where SV MAP comes in. They will need to be renovated to a huge degree as most of these empty homes in Flint have been stripped completely. We have DE Recycling and many Flint residents ready to volunteer! Also, donations and grants along with other funding will help as well. http://www.ourhometransitional.org/apps/donations/
    We have our DUN’s and CAGE #’s to apply for Govt grants and contracts and we have a professional doing our Business Plan! We also view this as an opportunity to revitalize & beautify the local area, as the ultimate goal is to have several houses within Genesee County that our vets will transition to, some urban and others located in a rural setting to give our transitioning women a city or country choice. We will all work together and partner with other neighborhood organizations to keep the areas clean, beautiful and safe, while bringing in federal funds to MI as these heroes successfully transition to civilian society and self-sufficiency.
    If you could please join our page and share it as well as it takes a village! If you would like to be listed on our site as a Supporter and/or Resource please let me know! http://www.ourhometransitional.org/veteran-resources

    I hope to gain your support via sponsorship/donations/volunteers/word-of-mouth/exposure/etc!
    View local coverage of OHT here! http://www.ourhometransitional.org/media
    Thanks!
    Carrie Miller
    Executive Director
    810 309 9822
    http://www.ourhometransitional.org Copyright © 2012 Our Home Transitional. All Rights Reserved.

  6. Dr. Deaton,

    Thank you so much for your work with our soldiers. Many don’t realize what our soldier go through and how it not only affects them, but their families as well. I have decided to purse my education in the Psychology Field, PTSD to be my main focus. I want to help as many soldiers and families as I can. Learning this from first hand experience with my boyfriend, and watching him suffer with this, isn’t easy, but it’s made us a stronger couple.

    You are truly an inspiration! Please keep up the great work!!

  7. i think my favorite part of wordpress so far is the fact im being exposed, not only to some of the most excellent writers, but to such a variety and to people who genuinely care about others, the world, etc. as a professional journalist, im super excited to come across yet another person who truly sees the values of words. they really are so important. other than having friends who’ve served and my sister and my brother in law served in the navy, i don’t have a lot of connection to the military. i do now volunteer and write letters to deployed personnel as a means of showing some support and i hope to find a way to volunteer for the northern arizona VA system soon here, but thank you for extending the help you do to our veterans. it’s really a relief to see people are working on this because they do sacrifice so much and i’ve argued for a long time that those who come home carry a heavy burden. they don’t just sacrifice time away from loved ones, etc., they give up a piece of their soul. some may be fortunate enough to be able to adjust easier, but others it’s a real struggle and it’s so important to have a good support system for them – seems only right given what they sacrifice for us. anyway, i’ve rambled haha like i tend to. thank you for sharing all this. take care! 🙂 p.s. the picture below is truly magnificent – worth a thousand words.

  8. I came here via freshly pressed…working with the fierce and brave individuals who have given themselves for service and who have returned home with internal and external wounds is something that speaks to my heart. So thankful for people who are there and somehow attempting to find a solution both for the internal conflicts as a result of PTSD but for the numerous incidents of severe physical and mental pain associated with IED’s. Thank you for the work you do, for the lives you touch and for sharing the stories of these brave men and women.

    • I, coincidentally, wonder if I could also contact you by email. I have some questions about the VA. Thanks!

  9. Quote from the “About me” part of your blog: “One of my primary duties had been to assist veterans–and especially combat veterans–who are struggling with dependence on opiates”.

    “and especially combat veterans”? Are you saying “other” veterans don’t deserve treatment for addiction problems as much as veterans who were in combat?

    • Mike,

      Thanks for writing. Not at all! At the VA I had the honor of working with men and women who had served their country well no matter whether they had served in an actual “combat zone” or not. My particular job as a prescriber had been to serve combat veterans primarily (i.e., the scope of the duties of that particular job), which was my meaning of the word especially. But in my work as the Clinical Director of the program, my colleagues and I worked with all veterans who sought to get into recovery from addictive disorders. Thanks so much for allowing me to clarify that!

  10. Dr. Deanton,

    I work for a creative content company that just completed a video for the Institute Of Medicine on returning veterans health.

    The video notes:
    * Rates of unemployment for vets is twice that of non-veterans
    * Half of returning vets report difficulty readjusting to civilian life
    * There is a high incidence of PTDS, depression, substance abuse amongst returning vets

    The IOM is launching this video in time for Veterans Day and is hoping to get as many people as possible to see it.

    Would you consider posting the video on your website, or possibly a link to the report or report brief?

    A preview of the video can be seen here:
    https://vimeo.com/110136576
    pw: veteran

    Report:
    http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Returning-Home-from-Iraq-and-Afghanistan.aspx

    Thanks for your consideration!
    The Truxton Creative Team

  11. Great blog. I work in the UK (at times with veterans) and it is really interesting to read about things “across the pond”,

  12. Dr. Deaton–

    I’m a journalist working on an article about depictions of combat and PTSD in popular culture, including the Hunger Games series. I really enjoyed your post on this, and was wondering if you’d be free for a quick phone interview this week (week of Nov. 9, 2015). Please do let me know! And happy to send along more information if that helps.

    m.h.schulson at gmail

    Thanks,

    Michael

  13. Good Evening Dr. Deaton,

    How is one able to reach you for a personal question? Would you possibly be wiling to email me a response so I may ask you a question? My website is Coachgraves.com, and you can reach me through the contact section.

    Hopefully I hear from you soon. I’m looking forward to it!

    Respectfully,
    Robert Graves

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