As they entered the World War on April 6, 1917, the U.S. Army had something to prove. They succeeded with the help of great men, including Dayton-born Joseph T. Dickman, a former student at St. Mary’s Institute. He would become commanding general of the Army of Occupation under Gen. John J. Pershing.
The life story of Joseph Dickman lives on campus in a yellowed scrapbook in the archives on the second floor of Albert Emanuel Hall. Carefully turn back the pages and you’ll discover brittle newspaper clippings with headlines like “Dickman Leads Advancing Army.”
His sister kept the scrapbook; she signed the inside back cover, “Mrs. Chas. Frech, 16 1/2 Auglaize St., Wapakoneta, O.” As you unfold each story you reveal a new account of his life, from his many campaigns in Europe to his trip to Dayton in 1923 to receive from his former secondary school, now known as the University of Dayton, an honorary Doctor of Laws.
“It is a genuine pleasure … as this is the scene where the Brothers laid the foundation of my education more than half a century ago,” Dickman said in his address to the Class of 1923.
Dickman was born in Dayton Oct. 6, 1857. When his father went to fight in the Civil War, Dickman’s mother took the children to live in Minster, Ohio. There, he attended the village’s elementary school. In 1871, he returned to Dayton to attend St. Mary’s Institute. When his father was elected sheriff of Auglaize County, Ohio, the family moved to Wapakoneta, where Dickman graduated from high school before entering West Point.
In the army of the early 20th century, Dickman rode horseback to capture Mexican bandits, policed union strikes in Chicago, sailed to Cuba for occupation duty, fought insurgents in the Philippines and provided relief to China at the end of the Boxer Rebellion.
When war was declared in Europe on July 28, 1914, Dickman wrote that his cavalry unit was living a calm and peaceful existence. “Little did we dream that our cozy garrison of Fort Ethan Allen [Vermont] was soon to become one of the initial points in the hegira of a great American army to transatlantic fields of action,” he wrote in his memoir, The Great Crusade.
The United States had, as Dickman wrote, taken an “ultra-pacific” position on the war raging overseas. It was not until continued attacks by German submarines, and an intercepted correspondence showing Germany meant to ally with Mexico and threaten our southern border, that the U.S. intervened.
Dickman transferred to Camp Greene, North Carolina, where he assumed command of the 3rd Infantry Division and trained until they deployed to France in April 1919.
When the Americans arrived, they found the French influence on their activities stifling: Their units were distributed among the French, they took command instructions from the French, and they received little credit for victories they achieved. American officers began to question why the Americans could not lead independent operations, with Dickman particularly vocal about what he saw as the superior manners of his men. As Dickman wrote in his diary, “Colonel P. Brown C. of S. 2d says our secret service has written evidence that the reason English and French try to prevent us from having Corps and Army organization is that a victorious American Army would have too much influence in the peace negotiations. I asked Gen. [Hunter] Liggett whether the
time had come for us to speak out a little.”
The Americans began pushing their tactical suggestions, such as allowing the Germans to advance unmolested into the open before an attack. “[T]he principal object of the bit of bravado had only been to convince our Allies that the American rifleman was not under intimidation,” Dickman wrote in his memoir.
After a successful defense at Château-Thierry by the American Expeditionary Forces, Dickman noted a change in the French
attitude: “[I]t became apparent … that the days of tutelage, patronage and condescension had passed.”
Dickman wrote that he saw such respect intensify during battles, including the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient and at Meuse-Argonne. After the Armistice, Dickman was honored by an appointment as commanding general of the Third Army. Under Pershing, the Third Army became the Army of Occupation, with Dickman and his troops following the retreating Germans through France and back to the Rhine River.
As a forward to The Great Crusade, Pershing wrote of Dickman’s valor: “In July, 1918, the German advance against his front was halted by a regiment of his division in a most brilliant action. His Corps in the battle of Saint Mihiel and in the grilling struggle of Meuse-Argonne performed distinguished service. After the Armistice, under circumstances requiring tact and discretion, he commanded our Army of Occupation on the Rhine for several months with marked efficiency.”
“His services both in staff and line, whether in peace or war, have been marked by constant devotion to duty,” Pershing wrote.
For Dickman, the conclusion of his 45-year military career brought more travel, including an assignment to Texas. He attained the rank of major general, and he retired in 1921.
As an officer, Dickman held his men in high esteem. After the war, he wrote of their discipline and how it influenced the role America played in the World War. “Their conduct not only surprised the Europeans but exceeded the expectations of our best-informed officers,” he wrote. “From the moment of their enrollment they exhibited a degree of willingness, loyalty and devotion to duty that was beyond praise and was of inestimable value during the formative period of their careers.”
The admiration was returned. His men considered him a “soldier’s soldier” and endeared him with the nicknames “Uncle Joe” and “Daddy Dickman.” The evidence lies in the family scrapbook. Open it and unfold a tattered newspaper tucked lovingly inside. Upon his death, the newspaper of the 3rd (Marne) Division, The Watch on the Rhine, devoted its entire cover to the man the headline calls both a commander and a friend.
As it wrote, “His graciousness of spirit and nobility of character were symbolic of his life.”
To read an excerpt from Joseph T. Dickman’s memoir, please click here.
Among the battles in which Joseph T. Dickman commanded troops was the battle for the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient. The chunk of land in northeastern France had been seized by the Germans and blocked the Allies’ communications and transportation lines. In the war’s first independent U.S. operation and supported by the Allies, forces attacked the Germans in September 1918. Dickman commanded the IV Corps, sending three divisions in from the south. This included the 3rd Division, which he had commanded as it landed in France in April 1918. In Europe, Dickman found himself fighting not just the Germans but also the perceptions of the French and British militaries, which regarded the American troops as underprepared and the American tactics as foolhardy for their embrace of open warfare tactics. The success at St. Mihiel, followed closely by the battle of Meuse-Argonne, proved the mettle of the U.S. troops and the strategy of the Americans. It also made Dickman proud of his men.
The edited excerpt below is from his book The Great Crusade, published by
D. Appleton & Co. in 1927 just months before Dickman’s death following a heart attack. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
The immense fields of wire known to exist in front of the enemy’s lines gave me much concern. One method proposed of overcoming this obstacle was by means of portable sections of wire matting, which were to form a kind of bridge over the entanglement for the passage of attacking doughboys. A demonstration at Vaucouleurs on Sept. 8 was fairly successful.
The next day there was an exhibition of the operation of five French tanks at Autreville. These machines, in addition to dealing
effectively with machine-gun nests, were counted upon to go through fields of wire, unless the rains should make the soil of the [Plain of the] Woevre too soft and slippery. However, our principal reliance was placed on wire cutters, and arrangements were made to secure a large supply of the powerful two-handed kind to assist in clearing the way for the advance.
The only cavalry in the IV Corps was a squadron of the 2nd Cavalry, comfortably located in barracks and stables at Dommartin,
a mile east of Toul. A review of the squadron was held and an inspection of its equipment made, partly to show the troopers that, [as] their former colonel, [I] had not forgotten them among the large forces of the other arms now under [my] command.
One of the difficult things to teach new troops is the avoidance of exposure, not only on account of the unnecessary personal danger, but also, in many cases, to avoid betrayal of the plans of the High Command. At one time the division recently arrived in the Marbache sector was suffering daily casualties from artillery fire, about noon, although the sector was rather quiet at other times. One of the enemy’s aviators had discovered that the American soldiers formed long lines in the streets while waiting for their turns to be served with the midday meal at the company kitchen. This exposure furnished good opportunities for artillery concentrations which the enemy was not slow in utilizing. Eventually our local Commanding Officer realized that this artillery activity was not a mere coincidence, so he ordered that the men come up in groups of four, the rest remaining behind a wall or other cover until ready to be served.
The original plan of the American Commander-in-Chief, [Gen. John J. Pershing], contemplated a strategical operation of the highest importance, namely, a break in the enemy’s line and a deep advance at a point seriously menacing the line of communications so vital to the existence of his army. When the Meuse-Argonne operation was decided upon by the Allied High Command, the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient was considered as preliminary thereto and thus became a secondary and limited operation to flatten out the salient and to liberate the enclosed territory and several important lines of railroad.
The principal attack was to be made by nine American divisions; the secondary attack by two American and one French division; and the holding attack by a French corps of three divisions.
The Germans had established a succession of strongly fortified defensive lines, with many bands of wire. Their command, as organized, was divided into three groups, [with] six divisions in reserve.
The American concentration commenced on the 28th of August. As secrecy was highly important the movements were made by night, the marches being about 10 miles per day for foot troops and 15 miles for vehicles. In the daytime the troops were concealed in woods and buildings. In this way our forces opposite both sides of the salient were increased to about 600,000 men, but depositions on the outpost line were not changed until the last day, to prevent identifications. Although the Germans expected an attack, it came sooner and much stronger than they had anticipated.
The IV Corps was to attack on a front of about 6 miles, from Limey to Richecourt with the 89th, 42nd and 1st Divisions in line from east to west, each with a front of about 2 miles.
Promptly at 1 a.m. Sept. 12, the battle commenced when our artillery opened an intense fire of penetration that was intended to damage the German wire, destroy many of the enemy’s machine guns, and drive his troops to cover. On the southern face of the salient this artillery fire continued until 5 a.m., and the infantry of the corps front then moved out under a powerful barrage.
Some of the French generals had gone to the hills of Boucq to observe the great bombardment from the walls of the château. This was too far from Corps headquarters, where a busy time was in prospect; but a position on high ground about 200 yards in advance of the Corps dugout enabled me to witness, for about an hour, a display of fireworks never seen except in a great war. More than 2,000 fiery mouths belched forth their vehicles of destruction against the enemy who scarcely made a reply.
The attack came as a tactical surprise to the Germans who were thrown into the utmost confusion. Mustard gas fired on occupied woods and crossroads contributed to the disorder; large trains of transportation were caught on the roads and destroyed.
Rainy weather had left the ground soft and in poor condition for military operations. The 12th was cloudy, with squalls of rain; our air observation was deficient and rendered very mediocre assistance. The tanks got into trouble early in the game, on account of the mud, rough country and impassable trenches.
Much of the wire was found to be old and insecure. The enemy was demoralized by our artillery fire and the rapid advance of our troops, and made but weak resistance. Numbers came out of dugouts and gave themselves up. Occasional strong points and machine-gun nests made more resolute opposition, but as a rule the resistance was quickly overcome.
In the evening of Sept. 12 a report was received that the retreating German artillery was choking the roads south of Vigneulles and Hattonchâtel. The rumbling of retreating German transportation on that highway was audible in the night. This indicated a
good opportunity to make huge captures. Accordingly, the 2nd Brigade, with machine guns and cavalry, was ordered to advance in force to the outskirts of Vigneulles and Hattonville, so as to close all roads to the north and east of these towns.
y the evening of Sept. 13 the St. Mihiel operation practically was over. All the exits from the salient had been closed since early morning and the escape of the troops remaining therein cut off. Early in the day the last division had attained the Army Objective, and all divisions were consolidating their positions and operating towards
the Exploitation Line.
Sept. 16 marked the end of the battle of St. Mihiel, the front having become stabilized. The operation was a success in every respect. We captured nearly 16,000 prisoners, 182 guns, hundreds of machine guns, and an immense store of material, supplies and ammunition. [We] recovered 200 square miles of territory and freed the Paris-Avricourt railroad. The force and speed of our attack had overwhelmed the enemy so that he offered but slight resistance. Our casualties were so small, less than 7,000 during the period of advance, that these units were immediately available for another and greater operation in a new theater of war.
The greatest results of the victory were moral. It raised the morale of our troops and of our Allies; the Germans were correspondingly discouraged and began to realize that final defeat was inevitable. An efficient American army had been developed and its fighting power demonstrated to friend and foe. The victory gave our troops implicit confidence in themselves and a sense of superiority over the enemy. Wire entanglements ceased to be regarded as impassable obstacles, and training for open warfare required no further
To read some historical background about Joseph T. Dickman, please click here.No Comments
Los Angeles holds the top international spot for its claim to entertainment, fashion, cuisine and cultural hotspots. While being home to some of the world’s most famous actors and actresses, the City of Angels is also home to over 800 Flyer Faithful. With summer weather year-round these alumni get to enjoy tourist attractions like the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Getty Center just by going out their back doors.
Question: What was your biggest celebrity sighting?
I saw Mark Wahlberg at the West Hollywood Target. Much shorter in person; they all are! It seems on a weekly basis you do a double take and think, “Aren’t you that one person from that one thing?” It’s usually common to see a reality star or someone from a commercial. —Jimmy Scharpf ’11
I ran into Giuliana Rancic from E! News one morning when I was training for a snow bike race in the Santa Monica Mountains. She and her husband asked me what I was doing up in the mountain on my snow bike. And I’ve passed Forest Whitaker on the sidewalk across the street from my office. My husband and I have a mutual friend with Tig Notaro, so we sometimes do activities with her too! —Stephanie Grant ’01
I have only seen a few people, but the most “star struck” I got was when I saw a woman who used to write for the TV show Leverage. That was one of my favorite shows, so I was gushing
a bit when I found out. I’m a writer, so I suppose
it figures I would get that excited to meet a
fellow writer. —Erin Dooley ’00
Los Angeles Alumni By the Numbers
Total Alumni 829
Flyer Fusions 62
Most 1970s with 169
Arts & Sciences 386
Education & Health Sciences 103
Law 28No Comments
Sitting in the empty 50-seat theater with the tunes of Bach or Mozart filling the silent void, Tom Flynn ’77 finds his creative energies most focused. It is here, with only the light of his laptop flickering, where the screenplay writer says his characters speak to him best.
Flynn said he knows he has something special in that theater when stacked hours seem like mere minutes, and his “characters talk so fast, you have to tell them to slow down.” The whole process, he said “is kind of schizophrenic.”
But, his characters knew what they were talking about back in 2011, when a writing frenzy produced Gifted, a major Hollywood movie set to hit theaters nationwide April 12.
The story follows the difficulties of Frank Adler, played by Chris Evans, who tries to give his child prodigy niece (McKenna Grace) a chance for a normal life. Difficulties occur when Frank’s mother (Lindsay Duncan) wants to separate them. Other major actors and actresses set to appear in the film include Octavia Spencer and John Finn. The film was directed by Mark Webb.
For Flynn, this success is a testament to the frustrations of his early writing career. When he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, his scripts got picked up by some big Hollywood players: Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., the Weinstein Co., Twentieth Century Fox and The Walt Disney Co.
“I wrote nothing but comedies and romantic comedies while I lived in Los Angeles,” he said. “Comedies are fun because you try to make yourself laugh as much as possible, and you could sell them for a lot of money.”
That first script he wrote was sold to Paramount and, according to Flynn, had Eddie Murphy attached to it. More than 15 years later, Flynn was standing in front of the actor in a coffee shop and told the barista to add the tab for the guy standing behind him.
Murphy found Flynn and asked why he bought his coffee.
“Because you bought me my first house,” Flynn said to a very confused Murphy. “When I told him that he was attached to my first-bought script, he laughed and said, ‘You owe me a lot more coffee than that.’”
That script, along with so many others, stayed hidden from the silver screen.
“I’d have all these big sales that made me hot again [in the industry], but then they never got made,” Flynn recalled.
The long hours in isolation, bringing to life the characters and places his mind created, weeks away from his wife Andi Matheny — none of it seemed worth it.
“I was done with it,” Flynn said. “I was done writing and selling and then nothing happening.”
He left his paper and pen behind and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, to rehab old houses. But he couldn’t let it go. For three years, he had stories and ideas but refused to be disappointed again.
Matheny, a voice-over artist, provided the final push to encourage her husband: Either write a drama or get a normal job. And as Flynn admitted, “Having a cartoon mouse yell at you like that is sobering.”
Five weeks later, he had written Gifted. The script caught the eye of Hollywood legend Meryl Streep in 2013, giving it a boost of street cred. The next year, Gifted was selected by The Black List, a filmmaker survey, as one of the best unproduced screenplays of 2014.
At 61, the English graduate seems to have some long years of scriptwriting ahead of him. He is currently rewriting the movie TOGO for Disney, as well as writing the script for a movie adaptation of the Peter Heller novel The Dog Stars.
“The good and bad thing about Hollywood is this: You write scripts and never get a movie made. But the good side is there are automatic elevators if you do get a movie made.”
It seems Flynn is on that elevator now and hopes the gift of Gifted lets him ride it for as long as he can.
George Scott Baker is an average guy. He’s OK with it, though, and he wants other average folks to embrace their averageness too. In fact, he gives entire seminars on how to be average. Baker, the alter ego of Andy Boehnlein, says that being average gets a bad rap when it really shouldn’t.
“People think of average as not even trying,” said Boehnlein. “But it’s really about being OK with who you are rather than
being stressed out all the time trying to keep up with the person next to you.”
George’s debut was hardly average, however. He appeared on Chicago’s famed The Second City stage in what Boehnlein called, “kind of a terrible sketch.” Still, Boehnlein, who spent six months studying sketch writing, improv and acting during his sophomore year, never forgot about his pal George.
Years later, Boehnlein wondered what George would look like and what he would have to say. He revived the quirky fellow thanks, in part, to his general studies major that included comedy, leadership and philosophy.
“It built a steady foundation for us both,” said Boehnlein who today demotivates (as George, of course) university staff and
recreational sports departments all over the U.S. His message?
“It’s really rooted in living a purposeful life and being OK with being you,” Boehnlein said. “I then relate it to leadership and how it applies to a job.”
As for the goofy outfit and terrible wig, Boehnlein said it relaxes people and reminds them not to take themselves too seriously.
“People hear this kind of message a lot, but I like to say that I trick people into really understanding
Boehnlein, who also works for the University of Michigan intramural sports league, would eventually like to introduce George to the corporate world. For now, he’s happy with George being, well, average.
In this jubilee year, the siblings are celebrating.
The Marianist brothers and sisters each mark 200 years of service to their communities during a worldwide, 20-month celebration.
“Both religious institutions have been ‘siblings’ from the beginning, according to the mind of our founders,” wrote the superiors general of the Society of Mary and the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.
Born out of the chaos of the French Revolution, the congregations’ roots began in diverse lay communities of faith open to all Christians. Founded by the Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon and Marie Thérèse de Lamourous, the lay communities grew and sparked the desire of a small group eager to take religious vows.
“Our Marianist founders’ vision for rebuilding society and Church through a network of dynamic and engaged faith communities is as applicable today as it was 200 years ago,” said Sister Leanne Jablonski, F.M.I. ’85, director of the Marianist Environmental
Education Center at Mount St. John and Hanley Sustainability Institute scholar-in-residence for faith and environment.
“Marianist sisters today live Adèle’s spirit by collaborating with our other Marianist branches and with other organizations to
address justice concerns, including the needs of women, children, the environment and those in poverty. In Pope Francis’ spirit of hope, mercy and care, we are joyfully building a Church and world where no one is left out.”
The jubilee theme “To know, love and serve” highlights actions ever-present in Marianist text and traditions.
The celebration began May 15, 2016, just prior to the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, and encompasses the founding anniversary of the Society of Mary, Oct. 2, 1817.
The celebration continues through Jan. 22, 2018, the feast day of Chaminade.
The congregations commissioned a three-paneled icon, which is traveling the world visiting Marianist communities. It features artwork of the wedding feast at Cana created by Brother Salvatore Santacroce, S.M., of Italy. Flanking the art are original letters penned by Adèle and Chaminade.
“The icon is a way to unify every Marianist community,” said Father Bob Jones, S.M. ’98, chaplain at Chaminade Julienne High School, during the icon’s December visit to Dayton.
The Society of Mary founded what would become known as the University of Dayton in 1850. The Marianist sisters joined them on campus in 1962 when the University opened its first women’s residence hall. Both congregations remain integral to campus, religious and scholarly life.
“We are small but mighty,” said Sister Laura Leming, F.M.I. ’87, associate professor of sociology. “We have about 330 sisters and are the smallest of the three branches. When we choose a ministry, it’s often to complete the Marianist Family because we are best when we — women and men, lay and religious — are together,” she said.
This will again be the case in Malawi, where the sisters will, in a new ministry this year, complement the works of the Society of Mary and lay communities by teaching in a high school for girls. The sisters will also be starting a ministry in Vietnam, their 16th country of service and as the first religious branch to go there.
“I think [Adèle] encourages us to be risk takers and to, in faith, know that Mary and her son will be with us,” said Sister Estella Ibarra, F.M.I. ’68, former member of the general administration in Rome. “When you use that refrain over and over in prayer and everyday
activity, pretty soon you live it. It becomes more than a mantra; it becomes a reality.”
Today, the Marianist Family operates 18 high schools, three universities, four retreat centers and six parishes in the United States. Worldwide, they can be found on six continents and in 34 countries.
“Few things last 200 years these days in our rapidly changing world,” said UD President Eric F. Spina. “Yet the Marianist charism has endured and thrived during an era when it seems we’re always busy chasing the next big idea, when faith and culture often clash, when electronic communication replaces, all too
often, personal conversations.”
Two hundred years ago, Chaminade recognized power in the revolutionary call for “liberty, equality and fraternity,” said Father Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68, vice president for mission and rector. But he also realized something was missing — Christian values. The violence of the Revolution betrayed the Christian values on which it rested.
“If we were all sons and daughters of God, the violence of the Revolution wouldn’t be a part of it,” Fitz said of Chaminade’s insight. “We talk a lot about community. It is rooted in this time, when through adversity we somehow came together to support each other but also to be witnesses to different values — to working together and collaborating across class lines.
“How do we dialogue; how do we work together for a common humanity; how do we keep faith in the mix? Chaminade showed us how in his day and age. We must do the same today.”
*Blue dots: Brothers and Priests — The Society of Mary 1,056
*Orange dots: Daughters of Mary Immaculate 331No Comments
“What does a white guy in a suit know about poor people?”
That’s what David Phillips said everyone asked when he decided to open a nonprofit to help low-income people find jobs.
And Phillips has made it his mission to know as much as he can about poverty and its far-reaching consequences. After retirement, Phillips and his wife, Liane, looked at their hometown of Cincinnati — a city with pockets of high poverty — and decided to do something.
They opened Cincinnati Works in 1996 to help residents find jobs. Over time, Phillips learned that the problem goes deeper than simply locating employment.
“People can find a job,” Phillips said. “The hard part is keeping it.”
The reasons are complicated. Phillips says single parents get fired because they have to take time off work when a child is sick. Mental illness can also create roadblocks.
“It seems to have nothing to do with keeping a job, but it has everything to do with it,” Phillips said.
To help ease those stressors, CW provides assistance with childcare, transportation, work clothes, and mental and physical health care for the entire family, as well as assistance to help with any other barriers to employment.
The biggest impact the organization has had, though, has been on Phillips himself, who says he is amazed at the strength of the human spirit. He recalled attending a CW participant’s wedding.
“This big, tall guy ran over to me and picked me up off the floor. He said that without the CW, he’d be dead right now. That was powerful.”
According to its own statistics, CW has placed more than 9,000 people in the workforce since it opened its doors in 1996.
Phillips is now traveling the nation sharing the CW model with other communities.
“Poverty is totally unacceptable in our society,” Phillips said. “It’s a condition that strips people of all human dignity. It’s time for citizens to say it is our responsibility and it’s time to say ‘no’ to poverty.”
Is it one big, happy family or life in a bubble?
We asked that question of Allison Leigh, director of Marianist strategies in the Office for Mission and Rector. Her doctoral dissertation was on “The Catholic and Marianist Culture at the University of Dayton as Revealed Through Student Voices.”
People at UD know there is a distinctive culture here but often have a hard time articulating it. They speak of “that feeling you get on campus” or describe it as a friendly and hospitable place where people open doors for one another.
Sometimes they describe it as life in a bubble.
Being both friendly and insular seems paradoxical. Perhaps not. Those who see life here as life in a bubble are quick to emphasize the importance of “bursting the bubble” by getting off campus into the city or going overseas on an immersion trip.
According to students, the “UD bubble” can be positive, helping them connect to each other and giving them pride in a shared experience, but UD also encourages gaining new perspectives beyond the bubble.
Inside and outside the bubble, relationships are the foundation of students’ growth.
In doing my research, I heard students speak of how living, socializing and praying together helped them understand and appreciate differences between themselves and others as well as learn about their own strengths and weaknesses. They spoke of the importance of finding a smaller community — whether in a living-and-learning program, Campus Ministry or Greek life — with whom one shares the same values, of the role such communities play in discovering one’s vocation.
The first Marianists — lay and religious — came together in small groups. The members of these sodalities, or faith communities, were united by shared values. As with today’s students, they also believed that education can happen anywhere. Students I talked with spoke of learning in their courses,
in co-curriculars and in campus employment.
And students today, like those early Marianists, are looking beyond their small communities. Like the Marianist founders, today’s UD students believe they can transform the Church and the world.No Comments
When a health trauma leads to a mental health crisis, medical professionals and patients have a new, groundbreaking resource for ensuring a patient’s emotional health isn’t on the
Michelle Flaum Hall ’02 nearly lost her life when she gave birth.
She went to the hospital anxious and excited to meet her daughter. But as doctors induced labor, she suffered the most severe type of hemorrhage and required 18 units of blood — the equivalent of the entire blood supply of a person plus half that of another.
She underwent an emergency Caesarean and a life-saving hysterectomy. She spent five days in the intensive care unit and developed pneumonia.
A steady stream of health care professionals visited her room to give her additional units of blood, monitor her vital signs, check her incision, look for infection, adjust her IVs, administer painkillers and closely monitor her physical recovery. But, Hall says, “My emotional needs weren’t even on the radar.”
Now, she is working to change that for other patients.
Hall, a graduate of the counselor education program, and her husband, Scott Hall, associate professor of counselor education and human services, have written a new guide for health care professionals that, for the first time, describes best practices for treating medical trauma in health care settings.
They say the need was clear: Too often, the emotional costs of medical experiences go undetected, untreated and unvoiced. It is staggering to think about the number of people who might be affected, they write. Every minute in the United States, one person will have a heart attack and two will suffer strokes; every hour, nearly six women will suffer grave complications while giving birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Their book, Managing the Psychological Impact of Medical Trauma: A Guide for Mental Health and Healthcare Professionals, offers models for how to bring mental health professionals into the treatment team to ensure a patient’s emotional health isn’t on the back burner. It also gives doctors, nurses and students the tools and strategies they need to recognize signs of stress in patients and their families.
“Health care has really become a team sport, in a sense. But what we have seen is mental health is still sometimes separated, or even absent,” said Michelle Flaum Hall, an associate professor in counseling at Xavier University.
“We want to put the need for mental and emotional well-being on the radar for health care professionals and for patients,” Scott Hall added. “It starts with awareness.”
Building a bridge
There’s never been a better time to work to bridge the gap between mental and physical health care to better meet the needs of patients, the Halls write in their book. Medicine has made great strides in treating the whole person, but more can be done to address the emotional effects of medical trauma.
“In medicine, it’s often only about doing the surgery, making sure this person is healing properly and getting the right medication,” Michelle Flaum Hall said. “There’s nothing that says, ‘You might really struggle emotionally following this surgery. Here are some signs of depression or anxiety, and here are the resources that can help you.’”
The Halls drew on their own experiences as patients and professionals to develop tools that allow clinicians to be much more proactive about protecting a patient’s emotional well being.
One tool, the Medical Mental Health Screening, helps doctors flag risk factors in patients before a surgery or treatment. It asks patients to mark “yes” or “no” on a series of statements, such as “I have experienced depression at some time in my life” or “I tend to be pessimistic about many things (for example, the future or my health).” It also gauges whether the patient is worried about going under anesthesia or how their families will cope with the illness or procedure.
Other tools help monitor the patient’s emotional well-being after a procedure, including the Secondary 7-Lifestyle Effects Screening. The checklist also uses “yes” or “no” questions, such as, “Since my medical procedure/diagnoses, I have had to alter my life plan or have been unable to reach important milestones (for example, delayed graduation or marriage, relocation).”
Also included are tools Michelle Flaum Hall developed as part of her work on a maternal safety bundle for the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care. The materials lay out what every hospital should have in place to support women, their families and health care providers when the unexpected happens, said Christine H. Morton, research sociologist at Stanford University and program manager for the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative.
“The impact for this work in the area of maternity care is potentially quite high,” said Morton, who worked with Michelle Flaum Hall as part of the council. “This book is essential reading for every maternity care clinician in the United States.”
The assessments, available online at hawthorneintegrative.com, are also important for many patients because it can be difficult to recognize what is happening to them emotionally. Physicians need interventions and strategies in place automatically, as the Halls write, as a “safety net to ensure that fewer patients who experience medical trauma ‘slip through the cracks’ of a health care system that can sometimes have a singular focus on caring for the physical body at the expense of all else.”
“We’re all responsible,” Michelle Flaum Hall said. “It doesn’t end when the patient walks out the hospital doors. We have to do a better job of protecting patients’ mental health.”
A personal journey
Medical trauma goes beyond what is obviously a traumatic event — like someone in a car crash who is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with life-threatening injuries. Any kind of medical experience can be medical trauma. There are different levels of trauma, and many just aren’t on the radar, the Halls write.
Patients can also suffer emotional effects later — long after a hospital stay or doctor’s visit.
“Patients can suffer what we call a secondary crisis,” said Scott Hall, whose more than two decades of experience as a counselor includes work with veterans who experience trauma. “A traumatic event can impact them in terms of their careers, their relationships and in developmental milestones. And sometimes that impact might not show up for three months, six months, 12 months.”
Scott Hall said he gained insight into secondary crises after he had lower-back surgery and realized he could no longer do taekwondo with his daughter. Their weekly lessons had been a bonding time over the eight years they earned black belts together. With his surgery, he was not able to achieve the second-degree black belt they had been working toward, although his daughter did.
“I couldn’t do taekwondo anymore. I couldn’t do the kicks or the twists. I had to stop doing the very thing we shared for years, and in some ways it redefined our relationship,” he said.
“I had to think about what the new normal was, and what else in my life I needed to modify,” he said. “And I realized: If I’m experiencing this, how many modifications are other people trying to make in their lives by themselves as a result of health care? It highlights the need on a much larger scale of how there are deficits in the health care system.”
Scott Hall, whose experience as a patient is built into a case study in the book, said he has addressed similar issues with patients and friends. It could be someone who can no longer play golf. Or someone who can no longer run with their husband, wife, son or daughter because of an orthopedic injury — an example they use in the book.
“It’s the kind of medical event that a lot of people would say is outpatient surgery — no big deal,” Michelle Flaum Hall said. “The focus of recovery is very much on managing pain and recapturing whatever mobility may be possible. But something like an orthopedic injury and surgery can be the first of many dominos to fall in someone’s life, because all of a sudden they’re not as mobile and they’re not engaging in aspects of their lifestyles that are really important to them.”
Even for professionals, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of depression and get treatment. Michelle Flaum Hall described herself in the hospital as “utterly drained” and “exhausted, raw and very fragile.” In a daze, she did not ask for mental health care.
“If anyone on my treatment team had enlisted the help of a mental health professional … then I could have begun treatment for what eventually became PTSD,” she wrote for Nursing for Women’s Health. She notes PTSD refers to a long-term clinical set of symptoms, which for her stemmed from the magnitude and complexity of the trauma she experienced and the fact that she spent several more days in the hospital where the trauma originally occurred.
Sharing her story in the Nursing for Women’s Health clinical journal started the Halls’ journey to write the book. Through new connections, the Halls pitched the idea for the book and received almost immediate acceptance.
“It’s been a very personal journal for me,” Michelle Flaum Hall said, “because it’s been about ensuring the suffering I endured was not in vain, and I could potentially make a difference, even in a small way in sharing my story.”
Michelle and Scott Hall hope their book can revolutionize the way mental health and health care professionals work together to better meet the needs of patients. From current practitioners to better training protocols, their goal is to have this model at the forefront of people’s minds when they approach their work with patients.
And while the book is written for health care professionals, the message has resonated outside the industry.
“People reached out with their personal stories of being patients or knowing patients, and knowing how painful emotionally these experiences can be,” Michelle Flaum Hall said. “They just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for bringing awareness because there was a hopefulness that something would change.”1 Comment
Over 16 days, I traveled a lot and saw a lot of basketball. The A-10 women’s tournament in Richmond. The men’s A-10 in Pittsburgh. The First Four in Dayton. The NCAAs in Indianapolis and Louisville.
Now basketball is but a thing on television until November.
But there are memories. Both Dayton teams playing hard and together. The UC Davis men celebrating the program’s first Division I tournament appearance with a victory. The Tennessee women — a program that has played in every women’s NCAA in history.
And the arenas: Richmond — “Think Hara Arena,” said a friend comparing the Coliseum to a Dayton landmark; Pittsburgh — you can tell the building is home to a hockey team; Dayton — the all-time-record-holding NCAA host; Indianapolis — where there was some green among the red on St. Patrick’s Day; and Louisville — a friend who is a native of that city, noted, “College basketball is king and queen in Kentucky.”
And food in the different cities: Richmond, where former UD Mag editor Matt Dewald led me to a different nationality restaurant each meal; Pittsburgh, now a foodie heaven; a nice meal in Indy; and then Louisville, where at a restaurant with 100 bourbons on the menu you can eat tortellini with ham and black-eyed peas.
But mostly I remember the people: friends, relatives, the Flyer News sports editor whom I sat next to on press row in Indy, the reporters from Nashville who showed me how find the media gate under the bridge in Louisville, relatives of players, fans of all ages.
UD is often described in clichés — we open doors for one another, we are family, we travel well.
I remember professor Joe Pici a half century ago asking, “What really is a cliché?”
What if it is true?No Comments