The responses to the PTSD article were overwhelming: my email was full and my voice messaging was full. Even though the focus was on combat veterans, the responses were two to one, women with PTSD/abuse issues. Listed here are a few of those responses.
Hi Again David,
I "have the need" to comment on your article PTSD. Its understood "we can never walk in ones shoes" so I'm not into critiquing your article. Your article provoked me to response.
In the late 60s and early 70s, I was in high school. Being from Honolulu, I got to experience the Vietnam era in a much different way than Americans on the Mainland. Very often on Sundays, I had (was forced) to go up to Tripler Army hospital and talk with the guys who were recovering or being made well enough to make the flight home. For me, this trauma has remained with me till this day. I can still smell the hospital, hear the voices, remember the guys and the hate I had for America for doing this to these guys. I've seen guys with no limbs, no flesh, no face, organs being stuck back in. During the week when a ship or plane came in, the need for blood bought us out of school to donate. The streets were filled with soldiers. There was 10 soldiers to every local person.
On the mainland at the time we saw on TV all the protesting going on. I never once saw any of these protesting groups come to Tripler Army or to Punchbowl National Pacific Cemetery to donate blood, offer assistance to the guys, or just show support. These were perhaps bothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors of someone who was serving in the Vietnam and the most they could do was protest. Oh families who were affected by the loss of their loved one grieved and are still grieving perhaps, but they weren't there for the whole. Do I sound bitter? Yep, I am because we, the children nobody wanted, the children who were abused, the children who had no families, the children who were in battle trying to survive to adulthood were picked to assist rather than those from "normal" families and friends. I continued to do what I could after high school. I married a Vietnam Vet, he was on a Navy PT boat. We got divorced way back when but not because of any problems associated with his service. He saw very little action, for he was doing his best to get out of whatever he was getting into. He worked for a while helping returning Vets get back into the mainstream. Now that he is older, things are beginning to hit him. Its like all his feelings were hiding in a cave somewhere within him and all of sudden the cave caved-in. He's doing well, but like you said it never goes away. We've been divorced 20+ years, and I saved all his Vietnam stuff for the kids. He doesn't even know this because after he threw them out, I picked them all up and stored them away. Now he is beginning to talk to the girls about his experiences; I'm wondering if I gave the stuff to the girls and they show him will it be devastating for him. What do you think? He recently asked me if I still had the addresses of some of his service buddies, he wanted to contact them. I gave him the addresses and he went to visit a few.
Thanks David, thank you for reminding us and thank you for your honesty.
DAMN! Benny, thanks for sharing this incredible article you have written on PTSD! I cannot thank you enough and God Bless you my brother. With your permission I would like to link it to the Spur pages. I think it will be a help to our other brothers and perhaps their families also!
You haven't lost your touch, once again you are incredibly on target. Thank goodness you've hung on, survived, and are helping others.
Know all about PTSD. I first twigged that something was amiss back in 1978. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how holocaust survivors of WWII, those who had well adjusted children were the survivors who talked about their experiences, those whose children were neurotic were survivors who did not speak about it. It got me to thinking and I started talking to my roommates a bit - seemed to help, for a while.
Then in 1981 I started to implode. Luckily, I ran across a Veteran's demonstration and a fellow there had a poster with the 12 symptoms of PTSD - I had 10. I visited the local Veteran Outreach Clinic and talked for 45 minutes with the counselor. I asked "what do you think?" He replied, "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a fucking duck - we have a group session that starts tonight at 7, I suggest you join it."
Well, for six weeks I tried to dump every last bit of undigested war experience I had. I even found stuff I didn't even know was bothering me. After that I started counseling, I was doing fine until a fellow came in who had been in Operation Phoenix. I started to get swallowed up in the horror behind his eyes and I passed him to someone else, left the Center and didn't go back except to get my coffee cup 3 weeks later. When I got to Australia, the Aussies also had Centers, but they didn't do group counseling. I spent 6 weeks chairing the first group in Australia to show them how to do it.
I basically just stay away from "triggers". If a song comes up and I start to feel a shifting of my mental state, I turn it off. I have been pretty good, but occasionally have relapses. Getting in touch with A 3/17 was a leap of faith, I argued with myself for about 2 weeks before I e-mailed Roger Young.
I really can't read books about 'Nam without some reaction. I was given "Hunter-Killer" by a friend and got about halfway through it and started having dreams. I put it down and didn't pick it up for 3 weeks, and then I just scanned the last half.
Every year in Australia there is what is called the ANZAC march, where all the veterans get together. I stopped going. A friend has the contract to fly the last B model Huey in the Australian inventory. He flies for special occasions and offered me some stick time at the next ceremony. I hadn't flown a B model since '68. I got real excited about it, went to bed and woke up at 2 in the morning from a dream about flying in Viet Nam. The "demons were out of the box." I hadn't had a dream about flying in 'Nam for more than a decade. I was in one ugly turmoil for about and hour and a half, then I put on some headphones with calming music and started reading a book I have on Albert Einstein.
It took another hour and a half, but I finally got the "demons back in the box". Yeah, I got PTSD. But as I control my diabetic condition with diet (no insulin), I also control the PTSD by avoiding any "triggers."
So "don't drag the skids" heh! Too bad your platoon leader didn't fly B & C model gunships his first tour. That was the only way to get them off the ground. As far as not pulling excessive power, I don't think I ever pulled maximum power on a Cobra, even if it was loaded to the gills. On my first tour we lost two crews to engine failures. The only way we could fly the missions were to pull the guts out of aircraft. It became a bit of showmanship if you takeoff and even though you would bleed off some of the rotor RPM, you could get it flying without the low RPM beeper coming on. Because of those memories of high EGT and blown hot-ends - memories of burning aircraft- I just never wanted to work an engine hard. My hovers at A Troop probably never exceeded 6 inches.
My nemesis at A Troop was P. I realize I wasn't the only one who hated his guts, but I was the one he specially targeted to try and demean. I can only surmise that he was a new Captain and wanted to "be in charge" to have "respect." I thought he was a jerk. I knew more about gunning than he would ever learn, and perhaps he felt that a threat to his position. I almost killed him one night at Soc Trang. It was the closest I have ever been to killing someone not in combat. I was loosing it by the minute and the only way I could recover my center was to vow to kill him - but later. I ended up late that night at the CO's room and told him what had happened, it was the main reason for me transferring to Scouts. When I left the Army, I took P's particulars so that I could follow up on my vow. It took me 8 years to let it go.
We were all very young then. I am sure that I was an ass-hole too.
Perhaps P matured and developed into a fine man. If he didn't, then he was the worst enemy he could have had. This hate thing is fairly common among veterans. Sometimes we hate ourselves for something we did or didn't do, or we hate someone else for something they did or didn't do. There was a lot of stress over there. I suppose there was a lot of stress on someone who received their Captain bars. I saw a lot of men change once they had been promoted. It doesn't excuse their behavior, it only gives a perspective on it. When it comes to how a Captain should act, all I have to remember is how my father or Bill Reynolds acted.
Perhaps your nemesis grew out of his "jerk-off" phase and once again joined the human race. Maybe if you ran into him you guys might even have a laugh about what an ass-hole he once was. In regards to P, I decided not to let the memories of a Captain Dickhead have an influence on my life.
I never thought I was coming back from my second tour. It was a surreal experience walking around the hometown when I got back. Every day has been a "freebee" since Nam.
Thanks for the article. I have passed it on to my wife so that she has a better understanding of me.
Although I have not been diagnosed with PTSD, I know from my actions that I have the disorder. But for fear of being considered a nut case, I have never sought treatment. Fortunately, I have been able to handle the situation. However, to read articles like this does help me understand me and thus allow for my sanity to remain intact.
Once again, thank you for the article and keep up the good work of getting the message out to the masses.
Thank you for the article on PTSD which I found on Roger and Pam Young's website. Some I knew, some I did not. I am going to share it with The Lady
Upon Whom the Sun Rises and Sets (she is,
after all she knows, unafraid of me).
I am so compelled to write to you and tell you my life story and I don't know why. Perhaps it is because we share some feelings in common or perhaps it is because I know you could relate to my story and take things out of it to help others. I am not sure. I sit here holding myself back knowing you don't need to hear it. It is only in the last 3 years of my life I have been dealing with my pain out in the open and I have gone through some major changes. I really never knew what caused me to be so emotional growing up but inside I had a feeling it was the ugly things that had happened to me from age 3 to 13. As soon as I got the strength I ran and I kept running until about 3 years ago when I confronted one of the last living perpetrators, who is a family member. This created a whole new set of problems and I shut down for a long time, perhaps re-gathering the strength inside to carry on with my life.
A part of your PTSD page hit me like a ton of bricks. It was where you said so many people say to you, "Why can't you just let it go?" My answer was always, "I don't know why!" I'd hid my secrets inside for many many years, but when I'd heard that one of my perps might be doing it still, I totally lost it. Something inside me told me that I had to come forward and tell my darkest secrets. I wanted to believe that in doing so I might save it from tearing another child's life apart, but all through the telling I was accused of doing it for attention and to lash back and hurt the ones who had hurt me. Inside, a part of me is still a frightened child trying to cope with this old and fragile person who now stares back at me from my mirror. I've wept a ton of tears and in the process I was disowned by my family. I kept telling myself I had to tell everything and that in the end we could all hug and say our sorries and we would just pick up and go on and be stronger, but this is rarely how things work, as I am sure you are very aware. My world turned upside down once again and I really thought all the years I ran trying to drink and drug myself to death were because I had a terrible terrible illness in my head, an illness that lay hidden waiting to take me out of this sad sad world, but a part of me refused to lay down and die. A part of me wanted to understand and pick myself up and go on. With each step I took into myself, researching my memories, trying to find some thread to stitch myself back up and become stronger, I became more and more bewildered. All I could find was a small wounded crazy child inside who is wild as hell.
What on earth could this be doing to help myself or anyone? Why can't I close the chapter on all of this and move on? I felt it seemed so cruel to leave that part of me where she was, alone and hurt. I wanted to rock her and let her know that I had not forgotten her (her being myself). It seemed so crazy to me and at times it still does.
When I read your page the bricks kept falling from the huge wall I had built over the last 30 or more years; one by one they disintegrated and I get closer to her, when all the sudden, out of nowhere, last night bam! I realized I weep for not only the abused child but the child I will never have! One of the great injuries that came from my abuse was a miscarriage at age 12 that left me unable to have any of my own children. I know now that a lot of the rage I hold on to is for the child I will never have, as well as for the child who was never saved back then. By saved I mean never taken out of the situation; no one had the courage to help me then and I did not have any of the skills to help myself at the time. All this stuff I write to you, all these things I share are my way of thanking you for giving me some of these skills last night, for being brave enough to tell your story. You give me and many others new found strength to face ourselves in the mirror and say, Hey we made it! Hey I am still here and I can hold myself together and look back without all the anger, without all the pain. I can survive.
Thank you, David and hugs from me to you. Thank you for your time and understanding. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your honesty and caring. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made in your life so that I and others could live! This takes a special caring heart and it has been a pleasure to see your beautiful heart!
Articles Table of Contents
International Wellness Directory Home Page
Copyright © 1995, 1998,
International Wellness Directory
You may copy, print, reprint, and/or transfer this entire article, if and only if it is unmodified and in its complete state with this copyright notice attached and all the links work properly.