Sunday, September 18, 2011
Combat-Induced PTSD: Affliction of the Mind and Soul
The following is a guest post from Shane Allen Weber, who is the author of Galactic Quest.
I was in the U.S. Army for a little over 10 years, and I have been to Iraq with the 1st CAV DIV on two separate occasions -- both times for more than a year. *(See notes at end of this guest post.)
What is it that causes a grown man or woman to become afraid of the littlest noise or a shadow that they see out of the corner of their eye?
What is it that causes such hate and rage that spills over into their daily lives?
It is an affliction that most warriors suffer from for centuries and we are just now beginning to understand what causes it but have no cure for -- and it is called PTSD.
I am a combat vet who like most combat vets has an affliction that affects everyday life.
Some have lived with this affliction for decades and have never asked for help or even know that they have this problem.
Is life easy for us who have no visible wounds who have deep running scars? No, it is not because no one can tell what is wrong or even if there is something wrong with you just by looking.
Most people don’t see the pain and the emotion of these soldiers who live in constant torment and that of their families.
I go to group therapy where there is a mixture of war vets as far back as the Vietnam era. These guys and gals were the hardest hit by an ungrateful nation upon their return. They were looked at as something less than human.
Not only did they have to relieve the nightmare of the jungle in their minds all the time but they also had to deal with a country who hated them and a VA that was broken and slow at best.
I have had the pleasure of meeting one of the head shrinks that worked with combat vets during the Vietnam era. He told me and some of the others about how these vets were experimented on with electroshock therapy and other painful procedures.
They were treated no better than lab rats, and then when funding ran out, these war vets were tossed to the side to fend for themselves.
I found this to be very appalling, and I was sickened with the thought of my predecessors being treated no better than trash to be thrown to the side.
There has been a great deal of improvement in the treatment of all soldiers in the modern era. The VA works faster to get the compensation to the new batch of disabled veterans due to the “War on Terror.”
The only thing that has me kind of mad is that some Vietnam vets are still waiting for this compensation for the wounds they suffered during their time at war.
There are guys in the group therapy that I currently attend that have diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange. They have filed many claims through the VA for these conditions and have to wait a year to two years just to hear back on the decision that the medical board makes.
The worst part is the extra wait time that could be tacked on because they try and appeal the decision made by the board.
We talk about a great deal of things in our group. But we rarely ever talk about the underlying problems of our PTSD because these wounds are just too painful, and even if you do get the story out, it is going to still be there haunting you.
This is a fate most of us wish we could escape but cannot.
One of my most painful moments in the Iraq war has been immortalized on Ft. Hood. When I go on post I have to drive by the 1st CAV DIV memorial just to make sure that it is being taken care of.
I would hate for the elements or some inconsiderate person to harm this symbol of my first tour to Iraq. I still remember the day that this statue commemorates almost as if the day were just happening. It all appeared to happen in slow motion.
(The statue at the memorial represents a moment frozen forever of MPs and their medic helping to save a little boy’s life after a mortar attack. These mortars were meant for us and they ended up hitting three children and one adult.)
The emotional pain that PTSD causes for a family can be too much to bear at times. It is very common for the spouse to want to divorce or leave the person with the affliction.
If not kept in check in the family environment, PTSD could be a very dangerous thing.
I have read or heard about too many horror stories of the soldier coming home and killing his family without being aware of what was going on at the time because of the blackouts that can happen.
This blackout period is called “lost time.” To the person who is afflicted this point in time never existed. This tends to cause a great deal of legal problems for these men and women.
Some of the Vietnam vets in my group have had quite a few run ins with the law. The good thing that has come out of this is that there is a movement to try to form special courts to deal with the soldiers who have this disease.
In conclusion, PTSD is something that will affect the person who has it for the rest of his or her life. Their families will have to learn to cope with their loved one having PTSD or the family member will end up leaving the PTSD-afflicted person.
I can personally attest to this because there have been several times where my wife was ready to pick up and leave me. But once she has a little alone time she is fine and we talk about what had happened, and when necessary my wife attends my private therapy sessions.
The biggest thing to remember is that our warriors are still human even though they may act like monsters at times. We did not ask to have this problem thrust upon us, but it is what came along with the service to our country. This is the price that some pay to have served their country voluntarily.
*These statements are based off the observations and stories I have gotten from all my PTSD groups and single therapy. I left all statements generalized because of privacy to the people who spoke of these topics during these therapy sessions. No names were released and will not be release for any reason to protect the privacy of those involved.
Remember: Never take articles at face value. Always do research into whatever it maybe that you are reading about. Some information may be dated or may be different for a separate group of vets. I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read this post. I hope that it helped in some way.
Here are links to learn more about Shane Weber and his writing:
And for help with PTSD:
“From the Corners of a Wounded Mind” by Theodore Knell -- http://theoknell.com/my-book/
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the eBook novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS. Phyllis is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company Miller Mosaic LLC, which works with clients to attract more business. Read her posts at the company's social media marketing blog.
Visit the site of Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel.