When I look over at Bob every morning, I am so grateful he survived Vietnam, that we managed to stick together through the worst days of undiagnosed (because there was no such diagnosis) untreated PTSD, and that we are still together and happy.
I look at him and I see the
costs of war when he was a wild man, drinking, smoking pot and taking
valium which just kept him down to WIRED. He could not have survived
without those things so I am glad he had them, even though at the time they pissed me off.
I see him not able to sleep during an anniversary period last year and
how they jerked him around at the VA because he went in and asked for
Valium. That made him a junkie in their stupid eyes, although they could
have checked his medical records and seen he hadn't had or needed it
since 1995. They tried every other thing for 12 days on the weird ward
(as Bob calls it), even an elephant tranquilizer, and finally sent him
home with a dangerous cousin of Valium that you're not supposed to give
to old people, and then told him to go to the ER when he called to talk
to the psychiatrist about how drugged it made him feel. Like saying
I also look at him and think how grateful I am for his
new VA psychiatrist who treats him like he is a valuable human being
instead of a veteran shaped blob. She has helped him more than any
psychiatrist he's had at the VA, and he's had some doozies.
him immersed in learning new things. I see him sometimes totally
disconnected from me, and I know that is part of the price of war. I
used to think it meant he didn't love me. Now I know it is the
anniversary of something, some time when he flew into a hail of bullets
because it was his job and then later went back to pull out wounded or
bring ammo because he and his fellow Vietnam helicopter pilots would do
anything for the grunts.
Sometimes he grins and says it's all gravy,
that he never expected to live this long. I laugh, but I am so grateful
that I get to live with this brave, strong, smart, funny, sarcastic,
To all the veterans out there: I am glad you made it
back. I hope your life is good. If it is not, you deserve to heal your
wounds and find how you can have a good life. Believe me, it is not in a
bottle or a pipe or on TV, although you may need those things sometimes
just to stay alive. If you need help, please go ask for it at a Vet
Center or wherever you can find it. And if you don't think you need
help, but people are nagging you about it, maybe you can pause and ask
yourself what you would say to some younger guy who was acting like you?
Would you think he could use some help?
Veterans Day is about the living as well as the dead. Alive, but feel dead? That is PTSD and there is help.