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Saturday, November 9, 2013

How I overcame my PTSD - I stopped Crying

How I overcame Delayed Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

First, a brief history of my Dad. Please, I know it’s boring for some. But, his story is relevant to the story I’m about to tell.

My father was in the Infantry during WWII. He was with the 42nd Rainbow Division of the US Army and served Infantry combat on the Western front. He experienced the full fury the German Army presented in those dark days.

He was a Ranger with his Division and in those days Ranger’s did a lot of recon ahead of the main

unit. One day, he was pinned down by machine gun fire, surrounded by German SS troops and his whole squad was killed except for him.With that stroke of luck, my other two brothers would be born. Discovery of these events only surfaced long after my mother and father passed away.
After coming home. Click to enlarge.

My Dad was then interrogated (not a pleasant experience) and taken to what became East Germany after the War. He was put into a prisoner of war camp where he was finally liberated by the advancing Russian Army.

Upon going home, my mother was not allowed to see her husband for six months. Dad had been so emaciated by his captivity, the Army wouldn't allow her even a single visit. Without question, my father suffered greatly.

No one knew what he had been through. Click to enlarge.
My mother and father were very close and raised three boys only separating upon the death of one. My father never uttered a single word of his WWII experience the entire time he was alive. Mom, apparently agreed to never say a word either because she was equally silent to the very end. My father was a man in the strictest sense.

Now, about PTSD. When I came back from infantry service in Vietnam, 1967-1968, I was a mess. I remember feeling so sorry for myself. Prior to going into the Army the LA Dodgers were scouting me but when I came home I had lost interest in anything prior to my war in the ‘Nam.

I lived at home with mom and dad for a while and generally pouted and cried myself to sleep. I didn't want to work. I didn't know what I wanted to do and walked around in a daze, day and night. I had bad dreams all the time. By today’s standards I was suffering PTSD.

However, my father came to the rescue. I’ll never forget the day. My dad cornered me in the garage without my mother present, grabbed me by the nap of my shirt and slammed me up against the wall. He told me, “Snap out of it. You’re not the only person to have suffered. Your behavior is not manly. You have your whole life ahead of you and you have an obligation to yourself, your family and your fallen friends, to be all you can be. Stop crying in your beer and man up. Never talk about Vietnam again”.

Then he went to my room, gathered up a couple guns I acquired and took them outside and locked them into the trunk of his car. I never saw those guns again. He went back to my room, gathered up all my war paraphernalia including my military uniform, newspaper clippings of the war and anything else regarding my military service, put it all in a pile in the back yard and poured gasoline on the stuff. He lit a match and everything about the military was gone.

While the fire burned, he turned to me and said, “Quit crying like a baby. Man up and get over it”. He turned away and never said another word about Vietnam, the military or anything else having to do with war.

In retrospect my father may have saved my life. He insulted my manhood and appealed to my pride. He did what no other person could have done. My father, the man, made me become a man like him. It's not enough facing combat in order to call yourself a man.

You have to deal with your demons or the banshees will diminish your manhood for a lifetime. Feeling sorry for yourself degrades the memory of those you left behind and causes your family to disrespect you.

From then on, I never spoke very much about my military experience. Only now, I speak out
That's me on the far left.
because it matters to no one but me. No, I have not healed and whatever I say will make no difference to anything or anyone. Stories like mine have been told for thousands of years all around this planet and no one has ever been able to adequately put into words the experience, including me.   No one cares and no one listens. It’s been 45 years.

However, I can offer a word of advice to all the military crybabies we see from today’s Army and other branches of the service. Compared to other conflicts you have not suffered at all. You are crying too much in your beer. You are feeling sorry for yourself and you dishonor those who gave more than you did. Get off your lazy ass and start contributing something to your family and your country.

Get rid of all that war garbage and come back to living a civilian life. Your military experience was a complete waste of your time and contributed nothing to your future. Never talk about your experiences in the military because it will only seem as though you are seeking attention. Do not seek attention. Do not brag and boast. A man will overcome his experiences and become more than he would have otherwise.

For God’s sake! MAN UP! Quit looking for a free ride. You are not worth a lifetime of payments from the American taxpayer. 
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