Veterans describe the pain of PTSD
By Jessie Higgins, The World | Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011 11:00 am
During a flashback, Vietnam veteran Mark Winders said, a veteran is no longer in his home with his family.
He is in a room full of enemies who are about to kill him.
The veteran reacts to defend himself. Only when it is all over does he discover the havoc he has unleashed on his family.
Decades after the war, Winders and his friends in the Southwestern Oregon Veterans Organization’s post-traumatic stress support group are working to control their PTSD.
‘This stuff does not go away,” said Bill Chaplin, Coos Bay. ‘You just adjust. But this s— will poison us until the day we die.”
It has been years since Chaplin — wracked with PTSD — secluded himself in the woods. Isolation is a common reaction to PTSD, he said.
Most of the veterans in Winders’ support group have been arrested at one point or another. Looking back, they think their criminal behavior was directly linked to the trauma they experienced during war.
Young soldiers returning from today’s wars face some of the same symptoms. When Staff Sgt. Eddie Black returned from Iraq in 2005, understanding his feelings took years.
‘I felt like a million pieces held together by Scotch tape, ready to explode at anything,” he said.
Jeff Freerksen, a Coos Bay vet from the first Iraq war, pointed to a painting of a Vietnam soldier standing in a battlefield, his brow furrowed in quiet yet obvious agony.
‘That look is how I feel today,” Freerksen said.
Editor’s note: The print version of this article incorrectly quoted Mark Winders’ account of another veteran’s flashbacks
http://unitedchildrenofveterans.com/?p=1 The following poem brought back my own fears from childhood living in a home with a father who came home with severe “battle fatigue” PTSD at the end of WWII. The image of my own father, Vernon’s, anger and rage, came to me immediately, but does have healing value. We need to go back and remember and reach out as children and families who served too. My father did not get adequate treatment for his condition until later in his life, long after each of his children and spouse acquired their own symptoms of PTSD. All of us without exception believed our baggage from living in a toxic home was somehow our fault for so many years until we became aware of PTSD and begin seeking clinical treatment, including prescribed medications.
Sharon Perry says:
I leave for you the poem my daughter wrote. I think you will get a very clear picture of what War-Related Intergenerational Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) means to her :
I see that faraway thousand mile stare in your eyes
that lies within
I want to run
I want to hide
I’m scared for my life
in the blink of an eye
the person I know is gone
filled with rage
you get angry
and at the moment I don’t know why
I don’t understand
I cannot comprehend
the tormented hell that you have been in
for I am only a child
“WHERE ARE MY GUNS!!” you scream
you cannot find them
I try not to blink an eye
so you will not suspect
I took them
to protect us all
to save your life
the relentless search continues
then you realize
I took them
you turn to me filled with this rage
that is now directed at me
the interrogation begins
to no avail
I will not give in
you’ve not broken me
I am already broken
I shut down
I want to cry
at moments I wish I would die
I can not endure another moment
in this hell
this horror that I was born into
this is my existence
this is my hell
By Danielle Reyes
In my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story, I write about how a toxic parental culture can tear a family apart. It certainly had this awful result in our family. With some coaxing and a little pain, I managed to get all my siblings involved with the story. They each contributed with phone conversations and email. Sometimes it was a little testy but for the most part they all got on board and we worked together on one project for the first time in our lives. Even our Mother, Marcella at the prime age of 93 got into the act to help connect some of the dots. The following is the first time in my life I have written to all my siblings at once. All those small steps in working together over the past 10 months brought me to this point where it was highly rewarding and healing to thank them in one e-mail. I hope this step helps bring our family closer together. It is never too late!
My book will be published soon. I can’t wait to give my sister and brothers each a signed copy. My hope and prayer is for the story to be read and shared for generations to come.
“My dear sister and brothers,
It has been a long time, if ever, that I’ve sent an e-mail to all of you at once. This time is special. As a family we are on the front line of telling a story that needed to be told. All of you contributed to my research and have potentially made this a literary masterpiece to be proud of. It will also serve as a legacy so that future generations might know more about the Sparks family and its journey starting with Dad’s WWII experience, and our mother. There is much to learn about the symptoms of PTSD and it’s long term effects on families. Our story is a case study that will help countless others with their own self discovery and healing.
The editorial reviews are starting to come in and they are excellent! I feel blessed to have the gift of writing to share with all of you. Yes, I finally admit that it is okay to be a gifted writer. I also believe you all are my heroes in being open to helping me with some painful memories at times. This has been an amazing journey for me, and my emotional disposition has improved 300% since writing the story. I hope the story does the same for you and countless others when it is published. The schedule puts it out as an ebook in about 2 months with hard copies available too. Each of you will get a signed hard copy from me.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me with our story!
Stephen aka Stevie & Sparkles”
Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
“I place a very high value on a hand full of friends in my life, including my own wife, Judy. Charles, Jim and Les are three of my closest friends. Charles showed me how to laugh and keep laughing. Although Jim passed away too early in his life at age 58, he remains in my heart as one of my dearest friends. Les and I have been close friends since the early 80’s when I first joined Nortel Networks. Les has always modeled friendship consistent with his spiritual beliefs and in unconditional ways. In retirement, Byron, one of my neighbors, has become a very close friend. We have become best friends and good partners in our community service endeavors. I can always go back to trust and respect as the key factors in lasting friendships. My intense behavior and anxiety does represent a challenge for maintaining long and close friendships. Knowing more about my condition now makes me appreciate even more all those friends who put up with me for so many years. If I had known more about my condition earlier it would have been easier to manage friendships better. But for the most part there are very special memories that resulted from friends who had that extra patience with me and saw something that was genuine, someone they could count on and trust. And for me it is and was the same with all of these very close and dear friends, Charles, Jim, Les and Byron. And there are others as well who made a positive impact on my life. Although Jim is gone, I do miss him very much and think about him most days. He seems to be there reminding me of things that make a difference in my behavior and in the treatment of others.”
We should all be reminded every day of the sacrifices of families waiting for their loved ones to return home safely from combat duty. This clip really touched my heart. I was too young to remember when my Dad was gone for long periods of time during the Korean War. My oldest brother didn’t meet Dad until he was close to two years old during WWII. It wasn’t until the end of WWII that he had a chance to bond with Dad, which was a big mountain to climb as described in my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
Click on the below site and see my Publisher, John McClure, Signalman Publishing, interviewed on CNN regarding the Borders Books shut down story. Still doing much editing and fine tuning, but now developing a publishing and marketing plan. Still hard to believe this is happening… Just last December 2010 my daughter, Bianca, challenged me to teach her family more about my own history. I was really delighted that Bianca felt she and her family needed to know me better. I have not done a very good job over the years talking about my family and our experiences, especially my own past. That will all change soon! Reconciliation, A Son’s Story is first a gift to my family and is also destined to be a best selling book. We are proceeding with lots of optimism, the only way!