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