Monday, April 15, 2013

Guardsman reveals PTSD struggles to alter perceptions after 6 tours

Guardsman reveals PTSD struggles to alter perceptions
William H. McMichael
The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
April 14, 2013

Delaware guardsman is facing diagnosis head-on, accepting treatment and trying to dispel stereotype of crazed war veteran who becomes violent.

Wars do awful things to bodies, and Maj. Roger Rodriguez had been a frequent witness. The veteran flight nurse had five post-Sept. 11 wartime deployments under his belt, every one of them spent retrieving the torn and broken bodies of U.S. troops from battlefields and field hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For years, what Rodriguez had seen and heard gnawed at him, as he wrestled with, but pushed aside, sleep problems and nightmares. He had been resilient — as the military terms it.

On his sixth trip to the war zones, what had been welling up inside slowly burst through the emotional shield he had so carefully constructed. When the Delaware Air National Guardsman came home in December 2009, he felt overwhelmed.

"Every person has a breaking point," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 44, asked to speak to a Delaware Air National Guard life skills counselor, who recommended he seek help at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wilmington, Del. Because he was still in uniform, he ended up at the mental health clinic at Dover Air Force Base.
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