Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Life After War “Lots of struggles. Lots of anger. Lots of impatience,”

Largest conference of wounded vets
UT San Diego
By Jeanette Steele
OCT. 6, 2014
“I’ve had more downs than ups,”
says one Chula Vista veteran in attendance
Army veteran Shiloh Harris speaks at the Road to Recovery conference. Deployed with the 10th Mountain Division, Harris was wounded by an IED in Iraq, retired, and has become a motivational speaker to returning veterans.
John Gastaldo/U-T San Diego/Zuma

CORONADO — For Richard Silva, injured during 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq, the road to recovery has been long.

Actually, he is still on it.

“I’ve had more downs than ups,” said Silva, 42 of Chula Vista, who still walks with a cane. He just received full disability status from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after a long paperwork ordeal.

It has also been a trek for his wife of 23 years, Carmen, and their 21-year-old daughter, Sarah, who is certain that she has “secondary post-traumatic stress disorder” from absorbing the shock of her father’s physical and mental wounds.

“It’s come at great cost,” Richard Silva, a former infantryman, said Monday. He was diagnosed with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and severe survivor’s guilt after losing teammates from Camp Pendleton’s 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

“Lots of struggles. Lots of anger. Lots of impatience,” he said. “Financially. My marriage. For me to open up to my kids and admit I needed help.”

These are some of the uncomfortable topics on the agenda at this week’s Road to Recovery Conference in Coronado.

More than 50 injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are here for what may be the nation’s largest gathering for combat-wounded troops.

The event — organized by the Virginia-based, nonprofit Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes — is being held on the West Coast for the first time.
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