Friday, December 29, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Fighting Forgotten Battle

This is exactly why I do what I do and why I have done it for over 3 decades.

This is my Vietnam veteran!

By the time September 11th hit, we, as a country had been working on PTSD for decades.

In the 70's, the DAV commissioned a study on PTSD and called it The Forgotten Warrior Project." Guess they figured having done this research, Vietnam veterans would never be forgotten again. After all, it was because of them that the far reaching effects of trauma became more understood. 

Surviving was only part of the residual damage done.

Anyway, having been totally involved in all of this, by 9-11, we were ready for what was to come in Vietnam veterans long before talk of more wars ever made the news. We knew we were already fighting one in our homes and trying to keep our veterans alive!

Strange thing is, I went to New York a month before 9-11 and had already finished my manuscript, For the Love of Jack, His War/My Battle.

Jonathan Shay was kind enough to review it for me and then tried to help me get it published. No one wanted it.

August 10, 2001

Hi Jonathan,
Well I said I would send it by the end of the week and here it is.  I will be in New York/New Jersey until August 16th.  Maria and I are finally going away to spend some time with my favorite cousin and her family.  We are excited because we are going to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, as well as a few other places.  We want to look up our relatives that came from Greece and Italy.
I hope that I didn’t sound too down with the last email I sent you.  It has just been very hard to keep feeling the pain I was writing about.  I worked so hard to heal with my psychologist, that I kept getting pulled back into the bad memories writing the book.  I often wished I never wrote it but I know it helped me to get over the anger and frustration of living with John.  I hope it will help someone else.
I don’t know what I would have done without all the help, advice and encouragement you gave me.  I admire your work so much that it was an honor that you took the time to help me.  There were so many times that I couldn’t believe that you were actually concerned with someone like me.  I don’t know how writers do it.  
Well it is done and I can get back to just living my life and doing the best I can for us.  I have been so busy at work that I am totally exhausted when I get home, and still have to take care of the house, supper and the dog ect.  It will feel good to have a few moments of free time.  I am sure you will put to good use the time you won’t have to spend on me.
Thank your wife for me.  I know it is a lot to ask.  Let me know what she thinks and what to do with it next.

Warmest regards to you both,

A few days after 9-11 we were on the phone talking about what that day was doing to Vietnam veterans. Reporters didn't seem to care much about any of it.

We tried to warn them. Most of us have been trying to raise the alarm bells ever since, but veterans over the age of 50 are 65% of the suicides. The rate of PTSD in them is 1 out of 3. 

Vietnam veterans were forgotten about in all of this but most Americans pretended that all they needed was a pin and parades to make up for the lost decades when they suffered in silence.

By the way, my husband was at the VA the planes hit the towers. Doesn't take much imagination to figure out what that was like for them there.

Vietnam Veterans Suffer from PTSD Many Years Later
NBC Bay Area
By Tom Sinkovitz
Published Dec 28, 2017

"What happened after 9/11? I didn't know. I fell apart," Aldrich said. "I, overnight -- became jittery, angry." Billy Aldrich

It had been the longest year of his life. Billy Aldrich was a door gunner on a huey gunship in Vietnam attached to the Army's 101st Airborne Division, the legendary "Screaming Eagles."

When Aldrich left Vietnam in June 1970, relief was not what he felt.
"Feeling really bad that I survived when guys in my company didn't," Aldrich said. "My helicopter got shot down and everyone got killed while I was on R&R."

The medals he came home with tell the story of a brave soldier. But there was no hero's welcome.

"I came back and left the Oakland Army Depot and took a bus over to the 7th Street bus station in Marin and there was like, protesters, like kids that we grew up (with), same age," Aldrich said. "And right away I realized, 'We're not gonna fit in. We're not cool.'"

So Aldrich did not talk about his experiences, felt ashamed of his role in the Vietnam disaster, and immersed himself in drugs and a career as a barber. Thousands of his colleagues shared his struggles.

"A lot of Vietnam veterans came home, had a terrible reception, were not sure how to feel about their service or felt strongly about their service or weren't around people that reflected their views," said Dr. Jesse Wade, a veteran's therapist. "And it became easier to just clam up and push through."
read more here

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