Home from war, troops face 'white knuckled' first month

Jessica Mcgowan / for NBC News

Former Marine Paul Menefee, an Iraq war veteran, makes music in his Union City, Ga bedroom, on Feb. 15. Since transitioning to civilian life, Menefee works as a music producer in Atlanta. At home, Menefee spends most of his time in this blacked out bedroom making music and relaxing. Drawing blinds and blacking out windows is a habit Menefee started after his military service to help him feel more secure.

In the first month home from war, one Marine routinely searched his darkened bedroom for the rifle he'd left in Iraq, while another Marine shunned his favorite nightspot for fear that someone in the club might carry a gun. 

In the four weeks after their homecomings, one infantryman drove “white knuckled” at 55 mph while another soldier purposely began living even faster — losing her virginity, going blonde and drinking hard with battle buddies.


Some 34,000 service members will ship home from Afghanistan during the next year, President Barack Obama told the nation last week

Amid the gleeful glow of arrivals, many of those troops may quickly confront sensory overloads, social awkwardness and, perhaps, deep cravings for personal freedoms, according to interviews with four younger veterans who weathered such moments.  

“The first 30 days are interesting,” said Alex Horton, who spent 15 months in Iraq as an Army infantryman, including during the 2007 troop surge in Baghdad and Diyala Province.

Today, he works for the Department of Veterans Affairs. "I’ll call it the unraveling. That first week back you’re still high on everything, kissing your wife or girlfriend, sometimes seeing your kids for the first time. But then the tension starts to build.


“You experience culture and weather shock, and notice your senses are heightened,” said Horton, adding that another common theme — albeit something he did not go through — involves disrupting the daily routines established by a spouse and kids during a service member’s absence, and consequently, dealing with strained relationships. 

Distant from family
To that point, two veterans interviewed for this story, including Horton, said they suffered romantic breakups after returning from combat, and two got divorced. 

Jessica Mcgowan / for NBC News

Former Marine Paul Menefee, an Iraq war veteran, shows off his spiritual tattoos at home in Union City, Ga., on Feb. 15. The "Blessed" tattoo is one many Menefee has gotten after his two tours in Iraq.

"Trying to get back to my regular life was hard because I wouldn’t talk much to anybody. I didn’t want to talk about what went on in Iraq, didn't want to describe the details," said Paul Menefee, a former Marine who was deployed twice to Iraq and fought in the Battle of Fallujah in late 2004. 

"Things that happened, I didn’t want to remember. I was trying to cope in my own way, not deal with the images in my head," added Menefee, who eventually divorced his wife. "I was distant from my wife, mother, cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles. At Sunday dinners, I pretty much stayed off to myself."

Old habits came home, too. During his first 30 days back at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Menefee grew jittery in a Wal-Mart checkout line because other customers were queued up behind him. He left the store immediately. He avoided nightclub outings with friends because the bar crowds seemed unpredictable.

He chose seats in the backs of restaurants so he could watch all the patrons and map each exit. At home, he kept his blinds drawn, his door locked and always looked left then glanced right when passing a hallway or an open corner. 

On interstate highways, Menefee — a truck driver in Iraq — often pulled four lanes to his left if he spotted a blown tire or crumpled, food wrapper lying on the right shoulder: The types of hiding places in which insurgents routinely planted IEDs in Iraq. While driving in an American city, he would take an early left or an abrupt right if he saw garbage or roadkill on an approaching curb.

"You don’t realize that (your senses are) very fine-tuned to your environment, everything from hearing things to seeing things," Horton said. "I imagine this is what blind people feel with their other senses. You rely on them so much (in combat), they have no business being that acute in the civilian world."

"When I got into a car and drove on a highway for the first time," Horton added, "I was white knuckled."

For former Marine Christian Gutierrez, who returned from Iraq in spring 2008, the open road at first carried a mix of old caution and fresh freedom.

During quick trips to the grocery store, he frequently would exit his car then quickly circle back, thinking he'd left his rifle in the front seat, momentarily forgetting he didn't carry a weapon anymore. 

"But I love cars and love driving. So I drove a lot because it was my time," Gutierrez said. "That moment was your moment. You had control of your car. You had control of that moment."

'Lucky I didn't die'
Soon, he bought a motorcycle to further feed that rush of independence, to expand his new-found personal space — and because combat left him with another sharp bit of wisdom: Your moments on this planet may be few.  

"Being back taught me that if I want to do something, I’d better do something right now. You never know," he said. 

That same compulsion drove Iraq veteran Laura Cannon to use her first 30 days home to mark, she said, "the beginning of a new life for me," a time in which she stepped away from both Evangelical Christianity and the strict rules under which she'd been living since enrolling at West Point.  

"I knew that if I didn't make drastic changes, being at war would be the last adventure I would ever experience," said Cannon, a former Army infantry member who was part of the 2003 Coalition invasion. "Surviving a war completely changed my perspective. I needed to start living for me. So I made a mental list of goals to accomplish. No. 1 — lose my virginity. I was 24 for God's sake!"

During her first month home, Cannon also bought an SUV, broke up with a boyfriend, dyed her hair blonde, visited Ground Zero, posted a personal best in a 5K race, and found time to "party my ass off with my war buddies — heavy drinking."

In Iraq, "there was (stuff) blowing up everywhere. I'm lucky I didn't die. I hadn't done enough with my life," she said. "I had survived a war. I had a second chance to live differently. I was not going to let others control me anymore. It was time to make more adventures and maybe get some baggage along the way. I was so far behind. Lots to catch up on."

"The rapid pace at which I compensated for my repressed life, especially in the first 30 days after the war," Cannon added, "were completely catalyzed by combat." 

Related:

People.com
,5

Discuss this post

Jump to discussion page: 1 2 3 ... 8

When I got out of the Marines in 1969 after two tours in Nam I could not sleep at night when every one else was asleep at my parents house. I used to get up at night get a rifle and sit outside guarding the house till first daylight when I would sneak in and go to sleep. My poor parents could not figure out why I would sleep until noon every day. This went on for almost a year before I could relax enough to sleep while no one was on guard.

  • 60 votes
#1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:43 AM EST

thank you

  • 36 votes
#1.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:41 AM EST

The big irony is that many of these soldiers come here just to find out that their glory will be short lived, and that they need to get some skills to find a good job, keep up with technology advancement, etc.

Coming back may be harder for some than just staying there. Readjustment to society for some of them may be really difficult, especially if they joined very young. Most of them will need counseling but it's hardy likely they will get it.

  • 23 votes
#1.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:34 AM EST

M-Bill welcome home, I also had that same feeling when I got back from Viet Nam. 71 1st Cav, It was so tough and the brain always racing. The first thing I did was to go out and bought a rifle. My mother did NOT like having guns in the house. The littlest sound would wake me and all I could do was think about the past.

What I can say to these vets coming home, "hang in and welcome home. Thanks for serving"

  • 48 votes
#1.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:46 AM EST

My son just returned from Afghanistan last week after his 3rd tour. While over there, he became obsessed with learning skills, all kinds of skills. It's his dream to have a small plumbing and heating shop along with an acreage in the country, so of course there was that, but since he's been home, he's bought a pressure cooker for canning and yesterday he and his wife were making mozzarella cheese. Beekeeping and raising exotic livestock also seem to be something he's studied extensively. I am thinking about building a new house and he studied passive and solar energy design. Amazon kindle made a fortune off him while he was over there.

It seems he's trying to fill his head with practical useful things in order to move on. I'm hoping that all this learning helps him cope with his experience over there. I haven't gotten the whole story yet, but know enough about it at this point to know this last tour was the worst of the 3, and that's saying something because the first one in Iraq, he was injured in a suicide bombing.

  • 32 votes
#1.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:29 AM EST

This all sounds way too familiar...sitting only in the back of a resturant,back to the wall seat only...not by any windows...checking rooftops while entering,or leaving a store,or building.....getting anxious if a car alongside you stays the same speed as you,not feeling comfortable in large gathering places,..looking for cover when you hear a ROOF nailer for the first time....reaching for a weapon that's not there.....It all gets better,to a point,...trust takes longer,and yes you DO appreciate life alot more than maybe you did before deployments....I did 3........Welcome home ALL,....you might find that it's really great to value life,family,and little things so much more than those who never served....I got hurt bad,but I came home,and I live like every day could be my last....and still get out in my boat whenever I can....hobbies,and distractions seem to be the key................U.S.Army Disabled Veteran

  • 41 votes
#1.5 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:32 AM EST

itgranny, I sure do hope he is successful so he can think bigger and then hire Vets. Good luck to him. Tell him "welcome home bro!"

  • 27 votes
#1.6 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:34 AM EST

Best wishes to you, Montana and to you and your son, itgranny. You both said it better than any of us could. Thank you.

  • 19 votes
#1.7 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:40 AM EST

Coming back from Viet Nam and being discharged we had our own unofficial support group, Hippies and activities like demonstrations, there was plenty of music and drugs too, but eventually we all move on. Moving on included the government because after all those years and tens of thousands of lives we got out of Nam.

  • 18 votes
#1.8 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:50 AM EST

This president has tried to bring our military people home safely and responsibly. It is time for the banks and corporations who caused our economic mess to loosen the cash piles they have been sitting on and hire these men and women NOW! A J. O. B. is the best welcome home.

  • 26 votes
#1.9 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:14 AM EST
Comment author avatarFed Up-2683606Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community

Banks didn't cause the mess... turning home ownership into an entitlement did. Fair Housing Act under Carter gave the govt leverage to force banks to loan to bad risks. Fannie and Freddie bought up the crap loans, freeing banks from a lot of the risk. Dodd and Frank kept Bush from reigning them in. Rescinding Glass-Steagall under Clinton let Fannie and Freddie and banks package the crap loans and sell them as AAA securities (with collusion from the ratings folks) to our 401Ks. Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers $200B so far, and we lost 1/3 of our 401Ks in the '08 crash. One big Liberal wealth redistribution scheme.

Now, if you're worried about jobs for these guys, how about sending 20 million illegals home.

  • 27 votes
#1.11 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:28 AM EST

Our government spends the $$ to train these people to go to war.... they need to spend some $$ to help them adjust to civilian life after they come back and offer counseling to those ones who need it. It could help prevent many tragedies... These people are the ones who have put their lives on the line for our country, it is the LEAST our country can do for them!

Fedup...do you really think the banks are not behind our wars? Everything the government does is controlled by the wealthy, they are the puppetsof the 1%. The rest of us are sheep, to be herded as they find most profitable....

  • 25 votes
#1.13 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:52 AM EST

There is a need for a debriefing program for both the veteran and their families to prepare them for the turmoil they will face when coming home. My ex husband a desert storm veteran told me that while at war at least he had his unit to support him. Upon coming home he felt alone, isolated and felt that even talking to me his wife that I wouldn't understand and was unable to help him through the transition. This article does not mention the violent tendencies that many veterans have immediately after war. Their temper and dispositions are on a hair trigger as well. Unfortunately our marriage didn't survive for my own sanity and the sanity of our children, but I always understood why and never faulted my ex-husband and tried even after divorce to help him.

The enlisted are simply discharged, handed their papers and are told to "have a nice day". Something needs to be done to change that and at least give one class to the vet and a separate class to the family. Veteran's hospitals are not good enough to repair the damages done to these people, they also need the love and support of family and friends to get through it all.

My prayers go out to all those dealing with this for the first time. I wish them peace in the days ahead, they will be rough ones to overcome.

  • 23 votes
#1.14 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:02 AM EST

for Obama is a mission accomplish ,but for those soldiers the war in not over, the worst is not yet to come, with 16% unemployment among soldiers that leave the service, the future is not so rose. Obama with no job plan other than, the usual non working shovel ready job and more government employees ,during 4 ears Obama plan to bring the soldiers bach , but the never worry how to reduce the unemployment rate for soldiers coming back from the war, now they will fill the unemployment lines, I fill sorry for those guys who risk their live for our freedom.

  • 13 votes
#1.15 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:12 AM EST
Comment author avatarEli3kExpand Comment Comment collapsed by the community

Fed Up-2683606

Banks didn't cause the mess... turning home ownership into an entitlement did. Fair Housing Act under Carter gave the govt leverage to force banks to loan to bad risks. Fannie and Freddie bought up the crap loans, freeing banks from a lot of the risk. Dodd and Frank kept Bush from reigning them in. Rescinding Glass-Steagall under Clinton let Fannie and Freddie and banks package the crap loans and sell them as AAA securities (with collusion from the ratings folks) to our 401Ks. Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers $200B so far, and we lost 1/3 of our 401Ks in the '08 crash. One big Liberal wealth redistribution scheme.

Now, if you're worried about jobs for these guys, how about sending 20 million illegals home.

You're way too funny. The Big Bad Evil Guberment forced all those little helpless banks to make loans to all those bad people when they didn't really want to. The banks preyed on unsuspecting home buyers, who didn't understand balloon payments and what would happen if their home did not appreciate in value. You throw out the words Glass-Steagall and lie about it's effects on the housing crisis. The Government did not create mortgage derivatives, the banks did. The Banking industry has used their GOP lackeys to block and successfully so, any attempts to regulate the derivative markets.

I can tell by the way you lie, that your are not simply mistaken but are intentionally spreading disinformation. I can tell by the way you lie, that you are conservative but would call yourself independent to deflect Republican criticisms. I can tell by the way you lie, that you are an entitled White Christian. I can tell by the way you lie, I do not like you.

  • 18 votes
#1.16 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:19 AM EST

do they claim unemployment? Im not sure what all comes with leaving the military...if they have jobs, homes, food, family, etc....

what is the protocol for the public to address ex-soldiers that might be a danger? (some need treatment for what they did, saw, heard, etc...)

I guess after reading about a country star suicide I am curious why the public is not rallied to help out and support these people...instead of spreading information far and wide we really end up hushing up many struggles in people lives...

my spouse was shot in operation restore hope in the 90's and they didnt even screen him for "issues" afterwards....20+ years later and he still sleeps sitting straight up at the end of the bed....curious and curiouser

  • 9 votes
#1.17 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:23 AM EST
Comment author avatarjoe-742449Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community

freedomfryes

Our president sure welcomes us home alright… He has tripled the deficit, raised our taxes, threatens to reduce our benefits, sends our equipment to the Muslim Brotherhood along with foreign aid to countries that want to end everything we stand for, and now because of his lack of leadership millions in cuts which
will result in some of these Soldiers forced to look for new jobs. Yes he has done so much to welcome us home!! You really need to take the Pelosi glasses off!!!

  • 19 votes
#1.18 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:29 AM EST

Thanks Joe for spreading disinformation and generally mindless paranoia. You really need to get a better tinfoil hat!!!

  • 15 votes
#1.19 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:45 AM EST

If you can only do one thing well, then maybe you should have never gotten out..

Semper Fi

  • 4 votes
#1.20 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:49 AM EST

Joe, the president proposes, the congress (particularly the house when it comes to money/budget matters) disposes. The president only signs what congress sends him. It's the congress with the real power, unfortunately, they're so tied up in their agenda, the president doesn't get a chance to sign much.

When I hear ignorant statements like yours, I think there are a lot of people like you that could really use a course of civics.

  • 14 votes
#1.21 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:52 AM EST

MytziP

There is a need for a debriefing program for both the veteran and their families to prepare them for the turmoil they will face when coming home. My ex husband a desert storm veteran told me that while at war at least he had his unit to support him. Upon coming home he felt alone, isolated and felt that even talking to me his wife that I wouldn't understand and was unable to help him through the transition. This article does not mention the violent tendencies that many veterans have immediately after war. Their temper and dispositions are on a hair trigger as well. Unfortunately our marriage didn't survive for my own sanity and the sanity of our children, but I always understood why and never faulted my ex-husband and tried even after divorce to help him.

The enlisted are simply discharged, handed their papers and are told to "have a nice day". Something needs to be done to change that and at least give one class to the vet and a separate class to the family. Veteran's hospitals are not good enough to repair the damages done to these people, they also need the love and support of family and friends to get through it all.

My prayers go out to all those dealing with this for the first time. I wish them peace in the days ahead, they will be rough ones to overcome.

Best post of the day! Thank you for your service Mytzi, I'm sorry your marriage didn't survive the trials and tribulations I know you went through with your husband.

  • 19 votes
#1.23 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:16 AM EST

Perhaps before soldiers go to war, they should read what others have said about the experience and the aftermath. We have thousands of years of experience at our finger tips, why do we insist on recreating the wheel. Ever since man has fought, we have had the same sensations as we risk our lives and then live after our friends have died. This is not something novel.

Oh and FYI, I am ex-Army.

  • 8 votes
#1.24 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:16 AM EST

Thank you to all who have served our country and to those families who sacrificed at home. Most of us are grateful and humbled. This story is about PTSD and the suffering of our returning soldiers and their families. Save your politics for another story they don't belong here.

We can't bring these soldiers home and just leave them alone without help. All need counseling for both readjustment mentally and for reentering the work force. Where is the public outcry for that?

  • 18 votes
#1.25 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:20 AM EST

I do not even remotely know what these soldiers are going through but would like to offer up an idea. They have halfway houses to help with rejoining society and while they are not the same we could set up a halfway town that is populated by all those returning. The entire town could be run by them and all would be employed within it. They would be their own support group and once ready could leave and rejoin society as they felt capable. We should also continue full medical and counseling for the duration of their stay.

  • 9 votes
#1.26 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:35 AM EST

itgranny-

the president does a lot more than propose. yes congress has a large role - in authorizes/allocates money for certain purposes (and both chambers are responsible - the House only becomes more important b/c some income/spending bills must originate in the House).

The president (executive branch) can decide whether to use any of the money allocated, and has great influence over how the bill is executed and enforced.

And, with political parties working the way they do, the president has a lot of influence over what gets proposed to and what gets passed by congress.

Of course it is more complicated than a few sentences can explain, but your post makes it look like the president, right now, is completely subject to the whims of congress. If that is in fact true, then we currently have a president with no clue as to how to execute his office.

The office of chief executive is a powerful one.

  • 8 votes
#1.27 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:43 AM EST
Comment author avatarmarlen101917Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community

Boo Friggin Hoo!

The last time I heard, we have an all volunteer military. You know the benefits and the risks when you go in. Like that whiner SEAL (who killed Bin Laden), he got out after serving only 16 years and now claims that the government abandoned him by giving him and his family no medical coverage. Since when did the government owe you anything? DEAL WITH IT!

  • 6 votes
#1.30 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:43 AM EST

Although the article only reported a couple soldiers returning, I have never thought the journey home would ever be easy. Many left when they were so young and under the best of circumstances that age group goes through a lot of changes normally. I always have said that if you can get your teenager to the age of 25 without any big mishaps, you have been blessed. I am around young adults a lot due to my job. They know very little today because most come from broken homes and never had a mentor. They are using drugs to some degree, drink a lot, smoke, and frankly have lousy priorities and looking for others to figure it out for them. So I can't be surprised that given young men and women coming home that now have seen utter chaos and things none of us should ever see, are struggling - BIG TIME.

What has been spoken about several times is that the past war veterans are not always so sympathetic. So there seems to be a growing divide about if the recent war veterans were made out of the same stuff as those generations before them. So what is different? Did as many vets commit suicide as we see today? It doesn't seem so.

I researched my ancestors and found our one of my great, great uncles with 10 kids served in the civil war in which nearly everybody in his infantry died. He originally started in TN, records showing he signed up with the south. He went in when he was in his early 40s. Meanwhile his wife with 10 kids, moved from TN to IL while he was serving. How did she do that? He eventually came back from the war and lasted a few more years. He had been severely wounded and his injuries eventually killed him.

My point is that there is no way that one war was somehow worst than another. Fighting in your own country, watching everything burn and scores of dead, with little to eat nor adequate clothing, etc. must have been horrendous.

So something is different today. You would think our armed services would have by now figured out the best plan to bring back troops and eventually integrate them back into society. It seems not. I don't get that, except is it the mentality that the strong survive and thus the assumption that those returning will do just fine? I just don't know.

Thank you for all that serve. You are not appreciated as you should be. At the same time, the reason being is that most civilians are so far removed from any sort of knowledge about that journey. We pay lip service to caring, and some do, but most of our population could care less, especially the young that are obsessed with their own trivial issues.

We should talk about the ugly and force people to hear about it and absorb it and then maybe committing troops will become a decision more well thought out.

  • 5 votes
#1.32 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:49 AM EST

My wife is a counselor with the VA so I can tell you there is help available, but not enough. We should hour the men and women who served us not only with our thanks but also with our support. Please let your representatives know that you support an adequately funded and staffed Veteran's Administration.

  • 7 votes
#1.34 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:38 PM EST

your wife is part of the problem

  • 2 votes
#1.35 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:26 PM EST

Interesting, eye-opening article. I am still trying to understand what happened to my husband who returned 8 months ago, won't see or speak to me, but still hasn't filed for divorce. It has been heart-breaking and devastating to go through this, and the military did nothing to prepare us for it or help us once it had happened. His demobilization lasted a total of 4 days, not enough time for him to adjust to being back in the states. He is a totally different person, and I am still stunned at the changes.....it's as though my husband died in Afghanistan, yet he lives on the other side of town. Surreal.

  • 2 votes
#1.36 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:51 PM EST

You don't know what you're talking about. My wife has literally save the lives of vets who were about to commit suicide. She's helped others cope far better and regain their footing with family and employers. We need a lot more of her.

  • 10 votes
#1.37 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:08 PM EST

Itgranny,Your son is smart in that he is keeping himself busy and learning new things.Of course the media doesn't do the success stories of returning vets because the pity party stories sell.My father came back from World War II and the second week back starting working with his Dad in the flooring business.These vets coming back need a purpose so that they are kept busy and can get back into everyday living.I think that these people coming back without a job,career or purpose is giving them too much time to dwell on the horrible ordeals that they went through.To me that is not healthy.Good luck to you,your son and his wife.

  • 3 votes
#1.38 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:08 PM EST

MP from TN. He dose not talk to you because he dose not think you will understand. The fact is that you can not understand, and that is ok. You both will need to come to terms with this.

To start just be with him and let him know you love him no matter what he went through (it is your turn to fight for him now). Try to talk him into joining the VFW or American Legion. Being around others who have experiences similar to his own can be a great help. The other members are able to understand what he has been through and this will give him a place to vent.

You should also take your husband to a Returning Warriors Weekend. They are held all over the country. Contact your FAC or visit MilitaryOneSource.com.

Best of luck to you.

  • 5 votes
#1.39 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:12 PM EST

This isn't a veterans thing, this is a repatriation thing. The military aspect just amplifies the effect of what you'd otherwise see. And no, it's not easy, I'm dealing with it right now and I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I were dealing with PTSD or memories of what I'd seen.

Just walking into a grocery store or pharmacy is incredibly anxiety producing because all of a sudden I have to pay attention to everything in there, whereas previously I could ignore pretty much all of it as I couldn't read anyways. Either they had something that looked like what I wanted or they didn't.

But, it's not just combat, the military is incredibly regimented and civilian life does not have that.

Ultimately, this is a form of culture shock on top of whatever other issues they may have gotten during their tour and requires both monitoring and help.

  • 1 vote
#1.40 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:23 PM EST

Dowhatisright76, I would love to show him that I love and support him. When I say he won't talk to me, I mean about anything, not just about the war. He has completely ex-communicated me, he never came home to me and won't tell me where he lives, and will just say that he doesn't "feel" anything for me anymore. He has been home since early June, I have seen him 4 times, for a total of about 4 hours, and not since August. I realize I can't understand what he's gone through, I'm okay with that. I want to figure out where we go from here, he just wants to walk away. Heartbreaking to say the least.

It's like the young girl in the article was talking about....I think he just wants to do whatever he wants and not have any responsibility anymore and sees me as someone that would keep him from doing whatever he wants to do. He never even gave me a chance.....

Thank you for your encouragement. I'm afraid our marriage is about to become yet another casualty of this stupid war.

  • 1 vote
#1.41 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:27 PM EST

The first know written documentation of what is now called ptsd is found in the book 'Plutarch's Lives,' written over two thousand years ago. In its list of stories is one of a Roman soldier's life and the consequences of his journey through war.

Returning soldiers whether they outwardly display it or not have some internal conflict with themselves, their actions in war and the society they return to.

I am one of those combatants. I went to war with the purpose of seeking to understand, if I survived, why men fight and kill each other and to hopefully learn something of human value from the experience . It was not until ten years after my friends being killed, me nearly being killed and my killing of others, could my mind find one clear thought of what happened to me and my brothers in arms.

I wrote about 'my war' with the intent and hope of helping people understand and heal themselves from the varying degrees of aggression we experience in our minds and hearts at times. Civilians and soldiers alike.

To the combatants: seek the company of other combat vets and help each other to return 'home'.

Lee Burkins, retired Army, 5th Special Forces, author of 'Soldier's Heart: A Memoir and Inquiry of War'

  • 3 votes
#1.43 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:10 PM EST

Boo Friggin Hoo!

The last time I heard, we have an all volunteer military. You know the benefits and the risks when you go in. Like that whiner SEAL (who killed Bin Laden), he got out after serving only 16 years and now claims that the government abandoned him by giving him and his family no medical coverage. Since when did the government owe you anything? DEAL WITH IT!

Yeah, it's all good talkin @!$%# to military personnel, but say that to a welfare recipient and watch the @!$%# hit the fan.

  • 5 votes
#1.44 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:36 PM EST

Reading these stories reminds me of a conversation I had with a veteran a couple of years ago. I work in healthcare, but I'm not a clinician. He got through to me when he really needed the behavioral health intake line. It was the night before Thanksgiving and he was so lost and broken. His wife had just left him taking their child. I don't know her side and I can't really place blame. I like to think she understood that she couldn't help him and she didn't want to chance physical harm to her or their baby.
He kept telling me over and over, "I'm not suicidal, I'm not crazy. Don't call the cops. Don't hang up." He told me stories of the things he did and saw in Iraq. After 45 minutes I was finally able to connect him with intake (as they are trained to speak to patients in these situations), but he wouldn't let me until I promised they weren't going to send the police.
I still remember his name. I think about him now and then, and always on Thanksgiving. I hope he got the help he needed. Though he repeatedly told me the VA docs just told him to buck up. When I completed the call, a colleague told me I had handled it so well, but I just couldn't stop crying. It broke my heart to hear his pain.
My grandfathers were all in the military. They wouldn't tell us what happened, but I have my paternal grandfather's Purple Heart so it can't have been good. And my dad said he'd tell me more one day of his time in Nam, but I don't need to hear it. I'm just glad he's here.

  • 4 votes
#1.45 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:09 PM EST

@marlen101917

You are an idiot and an a$$hole!! I am sorry that their are people out there that actually want to serve and risk their lives, personally and physically, to save your sorry a$$. Ungrateful bastard!

  • 4 votes
#1.46 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:21 PM EST

@ JustWonderin': is it just me or do you walk on the grass next to the sidewalk (the trails are booby-trapped)? Different war, different lessons.

@MP from Tn: He has adapted to a different reality, i.e. he doesn't know how to act in this one yet. Also, he has seen the evil that men do and human decency forbids him from sharing that with you or any female VA counselor for that matter. I'm only going from my experience and we're all individuals, so take it with a grain of salt. If more compassionte lines of communication don't work, maybe it's time to get in your man's face and talk to him like a man/seargent. "No one held a gun to your head when you took the oath (matrimony, the constitution...an oath is an oath). We're in this together because of said oath and we survive or not on your respect of your own words. Now is the time to get your $hit wrapped tight and in one bag, because tomorrow is no promise at all". Be forwarned, if you do say something like that, you may learn what every veteran knows - for good or bad the consequences of your actions may last a lifetime. When I got out (Army 69-74 RVN 70-73) my family was living the American life - "How 'bout them cubs? Who needs a brewski?" And I wanted to scream "Don't you people pay attention? People are dyin' in the worst possible way and my boys are still out there beyond the wire, takin' hits!!" But I couldn't. The paradox is I did those things so that these people could remain ignorant of that madness. I did what I thought was best for my people - started working nights, avoid everybody, bite down on a stick every time I got pissed about how we all got played. All the time praying for someone to talk to. I'd think I found a kindred spirit and clear my conscience, but I'd get the same reply from my sister, to the priest, to the VA, - what you're probably thinkin' if you're still readin' - "Whoa!! That is far more information than I needed!" Hope you & your man can get it together - family is ALL that counts, it takes two. Me? I'll go out of this world the way I came in. That is to say unsheltered, alone & none too soon. It's cool, I've been 86ed from classier places. Tell your man "welcome home, now continue the mission. The mission is to live well for those who can't.

  • 4 votes
#1.47 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:44 PM EST

My nephew just re-uped after checking out the job market, thanks Obama.

  • 4 votes
#1.48 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:50 PM EST

@AZKID1: Whaaaa. I served, the government needs to care of me the rest of my life. NOT..

    #1.49 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:23 PM EST

    @marlen101917

    The government SHOULD take care of military and their immediate ( spouse and children ) families for the rest of their lives. We SHOULD be providing free counseling, completely free health care ( mental and physical ), reduced cost housing, etc. for these military personnel. They VOLUNTARILY take on this position for us as a country. This country needs to return the favor. If we didn't have military to protect us, many of us would likely not be alive today. We should thank them every way we can, not just by saying it. And you saying that they basically need to buck up is ridiculous. You should know better!

    Our poor, lazy, illegal immigrants, and convicts get better treatment than this and they have done nothing but mooch off of the system and destroy others. Not trying to make this political, but this situation is everyones' fault. Not just the President, ( past or current ), not Congress, etc. We as a country do nothing to fix the problem except sit on the sidelines and B*TCH about how bad everything is. Everyone needs to wake up, take care of their own and this country as a whole and start finding ways to make this work for everyone. Not just Democratic, Republican, Liberal, etc.

    • 7 votes
    #1.50 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:36 PM EST

    I completely agree with your stance regarding supporting our returning troops. However, I question our country's decision to send them over there in the first place, especially Iraq.

    • 3 votes
    #1.51 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:42 PM EST

    When I got home walked out side of LAX only to be egged and called a babykiller, but in the end we all have issues wich take years to come to grips with, the best thing to do is get into college or a Job if you can find one and 100% into it. We each react differently, yet most Vets have the New Vets 6, always, and Semper Fi

    • 6 votes
    #1.52 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:44 PM EST

    Montana, thanks for your service. You did what your country, the rest of us, asked you to do. I'm retired Navy after 22 years, I just did my job, including taking care of Airdale Marines in the 1990s. Not even the same universe as what you guys endured in Nam, and coming home. You guys paid for the rest of us to flash the "Peace" sign and continue to live in safety back home. Lotsa gratitude and respect, to you, Starman, and anyone who served in Southeast Asia.

    "All gave some, some gave all..."

    • 5 votes
    #1.53 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:08 PM EST

    These poor kids have no clue what awaits them when arriving home. Every situation is different as every person is different. Served 4 tours came home a different person and lost almost everything because of it. Good luck to the kids coming home.

    • 4 votes
    #1.54 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:12 PM EST

    @GhostofNixon: thank you for your candor. I have wrestled for 8 months with how to handle the situation. The compassion angle definitely hasn't worked, so I'm going to have to go another route. I have nothing left to lose at this point, his mind seems to be made up so it can't hurt. You are right, family is ALL that counts, and I don't care how badly he has treated me, I want to hang on to mine.

    Thank you for your service, truly. I'm sorry that there wasn't someone there to help you. I have met several veterans that are experiencing the same thing today, can't find anyone that they think will understand. You would think after so many years, so many wars, and so many lost souls, someone would finally get this right? But they clearly haven't gotten it figured out yet. So sad, for so many soldiers AND for their families.

    • 2 votes
    #1.56 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:38 PM EST

    The truth is...life is short and precious. No matter how hard you try...you cannot defy death. It is natural to be stressed out by life.

    What is unnatural is daily life here in America. We are the exception in the world. We are the one place that submits to the idea that if I leave everyone alone than they'll leave me alone in return. Total hogwash says I.

    I truly believe that combat sharpened my senses, awareness and intellect. If it wasn't for combat than I would still be a dumbass kid with no sense of direction.

    BUT....there are people that were abused. People that were treated like garbage by their own people. People that were never included in the cliques. People that signed up to go to college and were lied to by recruiters who needed to make a quota. People that wer forced to do things against their belief structures and told if they didn't comply than they would go to Leavenworth.

    Those people actually make up the majority of our fighting men and women and that is just plain sad. Some soldiers stay away from everything government because of the lack of trust after dealing with such terrible scenarios that you could never conjure in your imagination. In a lot of ways, it's like being in prison, except you get paid for your time.

    I would only fight again if there was a world war and my way of life depended on it. Because for all the disgusting and horrible things this country is about...freedom is worth it to me. I like being able to go to Wendy's at 1am to grab some grub. I like having the infrastructure in place to allow me to live in the beautiful Colorado mountains. I enjoy playing sports at facilities that have security, decent lighting and fields not made of sand. I like owning a firearm and keeping my combat skills sharp. I like having a family and being able to control my circumstances, at least to a certain degree.

    If there's anything that needs to be routed from the military, it's poor leadership, corruption and abuse. Those are my final words on the matter.

    • 2 votes
    #1.57 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:51 PM EST

    I thought they would just completely relax when getting back I never would have thought that every hallway, every loud noise, per on standing close behind them would invoke such strong memories and feelings.

    ****THANK YOU TO ALL YOU SOLDIERS**** AND MAY PEACE BE WITH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY...you're the only reason we are still here and still free...THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! There are some of us trying in our own way to fight for truth and freedom and to end corruption and we still need your help, your determination, your skill, your appreciation for what this country can be!!

    • 3 votes
    #1.58 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:24 PM EST

    Starman-2398642

    When I got home walked out side of LAX only to be egged and called a babykiller,

    I don't think I would've survived the "Vietnam era" I would've been in the hospital a lot having my foot removed from some hippie's ass all the time, and then having to be bailed out of jail. How horrible for you and all the other returning vets (my father included) I'd like to take this opportunity to say what should've been said more then 30 years ago. THANK YOU!

    • 1 vote
    #1.59 - Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:32 AM EST
    Reply

    God bless you Bill, We owe you and all that serve help in adjusting. Thank you for your service to our country, and to us.

    • 13 votes
    Reply#2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:12 AM EST

    Its both the banks fault for taking the risks, and it many of the homeowners faults from living beyond their means.

    • 2 votes
    #2.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:25 PM EST

    this isn't political sstx.....and you missed your mark too.

    • 1 vote
    #2.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:04 PM EST
    Reply

    My husband is a retired disabled veteran so I spend a lot of time going with him to see doctors that accept military insurance . There are always other disabled vets there for treatment and in our conversations the subject of assimilating into civilian life always comes up. Without exception the veterans I've spoken to have a tough time becomingcivilians again. They are used to the regimented schedule--always knowing what you're supposed to be doing at every hour of the day. They miss the camaraderie and working as a team (the way most corporations say they operate but so seldom do). They miss the respect that comes with whatever rank they left the military with because in the civilian world they're just another employee. So I applaud anyone that can help make the transition to civilian life easier and seamless. Hoo-ah!

    • 14 votes
    Reply#4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:31 AM EST

    As a young FMF (FLeet Marine Force) assigned Navy Hospital Corpsman coming back from Vietnam in the early 70's, I went through many of the same feelings described above. Each and every person who has seen the horrors of combat first hand deals with them differently and each have their own personal demons left over from war. How one deals with those demons is what really matters. Some deal better than others. I personally made a conscious decision that I would not let said demons control me. It was not easy and took years that almost cost me my marriage and family. I was fortunate and got help early. Some are not so lucky. The nightmares are few and far between now. I am blessed with a wonderful wife who stuck with me all these years and held me in the middle of the night when the nightmares came. Military spouses are truly the unsung heros and heroines who deserve the medals and awards just as much if not more than their spouses for their sacrifices they endure!

    • 7 votes
    #4.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:40 PM EST

    Rosie,They are having a tough time because there is nothing waiting at home to keep them busy.Every vet who has ever served does not come home as the same person.The difference with this war is that these vets,most of them,have nothing waiting for them in the way of jobs.A job will keep them busy so that they don't have time to dwell on the awfulness of their experience.The ones that don't have jobs should start their own business,anything to earn a living and keep busy.

    • 2 votes
    #4.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:13 PM EST
    Reply

    I'll never forget a guy I met,of all places a liquor store in St James ,LI,.He said something to me as I walked by,and before long I was sitting in his front seat talking to him.He had just got home from Vietnam,he was a tanker[Tank unit ?]and he was sitting drinking a bottle of rum.Said he was fighting out in the field and next thing he knows he's going home.I felt bad for him,the only comfort he got was that bottle of rum.I had a high draft number [297] and asked my dad who joined in WW2,should I join dad,he sad no,I guess he too had a bad taste in his mouth.I honor and thank all those who served are serving and will serve,thank you all.

    • 15 votes
    Reply#5 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:32 AM EST

    The sons-of-bitches who hawked up these wars in 2001 and 2003 had better be the first taking care of troops coming back like this. Oh, but they're nowhere to be found. Gee, I wonder why?

    • 26 votes
    #6 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:41 AM EST

    The voters turned that job over to Obama.

    • 16 votes
    #6.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:19 AM EST

    It is apparently more important that they first take care of all of the illegals and all of the victims in society rather than the people who put their lives on the line every day for our country. I too am a Vietnam veteran and have a son in Army Special Forces. Thanks to all who serve, who have served and will serve. Thanks also to all those who support us.

    • 18 votes
    #6.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:31 AM EST

    @denverbill2 - Even though they don't hold the top office anymore they haven't stopped pouring their financial and emotional resources into proactively trying to destroy this country because they aren't in charge. If they really care about this country, guns, American values they could pour their resources into helping those that made the ultimate sacrifice. Oh wait, now its not their problem because the "voters turned that job over to Obama".

    • 7 votes
    #6.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:32 AM EST

    The sons-of-bitches who hawked up these wars in 2001 and 2003 had better be the first taking care of troops coming back like this.

    LOL...We are still waiting for the Dems that Hawked the Viet Nam war to take care of us, Well not really, We pretty much gave up on that and just took care of our selves.

    Unlike the Viet Nam War the War in Afgahanistan resulted because of a direct attack on US soil by terrorists, Congress voted almost unanimously with 420 aye votes 1 nay vote and 10 not voting in the house of Representatives and in the Senate 98 aye votes 0 nays and 2 not voting.

    The Democrats had a 1 seat control in the Senate

    .June 6, 2001: Senator Jim Jeffords, previously a Republican, declared himself an independent and announced he would join the Democratic caucus, giving Democrats control in the Senate with a one-seat advantage. Democrat Tom Daschle became Senate Majority Leader.

    In the House the Republican held 219 seats and the democrats held 210.

    The resolution was bipartisan and trying to blame one party shows that you are just a political hack.

    The resolution to use military action in Iraq

    House : Ayes 297 Nay 133

    Senate : Ayes 77 Nays 23

    • 15 votes
    #6.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:02 AM EST

    yeah, the voters spoke... and meanwhile suicide rates amongst vets is at an all-time high. Mental health services in this country is dismal at best

    • 10 votes
    #6.5 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:04 AM EST

    charlesjones725

    @denverbill2 - Even though they don't hold the top office anymore they haven't stopped pouring their financial and emotional resources into proactively trying to destroy this country

    A bold (and broad) statement. Some proof would be in order. I won't hold my breath waiting, since this is an obvious example of the "If you throw enough mud, some of it will stick" strategy.

      #6.6 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:40 AM EST

      Handling folks with PTSD is kind of tricky and certainly not something I would leave up to the government. You never really get over PTSD, it's not like a cold nor is it a mental illness, per-say. I suppose you'd really have to understand use of force and the parasympathetic nervous system's effect on the body. They will do things that you think are quirky or odd but seems very normal to them. In a great many cases a returning service member doesn't even know he or she has PTSD. So the first part of the journey is discovery. This can be pretty traumatic. Nobody, especially a combat vet, wants to here that they have an emotional disorder. Once accepted, it's a matter of time and healing but they'll still sit in the back of the resturaunt and look for avenues of appraoch and withdrawl. You know what would help? If you contact your local VA and learn about how YOU can help. I promise you there is a vet in your area that'd love someone to talk to. Learn how to do it.

      • 5 votes
      #6.8 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:32 AM EST

      The VA does have counselors skilled in treating PTSD; my wife is one of them. Some of her patients are Vietnam vets who have been living with horrific trauma for decades. What doesn't work is to try to suppress it. Let's support our veterans and the VA which serves them.

      • 4 votes
      #6.9 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:45 PM EST

      Ranman, this is an American issue, not a cheap political talking point to take advantage of. I met a soldier who lost both hands and most of a leg, and he doesn't need your political crap, and cares less about R's and D's than what he does with his next 50 years. He needs solutions, and your rhetoric only takes us further away from a solution.

      We have the resources. The only question is do we use them to support our sodiers, or more failed policies from our flawed political process. Just for the record, I think these wars were stupid, but the soldier only does what the soldier is told to. We need to return the favor when they come home.

      • 3 votes
      #6.10 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:19 PM EST

      SFdad,I agree with you.Charity begins at home.If the illegals were deported there would be more than enough jobs for these returning Vets.They needs jobs and a purpose which to me is the best healer besides time.

      • 6 votes
      #6.11 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:16 PM EST

      RanMan, too bad Obama gave away so much to the lowlifes he supports thier is nothing left for the vets.

      • 4 votes
      #6.12 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:58 PM EST

      The Problem with PTSD sometimes you dont even know you have it, and if you dont know then you dont get help, and most civies have no clue. All Soildiers everywhere it gets handled differently

      • 1 vote
      #6.13 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:48 PM EST

      Look, the VA is America at least trying to keep its promises. It ain't perfect, but there are within the VA very decent, compassionate and hard-working professionals doing their best with the resources they have to care for all of America's sons and daughters who went and did what their country, the rest of us, asked them to do.

      PTSD is an extension of what any of us would experience after similar traumatic experiences. Just a little space, a little slack, and a lot of gentle respect is mostly what combat veterans need. And a little professional help when it's needed.

        #6.14 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:20 PM EST
        Reply

        I never suffered like this folks after I returned from Afganistan in 2008. I went back to work 6 days after coming home (I was in the A F Reserves), and I wanted to do nothing more than to get back to normal. My husband was very understanding and never asked me about what I experienced down range.

        I fell badly for others who have suffered and continue to suffer. The only thing I can say is that IT DOES GET BETTER! Seek help if you need (and want) it. But, IT DOES GET BETTER!

        • 13 votes
        Reply#7 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:06 AM EST

        I'm glad you were able to get back to your (new) normal quickly. Thank you for your service--we really appreciate what you all do for our country!

        • 1 vote
        #7.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:46 PM EST
        Reply

        The GOP seems to take the same attitude toward returning soldiers as it does with women's uteri - they believe a zygote or fetus is a human being that must be protected at all costs until it's born, at which point it's nothing, and certainly not deserving of any tax dollars for services like Welfare, medical care, daycare, pre-school, job training for the parents, etc. Similarly, rich old white men recruit poor young African American and Hispanic kids to go settle their pissing contests with other countries' rich old men, but can't be bothered to fund programs to help the servicemembers who come home missing limbs or freaked out from PTSD.

        • 8 votes
        Reply#8 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:07 AM EST

        You are so totally wrong! From what I've seen, the democrats are great at paying lip service to the military and the veterans, but they cut the budgets for the military and the veterans all of the time while funding their leech programs at higher and higher levels. Face it, the VA hospital system did not get into the state of decay it is currently in by itself. And who has been in charge of Congress most of the time since WWII? Democrats!

        By the way, I'm a veteran myself, so I know what the VA medical system is like - it SUCKS for the most part. Doctors that can't speak English because American doctors can't and won't work for the pittance that is paid, substandard facilities... Most veterans consider the VA medical system to be little better than a medical hobby shop because it is so underfunded. Yet liberals hold it up as what they want American medical care to be? Ignorance! on the part of liberals because most of them don't have the courage to serve this country.

        The republicans have historically been left to repair the damage done to the military due to underfunding by the democrats - Why do you think so many National Guard units were activated and sent overseas (and still are)? Why do you think we have to use mercenaries like Blackwater and Halliburton? Chronically undermanning the military is much of what leads to the stress levels of the military.

        During Vietnam personnel did not serve back-to-back deployments in hostile areas - today many do. And then liberals have the gall to claim that they care?

        Hypocrites, the lot of you!

        • 20 votes
        #8.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:33 AM EST

        You're stupid, but creative....you linked returning soldiers with abortion......what a political hack. This is not political....both sides are failing our soldiers.

        • 2 votes
        #8.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:21 PM EST

        Since youre a pussy we will take your word for it.

        • 2 votes
        #8.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:00 PM EST

        Pandering to military veterans is how cheap politicians (and many political-point-scoring bloggers who never served) attempt to SOUND patriotic, especially if their party doesn't give a TINKER's DAMN about the long term needs of the country as a whole, just buying votes with other peoples' tax dollars to get re-elected.

        Balanced approach indeed, but taking care of our returning veterans is NON-NEGOTIABLE. NO CUTS to veterans' services, prosthetics, mental health counseling, rehab or disability pensions!!

        • 2 votes
        #8.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:29 PM EST
        Reply

        How sad is this? The President and Congress get exactly what they need so its time for them to step outside the box making sure all the Troops get exactly what they need as they risked their lives protecting our rights to return home to what????? My former husband is retired military and its an adjustment going from the military way of life to civilian so its even harder to adjust after being in a war zone which civilians can't relate to so lets hope the USA would welcome the troops back with open arms making sure they get the best of everything as they have more than earned it. Thank you to all the Troops and may God bless them all......lets see just how much our Commander-In-Chief truly cares!!!!!!!!

        • 6 votes
        Reply#9 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:08 AM EST

        Absolutely blew me away when transiting Bangor Maine airport going on deployment. The VFW "Maine Greeters" some of them WWII veterans, were thanking me for my service! I just did my job. These guys faced off against Hitler, Tojo and Stalin/Breznev, etc. and literally saved the world from Fascism and Communism.

        Hope your hubby and you and your family find peace, stability and fulfillment in civilian life. May God bless you all.

        "Toughest job in the military = Military SPOUSE!"

        • 3 votes
        #9.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:36 PM EST
        Reply

        Im hoping that all of our returning Vets get the any help they might need in their transition to civilian life. They deserve our thanks for their service!

        • 9 votes
        Reply#10 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:20 AM EST

        Can I have Laura Cannon's phone number please?

        • 7 votes
        Reply#11 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:35 AM EST

        Leroy. She is way to good looking for you. LOL

        • 3 votes
        #11.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:28 AM EST
        Reply

        How can we, the civilians, help? I have heard many veterans echo the same sentiments as the vets highlighted in this story. Different wars but almost exactly the same feelings and problems on coming home. The change is so drastic for returning vets. What should we as friends/family members be doing to help with the transition? The issue is so big, there is no way the government can cover it. We as family/friends have to help. But Vets need to tell us what to do. Hold you close? Let you have freedom? Resume normal daily family activities? Suspend normal daily activities until you are ready for them to resume? How do we help?

        • 13 votes
        Reply#12 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:39 AM EST

        Momof3 - God bless you. You are the sanity among the chaos. I wish I knew what to say because there are so many Vets here stating that they push away those who most wish to help. I can only think that maybe if the VA had family counseling available (with or without the Vet) to help family members first understand what is happening to their husband, son, father, sister, brother, or even mother; and then what they can do to help them deal with this even if it is nothing other than give them space. I am not sure whether this is already happening in VA clinics and hospitals but it should. I hear many Vets state that they have gone to PTSD counseling but have not heard any say that their family members or significant others have. You are very right - family should and I feel can be part of the solution they just need, as you say, the information as to how.

        • 9 votes
        #12.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:06 AM EST

        I'm a civilian, but I never really thought about what true civilians feel, I have so many resources at my disposal, if I should choose to use them.

        But Vets need to tell us what to do. Hold you close? Let you have freedom? Resume normal daily family activities? Suspend normal daily activities until you are ready for them to resume?

        On any given day it's all of the above unfortunately, it's a guessing game for us. We didn't see what they did, and the likelihood of them telling us about it is pretty close to nil.

        On a personal note: My husband has only opened up once, about one time. His biggest fear was what I would think of him after (I'm not sure if all vets feel this way or not) I listened to his story without interjecting or saying anything. After he was done I just hugged him, told him I loved him, and sat and held his hand. I understand what they do for a living, though I have no concept of what it's like to actually do it.

        I go to the VA a lot, and just sit and listen if they feel the need to talk. I hand out hugs whenever they look like they need one, I can't "fix" them, but I let them know that I'm here if they need me. I think it's mostly about small kindnesses, you see a soldier having lunch, pay his bill (I know that most of us can't do that on a regular basis) donate to the wounded warriors program or my favorite one Cup of Joe for a Joe through the "green beans coffee company) 2.00 buys a military member serving in theater a cup of coffee. I think it's the little things we do that make all the difference.

        Our Government used them up and spit them out, sadly I don't think that'll ever change.

        • 9 votes
        #12.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:29 AM EST

        My brother's a Vietnam Vet who works with many returning service members in several ways. He belongs to a group (retired military), and his church also supports servicemen (&women) and their families. He also volunteers at the Vietnam Memorial in DC. He's often said that our President has done more for returning Vets then any before him.

        Thank you all for your service, and welcome home to those just returning.

        • 4 votes
        #12.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:22 AM EST

        Momof3 you are an outstanding person! I love it when folks want to get involved and want to learn how to "get in where they fit in". It might get a little frustrating at first (which will probably inspire you to help all the more) but if you contact your local V.A. you can learn how to be a key volunteer for veterans with PTSD. Another organization that likes volunteers is the "Wounded Warrior Program" God bless you for being willing to step up! You too, 1SGFITZWIFE4ID! Takes a special woman to be married to a Serviceman. Hat's off to you as well.

        • 9 votes
        #12.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:43 AM EST

        My brother returned from Iraq Part 1, and he was very destructive. After years of devasting his life he finally found some help outside of the family. He would not and still will not talk to us about it. So, my suggestion would be to find them an outlet that they are comfortable with talking to, even if you don't understand why they won't talk to you. After he found this outlet, he started getting better. This took ten years though.

          #12.5 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:28 PM EST

          The big thing that civilians tend to do that causes problems is to distance themselves from vets. It's something we also do to people who have been raped or sexually abused. But, we tend to distance ourselves from them out of fear that there's something now broken about them.

          I'm not saying you should push and pry, I'm saying that veterans end up dealing with a lot of people pushing them away because of perceptions. If they want to talk, they'll talk. But too many people have this vision of vets as being dangerous PTSD menace to society, when really, that's a rare individual for whom that applies.

          I tend to get on just fine with vets in large part because I've seen domestically what goes on that the civilized people don't see. I have no particular illusions about this sun shine happy place where people frolic free. So, I tend not to need to avoid those areas if they bring them up. Being almost murdered tends to make it hard to pretend like that isn't a real possibility.

          Or at least that's been my observation over the years. These are mostly normal people that may have done some things that most people would consider objectionable under normal circumstances.

          • 1 vote
          #12.6 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:43 PM EST

          Again, thanks for being willing to help. As stated, the VA is America at least trying to keep its promises. It ain't perfect, but there are within the VA very decent, compassionate and hard-working professionals doing their best with the resources they have to care for all of America's sons and daughters who went and did what their country, the rest of us, asked them to do. After my military retirement, I worked as a temp employee, and I saw the dedication of the professionals who work under challenging and often under-resourced circumstances.

          PTSD is an extension of what any of us would experience after similar traumatic experiences. Just a little space, a little slack, and a lot of gentle respect is mostly what combat veterans need. And a little professional help when it's needed. Please tell them, IT'S OKAY TO GET HELP. "I get by with a little help from my friends..." [The BeaTles tune]

          • 1 vote
          #12.7 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:45 PM EST
          Reply

          for fear that someone in the club might carry a gun.

          Welcome back to the USA where we ALL have to worry if someone around us is carrying a gun.

          • 5 votes
          Reply#13 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:54 AM EST

          It is a well known established and accepted fact you only have to worry about bad guys with guns. You worry too much my friend, mix a cocktail, put your feet up and relax.

          • 4 votes
          #13.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:17 AM EST

          GM StonePipe!

          Yep, usually the gangbangers or wannabes in clubs.

          • 3 votes
          #13.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:49 AM EST
          Comment author avatarFed Up-2683606Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community

          Hey, stay out of the Obama Urban Ghetto Welfare Plantations, and you should be safe. Liberal utopias like Detriot, Baltimore, Chicago... not so much...

          • 8 votes
          #13.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:34 AM EST

          How does this help a combat vet?

          • 5 votes
          #13.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:50 AM EST

          Pistol, I think staying out of those cities would help anyone, right?

          • 1 vote
          #13.5 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:29 PM EST

          Or cleaning them up. I know exploiting veterans (or anyone else) for a political agenda is horse $hit

          • 3 votes
          #13.6 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:16 PM EST

          Pistol Instructor, you might be on to something.

          As before, pandering to military veterans is how cheap politicians (and many political-point-scoring bloggers who never served) attempt to SOUND patriotic, especially if their party doesn't give a TINKER's DAMN about the long term needs of the country as a whole, just buying votes with other peoples' tax dollars to get re-elected.

          Balanced approach indeed, but taking care of our returning veterans is NON-NEGOTIABLE. NO CUTS to veterans' services, prosthetics, mental health counseling, rehab or disability pensions!!

          Gun rights, gun control, and the relative safety of "guns are illegal" utopias like SOUTH CHICAGO and my birthplace (or ANYWHERE IN) DOWNTOWN DEETROIT are for another time and another blog.

            #13.7 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:54 PM EST
            Reply

            Welcome back I will spare the details it will take some time,and tears for some vets; it took years for me. Your tour's It will always be with you always for you remaining life.

            • 10 votes
            Reply#14 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:55 AM EST

            If you need help get to a Veteran's Center. Don't try to sweep your trauma under the rug.

              #14.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:49 PM EST

              Dave, I think his point might be that "decompression" takes time. Sometimes DECADES, even with professional help.

              Biggest thing is being PATIENT WITH YOURSELF and those who love you. It DOES get better. Mottoes of AA/NA come to mind. "One day at a time..." Paso a paso, mi amigo.

              • 1 vote
              #14.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:59 PM EST
              Reply

              The GOP defends those who cannot defend itself. The democrats want everyone to depend on them. Be self sustaining, learn skills and provide for yourself. Do NOT depend on government. It's useless. Who is the president btw? Does obama have no responsibility in this at all? Typical

              • 3 votes
              Reply#15 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:04 AM EST

              those who cannot defend itself should read and not compose.

              • 2 votes
              #15.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:19 AM EST

              I've been wondering, while reading this entire post, is this worthy of an executive order? Or, is that something that politicians only do when a vote is on the line?

              Anyway, he does have some responsibility here, but so have many presidents before him. It would be nice to see him care as much for our soldiers he has in war zones as illegals coming accross the border. I wonder if he'll do anything further to help them out.

              • 2 votes
              #15.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:35 PM EST

              GOP, you mean the same GOP that refuses to properly fund the VA to help screen and treat returning vets? The same GOP that didn't bother to do any research before attacking both Iraq and Afghanistan? The same GOP that supports sending the same people back for more and more tours of duty rather than admitting that the mission was larger than anticipated and needs more troops?

              Yeah, that sounds like defending people to me.

              • 1 vote
              #15.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:47 PM EST

              Yep, and it was the GOP who got us into and escalated Viet Nam (oops, that was JFK and LBJ), and the GOP who said Iraq "was lost" just before it was WON by the surge (oops, that was Harry Reid (D, NV)).

              Look, let's give the R and D crap a rest for this blog.

              Call your representatives, remind them that Veterans deserve our best--they gave their best for us.

              • 1 vote
              #15.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:05 PM EST
              Reply

              This government needs to think of our VETS before they think about these 11 Million illegals. If we cannot afford our own that protect us than why in the hell are we going to take 11 million and put them on government funding.

              This government is F-ed up.

              TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN GOVERNMENT....

              The owners of business step up you see a vet take care of them..

              • 9 votes
              Reply#17 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:13 AM EST

              I've been thinking that exact thing. I wonder if this too can be handled via executive order. To be clear, I'm not attacking Obama, but pretty much every president and politician we have had that also failed in this area.

                #17.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:39 PM EST

                True to me they all fail for sure.

                Immigration should be the last thing on any of their list Vets should be #2 after jobs..

                Job 1st because they need them to come back to..

                But if it was me as Prez.

                anyone that fought on the lines should have a House a car and all medical for life...

                Those that was in the office not fighting, Car and medical for life....

                I just wish I was a billionaire I would take care of as many as I can. Because if it was not for ALL armed service I would not have my billions..

                This is the only thing that upsets me about rich people they seem not to help those that keep freedom alive...

                I don't care to tax them just wish they would adopt a vet as you can say..

                New charity adopt a vet.. Hmm how to?

                  #17.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:54 PM EST

                  @laser

                  i wish, but it will never happen... lol

                  • 1 vote
                  #17.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:27 PM EST

                  Illegal immigration re-elects Dems and provides cheap labor for Republican farmers. What a great system! Maybe that's why, after how many decades, we'll NEVER have a freakin' FENCE.

                  LEGAL immigration is great, we allow more than a MILLION to come here LEGALLY, more generous than any other nation. Let's just make sure that those whose mere presence BREAKS LAWS do not get services ahead of veterans who've sacrificed for all of us.

                    #17.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:19 PM EST
                    Reply
                    GankFonkDeleted

                    True to the name troll.

                    • 2 votes
                    Reply#19 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:21 AM EST

                    @TAKENAKA,

                    You have no clue what the name means if you did you would eat your words.

                    And you must be an illegal to even comment on me like that..

                    Just like an illegal you don't care that Americans are fighting for freedom that you want but you do it illegally. So what do you care right it is not your kids what do you care right... Loser..

                    • 3 votes
                    #19.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:47 AM EST
                    Reply

                    I am currently on my 5th deployment, first in time in AF. After all of my previous 4 deployments to Iraq I did notice that I was more on edge around people, constantly looking for a weapon that I no longer needed to have within arms reach 24 hrs a day, and going out of my way to avoid trash and other things on the roads not to mention that I was driving about 15-20 mph slower than everyone else because that was the speed I was used to driving for 12-15 months at a time.) Don't get me wrong it takes a little while to get used to being back in the "world" with civilized people, but this article is blowing stuff out of proportion. To me it sounds like none of these individuals has any self-discipline, that is all it takes to get back in the swing of things. It doesn't take 30 or so days to get back into the swing of things... more like one to two weeks at the most.

                    Just the oppinion of someone who's "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" 4 times previous and currently doing it again.

                    • 12 votes
                    Reply#20 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:26 AM EST

                    Sargent, you have my admiration and thanks. My wife, who is a VA counselor, would say that there are a lot of variables involved in how veterans handle the trauma that many experience. If we're going to ask citizens like you to serve in war zones, we have to accept the fact that some will experience trauma and stress that they will need help with when they return home.

                    • 1 vote
                    #20.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:53 PM EST

                    your wife is part of the problem....

                    • 1 vote
                    #20.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:59 PM EST

                    I admire anyone who can go through that and retain their emotional balance.....but many just aren't built as well. I have come to believe that for us who are already a little messed up, returning home is just another SNAFU. I think it's the people who had a normal life, then experience hell, who respond most negatively. Regardless, thx for your service.

                      #20.3 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:46 PM EST

                      What I said above, Mr. ya.

                      • 1 vote
                      #20.4 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:09 PM EST

                      Sarge, I processed out of Camp LeJeune, drove down to southern Arizona in two and a half days, got 23 tickets along the way, wasn't used to moving in such open terrain. Hauled ass and zig-zagged whenever possible. I even forgot where I lived before being drafted while in college. Number 17! 30 days after graduating Uncle got my ass, sent me to the Navy Boot (Cool!) and started the process to make me into a Dirt 'n Mud Corpsman, 2nd Marines, Blackholes. Not Cool!! Anyhow, an extreme story cut short. A wonderful and understanding (considered a Hang 'em high!) Pima County Superior Court Judge busted his ass to get ALL citations dismissed. Went from a god in the war machine to a janitor cleaning courtrooms and offices and crappers! He had to know my story and ordered me to tell him, nothing he didn't know about those cleaning his chambers! (Thankyou Hon. Thomas Meehan!) Know your line well, Sarge. I can only speak about what works for me. I returned from fighting for the guy next, in front or behind me. A world where you do only for your brothers as in combat you're only as good as the guy next, in front or behind you. I came to find that in rotating back to the world the REAL war begins. I've gotta fight for my loved ones as they're now the folks in front, beside and behind me. That means I gotta get my $hit together and do for them. If that means I gotta talk to some disconnected-to-the-subject person, I'll do it! Self-discipline is key. I'm no better than anyone else. I'm worse than most. If I do booze and dope I'll end up just like the rest. I refuse to be another dead-end vet, no sir! Got too many of them among my relatives already! I have a life-long duty to live a positive life for those brothers I lost over there. When Doc is the last thing they see and you see your self reflection on their corneas it changes things when they go. They can't live on so I live on for them. As a Dirt Doc I am their ambassador forever, in death and in life. That means I gotta have my $hit together! When all goes to Hell, Doc has to have his $hit together, no excuses! As any trigger-pulling vet knows that the second he does for himself, others pay. I've won the real war and am positioned where I want to be. I busted ass getting here only because I fought for my loved ones as they were the ones next to, beside and behind me. Self discipline is key and it worked for me. For those who say it is an all volunteer military and those serving got what they got, yes they did because you were unfit and unwilling to do the task at hand. Paying taxes ain't enough! You got the right to open your trap because folks volunteered to serve this nation throughout its history. I feel very sorry for those having a rough road in civilian life, I too was among them. There's no established map back to civilian life as it has to start where that person is on their life. I had to find myself on the Map of Life first and start my journey to were i needed to fight for my loved ones and live a positive life for those I lost over there. To me, Sarge hit it right. For me self-discipline was the road I took and for me it works! Semper Fi, Red Dog 2 OUT!

                        #20.5 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:52 PM EST
                        Reply

                        When I was in Greece, I witnessed an event hosted by the Dutch military that I thought was very smart. It was a smallish resort town and the hotel was out by itself. The Dutch brought in a couple of busloads of soldiers that were rotating home after being deployed in Afghanistan. For two or three days, there were many organized activities from which these soldiers had free choice to participate. Guided tours, bicycles, sports. There was music, beer, liquor, even strippers arranged for these soldiers. At first glance, it appeared it was organized for them to blow off some steam. Then we learned the real motivation. The whole event was arranged and supervised by psychologists who were observing these soldiers for signs of difficulty in the adjustment - solitude, agressiveness, beligerance, etc - before they were taken home.

                        I was extremely impressed and had the immediate thought that our soldiers would not receive that same attention upon their return.

                        • 9 votes
                        Reply#22 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:34 AM EST

                        Thank you for a great post..

                        • 1 vote
                        #22.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:58 PM EST
                        Reply

                        It took me almost a year to be able to go out to dinner with my ex and our kids. Note the ex!! We mutually agreed to part, she said I wasn't the person she married. I flew as a crew chief and door gunner during Desert Storm 1. There is not enough done for returning vets, long waits for psychiatric appointments, denials by the government for compensation or re-training to try to find a job that you can handle.

                        • 6 votes
                        Reply#23 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:34 AM EST

                        It will be fascinating to see what their employment picture looks like 6 months to year after they return. The government can provide support, but they can't provide jobs.

                        • 7 votes
                        Reply#24 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:40 AM EST

                        It is time to cut back on US foreign aid and put some of that money to helping our returning vets, disabled, dead or alive. Before they get on the battle front, we give them training. We should train them again to civilian life before they are discharged. Let them live on the base for 30 days. Within this time, require them to have re-integration training like mandating to attend group counseling sessions, take them to public places and make them aware it is generally safe, they are no longer on the war zone. Let family members join in and have a group counselling session of their own as to what to expect of their returning vets.

                        We civilians have some form of this experience called withdrawal symptoms, from a loss of something we got used to out of routine.

                        • 5 votes
                        Reply#25 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:43 AM EST

                        ....all very good ideas.

                          #25.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:49 PM EST
                          Reply

                          To all the men and women in uniform who has served our country:

                          Thank you for your service.

                          You are heroes to me.

                          Even if you have participated in wars that I don’t agree with.

                          All of you should be financially compensated for the rest of your lives so that money should never be an issue.

                          • 4 votes
                          Reply#26 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:49 AM EST

                          That is an interesting commentary. And who should fund it? The followers of George Bush and Dick Cheney? Or those who blame Obama for a bloated budget? Or the people who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers?

                            #26.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:42 AM EST
                            Reply

                            1st of all- WELCOME HOME & THANK YOU to all our returning VETS!!!

                            I still find it hard to believe that after 12 yrs of sending our people into these sh/tholes to fight, that they haven't come up with a 1 or 2 month long process of decompression and gradual exposure back into the civilian world. I'm sure a qualified professional could design such a program that it would be effective for the vast majority of returning troops. It would also give them a chance to single out those who need a more involved treatment because of PTSD. If they need to wind you up to be able to function in a combat situation then its only common sense that they should be unwound at the end. To not do this is a crime against the soldiers who have served so faithfully, and also against their families who may be endangered, and against the American people who may also be endangered.

                            I recall how it was after Vietnam. It seemed like every week brought a new horrible crime committed by a Vietnam Vet "gone round the bend". And in truth, it has never stopped until this very day. The term "gone postal" was invented specifically for the Vietnam Vets run amuck, which shows how common it became. The government is well aware that there is ALWAYS an increase in violent crimes by Veterans following the return of troops from combat, so at this point there is no excuse. The government is neglecting it's duties and responsibilities in regards to our returning Vets and it's contract with the citizenry to keep them safe. No money is NO EXCUSE. Redirect some of those billions of $$$$ going to finance the war to caring for those who have fought it.

                            "War Is A Racket" USMC Gen. Smedley Butler (TWICE awarded the Medal of Honor) is something everyone should look up and read online. THEN don't let the government piss away the lives of your family and friends and put them in the terrible position our returning Vets are in.

                            • 1 vote
                            Reply#27 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:50 AM EST

                            They do go through reintegration, but it's not a very good program, basically it's a seminar telling them not to go home and beat their wives kind of thing, I agree with you there should be a better job done.

                              #27.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:56 AM EST

                              Who thinks they need decompression? Hell when I got released. I got released.....

                              • 2 votes
                              #27.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:43 AM EST
                              Reply

                              My question is why are they driving? Does it differ from post to post/base, service to service? When my husband first got back they weren't supposed to drive for the first 30 days. He's been deployed numerous times in the 26 years he was in. We just tried to keep everything chill when he got back no big parties, or anything until he'd been home a month or so, I think the biggest mistake we made was going to post for the 4th of July fireworks less then a month after he got back, he said it didn't bother him but I noticed he'd flinch quite a bit. He's been retired over a year now, he's pretty "normal" now though I do notice that every once in a while he'll flinch if there's a loud bang, or swerve far from tires or garbage on the side of the road.

                              I hope everyone gets the help that they need. Thanks to all of you who have and are serving.

                              • 1 vote
                              Reply#28 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:54 AM EST

                              You are one in how many? And good for you I might add. But not all of the troops coming home have been there and done that and I have one dollar that says your hubby with 26 years is better equipped to handle the situation than 99% of the volunteers that jumped into the fray. You realize Americans are getting stoopider and stoopider.

                                #28.1 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:47 AM EST

                                I do realize that notsosmart, and it makes me sad. I can't be the only one though, I'm a part of a lot of different "groups" and i always try to emphasize what I said above, don't make any plans, just give them a minute to regroup. BUT to be fair even when he wasn't in theater and it was just a normal work day when he would come home, I wouldn't say anything more then hi honey how was your day, and give him time to go from being a soldier to being a husband/dad, once his boots came off and the civvies went on, THEN I'd hit him with the problems/questions etc. of the day. Though to be perfectly honest I did it almost selfishly (I learned quickly that if I did that I would most likely get the yes I wanted)

                                • 2 votes
                                #28.2 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:37 AM EST
                                Reply

                                when i got out after the 1st gulf war i experienced much of the same symptoms as these troops, it fades away over time except maybe going out i still look for the nearest exits you can never be to safe.then again my war and their wars were polar opposites.our orders were if it moves it dies. i have much respect for the younger vetrans to put up with the half hearted roe's they've had to endure and survive.i thank you from the bottom of my heart and i'm sorry you had to grow up to finish what they should have let us do.

                                • 2 votes
                                Reply#29 - Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:36 AM EST
                                Megan473Deleted
                                Jump to discussion page: 1 2 3 ... 8
                                You're in Easy Mode. If you prefer, you can use XHTML Mode instead.
                                As a new user, you may notice a few temporary content restrictions. Click here for more info.