My Mom and Dad’s Tour of Duty-PTSD

November 14, 2012

I have been thinking a lot about my tour of duty in Vietnam.  I guess it is because of all the publicity surrounding the returning Afghanistan and Iraq War Vets and how my War Vietnam was a lesson learned for the citizens of the US and their responsibility to returning Veterans.

It has recently occurred to me, that I wasn’t the only one enduring that terrible time.  My Mother and Father and 2 Sisters were enduring it too.  No, they weren’t in Vietnam with me but in some strange way, they were.  Though I was concerned always about the possibility that I could be killed or wounded, I always knew when I wasn’t in a direct line of fire and barring an accident I always that felt that I would survive.  My family, on the other hand, only knew I was in Vietnam and the reports kept streaming in to them and lots of this news was bad..

I now live in California and I have experienced first hand what this feels like.  My family is in New Jersey and the hurricane Sandy barreled directly into South Jersey, my original home State.  Of course there was damage and many lost power and I, like most citizens, was concerned in general. I was mostly concerned for my family and my friends and their welfare.  The newscasts showed the worst but thank goodness for small favors, my family weathered the storm unscathed.  But my anxiety lasted for days until I finally was able to talk with someone, from my family, who reassured me that everyone was safe.  What if this wasn’t just a 3-4 day event but one that lasted all year?

This seems to me, to be the way my family served my tour of duty.  Always worried and then reassured when I would write home to say that I was OK.  That means every day for 365 days, that year, they had a worry, no matter how small it may have been, they worried that their child was facing Wars luck or lack of it, every day.

I say luck because I don’t believe that any God would put up with War, let alone be worried about whether I would live or die.  I suppose the randomness of death and harm made it that much more unnerving for me.  It is worse in present Wars because there are no lines of demarcation.  No really off base or complete safe zones.  I pray not only for the Veterans coming home with visible wounds and also invisible PTSD scars and I also worry about the families of the families, who are the ones carrying on the war efforts and suffering its real effects.

PTSD, in the past, had adverse affects 20-30% of the those involved in the war which doesn’t really account for the families and friends who also have a price to pay.  With multiple terms served I believe the current wars may be much worse. The newest statistics indicate the there is a suicide every 80 minutes and many of these will have their source as the War and  PTSD’s after effects.

I will be working as a volunteer with the OC Veterans and Health Department in a new Veteran/ Mentor program which is geared toward helping PTSD sufferers and hopefully I will soon have some positive results to talk about.