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Personal Recollections-PTSD

July 28, 2011

It suddenly occurred to me that I have been requesting others to tell their stories and to this point I have failed to open myself up to others, as well.  I will spend the next few blogs discussing some of the personal things that I remember.  Though it has been over 40 years some things still are quite vivid in my mind.  I am thankful to all those who helped me along the way to recovery and I wish their had been something like this blog available when I returned home from Vietnam.

My Uncle had been a lifer in the Air Force  serving, I think. 25 years.  I think he may have experienced some PTSD from his experiences.  He was stationed at Hickham Field during the Pearl Harbor attack.  He never would talk about his experiences and we never asked.  He had a drinking problem when he returned from his service but was a recovering alcoholic for the rest of his life.  My mother, his sister, was so proud of him and his service to the Country and this made an impact on my decision to ultimately serve, as well.

I graduated from college dring the height of the Vietnam War and received my draft notice.  I decided to enlist immediately since I would serve 3 years if drafted but only 2 years and 10 months if I enlisted.  I must have had some inkling that I wouldn’t stay in the military because a savings of 2 months was what I opted to do. 

All of my first 1 year and 10 months was spent in training.  I started in Basic Training and during this time I was selected to go to Officer Candidate School (OCS) but first I had to complete Advance Infantry Training (AIT).  Once this was done I went to OCS and during this time I changed my MOS from Infantry to Military Intelligence.  Many people have joked with me that I was a triple oxymoron, a Polish boy in Military Intelligence.  Then I proceeded to go through Military Intelligence Training, Advanced Military Intelligence Training and finally Vietnamese Language School.

I was to then go to Vietnam for my one tour which lasted only 365 days.  I would say for the most part I enjoyed the training and discipline.  I wasn’t a very good soldier.  Though not a  bad soldier but not very good one  either.  It was quite obvious to me that I was unsuited for the military and I never stopped questioning some of the decisions that were made by people that should never have risen to the point of being able to make them. 

Some of my experiences had the “Gallows Humor” aspect to them.  I will try to be more explicit with my observations focusing on once I had to come home and had to adjust to my new life.  I had a more mild case of PTSD and I would not admit it to anyone because I didn’t want to stay in the military one more day longer than I had to.  Other subsequent blogs will outline some of these feelings.