I’ve written a number of times in this blog about Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), noting that I call it an injury rather than a disorder because it is the direct result of damaging experience, not the mind gone awry. I’ve observed that PTSI is permanent—the memories never go away or even weaken. The victim can’t be cured; he must learn to cope.
I have learned to cope. I no longer am subject to irrational rages, panic attacks, or flashbacks, although I still have occasional nightmares. Instead, these days, my emotions remain close to the surface. Tears come into my eyes when I read of combat. I choke up when I’m with other combat veterans who understand what I went through. When I read of the suicide rate among veterans, so much higher than among nonveterans, I cry.
I have no complaints. I have no shame about tearing up when faced with the horrors of combat. I’m proud of my work to defend our country. I sense the same pride among other veterans. And tears in reaction to the grisliness of combat are nothing to be ashamed of.
What has helped immensely is that it is no longer a disgrace to admit participation in the Vietnam war. American attitudes have changed. We Vietnam veterans are now honored along side our brothers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I am content.