This is an excerpt from Our Forgotten Soldiers by KL McFadden
Living with a Vietnam veteran who is suffering from PTSD is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. We, as the women of these veterans, go through so many emotions. Not knowing how to handle things or who to turn to, is so hard at times.
I adore my veteran, and to see him go through this hell is so heart breaking. Even though I know there is nothing I can do to ease his suffering, I try to be there. While I can have empathy, I will never know the hell he is going through.
I always thought the older a veteran gets, the less the PTSD would bother them, but this was the wrong assumption. This condition is getting worse, and I keep wondering if he had been treated when he first came home from Vietnam, would he be much better now? I guess this question will never be answered; we can’t turn back time and have him do it all over again.
The VA now acknowledges PTSD and does try to help but I am wondering if this is ‘too little too late’. My veteran has had hypnosis, acupuncture and meditation, to no avail. He may feel better for a day or two but then reality comes crashing back with a loud bang. I have seen my veteran be soft and gentle, and then, in the blink of an eye, become an explosive volcano. I wonder what he is thinking or feeling at these times. I know he is so afraid that he might become uncontrollable. He does try his best to control the demons that are plaguing him, but to live with those demons twenty-four-seven is simply, unfair. These demons plague his nightmares and his waking hours; crowds make him uneasy, and being in public causes him to constantly scan his environment. At night every sound wakes him, as he is constantly on alert.
My veteran is very protective; always worrying I will be hurt and wanting to protect me, every chance he gets. He doesn’t rest easy until I am home safe, and despite constant reassurances that I am fine, he still worries.
If I could wave a magic wand and take away all his pain and suffering, I would do so, and I would heal all the hurt he has ever suffered. Technically, a country wins a war but our soldiers will suffer until the day they breathe their last. I would dance this dance with him all over again knowing how things would be, because he is my Hero.
I'll tell you what I think. KL McFadden is a good writer. She knows how to hang words together in good sentences that run into good paragraphs. I've read a number of different pages on her web site and would encourage others to do the same.
I could be completely wrong, but it seems to me that McFadden has not done enough homework. It's true she has done a great job interviewing her subjects. But it seems that is all she has done. I don't believe that she believes that PTS is treatable and recovery is possible.
She seems completely unaware of the neural imaging work done by the National Institute of Health. I don't think she knows the Veterans Administration spent ten years and $100 million on research that show evidence that people can reprogram their own brains on purpose.
What I find confusing is that McFadden gives me the impression that she believes veterans with PTS are victims who deserve special handling by the public because their symptoms are uncontrolable. (I must admit that I agree that the symptoms get out of control occasionally.) However, the idea that a veteran is responsible for their own recovery is absent from her writing in this book. She seems antagonistic to the idea that veterans can go to the VA for an inpatient PTS and TBI program recovery program that actually work. I could be wrong. I'm just an old veteran who has been hospitalized with PTSD six times ~ dealing with this mess for 4+ decades. Volunteering to help other vets with PTSD since 1998.
McFadden writes: "Our soldiers will suffer until the day they breathe their last." It's a well written sentence. It carries a lot of emotion. Unfortunately, it is just wrong, in my opinion.
I declare, as a veteran dealing with post traumatic stress since I returned from Vietnam in 1969, it is possible to get better. We do not have to suffer until our dying day. Not with post traumatic stress. Most days, the symptoms can be undiagnosable. We can be happy.
I declare that a veteran with PTS can choose to begin a recovery regimine that can help recover lost emotional function and brain function much the same way a stroke victim can recover lost function. It's never too late.
Is it a cure? No. The brain is still injured. We might experience relapse of depression or temper from time to time. But most days can be just wonderful. After all, the reason we are all here is to experience joy. I don't get that from KerriLynn McFadden. Sorry.