Available on: Amazon.com
The book featured here is appropriate for this blog series. While my husband, Steve, is not still in Vietnam in his head, his book reflects memories of a forgotten war.
Being a forgotten war, with no heroes lauded from it, no decent home coming, and Americans, including the U.S. government, wanting to brush all memories of it aside, one can tell how veterans of that war feel. When a Vietnam Vet suffers from PTSD, it is doubly hard due to the factors mentioned above.
My ex had his head in Vietnam. So much so, in fact, he constantly mentioned what a raw deal Vietnam Vets got from it. A war where for the first time in a very long time. the U.S. government decided to force young men to fight a war that many felt unjust. It wasn't the soldiers' fault they had to go kill people in a country most of us never heard of before. It wasn't their fault they laughed and jeered at the saying "Land of the free." How in Hell is it freedom to be forced into servitude or face prison?
My ex felt such remorse, it just penetrated his thoughts all the time. With PTSD a veteran often feels like the job was unfinished. With no real home coming, there was no closure for their service. No gratitude and no thank you. Ron often expressed how he wished he had 'eaten it in Vietnam.' As time went on, suicidal thoughts grew worse. Every day, little problems most of us face, became blown way out of proportion and I always found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. I just never knew what chain of events would cause the shoe to drop. Something big or something small? I never could tell until it happened.
There came a day when I grew tired of it all. Tired of the tension, the verbal and physical abuse and our family began to really show signs of strain. I got tired of calling Yates County Sheriff, who did absolutely nothing anyway. I made a trip to Social Services only to be asked by the head worker: "Can't you just make up? Our caseload is heavy right now." I learned, over the course of time, you can either be abused at home, or abused by a system that really does not care. To this day, I see 'Stop Domestic Violence' as a mere slogan, a cause of the week once a year. Why? Well women and children are killed year after year in spite of the supposed awareness going on each year when agencies display their cute little token ribbons.
The first time we had major problems that spilled outside of Ron's comfort zone, namely his closed doors where he could terrorize us, we ended up in family court. Family court is nothing but a zoo. You can go for your scheduled appointment, sit there in a crowd for two hours and then be told your case has been postponed for a month or two. See what I mean by picking where you want to be abused? This behavior is supposed to help families? Hardly. When we finally did get our day in court, I was told by the judge that I needed to go to counseling. Why wasn't the abuser court ordered to go? I was told by the judge: "You need to go to counseling to help you learn how to handle your family problems." A bit ludicrous to put it mildly. So when I see people bitch about 'people on welfare and food stamps' I want to smack them. They have no empathy and no idea what they are talking about. Women and children are using the system. They do not want children to be clothed, fed, have medical care or a safe place to live? Apparently not. Those who bitch about 'those damn freeloaders on welfare' have the audacity to say "stop domestic violence and child abuse' out of the other side of their mouths.
You have to also remember that for many, many years, PTSD did not exist in the eyes of anyone. But then, they did not live in my house either. The suicide talk, the abuse, the talk of how Vietnam just wasn't fair, tends to grate on anyone's nerves over time. The PTSD sufferer blames everyone for their problems, especially those people they claim to care for. They take problems, even small ones as some kind of personal assault, directed at them. They are angry most all of the time, every minute of the day.
While it can be hard to live with someone suffering from PTSD, the constant thoughts of suicide makes it hard for the PTSD sufferer to just plain live.