February 13, 2009

Quotes From Within

Welcome home. This blog is a collection of military soldiers, veterans and caregivers stories. Our contributors write about living with Military PTSD, MST and TBI in the context of Post-traumatic Growth and trauma telling. It started with the founder Scott Lee, a Gulf War veteran, blogger, freelance writer and advocate for Military PTSD awareness. He battled his feelings of helplessness and started writing to reach out to connect with others.

The passages below are from some of his past articles rich in metaphors and descriptive language to attempt to bridge the gap in understanding.


"Imagine knowing something about yourself more than you know anything, and at the same time knowing how unreal it is. This part of you has such a hold on you, that you cannot for the life of yourself feel its grasp until it is too late, then it has you and you are no longer yourself. Imagine a watery consciousness slipping away and thinking who was that? And, you already know the answer, as it dissipates like smoke on the wind. In that moment of realization comes the instantaneous realization of your being, slipping away" Would You Like to Forget The Biggest Most Influential Part of Your Life?

"There is disconnection between everything human and what has to be done in combat. Imagine being in an unimaginable situation and having to do the unthinkable." Honor The Soldier, Betray The Veteran

"PTSD is not only about personal protection or self preservation but in its essence a mechanism of such endeavors, thus becoming a self-perpetual entity in of itself. Almost as if it has become self-aware and not only will it steer me away from danger, but also away from its own demise; a seemingly serendipitous supra-intelligent guidance of the subconscious."

"Seemingly my senses and body would hijack my mind and I could only be a witness looking out as I reflexively reacted to apparent hostility." A Suggested Guide to PTSD Management, comment section

"That part of us summoned by the heat of anger and the fire of rage and shuts down all thinking and rationalizing to do the deed, the dance of death."

"I was flippant, arrogant and unable to quantify your sarcastic attempts to inform me of your slighted facade." Facades do clash

"A small combat squad that has experienced several fire fights develops a sense of oneness with each other, they have become one organism through the forging process of fight or flight." Soldiers in Combat Develop Powerful Attachments to One Another

"Bonding through blood and battle takes the soldier to a whole new level of raw humanism forged through survival and fight or flight defensive mechanisms. The psychology of killing alters the terrain of the mind disabling the rational machinery and enabling the ancient reflexive responsive unconscious." Lower Recruitment Standards Contributing to Military Suicide Rates

"We send our soldiers to war for our freedom and then lock them up when they are broken and of no use anymore." Suggested Guide to Help Your Veteran or Soldier Diagnosed With PTSD and Charged With a Crime

"During times of great turmoil and adversity such as a loved one struggling and succumbing to the ravishing effects of PTSD, this will release devastating effects on the person and sometimes can reap outrageous and deleterious consequences to others." Self Care Contingencies For The Loved Ones of Incarcerated Veterans and Soldiers

45 comments:

  1. This is my first time reading this site. I did not kill, I saved. The enemy, the civilian, the comrade, the children. They died in my arms, and I saved the ones who killed my comrades. My nights are consumed by horrors not seen by the normal ER Nurse. Iraq ruined my life.

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    1. Anonymous, it took me almost sixteen years to date to read your comment, but I am glad to say, you are a hero. May God bless you may you find comfort in knowing you are still appreciated and loved for your service.
      I wish for you happiness and joy. It is easier said than done, but try to live in this moment because it is all you have. I salute you!

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  2. Welcome Home Iraq ER Nurse, you have a place to go and share. Keep coming back, please contact me at rmngen@gmail.com

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  3. Afghanistan ruined my life as well..

    Trauma Nurse for the military

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  4. My life will never be the same either. I'm trying to get of my meds but I've been faced with the reality I will probably never be able to deal without them.

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    1. If you had a physical illness like diabetes - like millions of people - you'd accept the reality of having to take medication to survive.
      You said, "I've been faced with the reality I will probably never be able to deal without them."
      If you learn to calmly accept that you will continue to need medication, much of your suffering about that reality will cease.
      Pain is inevitable.
      Suffering is optional.
      You've demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, incredible strength.
      A line from a song of Annie Lennox is:
      "Give me the strength to lay this burden down".
      God bless.

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    2. Suffering is denying and dreading the inevitable.

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  5. Welcome Home to all! I'm not going to pretend to know what being in combat feels like. But I do know what it feels like to love and live with someone with Combat PTSD as part of OIF. You're correct in saying your life will NEVER be the same. However, it saddens me to hear you say that it has ruined your life. Being a soldier is the most couragous "job" any person could have. It's a job that is not "given" it's something you CHOSE. Signing up for the military is offering your life so that the rest of us can have freedom...we all know, freedom is NOT free. If you make it back, you're life was still given...because unfortunately, you WILL never be the same-BUT it doesn't have to "ruin" your life. It takes AMAZING strength to voluntarily give your life for your country...Soldiers PLEASE always remember that STRENGTH you possess. It brought you through in war and it can bring you through THIS. PTSD is NOT stronger than you. If you are reading this now, that means you're alive...can you remember thinking you may never make it to this point? You made it! You made it because of your courage, strength and bravery...and now you can make it thru this. Thank you for EVERYTHING, not just at war...but for TRULY giving your life so that we can live FREE. For those of you trying to get help, but sick of dealing with the VA. Please visit a Vet Center. They are staffed with AMAZING people (most of them are Vets too)...they will help you feel "normal" again. It can't hurt to try, but it WILL hurt to do nothing. God Bless every one of you and your families.

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  6. I was once a very proud and eager to fight marine,having served 5 tours I am now dealing with the horror of war and death.
    I love my country but I dont think we should be so eager to send 18 yr old kids into war.
    The pain and the memories will never go away I wish I could sleep one night without nightmares.

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  7. I am not a war hero, a veteran or a military personnel. But I am a average 21 year old, female, 3rd year American college student, living in Virginia Beach Virginia, working to try and succeed in the world- one of the many that our military strives to protect. As a person who also suffers from PTSD- for different reasons than a war vet, I understand the sacrifice that these men and women place for me and all Americans. I hope no one has to feel and sense the effects of PTSD, the thoughts, feelings and emotions are the darkest, harshest and deepest not understandable to many but my heart goes out to all of our military who survived the physically battle and now proceed to another real battle, the longer, harder and uncomprehending war of the mind. I pray that each veteran seeks treatment and support for this battle they face within- rely on other vets because they too are fighting again alongside you- you can not see it but together your stronger than alone.

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  8. If there are any military/former military living in the San Diego area, a friend of mine who works for the VA and teaches/competes in Mixed Martial Arts is conducting a veterans-only group MMA therapy clinic. Anyone interested in focusing your post-combat frustrations into something constructive and therapeutic in a peer environment should look into the program. Check out his Facebook page- Searcg for 'Pugilistic Vance' and leave him a message. Good luck and thank you

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  9. Anony from Nov 22, when I started taking Prazosin for PTSD I began to have an immediate release from the grip of nightmares and the fear of going to bed. I still have nightmares but not every night and the intensity is less and I do not remember them.

    Cristine, thank you for sharing and may God bless you.

    Thai, sounds like a great opportunity for San Diego area vets.

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  10. combat medic my self,,,never fired a weapon never seen a firefight but yet i seen 13 go home hurt and not the same and 1 go home to the load..nothing will be the same

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  11. Welcome home Anony, you are not alone.

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  12. Dear All:

    My SOC inspired me to go back to school, in hopes that just once I can stop this happening to someone else.

    You all continue to inspire, I hope one day you find your way wholly; home.

    "There is no good, nor evil; just the thinking that made it so." Shakespeare

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  13. Thank you Sandangel, rare to have someone sum me up in a few words.

    Carry your gift of empathy, compassion and cynosure as though bequeathed from God, for He did. Use them as though He has commanded you, for He has.

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  14. ptsd not only hurts the soldier, it also hurts their family. how can one deal with such a condition, devoid of feelings toward your loved ones, and yet can't let them go? will the pain ever stop? will the children be able to grow up knowing what love is? through the grace of God, the pain will stop.

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  15. Ugh. PTSD... It sucks. Combat veteran here... Dont care about spending time with my family, fill distant from everyone i ever knew back home... My mom yells at me, for not spending time with little brother... My gf left me cause im violant and controlling, and never want to leave the house.... I dont rly care about nothing anymore. A VOID. A whole yr of my life gone by like a blurr a bad dream. And i cant tell anyone about it, they just look at ya like your a nut job. Yeah Afghanistan Fked me up.

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    1. Attack PTSD like you did the enemy. Never surrender. Whip it's ass! It will never go away completley, but you can get it under control. Don't let it beat you bro. It took two years of counseling and a couple of different meds before I found the right combination to help me keep on keeping on. It was close. I almost let it beat me. At one point I almost killed myself because I thought that was the only way to make it stop. The only way for me to stop hurting the ones I love. Thank God I didn't give up. There is help, there is hope.

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  16. my father is a vet and he has been suffering from ptsd for about 5 years now. it is tearingour family apart and it hurts so much to see that happen. i cant stand the torture of losing someone and yet they are sitting right in front of me. things will never be the same. i just want my dad back, he means too much to me

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  17. Anony3, to speak metaphorically, your father is still in there. He sees you in the distance, it is the interference and distance or fog in between that separates you. The fog can be penetrated with the right tools and knowledge, in time you will see the father you knew and come to appreciate the man he is today.

    Anony2, seek out others who know your dark heart and who can lead you out of that dark place we hold up in. You deserve to heal, you did what you had to do. Welcome home. Read, learn, pray, meditate and congregate with your kindred...your soul needs it.

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  18. I'm tired of fighting the war in my head

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    1. Seek out brothers and sisters in your area and online, we need each other to live again. You may always be fighting some war in your head because you are now and forever a warrior. But, you can learn to live as a warrior and not be at war.

      The revelation that my experience could help others gave me a purpose, it allowed to me to make sense of the insensible. My battle today is my mission and that is raising awareness and working on integrating community services for veterans.

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  19. My brother is an Iraq War Veteran who is suffering from Complex PTSD. Upon his return, he had the common symptoms of PTSD and he consumed a great deal of alcohol though he was somehow able to be function, for the most part. It wasn't until he was medically discharged from the Army that he began to spiral downward quickly. The VA has continued to prescribe medication after medication without any true focus on therapeutic measures. He has completely turned to substances to get him through each day. In July of 2011, he was snorting up to 16 Xanax a day while drinking as much as he could. His inhibition was so low that he became severely violent on more than one occasion and he has no real recollection of the devestation that he has caused. He totalled two vehicles within two months, has been pulled over for DUI numerous times...he lies and steals...He completed two 30 day IP dual diagnosis substance abuse programs within months of eachother only to come out and relapse within a week. Most recently he was arrested and admitted to me that he had decided to give up the Xanax because, "That shit makes me think I'm in Iraq." He has now turned to pain pills and alcohol, taking up to 20 hydros a day. He's now sitting in jail awaiting a hearing for felony DUI amongst other charges that are still pending.

    I am also in the military and I am a mental healthcare provider on the civilian side of things. I struggle to put my uniform on as I have no sense of pride for my service and I have so much anger toward the U.S. Government for allowing our troops to sell their souls for our country. Their shells of bodies are home but they themselves are MIA! As a mental healthcare provider, I am sickened by the lack of treatment that the VA is providing to our troops. They are recognized as numbers not human beings and they are continuosly shoved around from one provider to the next. How are they supposed to form any type of reporte and trust to allow them to purge the traumas???

    I suppose this has been a rant, a sort of digression...I came upon this site in an attempt to find some words of encourgement for my brother when I visit him tomorrow...

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    1. Thank you for your sense of compassion and willingness to help your brother. It is an overwhelming situation to deal with a loved one in the worst throws of Combat PTSD, even for a mental health practitioner.

      Seems to that you may have Compassion Fatigue, I pray that you both get help. You cannot do this alone with him, get yourself some support around you as you work to support your brother.I hope you found your words of encouragement.

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  20. i am not a military personell, i am searching the internet for someone i deeply care about. i want to know how to support a victim with ptsd...it is so new to me and i am just realizing the severity of it. this man, not even a week ago, tried to commit suicide. put him in the hospital for 3 days in icu. he is now in rehab, but does not want to live. he has been through so much and all i want to do is support him in the best way possible. any help would be taken with much appriciation. please help me help this beautiful brave soul...

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    1. Most of what you will learn here consists of explanations of how the Combat PTSD Mind thinks and relates. Much of what you can do is read and learn, he will need someone who can understand his changes in personality as it relates to his PTSD. If they are at the point of suicide, then the past unreality of war has become their present inescapable reality. When you read about PTSD, it just talks about the external signs. The internal experience for the Combat Vet is vastly different and needs a better understanding from the people around him to help him in his recovery.

      Think of his mind as having been shattered, the shards cut into his reality by way of integrating past stimulus into the present environmental arena. Thus confusing us as to others intentions, and expectations. In combat we had people backing us up and clear communication, unlike our modern society where we put up facades. People hiding in plan site are triggers to soldiers. This lack of backup, not being able to trust our own senses and mind put us a precarious situation if no one around us understands what is happening to us.

      Read the first two years of this blog, it can help in the understanding of the internal thinking patterns and processes of the Combat PTSD Mind. Along the way post questions on the articles you need more clarification on. Pace yourself, this will be overwhelming to read, I infuse the posts with searing emotions. Read my papers I wrote on Combat PTSD, this will give you a better intellectual understanding.

      I think it important to understand the emotional and intellectual sides of Combat PTSD due to the dissociative features. Dissociation is a major factor with Combat PTSD with little coverage in the media and even less in therapy. At the bottom of this blog you will find a keyword cloud, look up dissociation and all its flavors.

      Hope this helps, may God bless you and your veteran.

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  21. Hello, My name is Ron and I's a Desert Storm Veteran. I am now an art teacher and wrestling coach. My biggest passion is serving and having my students serve my fellow veterans at at our local VA Hospital. I just finished this painting that I created for the PTSD unit...it is entitled "Walking Wounded". MANY BLESSINGS...
    http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/creativeapps/slideShow/Main.jsp?sourceId=533754321803&cm_mmc=Share-_-Personal-_-Email-_-Sharee-_-Images&token=624647590508%3A1521584374&_requestid=144562

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  22. I served in the first Gulf War - Desert Storm. I came home and thought everything was fine. I had a few nightmares, but felt inadequate to talk about them. Marines are tough, and it wasn't like I was at Iwo Jima. I buried those feelings for over 20 years, until one day everything changed. Slowly but surely my past was catching up with me. I had my first panic attack, and then another, and another. I couldn't sleep. I was agoraphobic. Wal-Mart was a battle zone for me. It ended up costing my job of 19.5 years as a cop. I have caught myself releasing the rage inside of me on those that I love and care about the most. I had to get help. I'm now on 6 different meds and I still have trouble. I can't work because of the anxiety. On top of it all, I have to fight with the VA. This should have never happened. I should have been brave enough to talk about what I was experiencing. I now have a group of friends that are vets. We all take turns checking on each other. If there is one thing that I would like to say is you have to have HOPE to beat PTSD. Hope that you will get better, that you will be able to go into Wal-Mart some day. Hope that your loved ones will understand and fight along side of you. If you lose Hope you lose the will to fight, and when that happens you have lost. Do not lose! Continue to march! Semper Fi!

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  23. I'm a Cold War, Gulf I, Panama, OEF and OIF Vet...retiree. It hit me about 7 years ago and has destroyed relationships, cost me jobs and a multitude of other issues as named by others. Since the Cold War days I have had issues with crowds and backfires sent me flying to the ground to scan for enemy. I used to love to hunt, now I feel like it's just killing...Deer hunting has become to easy for me...not sure why but I killed 5 deer in minutes a couple years ago...haven't hunted since as I wasn't killing deer in my mind.
    I gave up on the treatment plan after my pshyc said he was retiring...just started to trust him after three years. Still suffering from anxiety almost constantly, Hyper alert, scan buildings and parking lots before EVA and post EVA, sit facing the entrance as knowing the back exit. I hit the bottle and it got worse instead of helping, so that's out. I took up road biking, the physical exertion is helping me get sleep...was doing over 250 miles a week at on point...using it to escape as well it turned out. I am keeping in touch with a young Marine who gave a good portion of his body, as well as his mind. We text when we awaken from nightmares, or feel like a flashback is coming on. So I agree that checking in on one another is helpful.

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  24. As a child, I remember I couldn't go near my father (a Korean War Vet) while he was sleeping. He'd be trembling, sweating, and utering words that I just didn't understand at the time. We had to turn on the light and use a broom stick to nudge him awake in fear that he'd stick someone with the knife that he always slept with. Several moments after jumping out of bed and waving the knife around, he'd open his eyes and say "I'm alright".
    Now I'm a father of young soldier (21) who just recently came home from the Middle East on Christmas Eve. I was excited, proud, and happy to see him home all in one piece. That is until New Years Eve, I realized that he's not all in one piece. Family and friends gathered to celebrate the New Year and his home coming. The night was going great, everyone drinking & having fun, until the stroke of mid-night when fire works started going off in the nieghborhood. I spent the next four in a half hours watching & listening to him relive his life back in the dessert. I tried to console him but had to step back with tears in my eyes becuase of him being combative. As the sun began to peak over the horizon, he finally got up and said he was alright. As a concerned dad, I know that he's not, which really breaks my heart.

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    1. It's frightening to see your loved one go through the dissociative features of combat PTSD. We relive our horrific past awash in emotional and mental states beyond our shared reality. Dissociation is the separation from everything including self. It can manifest from simple zoning out to flashbacks and hallucinations. It seems that you may be the perfect person to help your son, by dealing with your father prepared you help your son. Find some support groups, I highly recommend Family of a Vet. Try and gently steer your son into treatment, blessings to you and your family.

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  25. I went from being a Medic and Search and Rescue in Hurracane Katrina Relief straight to Iraq and witnessing my friend's death within 24 hours of being there. I continueously have horrorous flashbacks, thoughts, and nightmares about both places and I need help to try to cope. any sugestions?

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  26. One of the most effective teaching tools for learning coping techniques is VetsPrevail. It's an online guide to learning how to cope with the major symptoms of PTSD. It will take some time, but at the end of it you will have new tools in dealing with the flashbacks and other dissociative symptoms. They also give gift certificates as incentive to complete.

    Something that helps me deal with nightmares is the medicine Prazosin or Minipress. It's a blood pressure medicine that will extinguish the bad dreams. I've been on in since 2009 and sleep better due to the med.

    Lastly, if you don't have a VA therapist and psychiatrist. Get one, it's time. If you are not diagnosed with PTSD then I suggest filing for a Compensation and Pension (C&P) exam. That way you will get the proper help within the VA and be compensated for your psychological injuries.

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  27. Scott,
    I have a VA therapist and I have been diagnosted for it but I am unable to put in a claim yet due to the fact I and still on active status. I will certainly look into VetsPrevail, Thank you for the information.

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  28. You are welcome and thank you for the continued sacrifices you make every day. Keep reading, here is a link Help with PTSD. It's a collection of articles and resources to help in management of PTSD.

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  29. You are not alone and everything that you are experiencing can probably be repeated a million times from others suffering from PTSD. There is help--there is treatments available. No one treatment works the same for everyone so don't expect an immediate cure but if you want to get some help from this disorder that has robbed you of your happiness then I encourage you, all of you to seek some form of help either through the mental health association, a PTSD group (plenty on the internet) even animal therapy is making great strides in helping. I wish I had a magic pill that would make it all go away but all I have is knowledge and I want to encourage you to seek help--and keep seeking until one day you will wake up and realize you feel a little better--and it's all downhill in a good way from there. God speed your healing!

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  30. Hey Scott--I enjoy your advice. I'm a Psych student and I'm writing my final on PTSD. I was wondering if you could direct me to some really good peer-reviewed sources on the subject that have occurred within the last five years? Thanks for reading this!

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  31. I am a combat vet of 4 tours In Iraq and 3 for Afghanistan. The one thing that truly helped me was investing myself in others. Dive back into the lives of your friends and family with the understanding that something is inside is broken. Truly invest in learning to love those around you again. It is a hard road. Killing and seeing things that no one should see truly disturbs and horrifies our senses it changes our souls in a deep dark secret place where we generally don't want to tread. But only light can fight back the demons that come in the night. The best thing I did was volunteer to work with mentoring young kids. I remember very specifically when I broke the cycle of medicine and therapy. I was sitting on a bench with two very young mothers and there to young toddler children started playing and the laughs seemed to wash over me and clean my soul. I soaked up their innocence and joy and took it to that deep dark place. That was my anchor for believing that I could be mended.. Bring some light into your life and invest yourself in causes that will lighten the soul. I can guarantee you that your demons can be beat. Toil and work for Joy. I have some bad dreams every now and then but that have moved from me being there to just remembering. I am no longer experiencing things as if I am still there. I have not had a flashback for over six months... In general the pain us gone. That aching emptiness is gone. You Can beat this! I had faith in you to cover my back over there and I have faith that you to will be victorious.

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  32. CombatVet, welcome home brother. Since writing this back in 2009 I have been soaking up the parts of me that I had lost. My ability to experience joy and beauty was gone, I was still in and out of therapies that didn't work or get at what was affecting me.

    I kept writing sporadically, but I'm still writing and inviting others to write. I think you would be great at writing about how you discovered your light again.

    In 2012 the Military Experience and the Arts Symposium held workshops in the arts and writing for 100 vets in Richmond, KY. I attended a Graphic Novel workshop there and met a great mentor Clayton Murwin, the editor of Heroes Fallen Studios the maker of the Graphic Novels commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

    I interviewed three of our highest decorated veterans, one a POW at 17, another a MOH recipient and the other actually wrote the book on jet fighter tactics during the war. The interviews helped me establish a long view perspective on living with PTSD. Once I had sentenced myself too feel and live the way I do the rest of my life.
    Their stories shattered this misbelief, I have the capacity to heal and feel and not come apart.

    In 2013 through my involvement with MEA and editing the Journal of Military Experience the president asked me to run a new project, a big project. I've been running the Veterans' PTSD Project for almost a year now. It's what I do here on steroids there. But, I keep advancing the advocacy and public awareness. This Friday I will be on TV talking about veterans issues.

    Which brings me to the hope that you are following this post. I'd like to invite you too share your story further with us. Email me at rmngen@gmail.com if you want to share your story with over 30,000 members at the Veterans' PTSD Project.

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  33. I served with the US Army 1st Cav Div during OIF2 from March 2004 to March 2005 FOB WARRIOR, being discharged in 2006 honorably. I was diagnosed with PTSD after my return from OIF and placed on psychiatric meds, I don't remember all the meds the VA has prescribed to me; lithium prazosin Electro Convulsive Therapy, lamotragine, the list goes on, probably at least 25 different psychiatric meds as well as numerous drug "combinations". I have recently decided that after 9 years of pharmaceuticals I have had enough, on at least three different occasions I went to the VA hospital due to what I believed to be an allergic reaction. I felt like I was going to die, I had the most painful skin condition I have ever imagined. This continued for NINE YEARS. I am done with the VA. The meds are chemicals, man made chemicals. I have an organic body the meds had me to the point of insanity, I almost "lost" it. Any ways the VA always sent me home denying that it was the meds causing these symptoms. They would simply give me a cream to use on my skin rash which never really helped and continued me on the meds many times increasing the dosage despite my allergic reaction. It has now been about 2 weeks, the worst I have ever felt, but its a new day I AM A WARRIOR I WILL SURVIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME

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  34. I tried to save. My nightmares are the same, only instead of seeing the Afghan child, I see my child.

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  35. 4 Years since my return home, numerous va appointments, thereapy sessions, medications, etc. Still feel distant and on edge, emotionless, irritable, the whole nine yards, they keep saying give it time. It seems like the more time I give it the worse it gets. some days better than others. I just want to feel like I did before Iraq. Is it possible to erase my memory of the past 9 years of my life and start over??? I am a proud vet, do not get me wrong but the simple things I enjoyed before deployments are just a memory,...

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  36. Exactly brother, the VA tells me the same thing about " I didn't give the meds enough time" when I took the same crap they had me on for over a year....then they would change the dosage.....anything too avoid the admittance that they should not be in the damn position they are in. Every time I went it was never the same provider so I would have to start over every time....They do not care about anyone except for that the clock is accurate so they can tell you goodbye and call the crisis hotline so they can clock out and go live there perfect little lives....fn scumbags.....stay strong brother. never one deep.

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  37. Went to Iraq in '05. Was medically separated due to an injury suffered in a vehicle rollover during deployment. I've been on so many different types of meds for PTSD, TBI and anxiety that I've lost count over the past ten years. In one comment, someone said, it seems that they wouldn't be good without them. I feel the same way. If I miss just one day I feel terrible. I still have bad dreams and flashbacks after ten years. VA keeps giving out meds.

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Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee