August 31, 2008

Open Letter to the Men and Women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

I am forever looking for resources and things to write about on the internet. I found this "open letter" on the website Soldier's Heart, nothing else needs to be added to this post,
An Open Letter to the Men and Women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan,

We, the ghosts of your past, speak to you from our pain. We are your grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers and fathers in a long line of veterans and their families who have been infected by the pain of war.

You return, riding the high of survival, men of courage returning to join families, country and your old lives. We want to tell you that the life you left, is not the life you are bringing home. You’ve changed, become fired by a government that systematically erased your humanity - for your survival. You’ve become a war machine, feelings tamped down into forgetfulness and your body programmed to survive and forget.

Forget? You may think so, but give it three months, three years, thirty years - it will rise to haunt you. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder reaches its insidious fingers into your lives and the ones you love.

We know - have been haunted for 26, 35, 50 years and are still dealing with the pain. We’ve infected our families, not realizing we’ve lost some of our humanity, our wild child, so to speak - the part that feels, acknowledges, and finally begins to put it aside. Everyone of you may experience our feelings, to some degree, and we speak now to you: there is help through counseling with a Vet Center.

We’ve taught you as parents, grandparents, extended family and government to suck it up. Well, we’ve sucked it up for all these years and remain emotional cripples. Just in the past few months, learning how to write through the WellArts Institute, how to express the fear, anger and pain, we’ve seen a glimmer of the light of healing.

We beg you, don’t suck it up, share with your families. Break this chain of pain for yourselves - your wives - your children, and believe me, they will suffer right along with you and won’t be aware of the reason for your anger or theirs. If you love them, love yourself - you owe it to everyone to talk, cry, share your pain. There are resources available to help you.

Men and women, you have learned how to survive one war - now, your personal war is beginning. We challenge you to fight this war as courageously as the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Families - listen to them. Don’t continue the cycle of your ancestors by putting your heads in the ground like ostriches, afraid to hear or share their pain.

Cut this article out of the paper, put it in a special place, and sooner or later you will need to hear our voices again, offering hope for your crippled spirits.

We leave you a small legacy. This website is for you - with resources and places that can be of help.

Be well. We care.

The writers of “Soldier’s Heart”

Sharon Rothenfluch Cooper


Sean T Lewis

Will Campbell

Eran Deran

Pat Helmstetter

Colleen Helmstetter

Jason Hoffman

Ed Martens


  1. These words need inscribed in the halls of Congress. Also, once a month, each member of the House and of the Senate need to listen to a progenitor of a military war veteran read this message aloud. Any senator or representative 'too busy' to sit and hear the words would be immediately fired and no amount of votes would reestablish him or her in that post ever again.

    If it ever is necessary (stress on 'necessary') to send our sons and daughters into combat, it is with the understanding that an experienced General lead (accent on lead) them into battle and no - NO - legislator be permitted to castigate any member of our military, or he/she will suffer the same consequence as mentioned in the above paragraph.

    Thank you, thank you, writers of this heart-piercing post. I've joined your fight to keep on the payroll every veteran who has suffered debilitating war wounds, and your fight to make every citizen know and understand how our veterans are treated.

  2. Scott: Thank you so much for making your writing public. I have recently become involved in a serious relationship with a vet, and I see the signs of his ptsd pop up sometimes. Your position as having first hand experience as well as the knowledgeability coming from your education give your writing an insight that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. Thank you for helping me to understand. I am certain that you will continue to help many vets and their loved ones.

  3. You are welcome anonymous, it is because of people like you that I continue to write. It helps me to know that my experience and writing has made an impact on someones life.

    I have not written much in the last few days as I have needed some time to reflect and regroup. My writing here in this realm has left me depleted.

    Your appreciation fills me up with new vigor and lets me know that I am making a difference. Thank you for taking the time to let me know of your new understanding of PTSD and your veteran.


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