Dear Combat Veteran Brothers and Sisters,
I served aboard the USS Vincennes (CG-49) as an Operations Specialist from 1987 until 1990. I completed two deployments to the Persian Gulf during my service in the Navy. My trauma event occurred on July 3rd, 1988 and I spent almost 20 years suffering the consequences, of first, not realizing the role this event was playing in my life, and then, not taking responsibility for my behavior once I realized how this event was impacting me and those who care about me. I lost most of those 19 years to substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, and mental institutions. I was a destructive force in the lives of many including and mostly my own.
Once I began to understand that these choices had been influenced by the overwhelming pain and shame I felt about what happened over there, I could begin the work necessary to move toward managing my symptoms. I was simply sabotaging my life because I did not believe I deserved anything of value or even life itself. I spent years reaching goals only to pull all down around me because my core belief was that I did not deserve happiness or success.
I understand that each combat trauma event has a variety of elements to it. For example, my experience did not involve me being face to face with the enemy. I did not see the faces of the 290 passengers on the commercial airliner we shot down. I have not lost a friend in battle (I have lost several since to suicide). For some of us the survivors shame plays a more significant role than the fear.
Whatever your experience was over there we can provide you with hope and help over here. The most important thing you can do is find other combat vets and talk to each other, encourage each other, hold each other accountable. This is the core of what HOPE4PTSDVETS.ORG is all about. If you have any questions or comments, or maybe you just need a vet to talk to, send me an email or give me a call.