I want to talk to you all about something very close to me. This is something that has unwittingly affected me since I was a child, and I only now discovered a few years ago. It is something that is far too clear for our men and women returning from combat situations and their families. This is all about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
Before even our soldiers from Korea or Vietnam, there were our soldiers from World War II. My Grandfather Isabel fought in DDay. In the short years I knew him he never spoke of the Purple Heart he earned in those infamous days. I only saw it later in the drawer of my Daddy's dresser. I did know he endured the hurt he felt with alcohol. He did get help, he did sober. Isabel Sanchez ironically died on July 4th 1988, from a drunk driver running him over.
Still it continued...
My daddy was a Navy sailor. He served right after graduating high school in the late sixties. He met and married my mama in those years, meeting her while taking R&R from Vietnam. I didn't know my father had an addiction until I was in college. I didn't know he had PTSD until I was in my 30s. For his generation, it wasn't a masculine thing to talk about the things you saw or did in war. He sought help through other vets, and found his way through the crazy maze and hoops the VA makes you maneuver and jump through as a veteran until he finally felt somewhere close to normal. Sometimes a nightmare will still wake him. One night it woke him with his hands around my mother's neck in a fit of discombobulated memories.
It doesn't go away. Not for my Grandpa Isabel in WWII, not for my daddy in Vietnam, not for our soldiers coming home from the Middle East now.
For this reason Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a huge deal in my life. We celebrate freedom when they all come home in ticker tape, confetti grandeur. We don't talk about the nightmares, the fits and starts, the depression, the addiction afterwards.
Our homeschool Roots and Shoots group held a Lemonade/Bake Sale for an organization called Paws and Stripes. They rescue dogs from a local NM shelter to help returning soldiers with PTSD . Please see http://www.pawsandstripes.org/ for more information.