PTSD claims a very dear friend – I share my sadness
Word this morning that my very dear friend, neighbor and co-worker for over 20 years has ended his life. He has been treated for extreme PTSD
, from his Viet Nam experience as a Marine, for over 3 decades and diagnosed as “seriously mentally disabled”. The VA, veteran support groups and all who cared for him worked hard to keep him stable. A highly decorated Marine, his Viet Nam experiences as a “tunnel rat” during the worst years of the war gave him indescribable nightmares about the lives he had to take and his buddies who died in his arms. We worked together until he had to leave his job, due to his PTSD mood swings. Living next door, I saw a different neighbor over the fence every day. I am still very close to his wife, children and grandchildren. He would never talk about his experiences, no matter how hard I tried. I kept open to the hope he would lift the lid on his anguish and share. I donated a lot of blood to Viet Nam. I always hoped that blood brought someone home alive. I never imagined that some who returned would bring the psychological time-bomb home that would ultimately kill them.
I am angry that his wife may be denied VA Death Benefits because he took his life while going through old Viet Nam photographs and listening to Iraq war news. The Vietnam War has claimed tens of thousand of victims to PTSD.
There is a great big discrepancy here! He was an ongoing poster boy for the extremes of PTSD directly related to his Viet Nam war experiences.
Is this what we expect will happen to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans if the VA fails to stabilize their PTSD? Will their families be denied benefits if they end their own lives? Anyone’s answer to this question will be greatly appreciated.
July 20, 1947 – August 24, 2007