Written by Ronny Ymbras, *unedited for authenticity purposes
OK here we go, Disclaimer (not a sales pitch) I am about to talk about something that most people will not talk about. I will begin by saying that this is not about judging anyone or anything. With the virus going around many vets that I talk to are stressed about the situation. PTSD is a real concern with veterans and it can be inflamed with the reflection on death and many deaths. As I have been traveling through the country on my book tour I notice one common occurrence with vets while seeing and talking about my book.
Examples,,, some fan through the pages while I explain what it it is about and they put it down and say I cannot look at that and I respond let me tell you about getting involved. They walk away I wish them well and off they go. I always ask people why they are interested in the book and many women say “my husband died in the war” and middle age people say something like ” my dad died in the war”. They then turn about and go on their way. Some time later some of them come back and engage and get the book. There is a group of vets that do the same thing and just can’t handle it. Shortly they return and walk away with a copy.
My time with this manageable condition went like this. March 26,1968 friendly fire from 9 mortars falling short on my unit 1/3 of my company was either killed or wounded. it was a bloody mess. it took me 40 years to face the facts about that and the rest of the war in general.
I was a rough and tough paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, one of the bad ass fighting forces in history. I can handle that war stuff and anything that went with it. I came home in December 67 and got discharged in July 1968. I tried to socialize into the neighborhood but was kind of stigmatized as a crazy Vietnam Vet, that occurred in the bar scene. That experience certainly did not help, so the tougher I got.
40 years later was D Day August 2007. I was out on my deck watching my 8 and 6 year old boys playing on the swing set in the field below. Across the field through a wooded area and across a creek was a family fun center. There was mini golf, batting cages and a driving range there. There was also a paint ball area here as well. I was having a cup of coffee 9am and the paint ball war was on rat tat ta ta ta. I got out of my chair ran to the railing and yelled down at my boys ” Zack, Josh get down and put some fire into that treeline” One of them yelled back up the hill ” dad what are you talking about”. I started to cry. I sat there for a short while and my wife opened the sliding door saw me and said whats going on? I looked up and said it is time that I check in to the VA and get some help.
I joined the PTSD group at the Castle Point Hospital and things seemed to get better very soon. I then offered to have a spring and summer meeting a my house and have a barbecue while doing that. We normally met once a week at the hospital. The doc agreed and so we did. During the lunch time sometime at the 10 person table one of the guys said he could not come back to my house for the next meeting. I asked him why and he said that looking down at the field, which reminded him of a rice paddy through the woods and seeing people on canoes on the creek reminded him of the gooks on sampans in Vietnam. That was the last meeting at my house.
To wrap this up I found that the more time I spend with vets doing vet things helps me not think about the things in a stressful way. Going to American Legion or VFW or VVA meetings and the like that better I manage my PTSD. I think the more I talk to vets or just being at reunions or picnics or parades the less I think about the things I might think about in a different situation and then get anxious or “BACK IN THE NAM”. I must say that I talk , text or message vets every day It works for me maybe you can try it. TALK TO YOUR VIETNAM VET BROTHERS and God bless you.
Ronny Ymbras – Author of Fallen Never Forgotten: Vietnam Memorials in the USA
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