Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a term that we hear a lot in our society. Though it’s become a common term, do you really know what it means? According to the National Institute for Mental Health, “PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” You can read more about it here, National Institute of Mental Health.
Millions of people are diagnosed with PTSD every year. The causes vary as does the duration. While some people will recover in a few months or a few years, others will suffer to the rest of their lives. One group that has a huge number of chronic sufferers is our U.S. War Veterans.
I was born during the Vietnam War. My father enlisted in the Marine Corps, but caught pneumonia while he was in boot camp and received a medical discharge. He came back home, married my mom, and then I came along. If he hadn’t caught pneumonia, he would have served in Vietnam, and I wouldn’t be here. I know many others who did serve in that war, and they a tight-lipped bunch of warriors for the most part.
My friend, Ron Mosbaugh, was a Navy Corpsman attached to the First Marine Division, Second Battalion, Hotel Company. He was 19 years old when was shipped to Vietnam. He served bravely, and saved the lives of many Marines. He returned home a changed man. Battle does that to a person. He refused to talk about his experiences for nearly 50 years. He suffered in silence with nightmares and flashbacks every day.
When Ron finally sought help, he was told part of his treatment was write down every traumatic event he experienced. He absolutely did not want to write down something that he wouldn’t even verbalize. It was a required part of his therapy, so he wrote his first story. Then he wrote another. He’s written over 30 stories about his experiences as a Corpsman during the many battles he saw.
Writing his stories has helped him deal with his PTSD, but he still suffers. Now he speaks to veteran’s groups, and offers wisdom that he has gathered on how to live with PTSD. He shares some of his stories in his book, Marine Down, Corpsman Up! He hopes that reading his stories will help others who are suffering.
He explains how he came to serve in Vietnam and why he decided to share his experiences with the world in Chapter 1 – In the Eye of the Battle. He writes, “The last thing I want is for people to feel sorry for me. This story is not only about me, but about the thousands of veterans who came back to the civilian world and endured the same mental trauma I still endure to this day. At age 19 I witnessed atrocities that no one should witness at any age. It was a gruesome and horrifying experience. Emotionally, I was wounded for life. I re-experience distressing moments over and over. You don’t know what fear is until you look into the eyes of the enemy, standing 20 feet away from you, with a gun in his hand. You know that your death could be seconds away. For 13 months, I wondered if that day would be my last day on earth.”
He goes on to say, “Forty-nine years later, I still live in Vietnam on a daily basis. The thoughts never leave me. All I have to do is close my eyes, and I’m back on the front lines.”
My heart goes out to anyone who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We tend to get wrapped up in our own little worlds and often fail to realize that our friends, neighbors, and loved ones may be fighting hidden battles.
If you are suffering from PTSD, I encourage you to seek help. While the memories won’t ever go away, there are ways to deal with them that may allow you a better quality of life.
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