I do not read newspapers or watch the daily news. The news in America is too violent.
When I read or hear news that reminds me of the statistics that say one out of three Americans will be the victims of violent crime during their lives, that flips the PTSD switch in my head, and I go on uber-alert.
For readers that don’t know, PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Studies show that people from three professions can suffer from PTSD: veterans, teachers and flight controllers.
Since I served in Vietnam in the Marines, then went into the classroom for thirty years teaching in gang-infested schools surrounded by graffiti slimed neighborhoods, I qualify.
The thing is, I don’t have nightmares from the classroom. None of my tough students tried to kill me.
My flashbacks come from the rice paddies where I fought mostly on night patrols and ambushes.
Before I go to bed, I reach for the hidden Ka-Bar (Marine Corps knife) to make sure it was still there. I’d keep a pistol or riot gun close, but I don’t want to wake in the dark and shoot my wife or daughter before I have time to think, so I keep those weapons out of easy reach.
That brings me to what has kept me awake this week.
My teenage daughter broke up with her boyfriend for the fifth time. I hope this is the last time with this boy.
You see, I learned in Vietnam that every human is capable of extreme violence, and strong, negative emotions bring out that violence. When I feel there is any possible threat to my family, I don’t sleep well.
When I’m on high alert, I’m lucky to sleep an hour in one night. Sometimes, I don’t sleep at all. Every noise wakes me.
Before going to bed, I make my rounds. I check every door, every lock. I check all the windows to make sure they are latched. After I get in bed, I make sure that Ka-Bar is still there. Touching the handle of that deadly seven-inch blade reassures me. I also know where the shotguns are, my thirty-eight caliber revolver and the automatic with the ten-round clip. I have weapons salted all over the house hidden and out of sight but easy to reach.
It may sound strange, but I can watch violent movies like Alien or The Terminator and they do not set me off, because I know they are fiction.
However, the TV news is based on real stories, and that keeps me awake nights. I wish my daughter would find guys to go out with who aren’t so dysfunctional.
Discover the Sexual Revolution in China
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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