Casualties of the Mind (part 3 of 3)

For those fifteen years, I didn’t talk about the war. During the day, I didn’t think about it either. However, at night, every sound was the enemy coming for my family and me. I’d wake sweating and grab the eight-inch knife I slept with, and there was a loaded revolver under the bed.  Then in 1981, I was working toward a MFA in writing and proposed an individual graduate project where I would write about my experiences from Vietnam.

It took six months to get beyond page forty in that manuscript, which was my first day in Vietnam. The Ph.D. with the major in English literature finally gave me an ultimatum, and I opened up. On page 41, I scrambled down a net and boarded a landing craft that carried me to the beach in Chu Lai.

Did that breakthrough help me sleep through the night?  No.  I still wake up listening to every sound.

If the crickets around the house stop chirping, I open my eyes and listen.  You see, the crickets have become my first line of defense—my trip flare.  Before bedtime, I check all the doors and windows to make sure they are locked. I still keep an eight-inch knife close and a twelve-gauge pump shotgun one-step from where I struggle to sleep. I’ve lived with this combat in my head for forty-four years so far.

When my VA shrink told me a few years ago that I had to lock my weapons up so no one would get hurt, I stopped going to counseling. Even in the US, the odds of becoming a victim of violent crime are one in four according to statistics and the last piece I read said the odds are getting worse. When the real beast comes, I have to be ready, because we live in a combat zone.

Return to Casualties of the Mind, Part 2 or start with Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

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~ by Lloyd Lofthouse on August 2, 2010.

7 Responses to “Casualties of the Mind (part 3 of 3)”

  1. Oh boy. Sorry to hear it still bothers you as it all happened yesterday. Your body is literally breaking down of that stress. No good. And there is no chance for me ever to understand your specific combat stress in other way.

    But you know what ? I happen to find something that might give you little different way of thinking, at least I hope so. Look here if you have not seen it already:

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/search/ptsd-vietnam-veterans/
    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/roy-masters

    And here:

    http://www.helium.com/knowledge/57462-poetry-veterans

    I just listened to Roy’s program and came to think of you. Why I write you at all is because I happen to find your blog about that forum.

    I will leave you in peace now, and I wish you good luck on your journey home. Take care of your self !

    Warm Regards

  2. Btw. Concerning the video.
    I think others fear makes them to not even want to understand how one can get PTSD. If they understand how and how our society is built up, they will at the same time realize, that everyone, even them selves is in a risk zone to meet the same fear as the PTSD sufferer they look in to the eye. Until then, they can only imagine what horror is. That scares people, it’s also a big hinder for the sufferer and that is the saddest part of it all. Others lack of strength puts a minority to carry the whole world and that injustice makes me _mad_.

    They expect you veterans to stand all the memories of death while they barely them selves can watch eyes, legs and blood on the streets in Tv. That’s so… that makes me want to laugh sometimes.

    But ok… take care as I said and Good Night.

  3. Finally the boys where sent home yesterday !!! 🙂

    Now they need the support for the PTSD and I really hope their families and the health care are ready for the pressure.

    Now I am able to say: God Bless Them !

    • Yes, it is good that the last active combat units are coming home. However, the US still has 50,000 troops there just in case the Iraqi government can’t deal with the insurgency.

      America built a huge base out in the desert far from every city. I assume that is where the 50,000 troops will be kept on standby. Hopefully, the Iraqi army and police will be able to handle the Islamic terrorists and other insurgent groups.

  4. Yep, I heard that. Also they will be home in December.
    I’m not that optimistic that American tactics can fight them, but in combination with Arab mind and heart it might work. They are more use to that kind of violence and they have the understanding for their own mentality. In time it will be alright I think, in time. But the Americans need to repent and humble them selves if they want their “honor” back. That will be even harder to accomplish. Shame will hunt you just as the Britt’s and deep dark shadows will hunt the weak minded down… lol. Poetry.

  5. I appreciate your comments about veterans on this website. I am an Afghanistan War veteran. I started a simliar blog called “The Veterans Guide.”

    You can visit it here and perhaps guest post on it from time to time.

    Veteran’s Guide to PTSD and Benefits

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