Ignorance of PTSD might be dangerous: Part 2 of 2

It’s been forty-seven years since I served in Vietnam, and over those years, the few times I’ve been in threatening situations, my thoughts are not of running away or breaking down in tears of fear. Instead, I’m thinking of the fastest way I can kill the person I perceive as a threat. If I’m close enough, I’ll be looking at his throat thinking about digging my teeth in and tearing out his jugular.

In the film “Patton”—played by George C. Scott—there is a scene where the general explodes in anger at troops who were in military hospitals suffering from severe PTSD—known as battle fatigue or shell shock back then.  The violence they had experienced had traumatized them severely. But General Patton thought anyone who suffered from PTSD was a coward and a fake.

I think that Russell Ireland, who owns the Big I’s Restaurant in Oxford, Massachusetts, is evidently an uneducated throw back to that World War II era, who does not think a war veteran suffering from PTSD deserves the same respect as a vet who lost body parts and probably also suffers from PTSD.

To Ireland’s way of thinking—just like General Patton—if the injury isn’t physical, it doesn’t count. For example, missing body parts.

I never know when my PTSD is going to flare or what may trigger it. When I’m awake, I’m always vigilant of my surroundings watching for threats.

 At night and early morning hours I often wake up and see enemy combatants in the darkness—they seem real but I’ve experienced this so many times over the decades that I often stare at them and maybe use a flashlight I keep by my bed to make sure it isn’t real before I can go back to sleep.  And by my side is a .45 caliber Glock automatic with a loaded magazine.  In the closet is a pump shotgun. In the gun safe are more weapons and boxes of ammo.

I did not buy these weapons to go hunting. I bought these weapons so I could sleep at night knowing I was prepared for the unexpected that my PTSD keeps reminding me is out there. Watching the daily news also doesn’t help so I avoid it most of the time. Before Vietnam, I read newspapers. After Vietnam, I stopped reading them. Newspapers are filled with reminders of crimes and violence in the United States that may trigger PTSD symptoms.

PTSD wasn’t recognized until the 1980s and then vets started to receive help from the VA.  I have carried the dark shadow of my PTSD with me since 1966 and didn’t get any help from the VA until after 2005 when I discovered that I was eligible.

And ignorant idiots like Russell Ireland don’t have any idea about the time bomb they may be triggering when they confront a vet with combat induced PTSD. He may have been fortunate that James Glaser had his trained service dog by his side.

By the way, it’s been forty-seven years since I served in Vietnam and I haven’t killed or physical attacked anyone yet. As for Dr. Phil, I’ve never been impressed by his show. It’s more of a shock and awe thing promoted by Oprah [she’s the billionaire who owns the show] while Dr. Phil acts the guru to an ignorant mob of fools—Dr. Phil’s net worth is estimated to be $200 million or more earned from his show.

Return or start with Ignorance of PTSD might be dangerous: Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller 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 fighting for the other side.

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5 thoughts on “Ignorance of PTSD might be dangerous: Part 2 of 2

  1. I’m not a Dr. Phil fan either – for a number of reasons, beginning with the shaming manner in which he approaches his “advice” in addition to his ignorance about subjects he feels qualified to advise upon. (Ignorance in MY field of expertise makes all of his comments suspect.) He’s not the ONLY supposed “expert” I challenge either. Personal opinion put forward as professional information and advice is one of my pet peeves.

    I believe it is against the law to refuse entry to a service dog – it is for guide dogs for the blind, at least (as I was reminded most forcefully when I was a young waitress left in charge and asked a blind patron entering how it was usually handled). I was afraid of being fired, not personally challenging the woman with the dog, but I’m sure it was painful for her none-the-less (regardless, she left a decent tip, so I concluded that my sincere apologies had been accepted).

    My late sister had to jump through all kinds of hoops to be able to keep her German Shepherd in a “no pets” NYC apartment or be evicted – despite the fact that she had been raped IN her apartment prior to getting the dog, and that Anna was also trained to alert others, should my sister slip into a diabetic coma (saved her life more than once, btw – but complaints about the non-stop barking alerted the landlord to the fact that she had gotten a dog). Sheesh – couldn’t he simply have explained WHY the dog was barking to the complaining tenants?

    WHY is the service dog concept so difficult for others to understand?

    I feel MUCH calmer living with my protective little Shih Tzu, even though all he can really do is alert me that an unidentified sound is (or is not) a potential intruder – and perhaps encourage an intruder to pick a quieter apartment to rob. Even though my money-obsessed landlord charges me $25 a month for the privilege, it is well worth it to me and I am grateful to find a place to live that allows dogs at all, since I lack my sister’s follow-through skills. (Yep – a non-refundable $300 every single year – how much damage could a ten pound dog actually DO?)

    I take him everywhere and, unless we are on the street or the establishment is clearly dog friendly, he is carried inside in a ventilated carrier with a shoulder strap that looks like a totebag. He is so quiet and well behaved that he usually passes “beneath the radar.” Only twice have I come across an attitude like the one you describe (only discovered when a child at TinkerToy’s eye level joyfully alerted everyone in the store that I was carrying “A PUPPY!!” ). The female managers “evicted” me in a manner that was unnecessarily rude, but nothing like what you describe.

    I often avoid reading stories like this one – for the same reason that neither of us like to read the news. Since the aftermath to my own gunpoint gang mugging, I really don’t need anxiety triggers! I applaud the fact that you wrote it, however – and that you “outed” the establishment and the man who clearly needs to be put out of business unless he is willing to take a few seminars about PTSD, trauma victims and service dogs!!!

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • A friend has a PTSD service dog. My friend is a former Marine (4 years), and then he left the Marines for the Army and became a Green Beret special forces medic and qualified sniper (9/10 years). His service dog is a gentle giant that keeps both eyes on his responsibility.

      If my friend shows any signs of triggering his PTSD, the dog was trained to use TLC and bring him back to the regular world. My friend is a highly trained weapon without any need of weapons. You don’t want to end up in a physical fight with him. When he was still wearing the Green Beret uniform and was stationed in the U.S. after more than one deployment in the Middle East, he was bullief by four fools outside of a super market.

      He ignored them until one of the idiots told him they were going to follow him home and show his wife what real men were like. He turned around and asked, “How do you want to do this — all four of you at once or one at a time? For an answer, the idiot with the biggest mouth swung a fist at him without warning. This all took place outside of the market with almost 30 witnesses and more than one surveillance camera.

      Later at the police station, the police, with my friend watching, played the videos and timed how long it took him to take out all four of them. Less than 2 second and they were all on the ground dazed and groaning. The four fools were arrested. My friend went home to his wife.

      • THANK GOD! (and double that for the presence of the security camera – I’d hate to hear that he had been arrested). What was his dog doing at the time?

        ‘Sup with bullies anyway? I have never understood why they feel compelled to pick, pick, pick. I’m sure these 4 fools thought twice about attacking another soldier, but I wonder if they changed their ways or simply found smaller, weaker targets? ::sigh::
        xx,
        mgh

      • My friend didn’t have his service dog until a few years after he left the service and had been convinced that he had PTSD. His friends and family urged him to seek VA counseling, but he was in denial. Not him. He didn’t have PTSD. Eventually he came around and accepted it and started to attend peer counseling groups.

      • I can relate. Only as I researched anxiety – new in my experience of my own functioning following the incident and its aftermath (with nothing that might make me suspect TBI) – did I even consider the *possibility* that PTSD might describe what was going on with me.

        After ALL, I had been nowhere near a battlefield and didn’t even own TV or watch war movies. I kept doing my strong woman number, waiting for whatever it was to pass, as life became increasingly more difficult. That’s when I began to include it as one of the topics on my blog and why I’m supporting PTSD Awareness Month.

        Unlike you or your friend, however, I believe I can look forward to a time when I will be able to put it behind me, even though I doubt I will ever again experience the bravery I felt before – coming and going at all hours, even when I lived in NYC in a marginal neighborhood.

        Off to walk my dog.
        xx,
        mgh

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