CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

The War I Never Stopped Fighting

How Forgiveness Helped a Vietnam Vet Battle PTSD and Homelessness

How PTSD Nearly Stole My Life

How PTSD Nearly Stole My Life

Haunted by Guilt and the Smells of Blood and Gunpowder

It has been 45 years since I returned to the U.S. from Vietnam. I was only 19, but the year I spent there made me feel like I had already lived ten lifetimes. My family said, “Welcome Home,” but I have never fully come home.

Why do I still carry so much pain from that war? I have been told over 100 times: “Put it behind you and move on with your life.” But Vietnam hangs onto my innermost thoughts like a newborn to its mother’s warmth.

The friends I left behind wouldn’t want me to be in this bad state of mind. They would want me to cherish life. Sometimes I think: Why didn’t I die with them? They are the lucky ones. They are at peace now. I wonder if I will ever know what it is like to be truly at peace. …

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I Never Dreamed I Would End up Homeless

I Never Dreamed I Would End up Homeless

Isolated, Anxious, and Distrustful, I Fell Out of Sync With Society

In my training to go fight in Vietnam, we lived and breathed these mottos: “Once a Marine, always a Marine” and “Marines never quit.”

Intensive therapy at the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in West Los Angeles helped with my severe PTSD. But it also pulled up everything I had suppressed to the surface, and put me into a kind of limbo. I couldn’t go back to where I was before, but I was also “out of sync” with society.

I can honestly say that the VA saved my life. But even though I have only good thoughts about it, I still feel like I fell through the cracks. When I was discharged, I told a social worker that I didn’t have a place to live, and she dropped the ball, I guess. I left the hospital with no food, no money. I was given a razor, a deck of cards, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a bag of medication. …

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Gaining Ground in the Battle with My Memories of Vietnam

Gaining Ground in the Battle with My Memories of Vietnam

Baseball, Faith, and Helping Others Gave Me Hope and Control Over My Life

In the mid- to late-1980s, I spent a lot of time at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus. I used to watch the sunsets from a sixth floor balcony outside a chapel in the main hospital. It was very peaceful. Sometimes, I put my arms on top of the railing, got up on my tiptoes, and looked over the edge. It had been over 10 years since I had returned from Vietnam, but post-traumatic stress disorder had turned my world upside-down; I was completely isolated and homeless. On that balcony, I often thought about how easy it would be to jump. The thought of giving up entered my mind so many times.

Vietnam veterans have the highest suicide rate of any other group of Americans. As a Marine, you’re taken down to nothing and built up again as a killing machine. After serving our country, many of us were just released back into society with all these intrusive thoughts and all this anger. …

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