I served eight years FMF….I did three tours in Vietnam as a Recon Corpsman but time in combat ended up taking their toll on me…seeing too much combat and too much death put me in a private H&ll that only other Combat Veterans, could ever understand… you learn what the word “Frightened” is all about…. you learn how to walk away from your brothers when they are laying there dead in a shelter half, waiting for the Chopper to come in and take them home. To survive, you know that you have to shut down all feelings and just do your job. A lot of veterans coming out of combat have already lost their ability to “restart” their emotions and live a normal life. They will carry the memories of combat for their entire life. The civilian Dr’s have attached many names to our demons…from “survivor guilt” to the catch all “PTSD”. But they will never truly know what we are feeling.
For over 40 years now, I have dreaded a journey that I knew that I someday had to take. It involved me going to Washington DC to see the Vietnam wall. I asked my daughter to go to the wall with me because she was as impacted by the war as I was….I lost my mind in Nam, and she lost her dad. My daughter flew from Kansas and I flew from Florida to DC…..we planned to go to the wall in the morning. I woke up early the next morning and prepared for the trip to the wall…I honestly didn’t have the slightest idea of how I would react to being there. I put my service ribbons on my Jungle Utility shirt that said “Russell”…. “U.S. Marine”. and we left for the Memorial. The wall wasn’t as cold and frightening as I had thought it would be. I walked slowly by each panel of names…reading them….wondering if I would see names that I knew….while all along hoping that I wouldn’t. By the time I reached the end I was crying….The sight of all my combat brothers names on the Granite Wall as a lasting tribute to “Americas finest children” gave me a different view of Nam….the war is over…
Now this is the Corpsman speaking: If you are a Nam Vet and having trouble with PTSD….DOC says go to the wall….it won’t cure you, but it makes you feel like you were also “One of Americas finest children” in answering your countries call, and doing your best…somehow you’ll walk away knowing that your life mattered, and that you will always be a part of history,
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