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Life of a Soldier After Duty

Many of my family and friends have been and still are soldiers. My dad was the first soldier I ever met, although when I was small I didn’t really understand what he had done for me and his country. When I got older I realized this man called dad served in Normandy many years ago and some of the sights he saw while there gave me a bit more insight on why this man seemed as cold as he did while I was growing up. Of course back then not much was known about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, if anything. The men and woman who fought way back then just fought and was expected to just go on with life when their duties were over.

A couple years ago my youngest son joined the Navy and became a Sea Bee and did six months in Kuwait. Although he did not see any action he left home a boy and grew into a man while he was gone. The things he had to do and saw many of us will never have to witness, thank God. Most of us a also have a hard time relating to it at all because we never went through it.

A few years ago I met a guy who I became very close to and who was and always will be a Marine. At the time he had already served two tours in Iraq and this was in the beginning when all hell broke loose and lots of people were dyeing. At the time a baby in years of only 23 but in mind and soul much older. He has seen things that no one should have to witness and done things most of us will never have to worry about. As a marine he was a sniper and unlike most soldiers who do not have to see the eyes of those they have to kill, this marine saw their eyes. He knew who was going to die at his hand and had to somehow live with that. This is what he had been trained to do and he took great pride in knowing he was protecting Americans.

The Marines changed him forever like many of our men and woman who serve in the United States Armed forces. My Marine went back to Iraq for tour number three and when he returned was not the same man who left months before. He was quiet and reserved unlike the guy I had met a few years earlier who always held a smile on his face and loved life completely. His eyes had became sad and I found myself wondering what had really happened to him this last time, but just didn’t know how to ask.

I can remember a day some time ago when my phone rang and his voice echoed on the other end asking me if I could meet him to talk. I was hesitant as we had not seen each other in a long time, but with his persistence I agreed.

I met him at a gas station and he hopped into my car and just didn’t look or act like himself. We talked about many things and was only together for a couple of hours. Most of our conversations were just small talk and catching up on each others lives. It had been so long since we had seen each other it was just two friends hanging out.

When I left him that day I found myself going over our time together and feeling like he just was not the same person I had met a few years earlier.Although he tries hard to be upbeat with me, his sadness somehow shown through. I was worried about him, but didn’t know what to do and I just let it go. Him and I had moved on in our lives and I finally told myself he just wanted to catch up.

We spoke some time later and he told me that the day we met he had his rifle in the trunk and was intending on driving some place and ending his life. When he told me of his plans  I knew something was seriously wrong. I told him he needed to get some help, because how he was feeling was not normal.

I had helped him change his decision because I had taken time out of my day to see him. I knew even though we were not together we cared about one another and that’s apparently why he called me, but then my thoughts drifted to what if. What if even through his persistence I had of said no instead of yes. Would he still be here today or would I have gotten the horrible news after the fact.

He took my advice and got some help and found out he has a condition called post traumatic stress Disorder or PTSD. This condition not only affects the person who has it but also those around  them who love and care for them. They deal with the frustration of how to get them through those rough patches and help them understand that it is OK and not their fault.

Our government sends our children, husbands, mothers and  wives to a foreign land and teaches them how to become good soldiers, but when they return to us they are not the same, do they step in and help? Not without a lot more blood, sweat and tears. They are not so forth giving for compensation for those who fought for ALL of our freedom. The government seems to quickly forget the sacrifices all of them have made. Why I ask is it this way, I may never get the answers I search for, but for those men and woman who suffer from this they need help!

Bad dreams                                                                        Suicidal thoughts

Being afraid                                                                        Untrusting

Reliving past experiences                                            Depression

Becoming very quiet and wont talk                          Being alone and not connecting

Have a hard time holding down a job                      Headaches

Feeling numb                                                                    Stomach problems

Anxiety                                                                              Chest pains

Flashbacks                                                                         Anger

Now, this list is not all of the symptoms and just scratches the surface of what these people go through on a daily basis.

Those who suffer from this condition when they have symptoms they can last from a few hours to a few weeks. Triggers for symptoms can range from coming from no where to a noise, a sight, words, or a smell. Each person is different and finding the triggers is sometimes one of the hardest things to do.

What really happens when triggered is the person relives that traumatic event or events in their lives from the past. They go back to that period in time and once more have the same feelings they had back then. These things haunt them and sometimes many do not have a clue what the triggers are.

Getting help from a psychiatrist is key to help the person in need through this. They can teach the one in need how to recognize the triggers and how to manage them once the event has been triggered. They can also subscribe medication when needed. With lots of work your loved one can come back to you slowly and learn how to live with this horrible condition.

Getting help is very important for anyone who suffers from this condition. If you are a Veteran you can contact the VA at 1-877-222-VETS.

For family and friends of loved ones who suffer from this there are many programs out there to help you too. If you have someone close to you that suffers from P.T.S.D. encourage them to get help, it is direly important to their survival and yours.

This is one of those conditions that sometimes gets put on the back burner and hidden away. I wrote this article because it is important! Everyone needs to know about P.T.S.D. and how to help those who suffer from it. When our soldiers come home from their tour of duty then it is our duty as loved ones and friends to make a difference and get them the help they need.


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