The book depicts the tragedies of war. The book also discusses the heroes in the civilian community who have consciously or inadvertently helped veterans recovery from PTSD. It also discusses in depth the role of the VA, therapists and their assistance and shortcomings in the recovery of victims of war
His daughter Melody authored a poem, ‘The Father who wasn’t there’. He didn’t know he wasn’t there until many years later.
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Helicopter Doorgunner and a Police Officer
I was sitting in the Police Department’s Psychological Services Office checking out after a twenty two year career. The Dr. conducting the interview knew that I had served as a door gunner in the Navy’s elite helicopter squadron HA(L)-3 prior to joining the police department. He also had worked with me while I was assigned to the homicide unit. What he said to me that day was very profound.
The Dr. looked at me and merely stated, ” You have PTSD, no doubt about it.” Then he qualified that with – “I just don’t know if it is because of your time with the Seawolves or with what you dealt with in your career here.”
I have lived and managed fairly well throughout the years with what many would say are PTSD symptoms. I liken it to having things inside a very unsecured box that can open up and let bad things out that can ruin your day but in my case mostly the nights.
Many times I have been afraid to try and go back to sleep after some of the more horrific memories and images from the past come visiting. Thankfully, these are not the norm and for the most part these nights are the exception not the rule. That does mean that they are any less intense or disturbing.
I think that many veterans that were exposed to combat on a regular basis, or the daily grind of violence and mayhem, experience similar experiences. Mine is far from unique, especially when I talk with so many that have shared like experiences.
I have talked to Dr Art Schmitt in the past to put him in touch with other veterans that suffer from PTSD. One combat veteran that worked for me on the police department would only talk about his problem with another warrior, at least a person that he felt met that criteria.
Since I met his qualifications, I was able to be a good listener but it wasn’t until I put him in touch with another warrior, Dr Schmitt that he was able to talk to someone that could actually help him. Even if it was long distance on the phone.
I am happy the referral opened other doors and he got the long term help from the Veterans Administration that he needed. While he is far from cured, he is much better. Sometimes, those of us with PTSD feel better talking to others that have been there and had like experiences.
I served as the Seawolf Association president for two and a half years a few years back. Since we have members spread across the United States, it was not unusual to get calls late on the east coast from those that lived on the west coast. Most of those calls were from veterans that had seen the worst of combat and just needed a friendly voice on the other end to listen. I can’t tell you the number of times my wife has been that voice on the other end when I was not available. She has heard enough stories to write her own book.
My point is that many of the Vietnam combat veterans still suffer fifty years after the fact. I sometimes think for some it gets more intense with time. It is more important than ever that we come to grips with PTSD with so many Gulf War veterans exhibiting the symptoms. Finding a listener that experienced that same intensity of combat and can actually help is a rare.
My hope is that something in this latest book will resonate with the reader and maybe start that person on the road to getting help with this problem. Thanks to professionals like Dr, Art Schmitt and his dedication, veterans that suffer from PTSD realize they are not alone.
Frank Gale – Vietnam 1968-69