Editor’s note: The following is a comment a regular blog reader made in reference to a post I wrote earlier this week about the anniversary of the Iraq war. I think what she has to say is so important, I didn’t want it to be overlooked. Sadly it will not draw as much attention as books that denounce hell. Ironic, really, because the point is we create hell on earth so much of the time. I know this young man and I know what his mother is saying is tragically true.
As callous as it may sound and I don’t mean for it to sound that way at all, but I sometimes feel blessed that my father didn’t return home to the living hell that is PTSD.
Our son is no longer serving in Iraq. He was in the Army for 4 years. In Iraq as a medic for 13 months. He has always lived on edge. He seemed to embrace the Army. I don’t think I have ever seen him as happy as the day he graduated from Basic. He was tan and he was fit. I was proud.
After the 13 months in Iraq, our son came back. Or at least he said he was our son. But I only see fleeting moments of him. I am not sure what happened to him over there, but I don’t think he came back. I know that someplace in Iraq, he is still there. Or his soul is. He is receiving 100% disability from the VA for PTSD. This, coupled with a already existing problem with alcohol, has changed him into a unrecognizable person.
I know that there are many walking around with physical wounds, but his wounds are so deep I don’t know if he will ever heal. I believe the thing he loved (the Army) wounded him. The love that he had to serve his country betrayed him. I don’t think this war was like any other. These young men grew up in the time of 911. They saw buildings fall and people die. Many just wanted to do what they could to help America, but America shot them in the heart.
PTSD is a life sentence for the attempt to do better.
I am not bitter. I am proud of what he gave to his country, but I ask myself: Was it worth it? Many people have lost their sons to the war. They came home in flag-draped coffins. They are buried under headstones of honor.
But don’t forget the walking dead. The ones with no flags and no honorable headstones. The ones walking our streets with the 100 yard stares. The ones with PTSD.
As a faith community, what hope do we offer people like M.B. and her boy?