Monday, May 22, 2017

Aging Veterans' Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), (Story, Recovery Video 3:22 )

My hospice patient Nat was like many aging men and women who have served our country during various wars. A Viet Nam veteran, he suffered with repressed fear and sadness resulting from his war experiences. We had many conversations about his life during my weekly visits with him. His story is typical of many veterans who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Excerpt from BecomingDead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes)

“Did you see my flag on the side of the bed?” Nat asked me one day.

I looked again at his small American flag taped to the bed railing and responded, “Yes, I noticed it the first day I came. It’s always there on your bed. I can tell you like it.”

“I fought in a war years ago. Gave the best I could give. I’ve seen and done things you couldn’t imagine. Some of them were horrible, I mean really horrible. Don’t ask me to tell you what they were, because I can’t talk about it. They say time heals all wounds, but it’s a lie. I left Viet Nam, but Viet Nam never left me. I carry it with me everywhere I go.

All these years later, I still have nightmares like you wouldn’t believe. The doctor says it’s post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. I wake up shaking, gasping for breath with tears in my eyes. In my dreams, I’m always running hard trying to escape. Sometimes my enemies are close enough for me to touch. I almost stop breathing to keep them from hearing me. I’m constantly thinking I’m not going to make it. Some nights they kill me before I wake up. My dreams are so raw, so real they turn my soul inside out.

In real life, I came back alive. A lot of people who served, some of them my friends, didn’t come back. That’s why I keep that flag there all the time. It’s out of respect for those who came back in body bags; it’s for those still struggling with physical and mental injuries. It’s the least I can do for them.”

What help is available for veterans with PTSD? In this video a Marine Corp veteran named Warren details the horror of his life living with PTSD and how he recovered by facing his demons. He received help from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Warren encourages all veterans to get the help they deserve after fighting for this country. 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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