Life AFTER the Vietnam War or... !
When I returned from Vietnam I was a troubled "Man" of 20 years of age. I felt that the war that I had just left was a "Legitimate War." I had spend over half my time in the field being attached to units of the 196th LIght Infantry Brigade, or "Pulling TDY" with units like the "CIDG" which was similar to our National Guard, "Philkeg" a unit of Philippine Medical Personnel, or U.S. Special Forces units along the Cambodia border.
I wanted to talk to my pastor about the death and destruction I had seen and more importantly what I had caused while on duty. The minister was not receptive to listening to me or the words that I had to say on the subject.
Over the next three years, I moved further and further from the church that I had belonged to since birth and I developed a strong dislike to organized church services in general. I never returned to a organized religious church for over 25 years. This is called Spiritual Alienation!
Personal PTSD (The symptoms come in many forms!)
Do you have anger, fears and personal struggles at home? Feel depressed about life and its outcome for you. I have and I'm still working on those problems myself! Even 30 Years after Vietnam!! Check
out some personal information and what I'm doing about these Problems myself!
What the HELL is "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder " or
PTSD anyway (Long Form)? Visit this page to get general information about what it is and how it effects veterans, and other people that have experienced a traumatic event in their life.
Have you run into a series of Health Problems over the last few years? Take a look at this fact sheet page for some general information on this topic. Do you have difficulties with your Family Life too? Emotional numbing closes you to sharing your feeling!
The following is a quote from
The Vietnam Veterans BIBLE.
Vietnam... a tiny nation nestled in the jungles of southeast Asia.
Vietnam... a war in which America lost 58 thousand PLUS lives.
Vietnam... an event decades ago, which time cannot erase or gloss over.
Vietnam... a place where boys were transformed into men and heroes made!
- IT was unreal. On a Tuesday I was locked in a life-and-death struggle in a jungle country next to nowhere. A few days later, after my discharge, I was having lunch at McDonald's, in clean and safe American suburbia, and thought everything was all right in the world. I couldn't handle it and became filled with anger.
- In Nam I saw buddies die, blown away right next to me. Another guy lost his legs on a mine, one of ours. I'll never forget, and I'll never be the same. I can answer a lot of questions about the war, but here's one I can't... Why them and not Me?
- I guess you could say that I've lived in quiet desperation- alone with my past, shut up inside. NO one knows... or cares.
- They're indelible in my memory and nightmares... the images of Nam - smells, sounds, rain, thick humidity, relentless jungle. And the children begging in the city and crying in the villages.
The screams, distant thunder of bombs and the deadly silence.
Where was God in Vietnam?
Faced with the realities and brutalities of war, it's natural to wonder where God was. If he really cares about us, how could he allow such a thing? Did God go AWOL?
Too begin to answer these difficult questions, we must go back to creation. There God created human beings with a "will," the ability to follow him and live his way or to go off on our own. Since Adam and Eve, we have consistently turned away from God. Unfortunately, history is littered with the results of humanity's self-centered disobedience and independence. God doesn't start wars, people do - fueled by self-interest, blind hatred, and retaliation.
God is not to blame for Vietnam. Sinful individuals and nations are! And God was not absent. He was there and in control. Instead of being AWOL, he kept men and women alive, and brought them safely
through for a purpose.
In the midst of any kind of torment or struggle, it may be difficult to see God. But he is there, working in your circumstances. And what God wants most of all is to have a personal relationship with you.
His purpose in all of this is that they should seek after God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him - though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and are! As one of your own poets says it, "WE are the sons of God" Acts 17: 27-28.
How do I get over depression?
Most depression is a result of what counselors call "frozen anger," or anger turned inward.
A person may become angry with someone or with a situation over which they have no control. They feel powerless, and anger begins to build inside. But without a healthy outlet for these feeling, they begin to take it out on themselves, turning their anger inward. As a result, they may become verbally aggressive, depressive, and even suicidal.
And if the pain becomes too great, they may turn to what they thing will kill the pain, like alcohol and drugs.
In the military, you were taught to kill. To do this, you probably learned to dehumanize and hate the enemy. Rage pulled many soldiers through combat.
Vietnam was filled with many other reasons for anger: the conditions, the suffering, the war itself. Your anger may have been multiplied by the apathy and anti-war sentiments at home and your reception
when you returned.
What did you do with this anger? You kept quiet, suppressing your true feeling, and turned it inside.
The first step for curing depression is to recognizer its root cause - to identify the anger producing situations. Think through your experiences and pay attention to how you react emotionally to each one.
The next step is to talk to God about your feelings, telling him all about why you feel the way you do. That's the heart of prayer
being honest with God. You may have to confess something you've done, ask for guidance and direction, or ask for the power to forgive and forget.
As you open up to God, he will forgive you, begin to bring healing, and give you insight into what you should do next. Of course, then it's important to do what you know he is leading you to do.
Also, you may want to consult with a trained Christian counselor. A counselor can help you find the caused for your depression and work through your feelings.
I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praised to our God. Psalm 40: 1-3
Why do I feel so guilty?
War can bring out the best and the worst in people. Thousands of men sacrificially gave themselves for their comrades, falling on grenades or taking bullets to save the lives of others. And some did the opposite. But in any war, soldiers must do things that they never imagined they could or would. How can someone ever get over killing another human being?
That's why many veterans never talk about their combat experiences. Burying their memories and guilt, they try to put the war behind them. Guilt and war go together.
Or perhaps you have wondered why you lived when others died. That's called "survivor's guilt," feeling guilty for surviving when so many perished. You may even wish that you could trade places with someone who died in the war. Even military personnel who were stationed offshore or away from the war zone can suffer similar guilt. And often medical personnel, who were trained to
save lives and yet saw thousands die, blame themselves.
Whether or not you really are guilty (in the moral or legal sense) is not important here. Because you feel guilty and overwhelmed, you need to face your feeling and get help!
But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. [And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins. 1 John 1:9
Can I be forgiven?
Yes, but you can't find freedom from your past by yourself. You need to talk with someone who bas been there, who know what you're been through, and has found forgiveness. Contact other Vietnam
vets who have experienced the same thing and have found freedom from their past. A list of special veterans' organizations is included in this section. There is no charge for their services.
These groups will help you talk about your experiences - letting the hurt out - without criticizing or judging you. These are vets who understand what you're going through.
Instead of stuffing the memories deep down inside, you need to open your psychological wounds and have them cleaned out so they can heal.
Of course true and complete forgiveness can only come from God. Ultimately, all sin is against him. And the great news is that he stands ready to forgive and forget, if you'll let him. This means that all the horrible things you are carrying around have to be released - and only God can carry that burden for you. But you have to be willing to give it up. Thousands of veterans just like you have found the freedom that god give. You can have it too!