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SURVIVING THE WAR ZONE #3

P.T.S.D

It took me twenty years to identify my own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and from that time until today I still chase Monsters.

How do I do it, how do I survive this day to day debilitation, a disorder that disrupts my daily life?

What is wrong with me?

I had no idea what was wrong with me, the signs were there I just couldn’t see them.

THE REAL WORLD

When I came back from Vietnam, I needed business advice, I was in the flooring business before I went into the Army. When I left the service, I thought I would open a small flooring business. I was referred to a lawyer by a friend. I asked a few simple questions about going into business.  The first thing out of his mouth was:

“You’re in the real-world Son Would you like me to tell you about the Real World?

I looked down at this piece of shit Lawyer and said, “Real world, what the fuck do you know about the real world?  You went from high school to college to grad school to Law school, and now you are here in this beautiful community sitting on your fat white ass.  Listen to me carefully, Go fuck yourself scumbag.”  He said “I think you should go.”  I left, while spitting out a few more chosen words.

Smitty January 1967

Vincent Anthony Smith a young black man from Oakland California without going through all the grewsome details, was killed on a mountain top in Kontum Vietman.  I was also shot through my thigh at 2:30 in the morning, Smitty was shot through the chest. I heard him desperately trying to suck in air, I held his chest frantically trying to stop the air from escaping. He died in my arms, I laid him down and tended to my wounds. I laid in the jungle for seven hours before being medically evacuated.

Tommy Kevaney belonged to the proud 173rd Airborne Division

My best friend in the Army.  A brave Irishman from Bay Ridge Brooklyn was killed on a three man out-post Vietnam 1967. 

1966 Dak to

I was point-man for a recon team with the 101st Airborne Div, we walked into a village that had just been over-run by VC, they massacred the men, woman and children, plus animals. I was the first to enter the villages, the first body I saw a little girl, maybe four or five years old. There were flies all over her body. This vision never left me. We did catch up to the VC, caught them by surprise and took care of business.

I have done and witnessed, death, injuries, mutilation and destruction.

I knew my job was survival.  I did not think about it, I knew exactly what had to be done. I did it and I did it well.

Growing up in East New York Brooklyn and being a member of the New Lots Boys taught me loyalty and courage.  It was simple, I always knew what I had to do in street wars and I was good at it.

Coming back to the world was the most difficult, I was blind to the reality I was about to experience.

I was confused, feeling like a square peg in a round hole. The world I left two years before is now even worse then when I left it.  Friends that I knew and grew up with are unrecognizable, drug addicts, drug dealers or in organized crime.

Yes, I was angry, here I was half way around the world seeing and participating in death and destruction and this shit hole I came back to is the consequence of brilliant political policies.

I knew I had to find and get back to happiness, but ‘HOW.’

Without going through every detail of my life.  My addiction was not obvious to me, I worked eighteen hours a day, seven days a week.  I found I was always to tired too dream and that was fine with me.

In my mid 40’s I hit rock bottom, divorce, lost my business, I was mentally and physically impaired.  I could not make good decisions and I would have preferred putting a bullet in my head.  I thought this on many occasions.  I have seen men in Vietnam get shot in the head and how fast it was over.

Life at this point seemed too hard and useless.  I fought these feeling, not wanting to put my children through that horror.

It all caught up to me, the daily stress, intense nightmares, the day after day, night after night. (BANG) I suffered a heart attack and underwent double bypass.

I believe most combat veterans are profoundly affected by the horrors of war and afterwards fight the battle to put war behind them to acquire happiness

‘How can I live a good Life’

What made me hold on to my anger?

Number one are the political decisions that make no sense and get people killed.

Engaging in conflicts that lack common sense.

Such activity as fighting with no clear or winning strategy.

It seems to me, some of our leaders have a lack of virtue.

The enormous suffering and body counts.

The political American strategy is to keep or regain power.  Keep races and economic classes at odds.

For me college deferments sent a clear message to us inner city young men, farm and mountain boys.

‘We were disposable’

Do not expect society to understand who you are and how you feel only other combat veterans will, not that friends and family do not care, most do but are helpless.

It took so much time, heartache, sorrow, anguish and despair for me to understand.

After wanting to put a bullet in my head a dozen of times to end the anguish and torture. I decided to get help from the VA.  They recommended group therapy with other Vietnam combat veterans, it worked out to be the best thing for me.

The VA psychiatrist recommended a state-of-the-art medication that suppressed my nightmares.

Richie Q

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