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Pat Lisi 

 

            I’m a Vietnam War veteran and I have PTSD.  I didn’t know I had PTSD for a long time.  Oh, I knew there was something wrong with me but I didn’t know what it was.  Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s when we were coming back into society from Nam, they probably didn’t have a fancy name for it.  Soon, it became known as PTSD. 

            Whatever you want to call it, I had it.  So did all my Nam buddies that I hung out with – and I only hung out with other guys who went toVietnam.  It wasn’t that my other friends didn’t matter to me after the war; it’s more or less that I couldn’t relate to them and their nice lives here in the US.  Funny, I went toVietnam thinking I was fighting for their freedoms as well as the Vietnamese people, and when I got back home I had a sort of disdain for the people here who didn’t have to go. 

            Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t feel very welcome back in the US after what I had just gone through for my fellow Americans.  I didn’t get spit upon like some other Viet Vets did at the airports, but I didn’t feel any warm and fuzzy stuff, either.  I spent my time hanging with Nam vets, mostly at the job during the day and the tavern at night.  Every night. 

            I guess it’s no wonder that my first wife got sick of me and my veteran friends real fast.  She didn’t like any of them and I can say with certainty that she didn’t care much for me, either.  I didn’t do much to improve her image of me, I admit, but what the fuck man!  A little respect was all I ever wanted (and to be left the hell alone to hang with my Nam vet friends, of course).  I should have been home more often and a lot more sober, but I wasn’t really home, yet, was I?  And, neither were my veteran pals.  We were all in the same boat. 

            I got really sick and tired of hearing her tell me, “Just get over it; what the hell’s wrong with you guys?” 

            You don’t get to “just get over it.”  I found out years later, after the divorce and after a lot of weekly Nam vet group meetings at the VA, PTSD doesn’t just go away.  But, that’s what people around me who were not Vietnam Veterans expected of me back in the 70’s and 80’s.  You don’t get to get rid of it; we (Nam vets) can’t just simply shut this shit off!  Yes, we are a pain in the ass to live with, but you got to understand – you didn’t go through what we did.  You got to stay back home here and enjoy all the comforts.  You’ll have to realize that Nam vets  aren’t perfect like you are, and that our problems are real. 

            Now, I do know that bad behavior is not acceptable in our society and that PTSD does not excuse a person from being a decent human being.  I’m trying, okay?  And, that’s about the best I can offer.  If you can come up with a ‘switch’ that just makes it all go away, let me know about it and we’ll make millions selling it to all living combat veterans.  Without some device like that, we can’t just shut this shit off. 

 

 

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