Max C. Zurcher, Minot
June 27 is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Day by the authority of the U.S. Senate and sponsored by Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota. The PTSD Awareness Day came about as the result of a young serviceman from our area taking his life after serving in one of our current wars.
Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the bullet you never hear. PTSD is not a very easy term to understand because it was a very loosely used term to describe the men and women of the Vietnam War era in the 1970s. When they came home to a hostile environment, many took their lives rather than try to fit into a society that never accepted them.
Why were we so different from everybody around us? Our family said nothing, giving us reason to believe that we were normal.
The unwarranted dreams, the nightmares, sweating profusely, locked doors and pistols under our pillows. We thought we were normal; but wait a minute, that's not the way we lived before the war. What has happened to make us so different?
Many of us waited for many years to get help but some gave up waiting. Those that came back from the war whole in body but their minds were thousands of miles away. More than 150,000 Vietnam veterans have committed suicide.
Not many veterans know about the Minot Vet Center that opened in the 1980s to help the Vietnam veterans with PTSD. Those combat veterans that have gone to visit with the counselors at the center have shared with other veterans about the help they were given. No one really wants to talk about how the war affects their lives, but soon after talking with a counselor at the Vet Center, many men and women began to feel more complete. Then their lives start taking on a more daily routine. We now know that we are on our journey back to being ourselves.
There are more than 200,000 new veterans coming home from the current wars with PTSD that will have to try and fit into a normal world with some abnormal feelings. These veterans will need help from a counselor with knowledge of PTSD, trained to understand and untangle many unwanted memories from their experiences of war. If you know someone that needs help, help them find someone to talk to about what may be different about them. God gives us lives that are so precious while we are still here on this earth. Please don't try to change that.