Readers Write: Haunting memories
They called it “Shell Shock” after World War I. They called it “Combat Fatigue” after World War II and Korea. They called it “Anti-Social Personality Disorder/Sociopath” after Vietnam, that is until the VA was overwhelmed with cases that had more or less the same symptoms.
After returning home from two consecutive combat tours in Vietnam in 1970, I was diagnosed by the Air Force in 1973 with , you guess it, Anti-Social Personality Disorder, aka, Sociopath. It was not until the mid-80s that Vietnam Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was finally realized by the VA and the U.S. Government.
PTSD, as it is called, was brought to the forefront of American Society thanks to Vietnam veterans. Thousands of us came back with PTSD of varying degrees. As the years wore on, decade by decade my PTSD grew more intense each year.
I have been going through a nightmare for the last few years as a battled for me, was my anger and hostility and striking out. I wondered what was happening to me, and these last few months have opened my eyes. Vietnam PTSD can be brought on by certain Vietnam anniversary ” dates such as when you went, and left country.
The U.S. Government and the VA have received orders to stop diagnosing PTSD today for the soldiers in Iraq, and to return to the “Anti-Social Personality Disorder/Sociopath.” This is a horrible label to put on a combat soldier who put his life on the line for peace and freedom around the world. So the next time you run into an old Vietnam veteran or Iraq veteran, give them a break if they are a little “twitchy.”
I paid dearly for my service in Vietnam, and today I have lost everything that was most important to me. But I would do it all over again. I am and was a patriot to the marrow.
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