But, then, what do I know? I don’t have PTSD.
I don’t think I have PTSD. I just don’t. I didn’t see any crazy shit. I didn’t really hear any crazy shit. I just woke up, briefed, flew, debriefed, and went back to sleep. Honestly, that was it. Don’t ever go thinking you’re reading the words of a man who was in the mix. I’m not saying that there wasn’t any threat of danger, but no, I didn’t do or see anything that qualifies as traumatic.
But say after learning the ins-and-outs of what I did in Iraq you’ve convinced me otherwise. Say you brought in some nerdy looking dude with pleated khaki’s and unbreakable eye-contact. Say he pointed out that my life has kinda turned into a wreck since deploying. Say he pointed out that since leaving the military three years ago I have had and quit five jobs (I have a hard time dealing with what I perceive as disrespect), got divorced (totally unrelated to anything), am currently unemployed (though wrote and self-published a book and am half-way through my third and am not in debt, mom) and probably drink more than I should or, hell, just more than I ever did before deploying (but have only ever really regretted one decision I made while drinking). Say that he’s broken me down and we’re getting misty-eyed together. I’ll tell you what will dry my eyes real quick. Putting beautiful smiling people at the end of the tunnel. If all he can tell me is that by the time I find myself outside of the tunnel, by the time I have removed my hand from between the bright light and my now-adjusted eyes, if all he can tell me is that all along it was beautiful smiling people that make up the light, then I’ll open the door and kindly show him the way out. If there are any people who I’m confident do not have a clue about happiness, it’s beautiful smiling people.
You know what I want at the end of the tunnel? I want people to stop believing that anything on a screen–whether a laptop, a phone, a tablet, a movie screen, or the goddamn television set–has any value whatsoever in aiding veterans with PTSD. Want to know what does have value? Humans. Those real, fleshy people who have all the opportunity in the world to make every other decision than offer their help. Men like Diarmuid, Robert, and Ron. Real people who took real chances on a veteran, a veteran who doesn’t have PTSD.
Tomorrow – Or do I?