Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Remembering the grunts and a reality check on PTSD

A very good friend and shooting buddy recently took his Army infantry platoon to Afghanistan for a year long combat deployment.

These guys lived on top of a mountain and fought nearly every day. No, it wasn't Act of Valor and there were no sexy parachute jumps, submarines, nor special forces action. So, that might kill this post for some gun forum regulars who only seem concerned with "face shooters."

Anyway, grunts digging in and fighting. Khe Sanh, perhaps Belleau Wood type stuff. Not sexy but day in and day out, protracted conflict.

Guess what? Living in this kind of environment, day in and day out has an effect on the human psyche and not everyone copes in the same way. Audie Murphy helped bring this out of the "suck it up and be a man" shadows.

Anyway, for those that don't mind donating to a cause for all wounded servicemen, here's the link for Wounded Warrior. There's plenty of non "face shooter" folks seeing combat every day that could use some help.

From my friend, the platoon commander:

I just don't get it. My RTO has so much "anxiety" he can't go in crowded places or he freaks out and blacks out from hyperventilating, so he is now so doped on meds he can barely finish a sentence without trailing off. My forward observer and medic both pissed hot for heroin and admitted they've been hooked on it ever since their best friend got shot in the face on Christmas and they tried to treat him. So I get to chapter them out of the Army.

Today I picked up one of my squad leaders from the psych ward. They caught him the other night running barefoot and shirtless 3 miles from his house screaming, "I need war!" Toxicology revealed about a fifth of whiskey and five ambien, which his wife said is his nightly routine. Because, no big deal, that's normal. Anyways he got released but refused to believe he might be affected by PTSD because that's for pogues. He said he "likes combat".

And now a call from the First Sergeant. One of my team leaders just pissed hot (tested positive) for unknown opiates. Same guy who got a valor award for running through fire to go knuckles deep in his buddies neck, pinching a severed artery and saving his life.

All of these guys were solid dudes in Afghanistan. I'd heard horror stories, "Just wait till you get back and all your favorite people turn to shit!" but I never believed them. Well, lesson learned. The experienced guys usually know better. Even when your gut tells you otherwise.

We had this rear supply type guy who was at a nice big 600 man FOB, you know the kind with showers, running water, cooks and a DFAC, etc. Anyways they rarely got attacked and indirect fire maybe once a week - this guy claimed he was having panic attacks and he couldn't take it, yadda yadda. They treated him with I guess you could say less than urgency, I'm guessing thinking that it was BS. Dude went back to his room, put his M16 on burst, put it to his face and squoze the trigger. That was when I realized I need to stop judging people because that guy was either legitimately affected by some sort of stress disorder or he really got one over on us.
In less than a year, this platoon will head back to Afghanistan for another year.

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