I'm a Nam vet who served with the Seabee's near Saigon in '67. Our job was to build pontoon barges to send up and down the rivers. I remember watching the tracers flying through the sky at night knowing someone was having a life threatening experience. The next day I could be sent to a nearby base to help clean it up. I remember going to the medical center or mash unit hearing and seeing things no one should ever have to experience. Often, at the pub we had on our base, I remember partying with the Ausse' s, never seeing them again and hearing later that no one would see them again. I spent my 20th birthday in that pub. I remember seeing the desperate look in the eyes of the village people and the look of want in the children. Most of all, I remember the look of confusion on their faces when I had to tell those I made friends with, I was leaving and I could not take them with me or help them. The thing that shook me to my core was when I received word that the Vietnamese barber who had cut my hair and shaved my face was a VC (Viet Cong).
I left two weeks before the first Tet offensive and came home to a place that didn't want me anymore. My first welcome home came from a bum trying to mooch a quarter off me. When I got home, I went to a restaurant and was asked to leave, they didn't want baby killers in their place.
I suffered with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)for many years. There wasn't a name for it then, but it was real. For years, I thought I was crazy, unable to control my emotions or moods. I was in a place I didn't want to be, working at a job I didn't want to do. Although I was never in a combat situation, I came back mentally unstable, looking for an escape. Beer, alcohol, marijuana - there wasn't enough to heal the pain.
The relationships I had before and during my service time didn't work out very well. The girls had no clue as to the man I had become and I hurt them very badly. Then I met a lady that didn't know me from before. I fell in love with her at first sight and she accepted me the way she got me. A tough woman, she went through a lot with me. She's a strength I have counted on these last 45 yrs. She is the one who inspired me to start this site. She got me to start talking, to get things out of my system, to begin to heal.
There are a lot of things in between the lines as you can guess. I cannot say that I am completely healed. What I am saying is that my healing began when I started talking. I hope you fellow veterans, men and women, will start talking. I would like you to talk to me or others on this line so you can begin to heal.
There are many of us from all the different conflicts that are hurting, from WWII to the present. The system has failed us. To be honest, the system has written us off, but maybe we can help each other. This might sound like a farfetched dream, but maybe, someday, we might be able to help those we once called the enemy. My prayer is that this site will give all vets an outlet to communicate with other vets.
If you decide to sign on, please: 1. Just use initials or call names, no profanity - kids might be reading so use BLANK BLANK if you have to. 2. No government or government official bashing - we know of their incompetence and they will be watching this site. 3. Tell another vet.
GOD BLESS AJ