A Woman Veteran
At the age of seventeen, I never thought that at 25 years of age, I would be labeled as having “Combat-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder”, or “PTSD.” Then again, I never saw myself as a war veteran either. With all that is going on in the world, those that suffer the most are the ones that outwardly show no signs of suffering at all.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is defined by most to be an anxiety disorder , that a person develops after witnessing a life altering event that threatened their life; therefore causing a person to have reoccurring reactions to past events.
Let’s look at the past events that led up to my diagnosis. After four years in the Military, I was given orders to deploy to the Middle East; more specifically to Baghdad, Iraq. I was in a support battalion, which consisted of supply, mechanics, cook, water purifiers, laundry, tactical, and technical support personnel. I, myself, was a cook. There were eight cooks for the approximately six hundred personnel, which is more than enough. However at the time the government had employed a contracting company to provide dining for our troops. The problem with this, our location was isolated from the main camp, which required the cooks to convoy six to eight times a day to pick up hot rations to feed our people. Rather eight are at risk then six hundred. At times the cooks were the only personnel allowed to convoy out of the camp, times were dangerous. We came close to not making it back too many times to count.
I suffered injuries while over there, and had to be taken to a medical station some thirty miles from my camp, although the actual station was a lot closer than that, the route we had to take was that long. I was given over into a medics care and left on the long and slow ride. There was another female with me whom at the time was four months pregnant and having contractions. While on this trip there were problems, and although I cannot bring myself to talk of them yet, it is still very fresh in my mind. My thoughts were on only the other girl, my injuries put aside, the medics and I concentrated on getting her to safety; she was not able to wear any of her gear. A week later I was sent back to my unit and proclaimed fit for duty, I never saw the pregnant girl again. I remember the dingy hospital in utter kaos, at all hours of the day and night. The screaming of the wounded and dying, and the crying of the children for their parents, stays imprinted in my mind. I went back to the hospital on numerous occasions. Many of which I will never forget.
Seven years in the service, and I was medically discharged for many different issues. However out of all of them PTSD is the hardest to deal with. Afraid to close my eyes, afraid to be around people, and even to leave my own house; afraid because I only have two eyes and I can’t see everything that is going on around me. So I am medicated, the VA has put me on high doses of medication to combat the symptoms, and supposedly cope. Also sending me to Doctors, who, in my eyes shouldn’t be treating combat veterans, since most of them don’t even know what it means to put on a uniform. How can you explain the horrors of war to someone that has no concept of what war really is? No matter how long you go to school, or how long you train, unless you have been in a military person’s boots, you can never know what it means to live combat-related PTSD. Everyday myself, and many others relive the horrors in our minds. The smells, sounds, and feelings all too real, and the hardest part is not being able to snap back to reality. Many don’t ever seek help, but choose to self medicate, in which ever way they think is best. Many of us refuse to talk about the details, as if by doing so we will relive the same moment over and over again. Sleep is elusive and daydreams are not even safe. There are times that my husband wakes me up and I don’t know who he is, or where I am. The tears have dried up, there are none left, and the only companion I seem to trust completely is my dog.