Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Cast Offs

I found out last night that one of my classmates is a Gulf War veteran. He was making a point about something during class, but abruptly cut himself off and then briefly concluded his statement. Usually, that indicates that a person is putting the reins on their emotions. I decided to talk to him after class.

As I was waiting in line to talk to the professor, I lightly touched his arm and jokingly said, "Hey, man, I just want you to know that while you were out there in the desert, I was shipping pudding to ya." I told him the story about loading up one of my C-5s with stuff going to the desert, and out of curiosity I lifted up one of the tarps covering a pallet to discover a 12 x 12 x 4 pallet full of Jello Pudding. We laughed a bit and swapped a few friendly exhcanges. He was really in the trenches and performed a lot of missions that were never shown on CNN.

In the military, you make friends fast and furious because you never really know when you're going to have to depend on that person to watch your six. It was kind of like that with my new friend. I learned enough about him to know that he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress, and that when he tried to get help from the military for it, they told him that they can't help him deal with 'things that never happened.' So, now this guy is forced to just 'deal' with the horrors that haunt him all on his own. He doesn't want to. He wants to get over it.

Once again, the government is casting off unwanted products of their devising. They did the same thing to my father, who in the last couple of years of service showed blatant signs of alcoholism and mental illness. Instead of trying to help him out, they ignored his symptoms, kept him in a job he hated, and allowed him to continue to terrorize his wife and children. [Which is where my PTS comes from.]

It never went on record that my father acquired his illnesses in the military, and therefore the government can ignore his disease and illness. Since 1985 he has been in and out of jails, mental institutions, and sleazy apartments.

Fortunately, my new friend wants to get better. That desire alone tells me that there's hope for him. I know I can't do much, but if I can just be a friend to him then maybe we both can get a little better as a result.