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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Idea For a Book - putting it all together

I didn't start writing my book until after I finished physician assistant school.  There certainly wasn't time during school, mainly due to the frame of mind I was in and the demands the physician assistant program in general.  So after finishing, I figured I would sit down and start writing, I knew that the journal I kept in Iraq would make up the meat of the book, knowing going in that at least one fourth of the book was written already made it a little bit easier to pursue this task. 

I knew that putting my pre-deployment life into perspective would be of great importance to the overall story.  Telling the story of a life that was much different from what I had come to know as a service member in the U.S. Army was important because they clashed so much, but also because you can not truly understand the sum of a whole if all the variables are not included in the equation.  My life before the military and deployment were crucial variables in this equation that came together in "Combat Support; The True Burden Of Sacrifice" that without them I would have just had an equation that was not solvable, that wouldn't have had an answer.

Dona Ana, New Mexico
Just as important as the pre-deployment and deployment parts of the book is the post-deployment aspect of the story which I have often referred to as the "post-deployment chaos."  I say that for one reason only, it was chaos, but chaos that I had never understood or lived through before.  I couldn't manage it, and as close as I was physically to my wife, kids, and family I felt very far away emotionally and couldn't cope with simple conflict that entered my life during those first couple of years after returning home.  I left my deployment family too soon, I wish I had stayed in Utah and got some closure, said proper good-byes and closed some doors that would have made my transition 2000 miles back to my hometown of Danville, Pennsylvania a little easier.  However, this isn't how life transpired for me, or for my family, but it was at the time we wanted.  We arrived in Utah on November 11th, 2006, Veteran's Day, and 2 days later I was back in Danville, preparing to attend college as a 30-something Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I wish I could somehow summarize the insanity that had entered my life during those years, right after Iraq, I couldn't understand a damn thing that was going on in my life, I had difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and feeling attached to my wife and kids.  But I didn't question it at all during that time, I just thought this was how everything was before, I didn't see any difference from pre-deployment Terry than post-deployment Terry, but there were differences, those differences were as contrasting as night and day.  I was blind to them, as many returning veteran's are.

As much as we have brought attention to the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) world, we still have mountains to climb to completely reel in all the veterans who come home with behavioral health issues.  Now, to the fault of veterans like myself, we don't look for help, or seek it out, at least not initially.  This is what has been bred into us to be a sign of weakness, and a possible career killer.  But, these disorders, PTSD, adjustment disorder, depression, and most anxiety disorders can be cured.  Yes cured, not buried under drugs and masked from reality, but literally wiped from the cortex of brain parenchyma that houses these feelings and emotions.  Okay, it may not be wiped clean, but it can be buried and locked away for good.  It is not easy, and there may be many failures before success, but I can tell you without doubt, that if one truly wants to conquer these diseases, the means, the vehicle for correction exists.  You just have to know where to find it and understand that you are not alone, especially in this uniformed services fraternity we live in, you have company.

You physically came home from the war, it is time to walk away from the emotional battle that continues to rage inside your mind.  All veterans, you need to come home emotionally, you are needed, you are wanted, and open arms await you......

Links to helpful websites:
PTSD Hotline
Make the Connection
National Center for PTSD - Veterans Affairs
National Institute of Mental Health
Family of a


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