Veterans’ Writing

The following writing was submitted anonymously by Veterans, active duty military personnel and families. To submit your writing, click here. 

The invisible wounds I carry include the shame and frustration of knowing that the 6 individuals who sexually assaulted me at different points during my military career will NEVER be brought to Justice… the feelings of being fucking Invisible make me feel worthless at times and the fact that MST is still occurring and is still seemingly not a priority to mainstream thought processes makes me hurt for all those who will suffer from MST as the numbers are statistically significant and rising & in my opinion the blurred lines between males and females will add to the likelihood that MST will become the “normal” baggage for future generations to carry…

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I was shot and had multiple injuries that took time to heal, but I didn’t know I would never heal. I never realized the war inside my mind would never stop.
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I have never talked to my family about the war, because they would never look at me the same again.
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Over 60 years after the war, I still cannot sleep. I still have to take a pill every night. I struggle with the horrors of war when I try to sleep.
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I feel guilt that I lived.
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I fear being judged for doing what we had to do.
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I died in Viet Nam but no one knew because they sent the body parts back in more or less the same order.
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Since the war, the only time I feel comfortable and like I can be real is around other veterans.
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As I was standing on the tarmac at Da Nang and waiting to board that wonderful Freedom bound vessel after 13 months in the country, I got VERY SAD when I realized that I had not accomplished anything significant. The horrors of war, the separation from family had taken its toll on my psyche. I was hollow and crestfallen, but still proud of serving my country. The feeling of being abandoned and faceless was ever so strong. God got me through this ordeal and I have been his testament ever since. “Trust in the Lord thy God”
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Coming back from Vietnam, many of my friends were called “baby killers.” There is no way to describe how that hurt them.
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Confronting death early in my life enabled me to confront myself, and that has made all the difference.
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A very wise Veteran once said for those who died the war is over, but for the rest of us, it is only a nightmare away.

I cannot write or speak about my time in Vietnam even after 50 years. It is a flood of pain that I am afraid I could not deal with.
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Suicide has become such a part of my dealing with other veterans that if another vet says they never thought about suicide, I assume they were never in combat.
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I saw so many women and children that were hurt and injured. I am still haunted by many of their faces.
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I had friends who had shell shock from the war. We didn’t know what PTSD was. We just kept going as if nothing had happened. I am not sure we could describe Invisible Wounds.
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I cannot deal with death to this day. Memorials and funerals will trigger terrible thoughts that I have fought for years to stop.
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Since the war, I am always afraid that there is a demon inside me.
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After war, the slightest comment sets me off and I have been afraid many times for what this does to my family.
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I worry everyday that what I did in the War makes me unworthy of love. I worry that my wife would not love me anymore if she knew some of the things I had to do.
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When I came home, I felt so alone and like no one would ever understand me again. I could barely even speak to my family and closest friends.
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My family has to live with my PTSD. When I have a bad spell, my family goes straight to their rooms and keeps their doors shut except for dinner. I did not realize that war might take my family from me.
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When I came home, I could not enjoy some of the simplest things because it might trigger me. I could not go to the movies or watch TV. I could not watch the news or read the paper, because I knew the truth about what was going on.
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I worked and wrote with a therapist for years to be able to function, but I still struggle everyday to keep going.
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There are places I can’t go. People I can’t be around. I have fellow veterans I can’t stand to be around because of the pain memories of them brings back but I miss their friendship. I wish we had more support from the nation and Washington. I’ve never had a wound take this long to heal.
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My cell phone rings and I still find myself torn between the sharp edge that could end my pain or the voice of my father patiently waiting for me to pick up. Scars may remain but a simple reminder that I was loved and not alone is the only factor that kept me from ending it all.
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Feeling empty, hopeless and alone.
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I spent over 7 years doing hundreds of military funeral ceremonies.  What the public doesn’t see, is that I remember every face from every funeral I’ve ever performed at.  From a soldier who only had 6 people at his funeral to the 7 year old boy, who looked a me and said, “thank you”, when I presented him with the flag. I dream about death almost every night and I stay away from cemeteries, hospitals, and churches; as they all remind me of death.  You try to take the pain away from the family, and carry the burden for them.  So, I sit and wonder how those three little girls (7 months, 1, and 3) in those white dresses will go living their lives, knowing their father will never come back home.
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While in an emergency room, I was triggered by the treatment from male EMT’s, male Dr’s, and then the Male cop placed at my door.  I specifically and repeatedly requested a PTSD/MST trained professional to be present. They said that was not going to happen. I was in so much pain and flipping out, I had to be handcuffed.  How the medical field treats victims sadly makes things so much worse and further triggers the suicide they are supposed to help prevent.
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Being raped by those in charge of your safety trust and command is just like being a prisoner of war, except your own command are/is your captors. Everything you signed up for- honor, valor, patriotism, is twisted and lost into a warped illusion of fear= into a death of body and mind. You are completely removed of your ability to trust ever again. Every time someone questions you, you are triggered and gravitate into a world of solitude and isolation- the death of the soul that eventually leads to death of the body, rewardingly so………..a freedom, final freedom of all the pain.
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There’s a monster living within me.
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I don’t know who I am anymore.
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what haunts me is the smell of burnt flesh. the smell of fresh blood is annoying as well, but that’s not quite as much of a problem, b/c I’m not often covered in it in my current profession as an RN, as I was as a 19 yr old medic. But burnt flesh… man oh man… bad memories.
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a weird omniscient sitting above watching. Very bizarre… memento morii I call it. I think latin for remember death. like a little kid watching ants cook under a magnifying glass – that kind of removed odd fascination. my personal diagnosis is that I’ve seen so much of it first as a young medic in Vietnam, then later as a RN in desert storm, Afghanistan, blown up death, simple death, sad death, all kinds, etc. Detached I think is the psych term. whatever. I just can’t tell people about it b/c they think I’m weird.
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What I live with after returning home from war that most of the world cannot see is; two things actually – emotional detachment (inability to let go, holding back); and vigilance, alertness. The latter I think is normal – like looking all over while driving for potential hazards, keeping my back to walls, watching crowds or places for things that are odd (maybe not so normal as I look at this). The emotional detachment part I see in retrospect when I came back from Vietnam, as affecting much of my dating behaviors – afraid to get involved for fear of losing… the best way to avoid being hurt is to not get attached. After awhile tho it gets old and I see now I missed out on a lot of life.