My Marine son, John entered the inpatient treatment program for PTSD at the Roseburg VA Hospital last week and I visited with him yesterday. John was upbeat, looked healthy and is in a group with nine other veterans, five Vietnam and four other Iraq veterans. He is very enthusiastic about the program and I want to share with all the well wishers how he is doing.
We had dinner at a Thai restaurant and John shared bits and pieces about his daily life which includes intensive group therapy, medication management and medical treatment for ongoing injuries or health issues. John rounds out his day by working out, going for a run and shooting pool with the other vets.
Many of my friends have been to and recommended this program which lasts 37 days to every returning veteran. It is encouraging that half of the participants are young veterans but important to note that our Vietnam vets have endured their pain many without treatment for decades. John’s closest friend there, he calls him ‘old man’ is 62, been through seven marriages and multiple jobs like so many others and this is his first entry into treating his PTSD. It only took forty years.
Probably the most encouraging yet bittersweet moment that came from my visit is that John is now able to accept that he will never be able to have the life he would have expected and that he wanted in terms of jobs and other things many of us take for granted. However he realizes that he can still have a fulfilling life and develop his strengths, learn to manage his life and his relationships with others while learning to cope with the ravages of PTSD.
For some time now he has been considering journalism and photography as a career. We both agree that his life experiences would give him a unique perspective to the topics he would cover and still allow him to work within limits that don’t intrude tasks he finds hard to cope with.
If you know a returning vet or a Vietnam veteran or a Gulf War 1 veteran, please recommend this program to them. It may start them on a path to understanding and comradeship.