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Are There Any Wives Girlfriends Of Vietnam Vets Here?

Discussion in 'Supporter General Discussion' started by godhelpusoneandall, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. godhelpusoneandall

    godhelpusoneandall New Member

  2. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess ♡ Staff Member Premium Member

    Hi there and welcome to the forum

    There was similar post some time ago Any Spouses of Soldiers Here? as well as others who have come and go.

    Just remember that the Vietnam Veterans was the era where Governments started to realise the impact of war on people and the consequences of where it could really mess people up for ever. They do not now however, after a new Combat, re-name those Veterans to say eg Timor Veterans. So, to me you should be asking whether there are wives of girlfriends of Veterans.

    Also, if you are after support, I would suggest not to limit yourself to just like natured people as sometimes it is people in different situations that may be able to shed a perspective which could be helpful as well.

    In answer to your question...I am the wife of a Veteran.
  3. Pam

    Pam New Member

    I am the 5-yr girlfriend of a Vietnam Vet. I appreciate where you are coming from. We are older (though maybe not wiser at times?), the Vietnam Vet faced much public scorn on return (as mine did being spat on when coming ashore in San Fransisco), struggled to come to grips with losing that war, and have it be televised in all its ugliness (remember the helicopter rescue roof scenes?). Plus, it took many years for these Vets to fight for mental health care. They are like the women's rights movement. They plowed the field for the rest and paid the price. Their mix of ptsd includes these major issues and are continually dealt with in therapy. Many Vets from that era have non-combat ptsd, which is just as devastating.

    I worked in a VA medical center for 3 years. At that time about half the patients I saw were Vietnam Vets and the other half WW2 Vets. The health issues (medical and mental) generally separated themselves along those line. I also had interactions with WW1 Vets and their issues were also generally different than the other two groups. Although my center of interest was hearing loss, because of the nature of my work, I interacted with these Vets more so than just testing their hearing. I learned about the differences (and yes, similarities) in that way and it has helped me with C. I understand that for him, there is a difference. But not a bad one. He sees the efforts being made to welcome Vets home and it pleases him, but he wishes he had been welcomed home too.
  4. godhelpusoneandall

    godhelpusoneandall New Member

    Yes, Nicolette, that is true...wives and or girlfriends of any vets. When I first searched for support groups for vets, about 6 years ago, most of them were for families of Vietnam vets, but slowly spouses and children of Desert Storm came on board. Same issues. Different war.

    Those groups, disbanded. What I didn't like about them, and most probably it was because the information, like that in the wonderful list you gave about Things We Should Know, just didn't seem to be out there, and the groups which were for intended to be for support seemed to be mainly for complaining about the Veteran. That just didn't seem right to me.

    I am so happy to have found this site because it gives positive things to do to cope.

    I joined not only for support, but to support others. I have been going through this for a very long time and I hope to help others benefit from what I did not know when my vet had his breakdown.

    I had my own bit of PTSD (infinitely smaller scale() from something that happened to me. I would not have really recognized it, but I was trying to find out about his and saw it in myself.

    Kat
  5. tgrl

    tgrl New Member

    Well, I can tell you they did pay a huge price, but are definitely not the only ones who paid the price. As an adult child of a Vietnam vet, that's a fact. I'm a carer and a sufferer.

    I have to disagree with the statement that non-combat ptsd is as bad as combat ptsd, just an observation from some experiences.
  6. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess ♡ Staff Member Premium Member

    Personally I think any form of PTSD sucks and to the individual with it life becomes more difficult. I would think someone suffering from CPTSD would suffer tremendously and apparently it is the most difficult spectrum of PTSD to deal with. As for the trauma that causes PTSD that can vary from person to person. Two people can go to war and one comes back with PTSD, the other doesn't. Someone who has non-combat PTSD could have experienced horrific trauma too but it just wasn't at war.

    I was talking to Anthony about this and asked him what his take on it is was as he agreed that non-combat PTSD would generally not be as bad as combat PTSD for a veteran (not just a soldier). While he really couldn't give me an explanation to grasp on to; my interpretation of what he was saying is the after effects are worse for veterans as, while at war, they learn in a short amount of time that things not normally considered acceptable (like shooting someone) is a way for them to survive. The training they go through enforces that before they even get out on the field. So perhaps afterwards a Combat PTSD Sufferer has the abnormal programming to deal with as well which makes it more traumatic as they have to unlearn that survival is killing, attacking etc?! :think:
  7. Pam

    Pam New Member

    My C was on board the USS Constellation. Several tragic and horrific accidents and fires occurred. C was a machinist mate and fireman so he was exposed to most of these incidences, including having to remove the charred body of his friend. C had to remove the body in pieces in order to get it out of the small compartment he had been in.

    He also saw accidents with the catapult, including the ones that sliced off legs, arms, and heads when it broke and snapped across the deck, taking with it anyone standing near.

    I have also spoken with Vets who worked with cannons (on ship they are called guns). The constant sound and concussion is a common cause of becoming shell shocked. Sometimes it is permanent. I spoke with a retired officer once about his hearing and the scars I saw on his eardrums. He broke down in tears while telling me what it was like. When he came home from the war, he worked his way to the top of a major lumber company, and still he would have nightmares about his war experience and cry when talking about it. He never sought VA help. He literally was too afraid to deal with his anguish.

    And finally, clearly, when the trust demanded of a soldier working in any capacity is violated by higher ups, the "machine", his/her country, and/or government, bitterness can set in to such an extent that the person comes back home quite different than when he or she left. Many Vietnam Vets had to deal with these feelings every day and for many years afterward. The stress can be enormous.

    C was in a combat zone during the Vietnam War and has medals related to it, but he was not a combat soldier. Nevertheless, his nightmares are just as real, his feeling that he is still at war just as overwhelming, and his ptsd just as debilitating.
  8. tgrl

    tgrl New Member


    Difficult? Hmmm.
    Anthony is a bright and knowlegable guy.:thumbs-up
  9. tgrl

    tgrl New Member

    I just wanted to add, while were discussing levels of disability, my father couldn't hold down a romantic relationship, or any close family relationship for that matter.
  10. Pam

    Pam New Member

    I recently finished reading "Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character" by Jonathan Shay. While a larger percentage of his treatise is devoted to front line soldiering he also speaks of trauma related to the violation of trust, or using Greek terminology, "themis". In his conclusion on page 208 he summarizes that rage and stress are as much a part of "violation of what's right" as it is a consequence of combat trauma. It is a great read and I recommend it for anyone who is a caregiver of a Vietnam Vet. However, it also can be just as helpful for the caregiver of any veteran of any era, regardless of their armed forces experiences and context of the trauma leading to ptsd.

    I would even find it useful for those who have experienced trauma outside of those that veterans must face. A simple exchange of context leads to the same understanding of violation of "themis", or what is right and good. Such a good book. C gave it to me to read to help me understand his situation and it certainly lived up to that promise.
    malibran likes this.
  11. tgrl

    tgrl New Member


    He's only partially right. The rage and stress may be there, but it isn't going to be as severe. Combat veterans can have trust violations also.

    I've found the download on this site to be very insightful and knowlegeable, and it's free. :wink:
  12. Pam

    Pam New Member

    The unspoken belief that C did not have a right to seek medical attention because he was not in a jungle shooting at other men is one of the reasons why so many vets don't seek help or submit to screenings for ptsd upon leaving service. I know it is unreasonable to assign blame for this reluctance to the belief that combat truama leads to a more severe level of ptsd, but unreasonable conclusions have been made. I know because C had that reluctance and for that exact reason. C spent 30 miserable years before getting help.

    That said, the idea that combat trauma leads to more severe ptsd is an issue that probably needs well-controlled and replicated research in order to clarify whether or not this is the case. Until then, I think it is more beneficial and leads to less stigma if we were to consider all war theater trauma as capable of producing severe and debilitating ptsd, without trying to place a heirarchy on it. The human mind creates a variable strong enough that it may not allow a heirarchy to be placed on ptsd based on the kind of trauma experienced. And finally, anecdotal evidence is not a good scientific basis to make such an heirarchicle assumption.

    In conclusion, I think that comparing one's trauma event as a way of discussing the severity of ptsd just doesn't feel like a useful thing for me to do.
  13. tgrl

    tgrl New Member

    I'm sorry, but if you had any idea what you were talking about, you would know that your "heiarchy" comments are disrespectful. Do you think I'm on this board making this argument because I think it's fun?

    Well controlled research? For combat trauma? Someone is truely in the dark here. Maybe you could try counting the number of things and people they shoot at in civilian life when they get ticked off about something. You might want to add in, the number of people they've attacked or beaten. If you want the research controlled, maybe you could call in the National Guard to try and control them, since that's what it would take.

    Or maybe you could try and get a clue that there was no "treatment" for anyone until more recently, even for guys who shoot at people and things on a regular basis. And....unless they want treatment, there still is no treatment for them because no one is going to chase their mentally ill butts down, and make them get it. And usually, if they are so ill they are shooting at things, they defintely would not be sitting around worrying about why they should or should not seek treatement, sinse they are too ill to realize anything is wrong with them in the first place. So therefore, your assumptions about why your guy or any vets don't seek treatment are just wrong.


    If you were actually living with a guy who was this ill, you would not be trying to make prim and proper statements about feelings and research. You would be very disshelved, and on this board terrified and scared, at your witts end, not knowning how to find protection and safety. Have you ever had the exprience of trying to run and hide from a guy trained in gorrilla warfare who was having a flashback? Didn't think so, since your posts dont' reflect that.


    Any questions?
  14. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess ♡ Staff Member Premium Member

    Let's all just take a deep breath here & calm down. I think the issue is not the PTSD diagnosis but the resulting behaviour. I will write more later but I think you are looking at things from a different perspective & getting all heated up doesn't really change anything. I can see both points of view.
  15. tgrl

    tgrl New Member

    Sorry if that post was heated, but I also have PTSD, and have been trying to avoid a confrontational argument in this thread. Getting my buttons pushed is not good for me, and I do not mean to sound rude. But this also reflects the problems associated with the traumatized, unable to get along with the "non traumatized". I do need to remember, it's not your fault that you do not understand.

    Here is what I should have quoted earlier instead of getting aggrovated:

    "The most important factor effecting the likelihood of developing PTSD, however, are the severity, duration, and proximity, of an individual's exposure to the traumatic event. The NVVRS findings revealed that the prevelence of PTSD and other postwar adjustment problems is significantly higher among Vietnam veterans with high levels of exposure to combat than among their military peers who did not serve in Vietnam and among Vietnam veterans with lower levels of exposure".

    This is a quote from the book, "War in the Age of Technology", by Geoffrey Jensen, and Andrew Wiest.
  16. godhelpusoneandall

    godhelpusoneandall New Member

    I am the original poster of this the question in this thread. My guy has complex ptsd. He was abused severely as a child and then special forces recon in Vietnam. He saw unbelievable things. How can I say this? He never feels that because of all the stuff he went through, that his PTSD should be considered worse than the guy, for example who was responsible for getting our dead combat soldiers ready to go back home. He says that everyones experience in Vietnam was different and a person's emotional constitution so to speak has alot to do with whether or not he would get PTSD. He said some who saw very little combat might get it and it would be just as bad for them, as for him. It's all relative, he would say.

    I do understand what TGRL said about trying to run and hide from a guy experienced in gorilla warfare. I used to think about that when my guy was at his worst and we would break up. There would be no place I could hide and nothing I could do should he choose to act violently toward me, which he never did. But it is a sobering amd actually frightening thought.

    Kat
  17. tgrl

    tgrl New Member

    .....you have no idea.

    I think we should all pay attention to the published studies and findings I just posted. My father was NOT exposed to very little. He was exposed to a great deal. I'm getting so tired of this. Do you all not get what it would be like for a child to live with one of these guys? Of course you wouldn't sinse your guys aren't that bad off. You have no idea, none at all and it's quite obvious from the things you're saying. Keep aruging with me. Did a single one you even stop to think about WHY I'm posting and arguing this point? No, of course you didn't. You're all arguing with me for only God knows why, because I surely don't know why you're doing it. I don't even think you know why you're doing it.

    I'm not advocating for people to pay attention for the cost of not helping them on children or anything. So just keep it up. You're in Never Never Land wanting sympathy for grown men with a few problems.

    Your guy could have repressed memories, and he's not an expert psychologist, no offense. People with complex PTSD don't reason well. They're notorious for thinking their problems aren't as bad as everyone else's. I think the same about me. But I don't think the same about other people I have wittnessed first hand.

    Look at the published data people, it's right there in black and white. I have to get out of the "non traumatized" thread of non understanding people before I freak.

    Remember, it's SEVERITY, DURATION, and PROMITIY". All three of these factors, not one or the other.
  18. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess ♡ Staff Member Premium Member

    I am sorry but I think you are out of line making such asumptions on other people's behalves. It is not for you to judge another person's situation and diminish them against yours as you are only on the outside looking in.
  19. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess ♡ Staff Member Premium Member

    I wouldn't say rude but you are being rather aggressive in your comments. I am not sure what the real issue is here and why you are so angry when others do not see things exactly as you do.

    Tgrl I would like to point out you are in the Carers section and we are here to support and help each other and learn what we can in order to support our Sufferers. I find your comment above somewhat demeaning to those of us who want to learn and are here trying to do so.

    I am sorry but I have been here for over 2 years and I still try to learn more every day and help other Carers help themselves to inturn help their Sufferers so all can have a better quality of life.

    You may well be knowledgeable in combat PTSD and we welcome you coming here and sharing that information but please don't try and put others down or diminish their pain due to it. This is about supporting each other and is not a competition about who knows more.
  20. anthony

    anthony MyPTSD Admin Staff Member Premium Member

    TGRL, I just read this entire thread after being asked, and it is you who is arguing with people here. I would even say, you are trying to be right or to justify your own abuse from your parent who had PTSD due to conflict. Sorry, but this doesn't fly with me. This is a carer area, and not for any person with PTSD to be arguing against carers. Please stop it.

    Pam, I believe you are confusing what combat PTSD is. Combat PTSD is not something given to some veterans and not others, it is a name for any person who has served in the military and been on operational duty... regardless, land, sea or air, if its operational duty, it is combat PTSD. It is having to put your training into action, find it works, survive and come home that makes it combat PTSD.

    I think this is where some other discussion in this thread has gone sideways as a result of what combat PTSD is.

    Combat PTSD is not worse than any other type of PTSD, it is a name given to easily identify that a soldier has served in an operational zone. What makes combat PTSD individually worse, is that soldiers are trained to be aggressive, hypervigilant, etc etc. It is these aspects which are also symptoms of PTSD... the problem with veterans, is that as part of our training we have actually been given symptoms of PTSD without even going to war. When we go to war, when we are exposed to trauma, this makes those specific symptoms much much worse than a civilian with PTSD from abuse, MVA, etc.

    Complex PTSD is actually the worst of all PTSD. Combat PTSD is just a form of PTSD, but its the volatility of the training the makes the individuals, the veterans, much worse and volatile than others with PTSD.

    Secondary PTSD as a result of a child from a veteran can near mimic the symptoms of the veteran depending on the severity of their entire lifestyle... even border complex PTSD if the child was exposed from a young age and for a long duration. Secondary PTSD for family members of veterans when diagnosed, very usually comes out as CPTSD because their entire behavioural pattern is far from normal from what a childs should be.

    There really is no need to argue over this though! TGRL... please remember, even if you are a carer and sufferer, you are speaking with carers in this section, not sufferers.
    This Ends Now likes this.
  21. Pam

    Pam New Member

    Anthony thanks for the clarification on combat ptsd. I was unaware of its label definition being so broad. Your comments are helpful to me in understanding my C, who is trying to heal and live his life in a more peaceful manner. He has made, by his own admission, steps forward. I wish I could take some of that credit but both of us consider VA counselors, lots of medication, and C's own healing work as the real reasons.
  22. Pam

    Pam New Member

    I just realized something. I watch the military channel with C and sometimes he actually sees his ship in historical videos. He was trained every day to stay hypervigilant on the deck. They even talked about that when explaining the colored shirts and what each division needs to be alert about. C was trained to never, ever, turn his back on the action. But then a plane came in and crashed, leaving debris that was then blown all over the place by the jet engines. It killed a member of his crew (nearly cut him in half at the stomach) and left him with a crushed jaw and, as it turned out, a head injury. Putting two and two together, no wonder his home furniture is placed against walls and he never sits to eat at the table if he can help it. When we are at the tavern he can manage a short period sitting in an unprotected place but as soon as his normal table is available, he gets up and sits in his normal place, which is the back of the room table and he is facing out. That table is also next to the bathroom. C told me he needs to know who goes in so that he knows who comes out (is he head counting?):think:.
  23. tgrl

    tgrl New Member

    I'm very sorry for aruging, I wish I wasn't the only one apologizing. On the internet I see posts where people are saying they were turned down for VA benefits for PTSD, because they have NOT attacked their families 'YET'. And they say they like how they tell them they have not done it "yet". Am wrong to "justify" when I have this knowledge ?

    Anthony, I'm also a carer. I loved my father a great deal. PROXIMITY. I was in it for a long, long time, DURATION. It wasn't my choice, and effecteed my entire family. SEVERITY.

    I do respect what you're trying to do in "protecting" the carers point of view. :dontknow:

    Here's some more food for thought. When children get PTSD from a veteran parent, many times it's secondary, but it's also primary. They have no one to turn to, no counceling set up anywhere. They cannot file for any benefit, or any help. It's so stigmatized that they cannot say they were a noble war veteran, and that's how they got it. In fact, to tell anyone would be to deface the parent they love, and know was suffering. It can become more isolating than anyone can imagine.
  24. tgrl

    tgrl New Member

    Wanted to delete this post, but couldn't find a delete button.
  25. This Ends Now

    This Ends Now New Member Premium Member

    Welcome!

    GodHelpUsOneAndAll,

    Hi, welcome to the forum! :hello:

    Thank you so much for you efforts to assist an injured soldier. You are doing a great and brave thing, and I am glad you are here learning as much as you can. Please remember to take care of yourself while you are helping him. I know that things can get pretty hairy at times. Don't beat yourself up during the hard times. Try to remember that if you get injured you will not be able to help your husband's recovery... so self preservation is a selfless and compassionate act in your situation. You are doing all you can and I have faith in you.

    I want to offer a much belated welcome home to your survivor, and all other Vietnam era vets! I wish I could through all of you a ticker tape parade, or at lest buy you a beer and thank you for your service. I am very sorry that you all were treated so shabbily when you first came home. It was not you fault. You fought hard not only in the war but also when you came home. You efforts to get trauma recognized has helped our returning soldiers today. Because of your strength, nobody today would DARE to insult a returning gulf war vet, regardless of our position on the war. You were very much at the forefront of a great movement to get others much needed help and I am proud of you all!

    Pam: you have made some interesting points. It sounds like you are being very mindful of your survivor's needs. That is excellent! Keep up the good work. I know it is hard, but you are doing a great thing as well.

    TGRL: I feel your pain. Some kids played with Barbies growing up, we played with napalm and bullet traps. Its rough, I know. It is not your fault. Please feel free to PM me if you ever want to talk about it. It sure sounds like you have done quite a bit of research.

    Nicolette: Thank you for being the voice of reason in this thread. Vietnam is still a hot topic. It seems like bringing up that specific war is like dropping a ping-pong ball into a box of mousetraps. Your presence is needed and we are grateful for you input.

    Anthony: Thank you for the clarification on combat PTSD! You input has been valuable to me in understanding some things about my family members. You gave great insight about the insertion of PTSD like symptoms during training and the reinforcement of having to use that programing in combat to survive. I will have to meditate about how that has impacted some of my family members who survived combat (from the Revolution to Vietnam, every single American war, every branch of the military).

    I wish all of you the best. It is not easy to be a carer and it is not easy to be a survivor. I have been both and am happy to offer support and extent thanks to you all.

    Liz H.

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