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Hey guys (and gals)-

I am an OEF I, OIF I, and OIF III vet (just lucky I guess). Did all of my time in the 101st, support MOS, but as I hope some on here will recognize, my MOS made little difference when we were on the road/outside the wire. My first OIF tour was the invasion, and we rolled with 3rd ID on the march up. It was the real deal. After that, without going into too much detail, I'll just say my platoon spent a lot of time personally handling KIAs. This was pre-transfer case/ramp ceremony days, so we were moving our guys out in remains pouches and carrying them on our shoulders. It was a hard time, and as much as I have tried to move on, I spend 70-80% of my time either rehashing things in my head or trying to avoid triggers.

I have been out for five years now, and tried to go to the VA a couple of times. It was just not helpful, mainly because the appointments were so far apart. Anyway, I really just want to connect with some fellow vets who have been through the same thing. Where I work I am by far the only Iraq veteran. People don't know what to make of it, and it drives me crazy. Most people want to just acknowledge the whole thing with a "thank you for your service" and ignore us.

Anyway, I look forward to meeting you guys.
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Welcome to the fold. This forum is a life saver for sure and filled with people from many wars/conflicts all sharing similar experiences as you. As for being driven crazy by your co-workers, brother think about it this way: You have seen and done things that they will only experience in their nightmares — and this is a good thing! They won't understand or know how to handle you ever. Just take their thank yous gracefully for what they are — thanking you for doing what they couldn't or wouldn't and try not to let it get you wound up...

Right now it is about avoiding your triggers, but eventually you have to get into therapy and possibly some medications to help you identify what your triggers are (a lifelong task) and learn how to manage your reactions to the triggers. The VA is a bitch to deal with, but there are some folks here who are in the know and can help you out and point you in the right directions for dealing with them. The important point is don't give up!

If you haven't read it yet you should check out Link Removed

Hang tough brother

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Welcome OIF, your amoung friends.

Where I work I am by far the only Iraq veteran. People don't know what to make of it, and it drives me crazy. Most people want to just acknowledge the whole thing with a "thank you for your service" and ignore us.

Sounds familiar to me - they just don't get it. We walked in your shoes here - WE GET IT!


Hey, man, we have things in common. The picture you see was me in 1969. I was an infantryman in the 101st in Vietnam, and I carried more than one injured buddy back down the hill in firefights. In the A Shau Valley, which was on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, we walked into an ambush. It took me nearly half an hour to drag our point man down the hill to where our medic was. I didn't know him well, but I was pretty torn up when I learned he died three days later from the shrapnel wounds that peppered his body. I've re-lived every second of that 30 minutes a hundred times. So I may know something of what you're going through.

War is war, wherever it takes place, but each war has its distinct place in hell. I think for today's soldiers, it's the multiple tours they serve. One of the things about Nam was that so many guys killed their brothers accidentally. I knew several who killed their best friends--something that I doubt ever goes away. I was injured myself by friendly fire. Our captain, who had been in the field only one day, called in artillery on our own position when we were being overrun by the NVA. He panicked, and his inexperience and ineptitude injured nine and killed one. Afterward, he got on a helicopter and no one in our unit saw him again. I spent three months in the hospital with a lacerated vena cava. When I woke up on the day after Christmas, and realized that I was depending on a breathing machine, PTSD crashed over me like water bursting through a dam. The gates of hell burst open and sucked me in. The rest of the story goes without saying.

I tell you this because I'm better now. And I have solid piece of advice that I hope you'll act on. Get help. I can't say that more sincerely. Or urgently. It's your life, sanity, and happiness we're talking about.

It took me 30 years to realize that I wasn't myself--not all of me, anyway. When Bush and his neo-con puppeteers started talking about going into Iraq after September 11th, all the super-patriots (and even level-headed, normal people) began waving American flags because it was the popular thing to do. I took a dive off the deep end. Going to war should always be the last resort--not the first. All those flags waving everywhere meant something much different to me. That same star spangled banner draped the coffins of my brothers coming home from Vietnam. Too few people remembered those flags. Republicans and Democrats alike fell in love with war. They didn't consider the cost in human suffering. Ten years later, we're still paying it down, and will continue as long as guys like you are haunted by your multiple tours.

I'm indebted to my VA therapist. Not to the VA, or to psychiatrists, but to a behavioral psychologist there who cared about me. He re-introduced me to myself. He taught me that I am not PTSD. Its effects are not my personality. I learned the difference and have been able to focus on who I am--who I was until Vietnam--and who I can be for the rest of my life. That knowledge makes all the difference. You can find it to. But you have to look for it.

God bless you, man. If you have questions, this forum is the place to start seeing answers. Talk to us.

Welcome my Brother.

As mentioned above, don't give up on the VA and help from others sources. Keep in mind that you will continue to change throughout you life. That means what didn't help today may work next week or a month from now. Keep looking, keep trying, and as you'll here from this group many times, keep taking those baby steps each and every day.

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome. It meant alot to read your responses, especially knowing you have all been here too. Preston, I really appreciate you sharing your own experiences as well. You should also know that even though it's been a while, everyone in the 101st still remembers what you guys did in the A Shau.

I guess I should have told you guys that a lot of the reason I am trying to address these issues is that my first child will be born soon. I know I have put band aids over this for almost 7 years now, and I just don't want to have to live like that once my son is here. I want to be able to answer his questions about the war without turning into a vegetable every time it comes up. I am going to the VA Iraq/Afghan clinic tomorrow. Will keep you guys posted.
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