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02 March 2009

Combat vs Noncombat PTSD

... or, today's identity crisis.

Some honesty here: my PTSD has its roots in my childhood and adolescence. Some bad shit happened to me, because people who were supposed to take care of me didn't, and because people I trusted were not people to be trusted.

I also served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm-- I was, in all honesty, a REMF and didn't see the direct combat that most people think of as PTSD causing. I did put on my chem warfare gear and run for the underground bunkers more times than I can count. I remember sleepless nights where everytime I got to sleep, I got woke up again. But I knew it could happen to me, and I was proved right:

...an Iraqi Scud missile attack that killed 13 members of the Greensburg water purification unit and wounded 43 others.

The Scud destroyed a makeshift barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, just three days before the fighting ended. In the single deadliest attack on Americans during the Gulf War, the missile killed a total of 28 soldiers and wounded 99... (complete article)

(Update: Just for clarity's sake, I wasn't in Dharan-- but it does bother me greatly that a) those people got hit and b) where I was may have been next on fate's list had the war lasted a little longer.

It was freaky as hell one of the places I worked, because when a Scud launch was detected, there was someone who would read a list of possible targets-- the list got shorter as the Scud flew farther. First you'd listen for the name of the place you were. Then, when that name dropped off the list, you'd listen for the names of places people you knew were. Finally, you'd hope like hell that either those Patriots got it, or it landed in some camel's watering trough out in the sand somewhere.)

I want to be able to talk to other people who are dealing with PTSD. I want to share stories, get and give support, and hopefully get better at dealing with it. I'm always afraid, especially when I hear or read people talking about "combat PTSD" and "noncombat PTSD", that somehow mine doesn't count as much as it does for other people-- that I'm not as high speed, and don't belong in the same category.

Sheesh, let's just add another layer of bricks to the pile...



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