Thanks, Manuel! And thank you for your service, brother.
Glad you were able to go back to your roots and work through your problems. It's just too bad we didn't have any support whatsoever when we came back. But then again, due to our problems, the guys/girls coming back now don't have to face those problems alone, like we did.
Mine got so bad I was considering suicide. That was about as close to going insane as I ever want to get. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist for a while, but even he didn't have any experience treating PTSD. Plus, I lost my job and couldn't pay for those expensive sessions. The VA was totally worthless and helpless on the matter. Smoking alot of pot helped to scare away the demons, but only temporarily. Eventually, with the help of my loving wife, I used some of my GI benefits to learn how to drive tractors trailers and spent a few years driving around the country. I would spend long hours by myself just driving from one pickup/delivery to the next. It really help me to clear my head and 'find myself', so the speak. Met alot of veterans along the way and we'd share stories, which also helped alot.
Always felt like I was alone in dealing with it - no help whatsoever. And what made it really bad was the way we were treated when we came home. Everyone wanted to condemn us or ignore us adding to the feeling of isolation. Don't know about you, but because of the way I was treated, I started to feel ashamed of what I had done. Took a while to get over that feeling! But then as my stepfather, who served in Korea in the Air Force, told me, 'Everyone in your family is very proud of you and that's all that matters.' My father served in the Army in WWII in Guam and was awarded the bronze star and purple heart. He died when I was 11, so my stepfather also pointed out how proud my father would have been of me, as well as my grandfather, who served in WWI, and my great-grandfather, who served in the Civil War. After that, I began to feel much better about myself and began to take a great pride in my service. Now, I always proudly wear my Vietnam Veteran hat all the time wherever I go.
Luckily, it all worked out in the end, but it was a long hard process. I am now a member of the Patriot Guard motorcycle group and try to ride my bike whenever I can in support of veterans including Rolling Thunder every year.
To top it off, our daughter is proudly carrying on the tradition and is the 5th generation to serve in the U.S. military, which further adds to our pride.
Needless to say, you can understand why I feel so strong about wearing a uniform.
Now I'm retired, have raised three children, have two grandchildren, and hopefully will very soon move to Florida! Perhaps one day, Manuel, we'll just have to get together and toast a few.