Team leaders here are Mary Grieve and Penny Round
HEARTS & MINDS (is from the September 1997 Pointman Newsletter)
|THROUGH THE YEARS
I've asked myself how did I make it 20 years married to a Vietnam Ranger. My husband told me he would give me his purple heart because I survived a different kind of war. I told him that I didn't want what he had earned. I wanted the purple heart I had earned. It's kind of a standing joke between the two of us.
My husband and I have attended several VA counseling Centers over the last twenty years. My husband wasn't very receptive to the group counseling session. I, however, could not go without attending at least one a week for over a year. I recall the first one I attended. I was extremely apprehensive. I walked into a room full of strangers and listened to them explain their week's experiences with their vets. I kept thinking to myself, "Boy have I been there." It wasn't long and it was my turn to introduce myself to the group. The words were coming out slowly and I was on the verge of tears. All of a sudden I was rattling off word after word and crying uncontrollably.
I couldn't wait to go to the next meeting and talk to women who had similar experiences and learn how they dealt with it. With the help of my new found friends I was able to take self defense courses and learn to survive on an equal basis with my husband. I had a counselor tell me once, "If we were to grieve the loss of a loved one and do nothing else, it would take three days." Society doesn't allow us to take three full days to grieve. When I look back on that experience, I realize that our vets went through similar experiences in Vietnam.
Life must go on. Imagine the losses our vets have suppressed over the years. To help our vets we must be strong. There are days when I wonder where will I get the strength to get myself through a crisis and before I know it the crisis is over and I've learned another one of life's lessons.
We would like to encourage your letters and ideas to keep our section of the newsletter in circulation. Encourage your Mother-in-laws and children to put in their input. Please call/contact Penny or me soon.
P.O. Box 711
Asotin, WA 99402.
My husband and I like to start our morning reading the following poem (below), called "Promise Yourself."
Last year I read a short review of Recovering from the War, by Patience Mason, in the Pointman. It had dawned on me earlier in the week that my husband suffers-literally-from PTSD.
It was a painful and upsetting realization. Why hadn't I understood sooner, especially when it suddenly seemed so clear? I felt guilty for not having understood instinctively, though I realized the guilt feelings were not only counter-productive but undeserved, as well.
I don't know a lot about PTSD, just whatever the mainstream media has tossed at us over the years. Based on the strength of Dave's book review, brief though it was, I felt the book might be a good place to start, particularly since it was written for the women who live with the Vietnam Vets-the people who love and care about them.
I located a copy and started reading. I wish I could thank Patience Mason personally, as well as the many Vets that shared their experiences with her. At least I can thank Dave, for mentioning the book in the Pointman.
Not knowing many details of my husbands experiences in Vietnam (who describes himself as "not a talking kind of guy"), I decided a couple of years ago to read the stories of other men who were there. I didn't want historical or scholarly material-I was interested in personal experiences. Even though I had already read several that Patience Mason recommends, I find that she was able to put much in perspective for me.
Since that time I have made contact with several women whose partners are in the Ranger group. It's been an interesting and rewarding experience. I've made several of those "Hi, you don't know me but . . ." long distance phone calls and have gotten positive responses every time! I have felt an immediate bond with these women who I imagine are quite different from me in many ways, but who understand some things better than my best friends.
A big hug to Dave for giving the friends and families of the guys this space in the newsletter. I hope we'll hear a lot more from you.
Black Hawk, CO 80422
"Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best, and expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble."