"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More on PTSD: David Westfall

This is from someone we all know by now, David Westfall. It was in answer to a question I posed at the end of my last blog, "Sleep and PTSD", which was posted this morning. My question was this: "Can a Vietnam War widow have PTSD?"


I wish I could answer your question about a Veteran's Widow having PTSD. My understanding is that you had to experience something traumatic to have PTSD. I would think losing your husband would be traumatic, but I'm no psychiatrist either.

I can tell you this, PTSD and sleep issues are hell. I don't know about others, but I am on alert, especially at night. It is my duty to protect my home and family. What this means is that I don't sleep very much. Most nights I get between two and four hours. I often don't fall asleep until my wife wakes up. By then it is close to time to get the day started.

I miss sleep. I really do. Well, I guess that isn't entirely true. I miss peaceful sleep. You see, even when I do sleep, it is often filled with bad dreams. Sleep is supposed to be restful, not make things worse. I have woken up soaked in sweat more times than I can count. I have also awakened while screaming, thrashing and even attacking my wife. It truly sucks when your mind turns against you, especially during a time of supposed mental and physical rejuvenation. Trust me when I say the lack of sleep greatly effects both your physical and mental health. Both suffer over time, as do many relationships.

I've tried the sleep meds and they really didn't help much. They didn't help me get to sleep, or even make sleep more peaceful. All they did was make it hard to get up the next morning. Booze, on the other hand, actually did help get me to sleep and allow me to sleep peacefully. For a lot of years it is what I used to cope. There is nothing wrong with a couple of 24 oz draft beers with lunch right? And I'm sure everyone heads straight to the bar after work.

I don't miss the booze, but I sure miss the sleep it allowed me to get. I went through a six-month PTSD class at the VA here in Providence. Sleep was a large chunk of the class. Overall, you covered the basics of PTSD very well with your research. I pray you and everyone following this blog are able to get some peaceful and refreshing nights sleep.


**Thank you, David.  Your thoughts are always appreciated.  A big hug from your friend, CJ

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Bookmark and Share


  1. I am a Vietnam Veteran who served with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) from November 1965 to December 1966. I am receive 100% VA Disability Compensation and Social Security Disability for the disability of PTSD.
    I have chronic PTSD and receive treatment and counseling once a week at the VA Medical Center, and with a PTSD Nurse Clinician and PTSD Group as well as a PTSD Psychiatrist and Resident Psychiatrists, who sit in on our groups.
    I also contributed "A VIETNAM VETERAN" to "MEMOIRS FROM NAM".
    In answer to the question - Can a widow of a Vietnam Veteran have PTSD? and the answer is yes 'absolutely' My wife has this affliction and receives similar medications as mine to help her. She receives counseling and has, what is referred to as, secondary PTSD as a result of the trauma inflicted upon her by me, over the years. My nightmares were so violent and of such a nature that I assaulted her during sleep and was awakened while choking her on one occasion.
    Besides my nightmares, I was often verbally abusive or snapped, if you will, and placed into lockdown at the VA, twice, spending one whole Christmas Season in that facility. I also drank heavily and almost arrested for threatening my wife and police with guns. The guns have been taken away, I am no longer drinking and the treatment has brought me to a better place but the journey will never be over for me or my wife. The nightmares continue, I do not sleep well and other difficulties persist with PTSD.
    Yes - A Vietnam war widow can have PTSD!

  2. Thank you for sharing this! As the wife of an army vet who suffers from PtSD, I can only begin to imagine the sleep problems that my husband and David go through. I have tried to learn all I can about ptsd to help my husband and one website I found really helpful is http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-nd. I hope this is helpful for others out there looking for more info about PTSD.


Feel free to comment.