"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



Friday, May 9, 2014

Memorial Day: The Changes Through Life

Arlington

by Lawrence Blouir/WarHippy

I was in PTSD therapy for eleven years. The group met once a week at the Vet Center, under the care of a leading psychiatrist at the VA Hospital, Dr. Jose Amato.

Dr. Amato was chief of that department. I became his test subject for new antidepressants because none of them had much effect on me. I test drove every new drug that became available, as I went through the 90-day inpatient PTSD program. At the end, he asked my advice on how to improve it, and actually implemented my advice in the program.

On the tenth anniversary of The Wall in 1992, I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, through the Vet Center as a part of Operation Freedom Bird.

A brief history of Operation Freedom Bird: In 1988, Pat Lynch, a young America West Airlines pilot, who also flew choppers in the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, put a suggestion in a suggestion box. He felt that someone should sponsor a yearly trip for Vietnam Vets to Washington DC to The Wall. Pat felt it would help their healing process in dealing with PTSD issues that had plagued them since their return from the War.

The men chosen each year would be members of the Vet Center's Combat PTSD weekly groups, and chosen by facilitators from several different Vet Centers, including Phoenix, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, and Columbus, OH, to name just a few.


The funding, at the time I went, came from America West Airlines for the plane ride, and The Hilton for the lodging. I don’t remember who paid for our meals and setup the luncheons and other activities. We basically just showed up, and didn't worry about anything else except dealing with our issues for three days.


While we were there, a friend and I were the focus of a local news team that was following our trip. For three days, we enjoyed a kind of celebrity status, including being guests at a luncheon with General Hal Moore and Joe Galloway who were there to publicize their new book, "We were Soldiers Once and Young". During the narration, the entire audience was brought to tears.


Watch the Video Aired About My Trip


As part of the anniversary, there was a roll call of every name on The Wall, nonstop, 24 hours a day, until it was finished. It was a haunting reminder of the loss this country suffered.


Each part of the poem below was a step in my partial recovery from the worst part of my PTSD. I chose to tie it in with Memorial Day, because that is one day that changed dramatically throughout my life, a direct result of Vietnam and my recovery from it.

When I was a kid, school ended right before Memorial Day and started again right after Labor Day. I wrote the poem on Memorial Day, after finding the website of one of the units I was assigned to in country.

While I was on their home page, I thought, how innocent that day used to be, before I went to Nam. Then the meaning changed, because of the war and the therapy I went through.

The poem took a half hour to write and tears streamed down my face as I wrote it. I don't really know whether it would be considered a poem, but there is some kind of structure to it. Anyway, I was never very good in English class, so I call it a poem.



Memorial Day: The Changes Thru Life
by Lawrence Blouir, "WarHippy"


I Remember when Memorial Day marked 
the start of the summer adventure.

Then I went to Vietnam.

I Remember when Memorial Day meant 
you put down your c-rations for a moment’s silence 
for the guys who wouldn’t be going home with us.

And then I came Home.

I remember when Memorial Day was 
a time to be so busy planning cookouts 
and road trips and staying drunk, 
to block my memories 
of what this day really meant.

Then I lived life as a NamVet.

I Remember when Memorial Day was 
a time to be envious of our brothers
who died, because they never had to endure 
the nightmares and cold sweats that became 
a normal part of living for us.

Finally, I found Therapy.

I Remember when Memorial Day was 
a time our tears started washing out the
bitterness we carried for so many years.

I visited the National Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

I Remember when Memorial Day was 
a time to honor our fallen brothers and pray
that someday we’d be ok again, too.

Something melted within me, my heart maybe.

I Remember when Memorial Day changed! 
And we no longer pitied ourselves. 
And we were finally, truly able 
to honor our deceased comrades,
and feel sorrow for their families, 
who never got a chance to see them make
the journey back to peace at heart.

Today, I’m happy to be alive, and I wouldn’t change any of this for anything,
Because it has molded me into someone my Mother would have been proud of.



"WarHippy"

Lawrence Blouir (WarHippy)

8th Engineer Battalion
1st Air Cavalry Division
24th Duster Battalion
24th Corp Artillery
23rd MP Co.
23rd Infantry Division
Years in country: '69-'70-'71

MOS 63B20 Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic

I spent about two months doing that, then they assigned me wherever they needed me. I worked as a combat engineer, dump truck driver, a company sniper for a few months, permanent bunker guard, and I was assigned to an Aussie unit for a while. I wound up as an MP on the main gate at Chu Lai, and was one of the last five Americans to leave, after turning it over to the ARVN.

I was among the first Americans to cross the border at the start of the Cambodian Invasion, rappelling out of a chopper with an M-16 over one shoulder and a chainsaw over the other, to chop down enough jungle to land a bulldozer to clear an LZ.



I was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, an Air Medal, and an Army Commendation Medal.


Other Articles by Lawrence “WarHippy” Blouir:



“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


6 comments:

  1. Lee Tucker, Vietnam Veteran, US Army 68-69May 9, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    I too am happy you are alive and WELL...... You are a great model for the broken soldier that wants to be whole.... Your story is yours, but thank you for sharing it with the brotherhood, and thank you for your service to our country.... Welcome Home Brother!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. He did do a great job with the post, Lee, and I thank you for taking the time to comment. Commenting is a wonderful validation that veterans are helping veterans through their writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are all different, but all the same..... It takes just a bit to help, and you get so much for it in return.... I will always remember, All of us gave some, but some gave it all....

      Delete
  3. Thank you both for your kind words. For once, my intrusive thoughts found a positive outlet :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. And very positive it was, too!

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  5. Great post Bro !
    Later Dee [815th/102 Cbt Eng 75th Ranger US Army ]

    ReplyDelete

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