"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, November 7, 2014

Combat PTSD and More: by Lawrence (WarHippy) Blouir

PTSD - A Wound of War
COMBAT PTSD, Recurring Nightmares, Survivor's Guilt, Lions and Sappers and Gooks, OH MY!  

How the Wizard gave me the courage to FIGHT BACK and WIN.

I know it's a long title, but I'll bet I got your attention.

This is my story, and only my story, but my nightly trips back to the Nam nowadays are for vengeance, not horrors of the past, and you might learn something important, so keep reading, PLEASE!  Cuz I want you to survive, too.

I signed up and was accepted into a three-month in-patient Combat PTSD Program in 1993. There were eight guys in a locked ward, so nobody could run away and give up.

We were all raging with PTSD symptoms, so you can just imagine how a lot of the nights went after lights out and we all went back in our minds to the horrors we witnessed in the Nam.

Many nights, one of the guys would startle himself awake violently and trigger other guys to do the same.  It was insane.  The people who took care of us had to be Saints with very big balls, cuz we were younger then and sometimes woke still in the Nam fighting for our lives, and anything that moved was the enemy. They did whatever it took to bring us down and back to reality.

Daytime was better, but not without its incidents.  We were RAGE-driven Vets and many times, the dining room, meeting room, or the day room would get completely wasted, but we retained enough self-control that we never hurt each other, or the cadre assigned to "babysit" us. Yes, sometimes they were just there to make sure we behaved and played well together.


Here is the technique that was suggested.  I followed it and it worked for me:

Keep a journal beside your bed.  The very first thing you do when you regain your senses after waking from a nightmare is write about it. Write every little detail you can remember, because the little details are very important.  They fade from your memory very quickly after you wake.

Most guys have one recurring nightmare that haunts them constantly. Write about it.  Never mind how many times you've already written about it, write it down and read it every day.

Look for important events that recur all the time, or the BIG BANG, that startles you awake in a pool of sweat, shaking. (I'm assuming that you're sober and in a combat PTSD group).

If the facilitator isn't smart enough to set aside time to talk about nightmares, suggest it to him. Go around the room and check in. Share the worst part of your nightmare and have the group discuss each person's personal hell.

My personal hell would always start on a bunker.  The gooks were attacking in waves, BUT I WAS THE ONLY ONE DEFENDING THE WHOLE BUNKER LINE!

I'd blow the claymores, blow the fu gas, then grab the 60 and spray the remaining gooks that were still coming.  Then I'd notice they were about to overrun the next bunker, so I'd jump down and haul ass to that one, blow the claymores and fu gas, grab the 60 and fire it, until I noticed the next bunker.
This seemed to continue forever, until I'd startle myself awake.  I was shaking, in a pool of sweat, most of the time crying, because I'd done the best I could, but I still couldn't save my buddies from the gooks.

That last line was the key to defeating the dream that had eaten my lunch for over 20 years. It wasn't my job to save everybody. We were a team.  We worked together to save each other.

In my nightmare, I was assigning myself a task that even John Wayne couldn't have pulled off. When my group finally made me see the no-win scenario I put myself in every night, the nightmare stopped.

I still go back to the Nam a lot at night, but it's a dream now, not a nightmare.  I'm a platoon sergeant, and I know my shit, and I'm at Travis air force base loading my men onto a bird headed back to the Nam.  This time, we're gonna finish this shit.  The funny part is, I'm still carrying the same "pig" I was firing from the bunkers in my nightmare.

My point in this whole article is, you don't have to let a nightmare control your life. You do have the power to make it go away.


WarHippy - Lawrence Blouir
Lawrence "WarHippy" Blouir
MOS 63B20 Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic
1st Cavalry Division (AIRMOBILE)
8th Engineer Battalion
1st Air Cavalry Division
24th Duster Battalion
24th Corp Artillery
23rd MP Co.
23rd Infantry Division
Vietnam ’69, ’70, ‘71
The First Team

Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal

Other Articles by Lawrence (WarHippy) Blouir:

Drugs and The American Soldier in Vietnam
A Worthy Rebuttal on REMFs
The Ultimate Cost of "Freedom"
Memorial Day: The Changes Through Life
A Vietnam Veteran Speaks Out

“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

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history.

Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home Brother, I have many hand written journals of my own.. It is a process that heals.. PTSD is a wound, it may heal, but the scar will always be present.. Lance


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