"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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Inner Demons From War

Inner Demons from War

by Michael Lansford

Strangely enough, nowadays, as I lay in bed at night, I think of a few more insights about our war and our time there.

I have learned to write those thoughts down.

For those of us who came home, we were, and are, faced with inner demons from the evil we saw, were involved in, and had to do --  inner demons that endure, even now.

We still fight a war with our inner selves and it's something I can't explain.

In combat, we lived and fought with the Angel of Death on one side of us and our Guardian Angels on the other side -- I can't even imagine the battles they waged over us and our fates – who would live, who would not. The reasons were unknown to any of us, but their decisions always became known, and they were final.

We had to learn early on to save life and to take life, without hesitation, feelings, emotion, and completely devoid of self-worth -- ours, or anything else.

It’s hard to empty your soul of everything you were raised up to believe in before your lives changed from war. Our values about life and the outside world were taken from us, and like it or not, we either adapted, changed, or we were gone.

Amazing, how young kids/men had to transform into what we still feel and endure inside us, to this day -- things we can't explain in mere words. Only another Combat Vet truly understands our inner souls.

Even our minds were emptied. No thoughts, except for how to survive just one more day, every day. Our single-most important thought was to live one day longer.

Now, years later, we still suffer and fight our demons. Some handle it better than others. Some never can and never will. It's hard to turn off war and combat, and just be home again, like nothing ever happened, yet it had and in such horrible ways. War scarred all of us inside forever.

One minute we were there, the next, we were home, and just trying to figure out who we were and had become. We didn’t know how we would deal with it, much less tell anyone else -- but no one was listening anyway.

We came home to a society that called us bad things, spit on us, threatened us, even hated us. They had no clue about who we were, or what we held inside. They didn't ask, because they didn't want to know.

However society thinks -- whether we won, or lost -- isn’t something we can control, or explain. However, we were looked on as losers who fought an unpopular war with no clear objective and no desire to win. If that was true, then we paid dearly for a lost cause.

If society has any doubts about what we vets gave in Our War to their "lost cause", they should all go to D.C. and visit The Wall. It has been paid for in full -- and then some.

Through every battle, mission, assault, conflict, contact, or whatever we had been involved in, we never backed down, never ran away, failed, or quit. We won at everything we had to do, no matter what the cost – even when the cost seemed too high at times. It was a high price we paid towards an end that ultimately had no end -- and at least for us, it will never end.

What we as innocent naive kids became defies description. We can never go back and start over, or be the innocents we once were. There is no on-off switch. War changes a person and it’s embedded in our beings forever.

We live war’s horrors day and night. Some days are better than others, some are not.  The nights are the hardest. Sometimes, it seems the demons are more real now, than when we faced them in combat and yet there’s no way to defeat them. We will just fight them until our time runs out and, for what it's worth, we will never lose to them – we’ll just run out of time to finish the mission.

We came home physically, yet we never really came "home" and we never will. Little things remind us of war. A song, a movie, a saying, the sounds of choppers flying over, or close by (we feel them even before they can be heard). And then there’s the 1,000-yard stare. That's something that stays with us always. 

No one can truly understand our hearts and minds.  Society couldn't handle it, but that's not their fault -- at times, neither do we.  

Sometimes, I envy those that never went.  They should count their blessings, because they have inside them what we as Combat Vets wish for -- Inner Peace.  I can't help but wonder what it would be like to feel genuinely safe and unafraid of the dark. Most vets still fear crowds and being closed in -- there's a paranoia about most everything.  

Our souls cry out for help and yet there is no sound, or anyone to hear, or know those fears. We have only each other and the ones we lost -- they will always know and watch over us.

When we left for war, none of us knew, or thought, would we be heroes and warriors, scared and remorseful, angry and revengeful, religious and sad, hateful and every other feeling a human can have, or imagine. Combat has a dramatic and immediate effect on you and your life, no matter what you may think you can, or cannot, do.

In an instant, the will to live makes your decisions for you -- there's no going back. You get cold and indifferent and all that matters is seeing the sun come up one more day and know you lived to see it.

So how will we be remembered from our war? Good, bad, evil, hurt, heartless, cowards, or even losers?  Truth is, we have no say in what will be thought of us. 

What we do have is our soul, heart, mind, and the knowledge that we did what we had to do -- like it or not -- just to come home again. 

We will always seem different from others. How could we not? We walked a whole different path when we were young and it changed us, inside and out.  Sadly, it turned out to be a one-way street …

Michael Lansford

“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 feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.


  1. Excellent post Michael..................reality

    1. Thanks Robert. You know all too well what we truly feel & are. Just part of our world that for the most part remain unsolved & unknown for eternity. Thanks for all your support my friend.

  2. (From FB Group: Vietnam Veterans, The Women Behind the Men) So much truth in what he says. It is hard for even us, as wives that live with it every day, to understand the inner person of our vet. That deep down person that they keep tucked away for safety. -- Jane Klingsmith Calvert

    1. Yes, Jane, I agree. Michael has a real gift for writing and sharing what all vets feel and are going through -- during the war, coming home, and now.

    2. Thanks for all the Women behind the Men. Without you all we would be lost. You all are the main reasons that kept us & are keeping us going to this day. Thank you for your thoughts Ms Jane Klingsmith Calvert. & as always you Ms C J without whom we wouldn't be known.

    3. Thank you, Michael, but you took that first step by writing and for that, I applaud you. You've helped so many along their own path to healing.

  3. Well stated . 8o4,766 min Ranger school [ 61 days ] 5 min grad .
    Glad went or not be here /

    Later Dee [ 815th/102nd Eng. 75th Ranger US Army Rt ]

    1. Thanks dee ernst. Well stated also my friend. Things we learned before we went really did help save out lives more than we realized at the time.


Feel free to comment.