To the Editor:
I was a bit put off by the recent column ("The Nature of Things," April 6) dealing with PTSD.
Several years ago, in my capacity as commander of the local VFW Post, I was called to sit with a World War II vet who needed help. The veteran talked to me about his service as a gunner in the fantail gun tub on a destroyer escort off the coast of Okinawa. Before he was blown from the ship, his last image was of his shipmate in the gun tub being decapitated by the wing of an incoming kamikaze aircraft. When he regained consciousness in the water he was surrounded by wounded sailors, bodies and body parts. Then the sharks came. He was fortunate to be rescued by another vessel, as most of his shipmates died that day.
Although this veteran's war ended in 1945, his memories debilitate him to this day.
He turned to me with a frantic expression on his face and tears streaming down his cheeks and said, "Mike, I can't shake the memory. And when it comes back it's like I am right there again. It's horrible."
Is it the better man that can put away the horrible experiences of combat? I don't think so. I think it is the more fortunate one.
As thinking adults we need to put Hollywood's dramatizations of warfare in perspective. But in doing so let us never deny the veterans who remain psychologically wounded to this day.