By Arturo Brooks |Staff Writer|
Since I was little I wanted to serve my country for glory and the fascination towards war. Thoughts of possible injury and death never crossed my mind then.
When I was 19 I decided to make my dream become a reality by becoming U.S. Army 19-Delta Calvary Scout, which was against my parent’s wishes.
My father was none too thrilled with 19-D having such a high causality rate. My mother was none too thrilled either.
My stepfather at the time was a recruiter for the U.S. Army. He asked me, man to man, if this truly the job I wanted.
I proudly expresses that is was truly what I wanted and he supported me.
My mother and stepfather both helped me prepare for basic which without them, I wouldn’t have probably passed OSUT (One Station Unit Training).
There is a reason I am mentioning my family so much instead of PTSD which you will see a correlation between the two.
After OSUT I was sent to my Troop where I found out I was going to be deploying in five months. I was anxious and ready to deploy.
However, even after all the training it doesn’t prepare you mentally for actual warfare.
Upon arriving I was shocked looking around thinking to myself “What godforsaken place have they brought us too.”
The missions were exhausting but experiences were unforgettable.
I felt invisible like nothing could touch me, until the month of September.
I will not put the date but only the month of the incident that changed my life.
A couple of Sgt’s and I were weightlifting to improve our weight capacity when the alarms rang throughout the base.
Within seconds we could see smoke in the air coming from where we sleep.
We ran to see what had happened and upon arriving, we could hear yells from fellow soldiers running around.
As I was following one of the other Sgt’s with a stretcher, I saw to my right Sgt. Gavin laying there in a pool of his blood—With a huge gaping hole in his leg and shrap metal peppered throughout his body, with a piece of his jaw missing.
I froze in place, not believing what had happened.
My Sgt’s pulled me away not allowing me to help.
While still in shock I was sent on a mission to find the Taliban who did this. I wished on that mission someone would have shot me to end what I just had seen.
I kept what I felt to myself until my Platoon Sgt. one day, found out what I had seen. He pulled me aside and questioned me, bringing me to a break down since I felt alone with only me being the only low enlisted who saw what had happened in my platoon.
I was then sent to therapy and removed from missions for two weeks and was diagnosed with PTSD.
After therapy, I continued my operations and did my duty the best I could while hiding my feelings.
Once we returned from deployment I was angry and alone since I couldn’t confine with everyone in my platoon, but only with my Platoon Sgt. and Charlie Troop.
I began to smoke heavily and drink as well putting myself into this dark hole that I could see no light at the end of this tunnel.
I believe when my mother first saw me after returning home, she possibly didn’t realize something was wrong and I never wanted to let her know.
Putting on this strong persona I hide it till I could no longer take it. Even once out the military, my demons were still there waiting to grasp me and drag me back in.
When I returned home to my mother and stepfather both were waiting for me with open arms.
But little by little I could see my anger intensifying and even my nightmares and sleep paralysis worsening, waking up drenched in sweat, tormented by my own thoughts .
I would argue, whenever, I finally gained enough courage to ask for guidance from the Veteran Affairs, it didn’t help it only infuriated.
It took my mother taking me out with her on errands to distract me and where she convinced me to go to college, in which, helped tremendously..
With college, I have seen a change in my anger and even with my PTSD episodes. But they are still there sometimes; haunting me whenever I sleep and hear certain noises.
At the end of the day I know without my family I would have lost my battle with PTSD.
I am a lucky veteran to have family by my side, doing what it takes to keep me moving forward. Not all veterans have the support I have.
PTSD will never leave it will only remain, the only way to defeat it is to face it with those you love and do your best to get the help that’s needed.