A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

December 2001/January 2002

PTSD Substance Abuse Committee Report

You Are Not Alone

By Steve Mason, Chair

This is an overview report that will give you permission to feel as you do knowing two things: You are not alone, and together we will get through this.

None of us feels as we did before September 11. Our nation is at war and our country is on a war footing. We are concerned for our families and loved ones here at home. We identify with our troops who are engaged in combat.

Could any feelings be more normal? Every right-minded person in America old enough to watch TV feels this way. Our children are being traumatized by events they do not even comprehend. Most Americans feel at once angry, frightened, and powerless.

For those of us, however, for whom war is no stranger and the ravages of our experiences in the past remain unresolved, this new, almost-invisible enemy threatens our personal balance as few events can. Many veterans of all wars are incapable of suppressing the memories, trauma, confusion, and moral pain we had worked so hard to control before the terrorist act of aggression triggered an emotional concussion grenade deep within our psyches.

All the deep, bottom feeders from the depths of our souls have surfaced. Ugly and undeniable. Simply here with us at street level again where we attempt to step over, around, and through them to negotiate our daily lives. We cannot kill them because they are among the undead of our past. We must keep them in the light and drive them back down and away, scattered and afraid.

We learned long ago that psychic bullets kill just as lead ones do. And old land mines are not to be ignored as harmless. So, we donít feel so great. The question is: How to feel better?

This committee is committed to do all in its power to bring to bear the increased need for support in all areas of PTSD/SA--not only for veterans, but also for their families. We will adopt an agenda that will request and, if necessary, pressure our government for increased resources and funding. We will encourage a coordinated effort among the other VSOs and work with all VVA committees with common interests.

This committee will do its best to draft and finalize a pamphlet concerning the most salient aspects of PTSD for veterans and their families. It will seek advice and assistance from independent agencies and individuals with expertise and experience in these concerns.

Most importantly, the PTSD/SA Committee is here to convince each and all that your reaction to this abnormal chain of events is normal. You are not alone. We are as one. We need each and all of us to win the inner war that we may help our great nation win the outer war. We will win on both fronts. Consider this committee as a rear guard which will fight to and for the last man and woman among us. Be brave and up-front for the sake of all our children.


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