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.