I saw my dad as ten foot tall and bullet proof as a child. Heck, even as an adult!
The truth? He was 6 foot 2, and experiencing crippling flashbacks of horrific wartime moments that included having a pallet of live ammunition dropped on his hand and then being Life-flown to army hospital only be to returned to the front line a few days later, being in the vehicle of a car that was being shot at while it reversed and drove over the little boy shooting at them, and watching the man next to him be killed.
Vietnam killed my dad; he died in 2015.
It wasn’t the Agent Orange (although I’m sure we will later find some connection to that and the significant physical and cognitive disabilities in my sister).
It was PTSD. I don’t think I need to spell it out, you’ve heard of that monster. It’s been all over the media. Its gaining support and momentum from everyone! Except the government. He didn’t sign up for the war. His soul wasn’t built to kill. But the one place these men and women were told to turn to, were told that they would take care of them, turned their back on our heroes.
That too is all over the media. You’ve heard of that monster as well. The failing VA. But let me tell you what happened to my dad after his diagnosis.
He had to surrender his guns. His 2nd amendment was ripped away.
He had to “secure a fiduciary”. It was me, his child. He was told his child was of more sound mind to handle his finances than he was.
He was denied disability for two years after taking an early retirement. He had to retire early because his VA therapy meetings and doctor appointments consumed his time. He had very little to no money for those two years being a divorced man.
And on top of it all. He never slept.
He always saw that little boy in his
Disease processes secondary to Agent Orange that my dad was diagnosed with:
-Diabetes mellitus, type II
-Ischemic Heart Disease
-Peripheral neuropathy, early onset
No, my dad didn’t die from suicide. Although he was being treated for severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia in addition to the PTSD and above mentioned diagnosis. But those diseases had consumed his life. And not at all by his choice. The appointments and meetings and medicines. As so often done in the medical field, a list of meds and diagnosis replaced a person. Became the person.
But he seemed so peaceful and happy the year before he died. So involved with the family and relaxed and social. So at peace. We just didn’t know that he was finally at peace because he’d made a decision to take back control of his life and…quit.
The day my husband and I found my dad on his floor was the day before we found out that he had quit taking all of his medications. Quit going to all his appointments. Quit begging the government for help. Quit.
The official cause of death was natural causes, likely cardiac.
But Vietnam killed my dad.
This is the cost of war.
written by my dad after being diagnosed and subsequently declared “incompetent” related to his PTSD