I realized this, not only from my own experience as ac combat corpsman with the Marines in Vietnam, but as Chairman of The Advisory Board at Operation Homefront, where we worked to settle and readjust disabled veterans and their families into a better life. These challenges came at a price and a commitment, but the commitment and price begin with the individual and their desire to refocus on something new.
In 1970 I returned from the Vietnam War struggling to deal with experiences that I had while involved with operations in a heavy combat area. The death, destruction and insanity of war made an impression on me as a young 19-year-old man. I came back somewhat bitter, disillusioned, and insecure, as I faced having a family and two young children. I knew my responsibility was needed, and I knew I had to accept a whole new culture of thinking. But, the fear and doubt remained, as well as the very vivid memories. In the beginning I was occupied with finding work, as much as possible, to pay the bills. On top of that I needed to control my dreams and moments of PTSD. There was a young wife, who didn’t know what was lurking in my brain and emotional storehouse. I had two beautiful children needing a responsible father. These elements, along with prayer and my belief in God, pushed me to work and achieve, but never eradicated the past. Somehow, I managed, but the struggle was endless. So many nights, my dreams returned to haunt me. Eventually, finding my place came after pushing forward and not giving up. I learned to cope and compartmentalize all the abstractions in a place that needed to remain separate from a new life. Eventually, my efforts put me on track and made me stronger, to build my own companies, and write books that served as a catharsis for all those things inside of me. Eventually, I was able to help other veterans with the same problems, with my book, articles and by appearing on TV shows and podcasts, about how they could deal with the same problems. I brought attention to the increasing suicide rates of all combat veterans, and especially Vietnam combat vets. The numbers of homeless, drug addicted, and suicidal veterans were astonishing and growing. Something had to be done.
Things have improved over the years, there are more organizations, groups, and people who are willing to help and understand. Unlike the post-Vietnam war period, where everyone was reluctant and even fearful to deal with the returning combat veteran, today there are focus groups who not only aid in the financial aspects of readjustment, but in the emotional and psychological problems as well. Today there is acceptance and understanding for the military people who need that help. So many organizations like Operation Homefront, Tunnels to Towers, The National Center for PTSD, and many more, are ready to step up and lend a hand. Even the VA has improved, providing numerous agencies that will respond, if only the veteran applies.
Finding your place begins with the individual. It may be easier said than done, but the fact remains that it must be started, because without a start the fall to failure is too great. Realizing that there are organizations and people that are willing to help you with your struggle is key to finding the road to recovery and success. You are not less of a person if you reach out for help, because that search for support is from strength, not weakness. It is from a desire to be better and stronger. It is an integral part of all humans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dominic Certo, author and businessman, served with the 7th Marines in Vietnam and is an advisory board member of Operation Home Front. He has since served as an advisor and Chairman of the Advisory Board for Operation Homefront. Certo has served as President of Hillside Publications, and Chairman of The Certo Group. The Certo Group is a
food services company founded by Certo in 1985 which went public in 2004. Certo was knighted by the Royal Family of The Reigning Order of St. John in Russia. He has also received two Presidential Volunteer Service Awards.
Read the article here.