Thursday, November 05, 2009
It's A Country Not A War
I grew up in a small town not unlike Ft. Hood -- in fact, Ft. Hood was just a few hours away. The year I was born, Ft. Wolters was decommissioned, near the end of the Vietnam War, a war I used to refer to simply as Vietnam until a student corrected me: It's a country, he said, not a war. Point taken. And I worked at the Blade and Wing, a bar that catered primarily to Vietnam Vets. Above the bar, there was an army green jacket that had We Were Winning When I Left embroidered over a map of Vietnam. I didn't make very many cosmos, and I wasn't often in the weeds. And if any of you want, I can still make a very good boilermaker.
Back then, we referred to post-traumatic stress disorder as "being nervous from the service." When I fell prey to this awful affliction, I only had a passing understanding of what it was in a clinical sense. All I knew was something had gone terribly wrong in my head and my nervous system. I privately referred to it as the land of the fucked. And I knew that some of the vets I served had it too. As everyone is, I'm horrified by the shooting today at Ft. Hood by an army psychiatrist that specialized in trauma and then became the inflicter of it. I used to drive around Killeen every now and then on weekends as a teenager. I can picture the scene all too clearly, the image that will no doubt play over and over for those wounded, for the survivors of those killed.