Thanking all who have served over the generations.
Sometime I wish I had physical wounds I could look at and tell myself “Yea, you have PTSD all right, just look at the scars.”
When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, I was pretty critical about the diagnosis. I thought the diagnosis was just a convenient way for my treatment team to wash their hands of me. It seemed in my mind; by labeling me with PTSD, they could resolve themselves from the responsibility of actually helping me through my problems. I did not believe I had PTSD, I had not engaged in combat, I had not been “blown up” or received any type of physical injuries. I was a chaplain, a non-combatant; I did not even carry a weapon of any kind. There was no way I could have PTSD. What right do I have to claim such a diagnosis when so many others have a legitimate reason for having PTSD? For years I struggled with the question “Do I actually have PTSD or am I just making all this up?” To be honest, there are still times I wonder if I really have PTSD. I often feel guilty about being labeled with PTSD when there are others that truly suffer from PTSD. Sometimes, I wish I had physical wounds I could look at and tell myself “yea, you have PTSD all right, just look at the scars.” What I really wish for is some traumatic story of a horrific event that I survived, so I can look back and say, “This is the event that triggered my PTSD.” But my PTSD did not come from one event alone, it came over many events. For me, it is like I have to string together all these “little” events to somehow form a reasonable justification for having PTSD. I think some of the feelings come from Hollywood and the string of Iraq war movies that are coming out. Some films tackle the issue of PTSD. Pretty much all the movies are based on the Service Member going through a horrific battle or ambush where they survived while others died. The other scenario that seems to get a lot of attention in movies is a Humvee being blown-up by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). All this leads to a sense of guilt for me. I often feel as though I’m playing a game and one day the truth will come out that I never had PTSD. Then I will be exposed as a fraud, a dirtbag, and a lazy bum just trying to get one over on the government.
“Sometimes the Greatest Wound a Soldier Suffers from is the Wound No One Can See”
It is hard some days to deal with my PTSD. There are days when I want to wake up and say “It’s all a lie, I’ve been duped by all these doctors and counselors who just threw this label on me.” Sometimes, I want more than anything to tell myself “Get over it and stop acting like you have PTSD, start living your life like a normal person.” There are other days when I wake up, and I tell myself, “Its all over, I no longer have PTSD, I’m cured, and I have conquered it.” Then a memory creeps into my mind, I have disturbing thoughts and dreams, I hear a loud sound, I see something that reminds me of Iraq, a car speeds up behind me on the freeway, I get lost and end up on a narrow road that I don’t know where it goes. So I become hyper-vigilant, I get scared; I have the urge to defend myself or run away from danger, I’m overcome with an urge to hide and disassociate myself from the world around me. When I first went through treatment for PTSD, I heard people say “I would never wish PTSD on anyone.” To be honest, I thought they were melodramatic; they were simply seeking someone to feel sorry for them. I know better now, and I understand what it means to “not wish PTSD on anyone.” Yet despite my desires and wishes that my PTSD would just go away, I still wake up each day facing another day with PTSD. Some days I am very good at it, other days not so much.
One of my veteran brothers who I went through the 3-month VA PTSD treatment program in Waco, Texas sent this out on Facebook. It made such an impact on me that I wanted to share it here on the blog. As I listened to the song, I was taken back to my time in Iraq, and as I watched the photos, I felt like I was back in Iraq. The song not only vividly reminded me of being in Iraq it also reminded me of the struggles I still face with my combat-related PTSD. This is a great song, sung by a veteran who herself struggles with her own combat-related trauma. Thank you, Sailor Jennifer, for sharing your beautiful song and sharing a part of your story.
Hallelujah Veterans Version was actually written for a small group of Veterans that I talk to in support groups. The original video was done just standing in my livingroom. I’ve now recorded it and used pictures sent to me by the guys who followed this from the start. It is FREE for anyone to download. I’ve tried to take suggestions into account when working with the musicians for the recording. I hope you all love it.
Also I plan to post a downloadable version of the lyrics for everyone who has asked 🙂
Thank you for all of your support for this song. The reach and messages have been amazing and overwhelming to receive.
If you click on Hallelujah on the left menu bar of her site, it will take you to her video.
The War Within is a wonderful documentary of two Vietnam War veterans who return to Vietnam for the first time since the war. It is a rich, emotional and at times a difficult journey. As they share their experiences from combat they also share how God has brought healing to their lives and to the lives of their families. You can stream the entire video from the Day of Discovery website. If you follow the link below it will take you to the video page. It is well worth the time to view this outstanding video.
The War Within: Finding Hope for Post-Traumatic Stress Thousands of courageous men and women risk their lives in combat. But few of us understand the private inner battle they bring home. For many, it is an ongoing personal struggle that continues long after the war is over. In The War Within: Finding Hope for Post-Traumatic Stress, you’ll find encouragement for veterans and their loved ones whose lives have been drastically changed by war.
Follow the link below to stream the video