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Chuck Keller

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The Valley Of The Shadow... PTSD
by Chuck Keller   
Rated "R" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, February 18, 2008
Posted: Monday, February 18, 2008

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The war in Iraq has opened old wounds for many Vietnam vets.

“I was too scared to be scared!” That's a quote from a Vietnam vet. When a PTSD victim can “admit” that kind of fear or release some of the anger and shame which is held so deeply inside... Well, that's the beginning of acceptance of another truth spoken by another Vietnam vet: “You may think you're OK, but you're not!”

The book, “Achilles In Vietnam” by Jonathan Shay, M.D., PH.D., gives the following five “ruins of character” which are symptoms of PTSD:


A. a hostile or mistrustful attitude toward the world;
B. social withdrawal;
C. feelings of emptiness or hopelessness;
D. a chronic feeling of being “on the edge,” as if constantly threatened;
E. estrangement. <\blockquote>

Waking suddenly to a sound in the night, feeling that knot in the belly because of a smell or thought, shivering inside as July 4th fireworks explode... These are all things that await our returning Iraqi vets. These are things Vietnam vets and veterans of all wars have lived with since men first battled against other men.

Anyone who hasn't read “Achilles In Vietnam” would be enlightened by taking a look. It compares “feelings” of Vietnam vets to the warriors in Homer's “Iliad.” Startling similarities in not only language but actions and consequences are poignantly compared.

I've written blogs during my research for a book on PTSD which attempt to tell the stories of veterans I've interviewed. Some of the other “common” statements I've heard too many times to discount “mere chance” as their origin in each individual are:

1.I can't go to the “Wall” yet. Not only because of all the names there who were known to me as REAL human beings but because of the way we were treated when we came back. (I've heard more than once: “We will NEVER forgive you for the way you treated us!)
2.I drank too much because I thought it made everything go away. But it always came back... Or worse, exploded in a fight.
3.It's amazing how vicious a human being can be to another when threatened or frightened.
4.I've felt it, seen it, heard it, smelled it, dreamed about it too many times. It all comes back and I wake up in a cold sweat wondering where my weapon is or, worse yet, with my weapon in my hand.
5.It NEVER goes away!


3,145,000 served in Vietnam. 776,000 served in combat. There were 321,000 casualties and over 58,000 killed.

3963 American troops have died in Iraq. 3824 of those have died since George W. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

In late January, Illinois became the first state to initiate state-funded, mandatory screening of all returning Illinois National Guardsmen and Reservists for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. The “debriefing” of all returning troops may head off some of the future problems for some of these vets. But a nationwide program and many millions of dollars will be necessary for diagnosis and treatment of PTSD in Iraq/Afghanistan era vets. And that doesn't begin to count the untold millions in future law enforcement costs.

I know how many of them will feel in 40 years. I hope the changes in government policy and the treatment of our current veterans prevents another generation from living the torture many Vietnam vets have suffered.

Watching what this administration has done brought back many feelings, thoughts and nightmares for me and many other Vietnam veterans. I hope history will not be kind to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest. I hope history shows the truth about the death and misery directly resulting from their greed, incompetence and arrogance.

I hope we don't wind up with another “Wall” in Washington with over 50,000 names. In the end, it will be up to us: “We The People.”

Please write your representative in Washington. Ask them to find the courage to fight this administration to the end. Let's work together to hold the death toll in Iraq for American troops under 4,000. Let's put an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people and the American people. Let's get to work to make sure those who have already served too many tours in Hell because of George W. Bush get the treatment they need.

“We The People” MUST take our country back from the monsters who have corrupted our constitution, stolen our civil liberties and sent so many into the “valley of the shadow” which is PTSD.


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Reviewed by Elizabeth Price 4/6/2008
Keith really sums up what we need to do. But how do we do it. We need to be in the streets protesting the war, the price fixed gas prices, inflation and recession from the out of control economy. the list goes on. God Bless you Chuck. Liz
Reviewed by Keith Rowley 2/19/2008
Politicians will never permit a common, widespread understanding of the consequences of war, Chuck. If they did, their power to instigate war would be revoked.

Dear God, US and British politicians have turned war into a video game in the minds of the public and even tried to ban the filming of the returned body bags (in the US). Always remember that the mentally retarded fool behind this war AVOIDED SERVICE - HE'S A COWARD AND A LIAR.

PLEASE wake up, all you decent Americans: whether it's a Christian crusade combined with an oil grab, or the demolition of a theocracy - it's WRONG! If you suffer now, imagine the horrors arising from an invasion of Iran...for you and those people that the lunatic Christian-Taliban in the Whitehouse have convinced you should be bombed. or do you want to lay the lives of your children down for oil profits?!

Please reclaim America for sanity and peace.
Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan 2/19/2008
Thank you for this--well written and straight from the heart--
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 2/19/2008
well said
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