A powerful, emotion packed trip through the mind of a Vietnam Vet disabled with PTSD. As with too many other young boys, he was sent to an unpopular war and experienced many traumas. Even though more than thirty years have passed, the realities of the war remain. Even with the best counseling and medications, the war is only kept at bay. There is no cure. At best there is only coping. The war will never be far away. It invades his days and nights. His poetic journal is sometimes dark. It is the reality of his war.
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Greg is a resident of Ankeny, Iowa. A lifelong Iowa resident, he grew up on a small farm outside Dakota City. His is married to his high school sweetheart, Alice. They have just celebrated 32 years of marriage. Greg has two grown children. Lorna is a police office in Des Moines, Iowa. Sean is in his second of law school at the University of Iowa. Greg is a CPA and works for Iowa State University.
Having grown up in small town Iowa, the small town ideals were very important in his life. Defending his country was not an option.
Of course there was the high school counselor who informed him in his senior year that he should join the army because he could not make it any place else. So, without hesitation he signed up. He considered the marines, especially since a friend a year older joined the marines and looked so sharp when he came home on leave. Unfortunately, that friend went to Nam and was killed on his first mission. Suddenly, the marines did not seem like an option. Instead he joined the army as a supply clerk. Nothing would happen to a guy sitting behind a desk all day. He did volunteer for Nam but was sure that all his time would be behind a desk.
Although not a grunt, he saw and did things that have altered his life. A strong man, he stuffed all these feelings and emotions for years.... over thirty years. When those thoughts, feelings, and emotions came out, it devastated his life. He is currently under treatment by psychologists, psychiatrists, and an assorted group of other professionals trying to help him get his life back together. Medications help dull the pain, but nothing will remove it from his live. This book is about the thoughts that haunt his life. Some of this is dark. This is his life now.
He was one of the lucky men in that his wife has stood by his side through all of this. He has even been able to hold down a job. This is a life that many people would dream about. Not him.
In 2000, Greg spent three months at the National Center for PTSD in Menlo Park California . He thought things were coming together. However, his life fell apart again in 2001. He was hospitalized four times in a local hospital. In the fall of 2001, he was admitted to the VA hospital in Bay Pines, Florida were he was hospitalized for three and one-half months. His life is better now.
The war does not leave him. The pain of what he has done and what was done to him will never leave. Although there are more good days now, the war is never far beneath the surface. His nights are filled with nightmares of the war. He often has flashbacks of the war and panic attacks during the day. Depression is always a problem.
He is just hoping for some peace.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A Walk In Hell
The Other Side of War
by Gregory A. Helle
A Walk In Hell |
Welcome to the ramblings of a strange mind. These writings are from my personal journal. This is not really about the war in Vietnam, but about how it has affected a farm boy from Iowa. Even though more than thirty years have passed since I was in-country, the war still haunts me. I was not a hero. I was not a grunt. I was supposed to be a clerk sitting safely behind a desk; however my story did not unfold that way.
I enlisted in the army as a supply clerk in a vain attempt to avoid combat. I was not a coward; I just thought I was being smart. A good friend had gone to Vietnam while I was a senior in high school; he was killed on his first mission. I wanted to be smart enough toj survive. I worked hard and graduated first in my class in two supply courses—a lot of good that did me. I never worked a day in the field I was trained in. I spent twenty months in Vietnam—it was supposed to be twenty four months but Nixon was kind enough let me out early.
For thirty years I hid my dirty little secrets. While in `Nam I did not let on to my family that anything was happening. They were my secrets. It was not until almost thirty years after the war I totally broke down. I could not hide my traumas anymore. I was emotionally empty, full of fear at all times, reliving the war through flashbacks and nightmares, avoiding people, afraid in crowds, and a long list of other changes in my personality. My family had lost their dad and husband; I was not the man they thought they knew. Maybe I never again will be.
The photos I've included in this book are of me, now and from my time in `Nam and some pictures I took while in-country.
| Gregory A. Helle
I have included them to give you a flavor of what my dreams are all about. I did not take pictures of the "war." There was too much going on to take pictures—that was a time of pure survival. At the start of my war I wanted to survive. By the end, I wanted to die.
When I went to `Nam my career goal was to go into the ministry. It took only three short months to convince me that this was not the role I should play in life. I had become aware of my dark side. I did not deserve God's grace. So many dreams died in `Nam.
I hope my writings will help others understand the devastation left by PTSD. Our government does not like to admit that it exists. However, there are thousands upon thousands who suffer daily from the devastating symptoms of PTSD. Some seek help like I did; some just suffer through it or find another way out of their pain. It does not matter which war soldiers fought in, the effects are still the same.
Many of my writings have a similar theme and similar tone. My life is much like the roller coasters that I road as a kid. Sometimes I am on top, feeling good and in control of my life. Then, suddenly I am plunged to the bottom, in the depths of a personal hell. On the bottom I often feel the urge to get off and stop this ride. My life exists on this continuum. Where I am on that roller coaster can change moment by moment.
Such is the mind of a person suffering from PTSD. I relive the events of Vietnam constantly. I feel the emotions just as if they happened today. There is no escape. So if it sounds like I am repeating myself, I am. My mind cannot forget and my soul cannot forgive. I am on a roller coaster. There is no way off.
I hope this book brings some understanding and, God willing, a brother or sister will seek help to learn to cope with combat and/or sexual traumas.
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Book Description Xlibris Corporation, 2002. Book Condition: New. This item is printed on demand for shipment within 3 working days. Bookseller Inventory # GM9781401075194