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Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:56 pm
by Niner Alpha
Randy, I think having this site and having made contact with guys I served with and also with guys like you who served there in the same battalion, even though sometimes in different years and different companies, has done a lot to help me make peace with my Vietnam memories. In addition to the site a major thing for me is that we do this chat thing on skype every Thursday night too. It's hard to believe it, even for me, but several of us show up every Thursday night without fail, if we are near a computer and have a connection to the internet...and all show up right on time. We've been doing it for years now. Maybe it's a case of "I'm ok and you're ok" ...or something like that keeps us hanging in. And the most amazing thing is that we only now and again talk about Vietnam.

Keep up the effort to make peace with your memories Randy. Your reports will help all of us in the long run. Maybe there is somebody reading this that will get some help after reading what you are posting.

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:33 pm
by Charlie Salisbury
I am so grate full to be able to hear another Nam soldier talking about their battles in their mind from this war!
My contribution to this situation is small, I hope your ending to this will be as good as mine ended up, that,s for sure! May GOD keep you through this time, you certainly are owed it!

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:51 pm
by Randyw
A question to those who have had either gone through the program I am embarking on or have otherwise tried successfully to get their VA disability increased, adjusted or set up in the first place. The question is; about how long does this process take? I realize it is different for each individual, and the variables probably include the VA facility you were involved with, one's particular military history, the doctor who gets assigned to you, and I am thinking, at least in the case where PTSD is being considered, the time spent with a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. Just a ball park figure would be nice.

One thing that Robert alluded to was the chance to talk to others who served, maybe not at the same time, but the same units and a lot of us under the same circumstance, helped him make peace with his memories. I believe there is some merit to that. I am not sure whether I am ready for that yet and while I will admit, the one re-union I did attend, down in Georgia, was close to therapeutic and cathartic in nature for me. However, it was about all I could do to face those I served with, and have not been able to do another one since. It did not have anything to do with those with which I served as to the reason I had difficulty facing them, it has been and continues to be the demons I am haunted by. Some might say, it is all in his head, and they's be right. My journey now is to hopefully change my demons to just memories.

Having never shied away from saying I am proud of my service and of those i served with, it is the twisted spin put on my memories that continue to intercede on my daily life in ways that are both detrimental and unforeseen; a fact that I have only recently come to terms with in both trying to understand and to vanquish from my mind. Thankfully, all who have commented and read my posts here have contributed to my beginning this trek and I, again, am very grateful.

Still, Ron, Charlie, and Robert have provided insight, understanding, and a first person narrative that has really helped me get started with this process. I plan on making it through to the end, regardless of where that takes me. These first steps would not have been possible without the contrabution of all who have commented and read my postings here.

Thanks for everything.

Randy Whitaker
Delta Company
1968 - 1969

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:51 am
by Charlie Salisbury
I guess in my case Randy, I was pretty well messed up, so much so, that I was classified inside of 45 days and put on this program called The Fast Trac for Nam combat vets. They also had notes from me freaking out in a hospital, I was in the middle of dreams of ambushes I had set, they thought the pain medicine some how triggered that. Then I had gone to a Ft. Myers Vet center because in my mind I was coming unglued, the man I spoke to several times was a VA doc who was involved in Nam combat vets, just knew what to say to trigger my mind. He had me to draw out an ambush I set with the Cav. after I was done he got up and came over to me and told me to stand up, I was completely soaked in sweat, just plain agitated I guess, did not realize it at all. He took me to the VA at FT. Myers, the rest is history. I believe in the VA, and just by reading your notes, believe that you are going to get the help you need! In my case they keep me with a Doc every 90 days, in the group sessions I seem to cut up, they say because of nerves. It is very hard to talk about Nam, I am not at peace with every thing that I did over there, it is very hard for me to think I was involved in the things I did. Just very hard to talk about, in due time I hope to get pass alot of my demons. Randy, keep pushing forward, you will finally get to a place where combat vets can see they are not such bad folks after all. GOD has put you here for a reason, you have suffered enough! Charlie

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:47 pm
by Randyw
I hope everyone has a very satisfying Thanksgiving.

I have been through another session with Ms. Beltran. I have had to continue to dig deeper into those memories to draw out the emotions that a "Regular Person would have felt" before, during, and after those events that occurred to us, or me, in this case, over in Vietnam as a result of my combat experience. After each time I think I have remembered what happened, how I felt, what exactly took place, it seems I come up with another memory, not necessarily bad, just another piece of the puzzle as I try to put the thoughts in an order she can use to help assist me in my upcoming visit to the VA.

I still don't really get when Ms. Beltran says she is looking for those emotions that a "Regular person might have felt" not just the facts of an incident. I mean, for a regular person to be thrown into the hell of combat, without any training, without any sense of duty, or camaraderie, they would probably go crazy. The intensity of the whole event would be so overwhelming, a "Regular" person, would probably curl up in the fetal position and hope for a quick death. That's the problem I am having; we all were "regular people" until Uncle Sam got his hands on us. Then he rode us, beat us, marched us, ran us, and disciplined us right into what we turned into when an enemy, any enemy, tried to take our lives. We got angry, especially when one of our own would get injured or die and there was no one to take it out on, i.e., the booby-trap. With every explosion, with every cry of anguish, you got just a little more angry, a little more determined, and a little more focused on destroying the person or persons who were trying to kill you. Yet, most of time, the enemy was nowhere to be seen. I can't speak to everyone's thought on the matter, however, I can only say my anger grew to a point and festered there until I could find an outlet to get it off my chest, out of my mind, and direct that anger at someone or something. One of those outlets for me was January 12th, 1969. There were others, but that night in January when I kept getting shot at, kept getting wounded, really set me off. I took that rage out on the VC that night, trouble was, they took it out on me as well, and people died around me, my fellow comrades were wounded and were killed.

Regular people don't normally have that kind of rage nor do they live in such an unfriendly environment, and things I have been forced to remember were not, and are not pretty. If people died, did I do enough, should I have controlled my rage and stayed in one place instead of moving around to fight those fucking enemy soldiers who were trying to kill all of us. It was a decision I made for survival, did I make the right one? Could I have done more, should I have done more? I hadn't thought about that guilt for a very long time. That is one of the things that digging into those memories uncovered; a thought I had on the Dust-Off ride back to Dong Tam that night, right up until I felt that strange sensation of anesthetic rising in my throat as I finally succumbed to the doctor's effort to put me under.

So "What do I think a regular person would feel" seems like a stretch to me. A regular person would not have survived I think, a regular person would not have a clue. Still we were soldiers, we did what soldiers always do, we fight, not for some old fart in our government hierarchy, but for each other. I saw much bravery, I saw much courage, and even with their best effort, some still died, some still came away wounded, and most, myself for sure, came away changed. Changed in a not so very good way. Although, I felt a damn site better after being able to see, shoot at, and kill the enemy even though they did their best, I'm sure, to kill me.

There are still some things, I feel I am not releasing from those deep recesses of my mind, the guilt was one I had not thought about in a very, very long time. I think there may be more, different feelings a "Regular" soldier might feel, not so much a "Regular person" might feel. Those memories; they seem to still be buried and my mind is fighting back, not wanting to make it easy to uncover and to have to confront those emotions again.

I know, or think I know, I should confront those emotions to become whole again. The trouble, or the success, depends on how you look at it, I had putting those emotions down, burying them deep in the abyss of my mind and keeping them covered up all these long years, never to rear their ugly head again are beginning to stir. As a result of that successful burial so many years ago; I was able to live a pretty decent life, a life where no one but my deepest sub-conscientious was allowed to peek and it rarely, if ever did. Now with all this "Regular" people crap, it's beginning to bubble to the surface again. I am not sure I like the idea of that. Still, I am pressing forward, because I have heard and read, just on these pages alone, others who have gone before me have had various levels of success, I would like that as well.

It's those stories and and their frank, and to me, comforting, revelations that help me keep moving forward.

Thanks to all.

Randy Whitaker
Delta Company
1968 - 1969

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:46 am
by Ron
Randy,

Just wanted to say thanks for your appreciation of my help in you seeking a source of support for your ongoing condition(s). Please pass it on to any and all other Veterans who might be seeking service connected aid, to contact Vet Centers in their area or veteran organizations.
The assistance and processing is there for all of us, whether it's Korean, Vietnam or gulf era & middle eastern veterans. Don't wait until things become desperate and you're fitting another hurting battle long after experiencing combat. Do yourself a favor Veterans and seek that help that's available to all of us! :o

Welcome Home!

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:31 am
by Charlie Salisbury
I am very happy that you are moving forward in this inner battle. I go along Randy thinking Iam really cleaning up my emotions and stuff, then bang, Iam right back there, right in the middle of some incident. It is very hard for me to get rid of Nam, just really hard for me. Also the VA does not want some of the soldiers I did battle with, around me you know? They say some of them are a bad influence on me.I suspect its the other way around, maybe I am the bad influence, you know? Keep up the fight, you will see a big change in yourself soon!

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:59 pm
by Randyw
Ron makes an excellent point regarding all veterans need to seek assistance from the services that are available. I personally wished I had followed his sage advice years ago. Regardless of how this turns out, without taking advantage of the services offered to us, I can guarantee the outcome, NO CHANGES. At least now, thanks to the support and the prior experience of Ron, Charlie, Robert, Jerry, and others have had with VA services offered to veterans, I am taking these steps now. I know everyone's circumstances are different, however, I can say, now that I am "In" the process, I really do wish I had started this earlier. Just as Ron alluded to, no matter the conflict, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, you have served, you have earned, and it is an entitlement that came from your blood, sweat, and tears. If you chose to brave the VA system today, you could be mildly or even wildly surprised by the outcome.

I will continue to share my experiences as I move through this process for medical assistance, for psychological assistance, for evaluation of any conditions I may have developed while in Service to this country. If any of you find this useful; seek out a VA counselor, seek advice from a VA representative at your local VFW, D.A.V., or other veteran related service organization, or go straight into the fire on your own. I am hoping I can say, "It's better late than never" so far it seems to be that way. Again, it will be different for each of us. Some will have to face demons that have been put, not so neatly, away for a very long time, others, whose demons still roam wild, will have a vastly different experience, I think.

In my personal journey, I have been directed to make contact with a psychiatrist as part of my evaluation, and one thing the Doc said made a lot of sense to me. "When you keep those emotions and feelings bundled up tight and believe you are in control of your emotional baggage and do not speak of them, they do not go away, they continue to influence you, on the other hand, should you chose to confront them, talk about them, deal with them, understand their influence over you, you will gain power over those emotions and return to a more normal life." Not sure exactly what that is, however, I wouldn't mind finding out.

Good, Bad, or, Ugly, regardless of how this process plays out, I can tell you now; now that I have begun, I wish I had started down this path much earlier than I did. if you're thinking about this, or you have emotions you are not or cannot control, or you feel you want to move forward with more emotional control in your life, please, consider the services that are available to all veterans.

Thanks,

Randy Whitaker
Delta Company
1968 - 1969

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:03 pm
by Charlie Salisbury
Randy, for me it changed my life immediately. To be able to sit with a Doctor and find and touch emotions that are in me from combat has been a life saver. I am not the same guy from 3 years a go, it's hard to explain I guess, for me the VA has been a wonder. They listen to you, their observations of me have really helped me to better cope with my life. I don't have education, it's hard for me to tell you the things on paper, I would be able to tell everyone better if we were just talking. God has truely blessed me with the VA I am involved with. I only hope Randy, that you will have the same possible out come that I did. I too wish that I had delt with this earlier in my life, but really after 5-6 turn aways, I just never went back. On what I know about my self now, I would of tried for help much more, that's for sure. Keep punching Randy, I believe something good for you shall come!

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:15 pm
by Randyw
I am well into December on my way to fixin what's ailin me and now I have had quite a few more individuals involved in my journey. I have been referred to a psychiatrist and have had 3 sessions with him, and just yesterday, I was referred to my Counties Veteran Center and was introduced to my next VA handler.

The psychiatrist is even more probing than Ms. Beltran in both his questions and his evaluations of the my answers. I thought Ms. Beltran knew how to press my buttons, however, the doc not only knows how to push my buttons, he is quite adapt at compressing those buttons to the point of pain. He insists it's good for me. He is the professional, so I am left in his care.

The thing about all this talking, it leads to memories, and those memories have led to past realities, realities I have worked ever so hard to keep buried. Buried so they'd not impact a "Normal" life. Personally, I thought I had done a very good job at controlling those emotions. Little did I know, and the doc has made clear, that much of what I could have done seems to have been restricted by things left behind on the battlefield. Things like anger, guilt, and a feeling of vulnerability. I believe that many of us, not just in our war, but most wars of our lifetimes, and probably all wars; lives would have probably been different for those participants, had their respective governments not turned boys into men then into warriors to be part of one the oldest professions in the world, the combat soldier.

Doc said my "normal" life has be impacted by those emotions I tried to keep in check and that talking about them, not letting them simmer beneath the surface and bringing the out to the light would benefit me, even now, all these years later. The juries still out on that thought, however, it is beginning to make sense.

What I don't or haven't talked about for all these many years are some of the reasons for my successes and my failures. That could and probably is true, which always led to my thoughts of a better life, only to run into emotional fences that were invisible to me; blocking my way. I have always thought I made a reasonable life and now, how my life would have been different. I also realize I cannot change the past, I will say, however, I am beginning to see the value in discussing a past and emotions buried and long controlled.

Buried yes, however, it appears I did not control those emotions and memories, they controlled me.

So, I have officially applied for a VA claim. I was told to file for PTSD, Tinnitus, Hearing Loss, and lower extremities. I have to get my personal physician, chiropractor, and psychiatrist to provide statements to support those claims. Most of the offices will be closed over the Holidays so I will pick up the journey where I left off; beginning in January.

I hope everyone who reads this considers the possibilities of seeking assistance, seeking help. I believe it is working for me; right now on a limited scale, and hopefully in a more impactful way as I go forward.

So I will say this to all of you, if it is within your powers; do have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

God Bless everyone,

Randy Whitaker
Delta Company
1968 - 1969

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:31 am
by Delta75
Merry Christmas Randy...glad to see that you are making excellent progress with the VA.

Jerry

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:28 am
by Randyw
Jerry,

Merry Christmas to you and yours as well. As to the VA, I do believe I am making progress, I am actually quietly optimistic.

Have a great 2018.

Randy

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:55 am
by Niner Alpha
I'm following your reports with great interest,Randy. It's good to see with each new message that you seem to be more and more on your way to finding some peace with the memories that have impacted your life for such a long time. What you are doing for yourself is bigger than any Christmas present I can think of. Good you are making progress and sharing your journey with us.

Jerry, if you have embarked on the Vietnam journey you could tell us about your experience.

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:02 pm
by Delta75
Niner, we don't leave for Vietnam until Jan17; however, we are now preparing...buying all our required medications for 4 months, packing clothes, deciding what else to carry, carrying all my firearms to my neighbor for safe keeping in his huge safe, etc. Will drain the water lines and blow them out the morning that we leave our cabin....discovered a few years ago that "draining" is not enough for pvc piping in a cabin that is on piers. Water remains in any "sags" in the pvc pipe, and will freeze and shatter the pipes.

I believe that I have already mentioned to you that Lt Richard Dorn (Delta, 2nd platoon, 1969) will join us in mid-March and we will serve as his guides for one week.

Merry Christmas!

Jerry

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:31 pm
by Niner Alpha
Looks like you have the preparations down pat now from experience, Jerry. Have a safe trip.

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:17 am
by Charlie Salisbury
I am really happy to know you are doing very well with the VA. I think that your experience is good info that other ex-soldiers can use, and maybe come forward to help! I like the one on one with the Docs, to me its better than a group session.I have been able to talk about things that were buried inside of me. They have put me on medication that has put a stop to the dreams I was having. Just the relief from that has been so helpful to my mind. All these years of dreams popping into my mind at night have stopped.....WOW! Randy, it takes great courage to tell fellow vets about what you are going through, my hat is off to you. Things will break for you, and I for one will be very happy for you and your family. GOD be with you!

Re: 1st time VA user - Need help.

Posted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:01 am
by Ron
Randy,
It's good to hear about your progress in your much needed cure of what I call "a combat veterans ailment" where a shield has been placed about oneself.
You had a recipe for failure and I only gave you some of the chefs to assist you with the proper ingredients in seeing wonderful results. True, some temperatures and time will still needed to be adjusted, but in time everyone around you, including oneself, will compliment the outcome of your treatment. All it will take is a 'slow simmer' with the psychiatrist knowing how and what's required to help you. In time, between filing those claims and treatment, you'll begin to feel that load has been lifted.
I pretty much see some of the same issues you're going through as I have, in fact my wife, Jan, is viewing some our postings on this forum and has been pointing out some related issues. Is your wife reading any of this?
I'm not going to go into anymore about this matter as I'm sure you're in good hands now, but if, like I said, maybe if you care to give me a call (517-548-0650) you might want to discuss some issues or incidents further.
I'm not that far away from your residence, as I'm here in Howell. If you want we could also do Skype if you want.
Do what needs to be done, Randy, and soon I'm sure you'll be feeling better. Happy New Year and the best to you and yours, Randy. :D