I no longer live in Milwaukee or in Wisconsin or my home state, Oklahoma. I now reside in the same town as my girlfriend in Kentucky. The people are so nice here and I love everything about the area, but when I decided to move I was parting from a very solid group of friends and a counselor who’d seen me through some tough times. As many of you know, I had my ups and downs when first coming home. Just reading these old posts really puts things into perspective.
I was a different person in Iraq. I had to be. And I tried to become my old self when I returned home, but it was like experiencing puberty all over again… I had all these emotions and didn’t know what to do with them. So I sought help and I had developed a true rapport with my counselor at the Milwaukee Vet Center. While previous therapists wanted me to take pills to numb the emotions, the pain, the nightmares, this guy taught me how to control my nightmares. He gave me exercises to practice when I felt scared, outraged or sad. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if I’d be in the situation I am now. Now, I’m back to the drawing board with a new therapist. After our first session, he was amazed by my ability to cope with certain situations and how I’ve followed my heart through it all.
When I first realized I needed help to readjust and I couldn’t tackle it all on my own, I was humbled and to a point, a little ashamed. See, I’ve always been independent and nothing has ever stood in my way. Now, after scores of counseling, good friends and the will to be a productive citizen, I have my old zest for life again. I share this, because you may know somebody who just returned from a combat zone and they don’t seem the same. I encourage all vets to seek some form of counseling, because it works and it’s free. Sure there are bad days. I still get outraged by John Kerry’s comments, and I still shake when I see a backpack lying unattended in a public place. But now, I know how to deal with it. I just count to 10 and think about the Brewers winning the Pennant.