My father served in the Marine Corp at the age of 17 years old. He volunteered for 5 tours in Vietnam, where he earned several purple hearts and other citations before leaving the Corp as a Gunnery Sergeant. He went on to serve his community as police officer before retiring with probation and parole. He is a true hero in my eyes. He is a battle tested Marine through and through. He spoke little about the war as most Vets do, and he speaks loudly about the men whom he served with and their acts of valor, down playing anything he has ever done.
The last few years I have seen a different side of my father. 50 years later, he is having issues with PTSD. When I was young, I heard he was struggling with the war like most do, but I did not know to what extent. When we play golf at our favorite course, I find him gazing off into another world, reliving the horrors of war. Certain smells, the running water of a stream or early morning fog precipitates the reenactment of war in his mind. He is a proud man, and he would rather die than ask for help. This seems to be something I have taken from him as well. Asking for help or showing emotions has always been a sign of weakness, but as I have grown older and wiser, I know this is just not the case.
The conflict infects itself within the psyche. Do not be afraid to express your emotions and feelings. Do not be afraid to reach out to a friend or family member who needs help. This is especially true of our Veterans who have volunteered to serve their country. Such a selfless act deserves the very best from each one of us. PTSD is a beast to deal with, and there is no way any one of us will ever know how that person perceived things. We all deal with stress differently, and we all have different tolerance levels.
Be respectful of those who serve. You may not agree with the government or what these men and women are doing, but unless you stand a post, be respectful about those who have gone above and beyond. They are the reason why you and I enjoy the freedoms this country allows us to experience.