My 34 Years with a Disabled Combat Vet

"WHEELCHAIR" BY ZEEVVEZ, VIA FLICKR, CREATIVE COMMONS

"WHEELCHAIR" BY ZEEVVEZ, VIA FLICKR, CREATIVE COMMONS

My father was a Vietnam vet and a double amputee, and The Inherited War is a collection of stories from our lives together. My intention in writing this book is to tell how the Vietnam War affected my dad and how he, in turn, affected his family. It’s my father’s story, seen through my eyes; it’s also the story of my life, in which my dad is a principal character.

Dad was discharged from the army in 1971, and it would be another nine to ten years before Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, became an official diagnosis. When he started having psychological problems, he didn’t understand what was happening to him. We, as his family didn’t either, and for many years we suffered in silence. As we grew in our awareness of PTSD and its effects, we started pushing Dad to get help.

I hope the book will provide some insight into the world that veterans’ families live in every day. In a time when our nation has completed a war in Iraq and is winding down the war in Afghanistan, there are new generations of vets returning home from war. Many of them are disabled, and almost all of them will be touched by PTSD. When war is discussed in the media it’s most often focused on the soldiers themselves. There is a parade of statistics that mark the dead and the wounded, but the true cost of war is much more than casualty figures. The soldiers who return to families and friends bring the war home with them. These families have stories of their own to tell, because living with a vet is not easy. The transition from combat to civilian life is its own kind of war, for both the veterans and for the people who love them. No matter how well vets function when they return, they are never the same as when they left.