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Zulu Nctia International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar Afghanistan II Texas Post-Traumatic Two Texas Veterans on the Road to Recovery a growing number of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of their recovery process, they are writing about their lives and combat experiences as part of the Veterans Writing Project \( Austin playwright who mentors the veterans, for his editing assistance. A third story, by Austin native Carlette Michele Satterwhite, can be viewed online at . Clayton Griffin When I was born in Texarkana in October 1975, the country was still reeling from losing 50,000 of its best and brightest to the most unpopular war in American history. Who would have ever imagined that only 3o years later the same country would send this baby boy to Asia to fight another war? But they did and that is my story. Growing up in and around Texarkana was just like any other place, I guess. Visiting family when we got the chance, making fun of your little brother because that’s what your older brother did to you, worrying about everything but grades in high school and later wishing you had worried about grades more. By the time I did graduate from high school, I decided to take some time off from school. After a string of minimum-wage jobs I knew I wanted more, but I didn’t want to take out a huge loan for college, so I enlisted in the Air Force. In io short years [beginning in 1997], I deployed five times, twice to Saudi Arabia. My last mission was to Iraq [with the ioist Airborne], where I served as a convoy commander, completed over 65 combat patrols and experienced many combat engagements. I saw it all firsthand: mortars, bombs, firefights … everything. Upon returning from Iraq, Griffin began to suffer from PTSD. He experienced anxiety attacks while driving and while in public. Bouts of depression would come and go, seemingly inexplicably. Sometimes he couldn’t even force himself to move because it took too much energy. But the uncontrollable rage was what bothered him the most. Fortunately, it was never focused on any family members or close friends, but if someone did something Griffin didn’t like, or exhibited unusual mannerisms, adrenaline flowed through him with the force of Niagara Falls. He felt like he was losing control of himself It took six months for me to seek help for my post-traumatic stress. The symptoms were completely debilitating: anxiety, depression, rage and paranoia. Ultimately these and other problems all led to several months of counseling, medication and a discharge from the military. There are some things everyone should know about combatrelated PTSD. First of all, there is a lot of guilt associated with it. No matter what physical malady you endured, it is never enough to free you from the guilt that combat dishes out. Maybe the biggest factors that need to be addressed are shame and fear. Many times veterans have gone directly against the Clayton Griffin Photo courtesy the author morals that they hold dear. We have looked inside our souls and seen what could be. We have seen the evil that a man is capable of, even within ourselves. We don’t want to share these things with our spouses, moms, dads, brothers or anyone because we are ashamed of what we see in ourselves. We are afraid our families may think of us as bad people. The stigma surrounding PTSD is also a deterrent to seeking help. This is why so many veterans keep it all inside them, and let it eat at them like a cancer. Seeking psychiatric help was the most difficult thing I ever did in my entire military career. NOVEMBER 27, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 21