PTSD: She Blames Obama, I Blame War

PTSD: She Blames Obama, I Blame War

Editor’s note: the author wishes to remain anonymous. We ask that you respect her experience and willingness to tell her story.

He thrashes and turns, violently ripping at our bed. Startled awake, I place my hand on his arm. “Sweetie, wake-up.”

He stops and breathes. “Thank you,” he says.

Later I awake to him panting in his sleep. “Wake-up, hey, wake-up,” I say. He opens his eyes — it’s just the recurring dream, again, about the time the mortars were crushing him after that IED strike. We go back to sleep. Another night, I wake-up to crying. Crying? And there, curled on the floor, my big, strong husband is weeping.

“What is happening?” I ask.

“It’s just the nightmares,” he says.

Then there was the anger. Sudden, like a storm without warning. It would sweep over his face and explode on our kids and me for no reason. He was never truly violent or dangerous — but you could see he was holding it back, holding it inside. It made you wonder when it would come out. Nothing had caused it — just one of our kids not getting his shoes fast enough or doing something irritating like kids do.

I couldn’t take him into places with lots of traffic. If I did, I had to drive. He wasn’t aggressive or violent — he was thoughtless. He would turn into oncoming traffic without meaning to, he just didn’t see the car coming. We stayed in our small Army town a lot, stayed home on payday so he didn’t have to deal with the crowds, figured out ways for him to commute when there wouldn’t be stand-still traffic. When we did go on a day trip, we went somewhere without any other people.

And then there was the suicide scare. Until that day and the one time that followed it I never really thought that he would be one of those people. Kill himself? Crazy. Not him. He wasn’t like that.

But there he was, rocking himself on the floor, crying. “I don’t know why I’m alive. I wish I was dead,” he said.

I was scared. I gave his shotgun to a friend to keep it out of the house for awhile.

My heart broke for him. He has had every opportunity to get help. He has helped other people in his unit get help. He knows how. He knows where to find it.

And I am angry. Why him? Why us? All he ever did was volunteer to serve. And this is our reward?

I want someone to blame. But there isn’t anyone. There is only war.

PTSD is scary — really, really scary. I didn’t ask for it, we didn’t want it. There was a time he thought that only weak people with what he called “tiny heart syndrome” had PTSD. And while his attitude has changed and he is now getting help, the fight against it still hangs like a weight around our necks. It will never be completely gone, only managed. He has a world of resources available to him. Now he just needs to continue to use them.

Sarah Palin says her son, Track Palin, struggles with PTSD. He was arrested recently for assault among other things. Reports said he threatened suicide.

I pray that if his alleged violence stems from PTSD, that he gets the help he needs — that all of our veterans know there are people out there who want to see them pull through and find health and happiness. I ask God to help us all.

But that wasn’t the end of Palin’s thoughts. She linked his PTSD to a lack of respect for veterans’ service from President Barrack Obama. She turned the mental ramifications of war — all war — into a stump speech. She turned a scary mental health problem that has only to do with war into a campaign line.

Like Track, my husband served in a war zone under a previous president. But it doesn’t matter who was in the White House at the time. It doesn’t matter one bit.

I live every single day with the side effects of PTSD. I don’t blame Obama. I don’t blame Bush.

I blame war.

About the Author

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  • rscairns

    ALL. OF. THIS. (And thank you for telling a story many of us hold inside and hesitate to share because – consequences, fall-out, vulnerability… ) Wishing you peace and healing and sending you love.

  • Thatperson

    I blame restricted politically correct war and an all voluntary military. When you fight wars under stringent PC guidelines of how war will be conducted thereby negating your true military might you create complicated quagmires. When you conduct such a war without asking that every person in the country contributes you create a disposable military class and democracy ceases to do its job to make war swift, expedient and just. When you combine the two, you have war fighters with no shared experience with the general public who feel used, abused and morally bankrupt. And far too many of us go to bed with men each night just as you describe.
    The hopeful news is: do the work, BOTH of you, and life gets better. Slowly, difficultly, but so much better than you can yourself imagine if you just have hope and do the work. Good luck to you and hugs.

    • Leon Suchorski

      In every war you have this condition. It has a new name every time. It is more prevalent among the military because of the nature of the job. You can not blame one person for this.

  • Medicineman38

    As a veteran & retiree, I greatly appreciate the courage it took you to let something private like this out. As you stated, the PTSD will never go away, just somewhat controlled with the continued therapies that are available to your husband and yourself as the caregiver. Please keep this in mind, I don’t mean any disrespect, remember from time to time to find ways to take time out for yourself and your children.

    • Leon Suchorski

      Agreed. Those are the values that make his life worthwhile.

  • TeXan1111

    Maybe Mr Palin should blame this on his own behavior.

    • Jcapwet

      Didn’t her daughter just drop another out of wedlock baby(2)? Does Not Alaska have the highest domestic abuse rate in the country during the winter? As a two war veteran; Vietnam 68-69 and Afghanistan 2005-06 PTSD is real and something that needs to have more openness and understanding by the VA and society, not as a political speaking point to distract people with her failure as a leader at home and in her state.

  • stanley

    ANYBODY can get ptsd including young children. You live with it and don’t use it as an excuse to commit lawless misdeeds.

    • Gizmo52

      PTSD never goes away, as was mentioned before. Mine stems from abuse as a child starting at three and continuing throughout my teens. I am a female and remember the “Duck and Cover” exercises in school as well as the body count and graphic news coverage of the Vietnam war. I was married to a man that served in Vietnam and suffered from PTSD. He suffered nightmares and I even woke one night with his hands around my throat. We divorced and I’ll never know if he got help. One thing I will say is the trauma NEVER goes away. you get help and learn how to manage it. However, it’s very important the family is also given the tools to help the person afflicted with PTSD, as well as, help themselves manage their own feelings. The help is out their but you cannot force a person into therapy. They have to WANT TO DO THE WORK.

  • Liam Babington

    Plain is a psychopath like the person she endorsed… As usual Palin is using even her own son as cannon fodder for a political agenda! It is not bad enough that we as veterans have to deal with what we went through! On top of that we have to endure being a sound-byte for a political agenda!!! Enough is enough! I suffer from the nightmares of what I had to deal with during the war! And I do! I am not afraid to say I have PTSD! With out details iris disgusting when Palin or others use this issue as a vehicle to further their political careers.A foot needs to be (memtphorically speaking) put in Palins @ss! I seriously know of a way!!!

    • jake miler

      Sarah Palin was campaigning for Donald Trump, before she learned her son had been arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and Law Enforcement officers she asked “are you ready for a Commander-in-Chief that’s going let his military kick ISIS ASS!!!” The next day she’s blaming the President for her son having PTSD, Miss Palin need to understand no matter who’s the President when committing soldiers to war you’re inviting PTSD. So stop using your son and other veterans for political gains.

  • calvin

    I blame the system and and Obama’s cutting military funds

    • Ernie Aldridge

      Howdy Calvin – repubs forced the reductions, as part of a deal that they reniged on. It’s their fault the military has been raped, while they transferred money to themselves.
      They want endless war. Vote for them vote for war forever.

  • Mike

    Thank you for sharing. Its all too real. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

    There is help. Veterans Peer-to-Peer Network, Vet Centers,…. Go with him if necessary. It may never go away, but it can get better.

  • ken

    I blame the POTUS for not finishing the wars, and our inefficient system of taking care of PTSD patients.

    • I blame the Republicans in Congress for historically ignoring the veteran population, and chronically underfunding the DVA.

    • wtpworrier

      I blame the republicans for starting the war that caused the PTSD.

  • guest

    I would be remiss failing to confirm : The President has NO Power over Military budget cuts OR Personnel increases or decreases.He can ASK for such but CANNOT act on His own.He has NO authority to do so.

    • motordoggg

      He’s got a pen and a phone remember… Plus the support of all the rich liberals Hollywood types, that make millions off of portraying war and violence, but the closest the ever got to the real world was sending their personal assistant to get their snacks.

      • wtpworrier

        Majority of the people around the world got a pen and a phone….what’s your point?

    • M&M

      Uhmmm… does the phrase “Executive Order” ring a bell??? Obama has used that and bypassed Congress more than any president in history.

  • US Army Retired

    A soldier can not pick the war that he wants to participate in. Being a soldier is not as romantic as people think, people die or get maimed. So don’t ask for something you might get…..and later don’t want.

  • sooperfly

    It might seem a stretch of the imagination but I would bet that Caesar’s legionnaires after their service discharges from Gaul or earlier Greek hoplites coming home after thrashing the Persians probably faced the same issues. The face of war is and its mind numbing brutality is the sole cause and it has been going on since recorded history started. Maybe at some time we humans on this blue marble will stop killing each other for silly reasons. But until then, we will still need those that will take up the gauntlet of service and commit violence on our behalf and the peace of the nation. If you don’t think so, then you are living in a naïve, disconnected world unrelated to reality. I thank God that we still have young men and women who are willing to forego the self-indulged America that we see today and serve the Nation. I was lucky enough to serve with good men in 1-20th and 2-1 Infantry battalion in ’71-72 and even with the pain there are fond memories of our camaraderie.

  • Gee Meadows

    I did a year in Vietnam in 1968. Don’t have PTSD nor does anyone that I was stationed with. I don’t understand how some get it, and some don’t. Rveyone has some sort of PTS but what makes it turn into the D part?

    • John D

      Many with the current diagnosis have anxiety but PTSD is easy to claim, and put on the MD forms! True PTSD takes a while to appear so you may still see it in your life time! Fear and anxiety is not true PTSD! Many claimants see a way to increase benefits and if you are disturbed by hearing booms, then get out of the military! You are too fragile!

    • guest

      And you did one year, a lot of these guys, like my husband have or more years in war zones.

      • guest

        *6 or more years in war zones

  • Guest

    You are so right, it seems like people forget that the President cannot do anything without approval. But he is an easy target, especially during elections.

  • Navyjag907

    Gee Meadows I’m glad you don’t have PTSD. I doubt that everyone you were stationed with in 1968 is free of PTSD. That would make it a truly remarkable group of troops and probably a first in the history of warfare.//I don’t think President Obama had anything to do with Governor Palin’s son’s PTSD and I understands she regrets the comments she made concerning that. Obama is responsible for the rundown of our forces, particularly the Army’s decline in strength, the deficient rules of engagement our forces operate under, and everything else in his purview as commander in chief. I’m not aware of anything Obama has wanted that might strengthen our forces that the Republicans have objected to. Of course, Obama’s principal concerns are not strengthening the forces but his own social and political policies which support an agenda far removed from the real needs of our forces. He’s a leftist with racial concerns that he concealed during the elections and someone who has openly stated he will support Muslim concerns over any others. I’m thankful I don’t have to serve under him.

    • John D

      Palin’s son had problems before joining the military from that very dysfunctional family! Bet he never heard a shot fired or left the compound! Being with Sarah Palin and her pious saintly daughter would give a saint PTSD!! I hope Trump remembers wha she did for McCain!!

    • wtpworrier

      A Navy guy, calling the Army “rundown”….you’re kidding!

  • John D

    It is sad that in modern times, we cannot get past the need for a standing army, then fill in with volunteers instead of citizens fulfilling a dutiful service to the nation via a draft, exempting few. The problem is over deploying units then using NG and reserve to fill the gaps. These are well meaning but usually under staffed, trained and equipped. There are limits to their deployment times so the Active Duty does one tour on next off then back mode. This increases PTSD related exposures, something the politicians do not worry about! No one remembered that in Desert Storm, we had a huge military that ran that 500,000 plus troop strength and the rest of our world wide commitments without straining the military or the reserves. We filled the gaps today with true mercenaries and multiple deployments in two frustrating wars. Not a good way to run the military. We are not a credit card where you can just overuse and pay the fee!

    • M&M

      Actually, Desert Storm did require a LOT of Reserve units. I was in a Group that was almost completely deployed, either in the desert (like my husband) or back-filling (like me), for months. It’s just that we had a larger group of AD and a larger number of Reserves to pull from.

  • Cynthia G

    Well Navyjag907, you talk about Palin’s possible regret for the stupid statement blaming President Obama for her shameful son’s action towards females, then blame Obama for racial concerns not to mention Muslim concerns. This goes to show what racial concerns you have. This is all about helping our Vets with PTSD which my husband who severed in Vietnam suffered from along with other injuries that comes with WAR. We all should let Sarah Palin and others who insist we strengthen of military forces for War, know that PTSD is not something you pass blame. Instill we all should be educated on the disorder, increase mental help including financial means for Vets and their families when they return home. But if you need to blame, let it be on WAR.

  • Another

    A Navy nurse once told me that every sailor or soldier returns from war with the potential for Post Traumatic Stress. How it evolves can sometimes depend on the circumstances s/he returns to.

    In my husband’s case, I could blame the POTUS a little because of how his Iraq exit “strategy” directly impacted my husband’s working conditions.

    Instead, my focus and frustrations have been local, with how his health evolved, I directly and specifically blame the FTS leadership of the Navy Reserves and PHOP. A command that has never and will never deploy does not understand the people who do. Trying to reach out to them for help, they first ignored it, then they said my husband made it up, and finally when it became obvious through many sources that they were wrong, they tried to bury the evidence of their actions and inactions. All the suicide prevention awareness and training is meaningless if command leadership doesn’t take it to heart and action.

    My husband is alive today because of the phenomenal counseling from our local Veteran’s Center. Our family is forever grateful to them.

  • linda

    In Biblical times, when men returned from war, they went off together for months to wind down – even then they knew that men suffered from War and PTSD I think that the fact the disjointed way are men go to war and come home, with no welcome(like VN) feel like no one cares. I know my husband still feels like no one cared whether he lived or died, except his Mom. He came home from VN a double purple heart recipient and even today says”so what?”. Yes, he has PTSD and has spent 12 years in therapy. Is he better, yes. Is he cured?, No, he will never be cured. Is he still depressed? Yes, defintely!! There are days that I worry he will go off and kill himself and all I can do is pray. I keep telling him, he is my hero and that I love him and need him, and that he has a son that loves him and now he has a grandson that needs him. Will I find him dead, one day? I don’t know, I hope not. Is there enough being done for PTSD? Absolutely not!!! There could be more research being done, but people in general don’t care and the Congress and the Presidents don’t care, it doesn’t affect them, unless they hear of a veteran killing someone and then they want to blame the gun, not the PTSD!! The VA needs more funding that goes to the Vets and more counselors that are trained in PTSD.

  • Kathy

    Thank you for sharing. It’s a sad situation for military families that most don’t understand. Sadly life is never the same.

  • TeXan1111

    He is in a difficult time in life. After his divorce last year he got the money and guns and wife got the kid. Probably a lot of alcohol problems. I wish people would lay off of him.

    • wtpworrier

      I wish his momma would get her facts straight before she start running off at the mouth.

  • Ell

    I blame the Iraqi insurgents. Prez is just a figurehead for the corporations that run our country.

  • wtpworrier

    Cant blame anybody for things they don’t control. If you want to blame anybody for cutting the budget, blame the republican control Congress…they control the money.

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