The Journey Continues -- PTSD


     Today my journey has taken me 1200 miles to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to meet with a group of friends who served together in an Infantry Rifle Company in Vietnam 50 years ago. The only thing better than a friend is an old friend. Attendees came from TN, GA, NY, NC, TX, and VA.  Also, the wife and son of a deceased member joined us from Iowa.

     Vietnam was the signature event of our lifetime. There was plenty to talk about as one year in combat produces many memories. Conversations often ended with current health issues --  high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, hearing loss, Agent Orange ...  And P.T.S.D. -- the pain does not go away.  Commonly known symptoms are:  Aggressive behavior, substance abuse, hopelessness, suicide, homelessness and bad dreams. A great deal of energy and resources have been spent by the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration on treatment but basically, each person must address his/her own situation. For sure, everyone who went to Vietnam underwent change.

     My own response:   Facing the possibility of PTSD upon my return to the U.S.A. and quite by happenstance, I sat down and wrote literally hundreds of pages about my combat experiences. As I wrote, I dumped it. This is what worked for me.

     I was asked to give the key sermon at the gathering. I chose two points:

  1. St. Paul said “forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead”. Philippians 3:13 --- “We can let go of past guilt and look forward to what is to come. Do not dwell on your past; instead look forward to what God will help you become. Realize that you are forgiven and then move on to a life of faith and obedience” (NIV Study Bible Commentary
  2. St. Paul also wrote these words in Romans:  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2.  A friend stated those verses are what saved him from the abyss.  "The fact is that the entire human race has been justly condemned by repeatedly breaking God’s law. Without Jesus we would have no hope at all. Jesus declare us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin and given believers the power to do his will.” (NIV Study Bible Commentary)

     One does not have to bear the scars of war to grasp the application of these two passages to your life. They can give you peace.

     See you next week with the importance of writing --- recording your life in journal form.


Jim Lanning -- San Marcos Record, May 7, 2017