PTSD Awareness Month- How PTSD Works

 In Military, Veterans

Having known numerous veterans over the years, I’ve seen one thing that stands stands out: PTSD can be deadly. According to a study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine, veterans with PTSD can be twice as likely to commit suicide as others. June is PTSD Awareness month.

One example that we’ve written about before is from Jack Cunningham, a Marine Vietnam Veteran. He writes about his experiences, including the stress, the nightmares that never end:

PTSD awareness

“A current stressful situation raises the tension, anxiety level to a situation level from the past. I’ve been battling alone New Jersey Supreme Court for almost 20 years for Due Process as a plaintiff against a group of high level, corrupt state government lawyers and a corrupt, powerful law firm.

I could not give up trying to bring them to justice. But the nightmares are getting worse. The odds are tremendous against a PTSD veteran bringing Fraud and a Cover-up against the New Jersey Supreme Court. But my evidence is clear and damming.

However, the more the federal Department of Justice denies me an investigation on this NJ Supreme Court Cover-Up, the more the stress level of mine …goes up to a day in Vietnam, where I tried to save the lives of 3 Marines.

Now at night, I’m dreaming that I’m running out of Ammunition. But the good thing, I was taught by the military to NEVER give up. I might not have another 20 years to battle New Jersey State attorney corruption. I’m already 68 years old. But I’ll fight these bastards to my last breath.

True experience: I was alone on a small knoll that was a couple of feet over a rice paddy. There was no cover. The 3 Marine lance-corporals were burned out for fighting hours surrounded miles from their peasant farming village. Having run out from water hours before in 100 degree sun and heat, they left their weapons to carry more canteens in search for a nearby well.

I stayed with their weapons. An M-60 machine gun and two M-16 rifles. And I had an M-79 grenade launcher. What seemed like an hour, they started returning with filled canteens of water and filled stomachs. They were laughing as they walked along a thin rice paddy dike. Communist, who followed us, hit them with small arms fire of RPGs and rifle fire.

The 3 of them drove into the water-filled rice paddy as the enemy fire bounced around them. Alone on the small knoll with no cover, I had to do what I could to save my 3 Marine buddies. I could not give up trying to bring them to safety. It had nothing to do with being a hero. It had everything to do with saving my 3 buddies.

Crawling around the small knoll, I went from a buddies M-60 machine gun to another’s M-16 rifle to my own M-79 grenade launcher trying to draw the enemies fire to me, so that my buddies could pull themselves forward in the rice field. It worked. The communist terrorists drew their fire to me. The sounds of incoming bullets and RPGs were constant. Their bullets were hitting the dirt around me. But there was no time to be afraid. By putting out as much fire power as I could, let my buddies pull themselves faster. The odds were against me, but the military taught me well.” Jack Cunningham, US Marine Vietnam Veteran

These are the kind of battlefield experiences that leave marks on a person’s soul, and chemicals in the brains of our military service members. They are exacerbated by any stressful part of life, such as Jack’s battle with New Jersey.

PTSD is not a mental illness such as schizophrenia or the others like it. It is a physiological response to trauma that leaves chemicals resident in the brain that medical science has yet to find a way to remove.

Some get a buzzing sound before the PTSD kicks in. For others, there is no warning, just reaction. There are nightmares, as Jack mentions above, and restless nights with tense memories that seem real.

There are new treatments occurring almost daily, everything from marijuana to a derivative of ketamine. Fishing, hunting, hiking, all of those things do help. But they treat, they do not cure. For now, it falls to all of us to help our veterans out of the deep wells in which they dwell.

June is PTSD awareness month. One day, medical science will find that cure…until then, never give up.

Featured photo: US Marine Corps on Flickr

Showing 4 comments
  • John "Jack" Cunningham

    I wish President Trump’s new executive order TASK FORCE ON PTSD gets to read the article. I can sure use the support. Even after almost 20 years, New Jersey still does not answer my communications on this denial of my Due Process.

  • Jack Cunningham


    NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT JUSTICES MAKE COMBAT VET’S PTSD WORSE. Congressman Calls It Discrimination, But Is Afraid To Address The NJ Justices. However, the proud Vietnam veteran still fights back in the name of other PTSD veterans.

    Task Force To Study PTSD Veteran Suicide – How PTSD Works

  • Tim Hodges

    I am a Combat veteran. Vietnam 1970-1971. 101st Airborne Division. PTSD is not an illness. It’s what happened to us.

    • Faye Higbee

      Absolutely, Tim, that is so true. It’s physiological – not mental, not an illness.

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