Veteran’s PTSD

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See how one veteran of the Vietnam War used writing to help him get through PTSD at a time when treatment for the disorder was not widely available.

TED SIMONS: THE FALLEN WARRIOR SCULPTURE IS PART OF THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL HERE AT WESLEY BOLINPLAZA. THE SCULPTURE PORTRAYS YOUNG SOLDIERS AS WAR "VICTIMS" AS MUCH AS HEROES. MANY SOLDIERS CAME BACK FROM VIETNAM TO LEARN THAT THEY HAD NEW BATTLES TO ENDURE. WE TALKED TO A VETERAN WHO FOUND PEACE THROUGH WRITING, AND NOW HELPS OTHER VETS WORK THEIR WAY PAST THE MEMORIES OF WAR.
GARY CLEMONS: IT WAS ANOTHER HOT DAY IN VIETNAM. I WAS HANGING ON THE FENCE BELOW THE RAZOR WIRE. THE ROCK I THREW AT THE POW MISSED. I REMEMBER PULLING THE M14 CLOSER AND ASSURED THE AMMO CLIP WAS READY.
ALLYSA ADAMS: IT'S THE MEMORY GARY CLEMONS REMEMBERS. IT'S THE VISUAL FILM THAT RUNS THROUGH HIS MIND OF HIS TIME IN VIETNAM.
GARY CLEMONS: CAME INTO THE NORTHERN PORTION OF VIETNAM ON THE DNZ. IT WAS HEAVY FIGHTING. I WAS JUST TURNED 19.
ALLYSA ADAMS: CLEMONS SPENT 13 MONTH OF HIS LIFE IN VIETNAM. THAT TIME CROWDS HIS MEMORY, COMING BACK TO HIS LIFE IN UNEXPECTED MOMENTS. HE LEFT VIETNAM WITH AN INVISIBLE SCAR.
GARY CLEMONS: THE FIRST TIME I WENT TO THE V.A. AND I SAID, I NEED SOME HELP. I'M NOT DOING WELL. BOTH CLERKS AND LOOKED AT ME AND SAID, WHERE? I SAID, I DIDN'T GET HIT, BUT IT'S NOT RIGHT.
ALLYSA ADAMS: CLEMONS HAS PTSD. WHEN HE FIRST ARRIVED HOME, THERE WAS NOT HELP FOR THOSE LIKE HIM. LIKE SO MANY VETERANS, HE FOUND WAYS TO COPE ON HIS OWN. SOME DESTRUCTIVE, OTHERS, PRACTICALLY SALVATION.
GARY CLEMONS: I WAS ABLE TO HIDE BEHIND THE SPOTLIGHTS. I FOUND ACCEPTANCE ON THE STAGE. I DIDN'T HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE WAR. I GREW MY HAIR LONG AND DID A LOT OF THINGS OTHERS DID.
ALLYSA ADAMS: HE MADE A SUCCESSFUL SIDE CAREER IN MUSIC, BUT AFTER THREE FAILED MARRIAGES, HE FOUND HIMSELF AT THE VIETNAM WALL IN WASHINGTON D.C. BARELY ABLE TO BREATHE. HIS FOURTH WIFE MADE HIM REALIZE HE COULDN'T ESCAPE THOSE MOMENTS.
GARY CLEMONS: SHE SAID YOU HAVE TO GET HELP, AND YOU NEED TO GET IT NOW.
ALLYSA ADAMS: HE ENDED UP AT THE V.A. HOSPITAL.
GARY CLEMONS: ONCE THE COUNSELOR STARTED TO HEARING MY STORIES HE SAID, YOU NEED TO WRITE THEM DOWN TO GET THEM OUT.
ALLYSA ADAMS: SO HE DID.
GARY CLEMONS: HE HIT THE THROTTLE WITH THE AUTHORITY OF A MAN THAT KNEW HIS BIRDS.
ALLYSA ADAMS: THE MOMENTS TURNED INTO PARAGRAPHS. THEN CHAPTERS.
GARY CLEMONS: IF SOMETHING WAS WRONG, IT WOULDN'T TAKE LONG TO BE CHALLENGED.
ALLYSA ADAMS: EVENTUALLY A BOOK ENTITLED "WAR AND MEMORIES. A GUIDE TO SUCCESS."
GARY CLEMONS: I WANT VETERANS TO READ THIS AND THINK IF HE CAN DO IT, I CAN DO IT.
ALLYSA ADAMS: HE AND HIS DOGS ATTEND EVENTS. HE GIVES AWAY AS MANY BOOK AS HE CAN, BECAUSE THERE IS ONE THING HE KNOWS.
GARY CLEMONS: THE MEMORIES OF WAR DON'T GO AWAY. THEY'LL LAY DORMANT FOR YEAR. THEN THEY'LL COME BACK WITH VENGEANCE.
ALLYSA ADAMS: CLEMONS STILL WRITES, STILL PLAYS MUSIC, AND HE HAS LEARNED TO ASK FOR HELP. HE FOUND HIS WAY THROUGH THE MEMORIES.
GARY CLEMONS: IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE FADING SOUND OF CHOPPERS AS THEY BANKED BACK TOWARDS THE NORTH. THE MEMORIES OF THOSE AND OTHERS HAVE FADED. THE MEMORIES CAME FROM THE AGONY OF THE WOUNDED. ALSO WERE THE SHOUTED ORDERS OF THE ASSEMBLED TEAM TO GET THE WOUNDED TO THE TENTS.
TED SIMONS: IT IS ESTIMATED THAT 30% OF VIETNAM VETERANS EXPERIENCE PTSD DURING THEIR LIFETIME COMPARED TO ESTIMATES OF 11 TO 20% OF VETERAN FRS THE IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WARS.

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