Just wanted to share a letter from my brother, SFC Brent Juelfs stationed in Afghanistan. This letter speaks to the trauma of PTSD.
Hello from the Stan, 1 October 2012
Well it's been about a month and a half now and I'm getting used to being here already. I pretty much know most of the base now and where everything and everyone is located that I need to do business with. I've got a total of five soldiers I'm in charge of here. Two are mechanics and three are supply. Two are on their second deployment and one is on his fourth, like me. The other two are on their first deployment. First time for me having a female soldier while deployed and she is married to another soldier in the unit. Yes while deployed they get to sleep in the same quarters. Earning their respect and confidence is always hard to do but I've found it is harder keeping it than earning it. All but one has been here for six months and are trying to stay motivated for the last six. One is from Coralville, Iowa and is of course a Hawkeye Fan.
On a different note this war is the longest war in the history of the United States and is taking its toll on the soldiers. Just the other day one of the officers in my unit, on his third deployment, went to the Battalion commander and said he needs to talk to someone about the nightmares he's having. Before I left for this place my son called me up and told me one of his buddies he served with here killed himself. The room I now sleep in used to be a guy in the unit who killed himself while here. Suicides in the military are at an all-time high. Many, many veterans are suffering from PTSD and are doing nothing to treat it. It is a treatable problem and everyone handles it differently. My son called me and asked me how I handle it and I told him day, by day and I pray a lot, which I learned from my wife. I depend on my wife so much and truly couldn't have done any of these deployments without her. The things that we have done, seen, and experienced are not a normal thing, and we must push ourselves to do them so it makes sense that we will remember them in times of stress and when we sleep. Smells, sounds, anything can bring the memories back. I hope and pray all veterans seek help when they need it and pass it on to others.
I've received cards and letters and care packages since arriving here. I thank you all for your support and I appreciate all of it. I will close this letter with a poem I found that is called The Final Inspection (Author Unknown).
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and
said, "No, Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod,
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."
Take care and God bless,
SFC Brent Juelfs