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Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering Dad

My Dad, aka Earl the Pearl, fought in WWll. He often told stories about peeling thousands of potatoes, hiking for miles with a fifty pound pack, and camping out and sleeping in mud. He shared the places he traveled, his favorite being Australia--Madagascar and New Guinea--not so much. What he didn't share were the memories that woke him screaming in the night for the next fifty years. He never spoke about the horrors of war.

Post traumatic stress disorder wasn't diagnosed back then, and men and women who suffered from it, suffered in silence for fear of seeming weak or cowardly. I like to think we have evolved enough to better understand and treat this affliction for what it is--a psycho-emotional wound that requires treatment as surely as any physical injury. Back in my Dad's day, survivors were considered lucky to come home in one piece. They were told the "shell shock" would wear off. I know this to be untrue.

Growing up, I never understood my dad's emotional distance, why he felt the need to lock doors and windows at night, or why he nearly jumped out of his skin if you caught him off guard. Why he couldn't sit with his back to the door at restaurants and why he always had a far off look in his eyes. People don't realize the impact on the families of those suffering from PTSD. As a child and well into young adulthood, my relationship with my dad was lacking at best and his emotional absence was devastating on many levels. I wish I knew then what I know now.

After doing much research for HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, I finally understand that It's the wounds you can't see that take the longest to heal.

My special thanks to our troops and to all who have served. May we honor and respect them enough to take the shame out of seeking treatment for all of their wounds--and not expect them to just feel lucky to have survived. And thanks to my dad,who for all his short comings taught me about Patriotism, honor, and the value of hard work. Lessons I carry with me daily. Thanks for doing your best Dad.

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