Back in November 2001 through August 2002, I hitchhiked in and out of St. John, Kansas quite a bit. St. John was my home base during that time. I would stay at one of a few places, do odd jobs and then I would hit the road.
A couple of people that I would stay with were a man and his wife. He was in his late fifties and she was in her early sixties. I don’t remember their names, but let’s call him Frank.
Frank was a Vietnam Vet who served in the U.S. Army in 1965-1966. He was exposed to Agent Orange and was on full medical disability. Frank was on his second marriage.
One day Frank and I were in the kitchen—I was sitting at the table and he was standing at the counter. I told him some of the things that I had experienced in my past: I went through a lot of rejection from family, friends and church people because of my Christian faith. Dad put me in mental hospitals, had me pay $5000.00 worth in hospital bills and then later told me that he paid for everything. My dad had absolutely no integrity whatsoever.
Frank then turned around and stared at me. He said, rather forcefully, “You’re suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)!”
I replied, “No way! You’re crazy! I never was in the military and I never was in combat!”
Frank said, “You don’t have to be in combat to have PTSD.”
I said something like, “How can I have PTSD? There is no way I have PTSD.” I was dumbfounded.
Then Frank got really angry and said, “I was in Vietnam. I saw many guys who were in serious firefights and you have the same symptoms as they do.”
I didn’t know what to think. The Lord puts people in your path for a reason. Maybe I was meant to hear what he had to say.
Eventually, I quit hitchhiking through St. John, Kansas and started hitchhiking in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana more often.
In the spring and summer of 2008, I passed through St. John, Kansas and tried to look up the people that I knew back in 2002; most of them had moved away.
I sometimes think back on that conversation. There may have been some truth to what Frank had said. I do know that through Jesus is great redemption. Repentance from sin and forgiveness for other people’s trespasses are very powerful.
The moral of the story:
Don’t call a Vietnam Vet crazy and. . .
. . . Sometimes a blind man doesn’t know he is blind until someone tells him that he is blind.
[Originally published by Digihitch.com]
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Carrying the Gun
The Jerry Shey Family
Good Will Hunting: It’s Not Your Fault
The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The Walking Wounded–PTSD from Ancient Greece to Afghanistan
Book Review: The Walking Wounded: The Path from Brokenness to Wholeness
Dostoyevsky on Cruelty of Man