PTSD Help: Considering Veterans On The 4th

A reminder about combat Veterans, fireworks, PTSD help, and what you?can do.

extreme pyrotechnics
By Eric Kilby via Wikimedia Commons

The Top Ten Things You MUST Experience When Coming Home from Iraq! (#10 Blew Me away!)

After a long, hot year in the desert, nothing says comfort like the following things!

  1. Rocky Road Ice Cream?this incredible treat will make you wish you’d never signed up! (Let’s be honest, all of these will…) With the chill of the ice cream and the chocolate and marshmallow, you’ll wonder why you didn’t go AWOL!
  1. Gorgeous Sunsets?Look, God Blessed America, right? And God blessed no one in America more than those God-fearing outdoorsy types. So sit back, prop up your feet, and get ready to receive candy from the sky shot right in the eye!
  1. A Friend’s House?They prayed for you; they sent you care packages of little tiny butt wipes for those sweaty trips to…nowhere, really. You shit in the desert. Still, now it’s time for you to repay them with a stoic trip to their houses when you return! They might wonder what went wrong with you when you don’t return their hugs, but this is obligatory, so suck it up, soldier!
  1. Church?Nothing says ?Welcome Home, Hero!? more than standing up in front of between 53 and 5023 people (depending on how much God loves your church) while a pastor praises God for guns and glory! Sure, the old men and women want to hug you, and sure, their wrinkly flesh reminds you of that time you found your old squad mate in the desert?you know?the one who had been captured and left for dead?but hey, this is America! And all those old people will thank you for your service because that makes it all better!
  1. The Bar?Nothing says a good ol? American homecoming like thirteen shots of whiskey at a bar in Junction City, Kansas! And BONUS: when you are stumbling and stammering and arguing with the owner, you can whip out your 9MM and point it all those pansy-ass mother f**kers who didn’t do a goddamn thing!
  1. The Rock Bridge?Now that you are good and liquored up, and now that the police are out looking for you, why not take a trip to the Old Rock Bridge? You can stop your car and leave the lights on while you stand on the edge and contemplate jumping! But you won’t, will you? Because you are a scared little bastard! Happy memories!
  1. A Chauffeured Trip…to Jail!?You tried the ?Suicide by Cop? thing, but it didn’t work because they didn’t even take you seriously! Now enjoy the comforts of home and be reminded of that time you shackled and beat that Iraqi man…ALL AT THE SAME TIME!?When you get out a few days later after convincing the judge you are not a threat and posting bail, you can find your way to your ex-girlfriend’s house!
  1. The State Hospital?Because the VA damn sure won’t have you, it’s off to the state hospital (after that?slightly?violent visit with your ex), where between forced-feedings and drugged trips to the showers to have the shit washed off of you, you can enjoy the sounds of silence. Yes. Like the goddamn song.
  1. College?Now that your two-year stint at the State Mental Hospital is over, you can finally get into a vocational education program and get your life together. Or maybe not. They just began drug testing to get into these programs, and medical marijuana is against federal law! Since they don’t make?any?exceptions for PTSD, screw you! Maybe go talk to Everest College or something.
  1. Rocky Road Ice Cream?Yes, we said it before! But it’s worth saying again! There you are, and it’s six years later…you have a wife and two lovely children, and it’s time to take them out and get them ice cream…before the fireworks start, that is! Today is July 4, and you wouldn’t want to be out for that! So you get the ice cream and make your way home, turning left onto that last street before your house. Except it’s red and smoky and sulfur and. F**k. What was that?

BONUS!!!?The Hospital! AGAIN!!?you took down that kid on your street like a real hero, didn’t you! He shot a bottle rocket, and there you were, right back there, enjoying the sights and smells of Ramadi,?Iraq! Enjoy your trip down memory lane, soldier! It’ll never end!

Please consider the sights, sounds, and smells of combat?when celebrating this 4th. ?For many Veterans, this look at what happens when returning home is real. ?There’s a reason we celebrate with fireworks on July 4th: those fireworks are bombs.


Matthew Sterner-Neely is a profoundly progressive Catholic Christian, a writer, a disabled Veteran, and a current English and tap and ballet teacher in Pueblo, Colorado. His work includes the systematic deconstruction of the patriarchal hegemony and joining his children for tea in the middle of the living room floor. He takes seriously the commission to love one's enemies, and rarely remains anything but friends with those he comes into contact with.