22 Veterans A Day Kill Themselves, But There Is Hope In Help

“In World War I, they called it shell shock. Second time around, they called it battle fatigue. After ‘Nam, it was post-traumatic stress disorder.” – Jan Karon, Home to Holly Springs
Thomas Artz
Thomas Artz
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OSHKOSH, Wis. - Aug. 5, 2015 - PRLog -- An estimated seven in every one hundred Americans will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. Almost one in three Vietnam veterans were afflicted with this condition. Thomas Artz was no exception.

In December of 1967, Mr. Artz enlisted in the United States Army.  “I figured I was probably going to get drafted, so I might as well beat them to the punch and get in doing something I wanted,” stated Mr. Artz.  It was here that he learned engineering and radio operating skills as well as met his lovely wife. Shortly after the two were married, he was deployed to Vietnam.

In Vietnam Artz ran a 4X8 trailer radio relay station on behalf of firebases. As the trailer was not large enough to sit in, Artz monitored communications from outside. Frequent incoming opposition had Artz on the move as the trailer made an excellent target. The trailer took incoming fire many times and Mr. Artz considers himself very lucky he was never been physically injured in these attacks.

Although not injured physically, Artz's memories created lasting psychological pain. “I remember sitting with a guy and chatting about our families. I was so proud of my little 8½-month-old daughter. The guy I was speaking with hadn’t even met his kid yet. Neither of us could wait to get back to them. It was like we were missing a piece of our heart.”  The camaraderie gained was quickly shattered when the following day several men from Artz’s unit were killed while performing a routine operation. The gentleman he spoke with was among them.  “I don’t remember his name, but I remember our conversation so clearly.  Stuff like that just happened.  You never knew who was next or why.  What was it about me that warranted not getting killed?!?” questioned Artz.

Following his time in the service, Artz had a hard time with that very thought. It didn’t help that he met criticism back home from many Americans he had fought for calling him “baby killer”.  Family told Artz that his anger made him hard to be around. Even his local pastor claimed his behavior was unchristian. He found little to no help wherever he turned- even with the VA at that time. “They handed me a stack of paperwork and told me to take it home. I started to go through it at home and quickly became overwhelmed. I finally threw all the papers in the air and said forget it!” said Artz.  A representative from the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) offered help with the mountain of paperwork. From here Artz was able to get the help he needed - especially for the PTSD. To this day he continues to see two separate counselors and go to group therapy to discuss what he went through – including the suicidal thoughts he had for years.

Artz now is an active DAV member. “I can’t say enough good about the DAV. Having someone by your side who understands and has been through what you are going through is a tremendous weight off your shoulders. You realize you aren’t alone.  There is help and you can lead a beautiful life again,” explains Artz.  “I look back and I don’t know what I was thinking. I have a loving wife, wonderful children and five amazing grandkids. I have so much to live for, and I want to show anyone else who is hurting that they do too.”

Disabled American Veterans, representing more than 1.3 million disabled veterans, is a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. It is dedicated to one, single purpose: Fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served.

For more information about Disabled American Veterans go to www.dav.org or follow the DAV Flight Team at www.facebook.com/davflightteam, @DAVFlightTeam and/or #DAVFlightTeam.

To learn more about the DAV Flight Team check out www.davflightteam.com (http://www.davflightteam.blogspot.com/p/media-kit.html) for more information.

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