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Manual Flashback: Forgetting and Remembering Vietnam

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Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam by Morley Safer

They sprayed it undiluted, he told her. Both men died young. Galinac took her husband to the hospital three years ago after his seizures began. John's condition was diagnosed as glioblastoma multiforme, an unusually malignant and aggressive brain cancer that typically kills its victims within the first year. Hershey Medical Center to remove the cancerous tumor.

The 40-year war

He was at stage 4. He had been receiving health benefits from the VA for thyroid cancer and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Galinac, who served two tours in Vietnam between and and maintained immaculate service records, was repeatedly denied compensation for the brain cancer.

A state worker, Galinac has built a quiet life in her Harrisburg home around her son, his wife and her grandchildren. She didn't participate in any Memorial Day observances this year. She said she will visit her husband's grave on her own terms. Galinac said she is not bitter that her government failed to offer her husband monetary compensation, but she is angry that it denied her what she needed most in the final months of her husband's life: assistance.

With the help of her son, she singlehandedly cared for her husband until his death, tending to his every need, from feeding him, caring for his bedsores, changing diapers and helping him off the floor when he fell. But in the final months, Galinac returned to work and had to recruit her friends to check on her husband and make sure he had taken his medications, eaten and not fallen.

Money would have been OK, but having more help here to care for him would have been better. That would have meant more to me than money," she said. A Swatara Township police officer, John Galinac was buried with police and military honors. Township police officers served as pallbearers and escorted the funeral procession from Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church to the cemetery.

Police closed Interstate 81 for his funeral procession. He is now completely disabled and suffers from a list of ailments blamed on exposure to the chemical defoliant. Brooks is photographed at his Millersburg home, May 27, A few years ago, as his disabilities progressively robbed him of his mobility, Ronald Brooks ponied up for a massive flat screen television. Amid mounting medical bills, the family was scraping by, but the TV was worth the cost.

Brooks suffers from a litany of maladies, including ischemic heart disease, which has worsened over the years and makes it nearly impossible for him to do anything without gasping for breath. He has had several strokes, has largely lost the use of his hands, and has developed type 2 Diabetes and Parkinson's-like symptoms. Laying on the sofa in the living room of his Millersburg house to watch television is one of his few joys.

He is unrecognizable from the young year-old in the photographs from showing him in Vietnam. Brooks belongs to the cadre of young men of his time who enlisted — rather than waited to be drafted — in the Army, eager to join the fighting. It was like send your son off to Vietnam and you can buy a new car. Assigned to military police training, he had a "cushy job" in Vietnam, rounding up and destroying enemy weapons, he said. Ever present, he recalled, was the acrid, burning sensation in his nose and mouth, after the planes sprayed outposts with Agent Orange.

You just can't go [for] cover; you can't leave your position. Whatever your job is you just can't walk off. You have to maintain. It was an odd situation. After , Brooks' health began to deteriorate and before long it was clear to him that his health's downward spiral was linked to his time in Vietnam. Over the years, he has learned of the deaths of many of his brothers in arms; some have committed suicide.

Almost all, he said, became loners after the war. Brooks worries that the government will leave veterans "sitting in the street. Those people had been fighting for years and years, and that's all they know. There was no reason to be there. There was nothing to gain. They had no oil or gold or anything like that. Brooks applied for disability compensation with the VA in for his ischemic heart disease, one of the VA's Agent Orange presumptive conditions.

Type 2 Diabetes and Parkinson's are also on the presumptive list. They couldn't keep a car and learned to get by on bare necessities. Brooks said lawyers got the bulk of it. I wouldn't want other ones to go through it. Brenda Galinac's husband, John Galinac, served two tours in Vietnam. After he developed complications from exposure to Agent Orange, he tried to get compensation for his brain cancer, but his specific glio blastoma is not included among presumed diseases. Galinac received a grave, headstone and flag from the Army, but that's it. She will receive no further compensation.

Their son has also developed cancer; family doctor believes it was connected to his fathers exposure to Agent Orange. Photo by Joe Hermitt, PennLive staff. Search RN.

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It has been years since the outbreak of World War One, a conflict which gave us the phenomenon of shell shock and saw the birth of military psychiatry. In that time, how much have we learned about war trauma? Lorena Allam charts the history. Australia may well hold the record for rescuing the most shell-shocked soldier from the front during World War One. In late , a young man came home from the front so badly psychologically damaged that for 12 years he could not tell a soul who he was. His case was extreme and captured the public imagination. Behind the lines in France the young soldier was discovered wandering, incoherent, panicked and dishevelled, with no memory and no identification except for his Australian army hat.

He was taken to a dressing station where doctors diagnosed him with severe shell shock. The reason? The unknown soldier was sent back to Australia on a ship called the Karoola at the end of and was delivered to Callan Park Mental Hospital in Sydney. He was unpredictably violent to staff and to himself. He would roll up his coat and rock it like a child; he would repeat the same phrases over and over again. Related: Australia's battle-worn soldiers return. In , 12 years after his admission, the hospital contacted the newspapers to ask, in desperation, if anybody knew who he was.

Back from the European War came the Unknown Warrior, mentally buried alive in far away Flanders, but physically here in Sydney. He passed through these gates to Callan Park. Will he ever come out? The response was intense. It's driving me crazy. I also feel things crawling over me but that is nothing new. However it has amplified since the event. I would like to add that this does happen to me when I am doing almost anything.

On the pc or making dinner ect. However I seem to notice the times that it happens when I am trying to sleep more. May be because it is the same place that it happened or I don't have a distraction from the visualisation therefore the emotional impact is greater? I feel like a paranoid freak!

I am always watching for the slightest movement to indicate a spiders presence. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that it isn't just happening when I am relaxing, even though I made it sound that way originally. It just bothers me more in those moments. First of all, study after study and research has proven time and again that crying it out is NOT harmful to children. That in fact, they learn to self soothe which is a very important skill.

Babies who have constant attention lack this skill, thus have difficulty with independence in infancy and toddlerhood.

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This can lead to a whole host of attachment issues. Unrelated, can someone with PTSD have flashbacks to an event they weren't present for? In other words, I may not have been present for the actual event, but it was traumatizing to me because it happened to someone very close to me. Can I have flashbacks even though I wasn't there? In short Laura, NO. I truly hope you have not expressed to the survivor in your life that what happened to them somehow magically traumatized you. If you do express this, the survivor will feel even more alone, misunderstood, and abandoned. Laura, it may be tough on someone like you a toxic narcissist , and I bet it seems really unfair, but sometimes people who are not you need attention and care.

Hi Laura. Please cite the studies. It's shocking that to know you don't recognize crying it out is child abuse that traumatizes and can cause brain damage. Young children have no ability to self soothe other than what they internalize based on BEING soothed. A child who cries it out is not soothed, but unable to soothe, is thrown into "Immobilization," the defense system used by primitive creatures which had no cortex. When conditions cause humans to be thrown into this primitive defense system, damage the cortex and PTSD results.

You mentioned the scenario of a Vietnam Vet, so I'm unclear if the same applies with them, because I don't see anything in your article that suggests that's the case unless I overlooked it. Will you please clarify? Thank you. War trauma also can be transposed onto the present moment. There is a story about a Viet Nam vet driving by an airport who stopped his car and jumped into a ditch when he heard a helicopter fly overhead. Also interesting who is does, and who does not, get traumatized during adulthood.

Probably early experience makes some more and some less vulnerable. I call BS on this. WAY oversimplified!! And having 2 of the steps MUST be via therapist puts it out of the individuals control and like a baby needing a mommy - to the therapist. I wonder why psychologists are always saying that people don't form memories when they're small children and can't recall events that happened later because their memory is immature.

The Heavy from TF2 Remembers Vietnam

Sure, memory is probably immature in small children, and maybe many people can't remember back to when they are very small, but there are still plenty of people that remember back to when they were toddlers. I've known people that claim they have memories from when they were three or four years old. I personally have memories going back to when I was two years old.

I told some of my memories of events that happened to other people that were adults at the time the events happened and they were present when the events took place and they were completely shocked of how accurate and vivid my memories were since I was a little tiny child. Some of my most vivid and earliest memories I have are from experiences of abuse and of witnessing other small children being abused tortured really.

I think, for me, trauma caused me to start remembering things very early. But, I have spoken to the other children that were abused with me and who witnesses me being abused, and I found that their memory of the least worse cases of abuse we experienced together was pretty hazy. The worse torture we experienced they didn't even have memories of; or they claimed they didn't remember it, but once I started detailing it the memories came back to them, and then they started to tell me the rest of the event to me just as it happened, but lacking the vivid details I remembered.

They told me that when I told them of the events, they started to remember part of it, but more oddly they felt strong anxiety, fear, anger, and even grief like someone just died. One of them aid she felt as though she was going to vomit. Please keep in mind, they told me about these strong feelings BEFORE I told them anything vivid, I just started to say the things leading up to the abuse, and the lighter, beginning stages of abuse, and they had these emotional responses.

However, I do not have strong emotional responses with my memories of the events. I don't feel like I am reliving the events either. Sure, I feel sad and sometimes angry when I recall the memories, but it isn't intense.

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I can remember the events as though they happened earlier today, meaning the memories are that vivid. I dream about these events a lot too; and that is as though I am experiencing it, but I almost always realize I am dreaming at some point, so it isn't too upsetting. What is odd, is that the other day someone said something I forgot what he said that had absolutely nothing to do with my abuse, and I suddenly had a vivid memory from when I was a toddler and I was being sexually assaulted. You see, while most of my memories of events are complete as far as I know , there are a small group of memories from when I was about two years old, where I can remember most of the things that happened, but a few things are hazy; but I remember feeling the person with me in the memory had proved to be a bad person.

I can remember always feeling very disconnected to this relative, even though I was told I had no reason to feel this way. And whenever someone would ask me why I had no feelings toward this person I should have loved, a seemingly harmless memory of this time would come up, almost as though one of those memories was a good explanation, even though it didn't seem to logically be.

Then I realized that this is why every time when someone asks why I am so cold and uncaring about this person not hateful toward him, just very indifferent I recall memories of that time. Almost all of my other memories of that time period are either of being tortured beat with a belt, extension cord, a piece of wood, or something else until I was bleeding and couldn't stand, watching another child's face being held under water until he almost drowned, having my life threatened with a knife or of the few times when someone showed a tiny bit of kindness to me like a person holding me while smiling at me and feeding me pancakes, which doesn't seem important but for someone tortured and treated worse than an animal for most of their childhood it is ; so in other words I remember significant things from that time period not random things.

The ONLY random, insignificant memories of that time period I had was those few I mentioned that I recently realized are actually memories of abuse too. I had a very traumatic experience in my school days where I was bullied infront of a class of over people on my graduation day and no one helped me. My bullies were boys and girls who ganged up and blocked me from entering the premises and tore my clothes and wouldn't give my graduation cap back. It lasted for 45 minutes while my parents were seated somewhere inside the ceremony. I had to after I couldn't take it run and hide in the locker room and cried hysterically until somehow my dad found out n took me home.

The school authorities witnessed it but did nothing to help as it was not happening on school grounds. I was so humiliated I actually physically and mentally felt like id experienced rape. I felt sadness then guilt humiliation then shock then denial and was deeply depressed. I tried dealing bit it and I was gloomy and depressed for days but eventually a few months later stopped interacting with people.

I Stopped eating, I dropped out of university I had joined after a month and slept the bad feeling as depression took hold of me. It lasted 2 years. The constant feeling of somthing heavy on my body and mind that numbness which made me lie in bed all day not wanting to move or eat or breath even. Then 1 day I got up took a shower wore my best suit and rejoined my university like somthing was pushing me from inside to take a leap that day in the opposite direction. My mind was so clear and functioning.

But on my graduation ceremony I froze on the hallway on the way to the auditorium and felt the worst case of panic attack. I felt like everyone was watching me and my self respect was physically being ripped and torn out of my skin, I felt physical pain and my heart sank very low like it was being compressed with a boulder.


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I couldn't go in and had to miss the ceremony. I was experiencing guilt humiliation and horror from more than 5 years ago.