Reaches of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Twenty-five years after Vietnam, the sound of a 'huey' helicopter flying over our home finds me on the porch watching. Only by an effort of will do I sometimes remain inside. Sleeping or waking, I hear the distinctive 'whop whop' of the blades and all of me pauses to listen. Is it the sound of death or of rescue?

For me, there are no empty hueys. They are filled with young men, the dead, the wounded.

As I watch, I wonder what Vietnamese women feel when they hear that sound. Do they long to call out to their children to assure themselves they are safe? Do they long to hide?

I've never been to Vietnam. My husband is the veteran. One day while home alone, I realized I was standing in my back yard seeing the ghosts of my husband's ghosts, remembering my husband's memories.

Everything you bring back from your war, all the anger, all the hurt, all the fear and confusion, seeps out of your silence into the hearts of those around you. Your children will carry your pain, all the more hurtful because it will seem inexplicable. They will try vainly and without understanding to comfort you.

This is a wound as real as any other. Acknowledge it. Find a way to speak, to grieve, to share. We are willing to hear. We are willing to know.

-Carolyn Mills
Don Mills, US Army, 174th Assault Helicopter Co., I Corp., Americal Div., Duc Pho, 1968-69

Back to Remembrance