“Now, After” A Short Story Of PTSD

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

now-afterYesterday I discovered a touching and effective video bringing light to the many struggles and hauntings those afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder struggle with daily. It is not often the personal toils of these challenges are presented to the public in a manner other than academic or disaffected medical analyses but I found this video to be very engaging and while certainly difficult at times for most to watch, due to some very graphic imagery inherent with combat, I believe these depictions of violence and hardship are necessary to provide you with a sense of how gripping this injury can be on those so encumbered.

While the video presents PTSD as experienced through the thoughts and trepidation of an Iraq war veteran, it can in most ways be insightful to the same traumas causal to other manifests of the injury.

SSG Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, the video’s author, is due much credit for a presentation into the manner and effect of a PTSD injury. I invite you to share in his experiences…

Since the film is rather short, I will forgo a narrative and leave the experience to the viewer. But a few elements I wish to emphasize I should expand upon.

I again emphasize the video contains graphic visuals but I must say that it is necessary to be shocked to understand what this soldier suffers. Such flashbacks can be nearly debilitating to some and for many it represents both a haunting and the mind replaying the trauma over, and over while attempting to rationalize that the horror experienced was not as terrible as it might have actually have been. Replaying these past traumas presents a bad situation, where the memory is troubling but in your mind is necessary in a strange sense to attempt to defeat the agony of the event. Each time the mind returns to the thought it is unable to resolve the conflict so as to bring some form of closure that it so greatly needs. And, as a result, it becomes tormenting in a seemingly never-ending struggle.

We then share with our soldier the self-isolation and feelings of removal from his former service and the camaraderie of both his fellow soldiers and the belonging and purpose formerly he was provided. Instead in the present sense his world is quiet and alone. He faces a want to be with others, even those outside his former service, but making a first approach to the “others” comes with a similar dichotomy as shown with the haunting flashbacks. Still in this sense he finds that his routine has changed yet almost automatically he returns to what he believed defined him and have him his sense of self-worth and sense of honor and now, alone, he is an outsider–having lost his support system. When the PTSD grips the isolation becomes almost a feedback loop.

As mentioned before, relating to this story for the PTSD afflicted requires merely substituting the trauma triggers of the soldier to whatever demons another person experienced which led to the PTSD injury: substitute a fallen brother with a car crash; substitute combat for being abused as a child; or substitute an combat operation with an abusive husband. While one traumatic event can certainly be more damaging than another, while the injury cause differs the injury can be the same. An arm broken by a fall or by blunt-force is a broken arm just the same.

But watching the film is not rewarded not just with being given a realistic presentation of PTSD injuries, unlike what one finds in movies where it is almost insulting in that it usually seems they were written by individuals who either are unaware of what it truly means to be injured and thus through lack of diligence it is rather insulting to these patients, but the additional benefit is that with an open mind you will learn to respect and have more empathy to what patients have gone through and what our service members have sacrificed for all of us.

For those who might have PTSD, find someone to help or at least understand. Know that it does usually lessen with time and help.

By Darren Smith

Film Credit:
SSG Kyle Hausmann-Stokes
US Army, Infantry, OIF 07-08

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

177 thoughts on ““Now, After” A Short Story Of PTSD

  1. Steve Groen,
    ( I can’t bring up the “reply” box to your comment, I’m posting it here).
    If I inderstand you correctly, your position is that the U.S. economy has been in a slide, or at least headed on a downward path, since c. 1971.
    The U.S. enjoyed a very strong economy during most of the post WWII period, c. 1945-1970.
    I won’t try to review all of the favorable factors that went into that postwar boom, but pent up demand and savings, demographic changes, and fiscal restraint were some of the factors.
    And out manufacturing base was undamaged during WWII, unlike the devastation that occured on the home territory of other industrialized countries.
    I think Ron Paul would also view c.1971 as a watershed year, but for different reasons ( we officially went off the gold standard, and I think Ron Paul is a strong advocate of a return to the gold standard).
    Many early baby boomers may have come to view the postwar economic boom as “typical”, or “normal” for the American economy.
    And there were probably unrealistic expections that the strong growth of those postwar years would continue indefinately into the future.
    For those who came of age during the depression era, there were often unrealistic fears that the next Great Depression was right around the corner.
    It was easy to see examples of both sets of views growing up in the 1960s.
    If I interpreted your post correctly, you seem to feel that a “long slide” in the American economy started c.1971.
    And I commented on Po’s “we’re on the Eve of Destruction” post, where he laid out narrow, specific timelines.
    If I look back at, say, a 100 year history of the U.S. economy, my take is different on what is “normal”, or “typical”, for the U.S. economy.
    That is, I don’t think that the Great Depression was a normal period.
    And to a somewhat lesser degree, the c.25 year postwar boom was not “typical”either.
    Nor are the current economic, globally and in the U.S., “typical”.
    As I noted earlier, there is no shortage of seers out their with all kinds of predictions, all over the place, about where things go from here.
    And there are very few who have decent track records, but that doesn’t stop them from being quoted as if they were “experts”.
    I’m not enough of a visionary to try to make precise forecasts about the U.S., or global, economy.
    One reason I mentioned Japan’s statistics in my previous post is that if I had to look for a “model” of what was to come, I’d guess that the most likely scenario is to be found in the experiences of the “post-bubble” Japanese economy.
    More specifically, low GDP growth, escalating debt, and continued historically low interest rates ( but a bit higher than the c.8year 2008-2016 absolute lows).
    Another 9-11, a civil war in Saudi Arabia, or other Black Swan events would likely blow any forecasts out of the water…..so those are the “wild cards”.

  2. Re the 7 countries named in the proposed Trump temporary ban on immigration:
    The first attempt to bring down the WTC Twin Towers was in early 1993.
    There were 6 or 7 convictions in that case, and the nationalities of those 6-7 were Egyptian, Kuwaiti, Palestinian, and Pakistani.
    Not one Saudi. Using the rearview mirror approach, one could, after the convictions in the 1993 WTC bombing, argue that not one Saudi was ever convicted of commiting an act of terrorism against the U.S.
    And therefore, it would be unproductive and unfair to focus on Saudi citizens as potential terrorists.
    I don’t know why or how the Trump administration selected those particular 7 countries.
    Nor do I know why the Obama administration labeled those same 7 countries as problematic with respect to screening immigrants.
    In the case of Syria, there may not be a high level of confidence that the Assad government would be cooperative with the U.S. when it comes to backgroud checks of Syrian applicants.
    In a few other cases, the countries may not have a functioning government…..failed states, or at least choatic, faltering states.
    Eventually, maybe those from the former Obama administration and from the Trump administration will discuss the criteria used to identify those 7 countries.
    In the meantime, there may be limited value in tallying up nationalities of those involved in terror attacks/ plots to date.
    One could probably write off the Saudis as a terror threat after the 1993 WTC bombing by saying that “no Saudi was involved”.
    The second time around, on 9-11, 15 of the 19 highjackers were Saudis.

      • Paul Schulte,
        Yeah, I know that DHS in the Obama administration labeled those same 7 nations as “countries of concern”.
        I just haven’t ( to date) heard anyone from either the Obama or Trump administration offer specifics on the criteria for selecting those particular countries.
        Maybe one can make educated guesses about the difficulties of vetting, for example, Syrian refugees.
        A senior FBI official expressed those concerns in Congressional testimony last year.
        But I think it would be advisable to press either the current DHS or those in the Obama administration DHS ( many of whom probably straddle both administrations) for the specific criteria they used.

    • Tom, am not sure what you are saying. Do you disbelieve that 19 Saudis were involved in 9/11?
      Isn’t that list the Obama administration and subsequently the Trump administration using born from the legacy of 9/11?
      Based on the exact fact that the single most grievous act of terrorism against the US was supposedly committed mostly by Saudis, Saudi Arabia should have been the top name on that list.

      If you are wondering why those specific countries, perhaps we ought to revisit General Wesley Clark’s claim that 6 out of those 7 were among the ones targeted for regime change, and all but one have been bombed recently or currently, and the last one, Iran, is under threat for over a decade.

      And why would Assad be required to cooperate with US for vetting the Syrian applicants? That isn’t how the process works. Assad is unnecessary to that process. Most refugees in fact are running away from their government (unlike in Syria) and the vetting system bypasses the structure from which the applicant is running.

      Paul, those terrorists only exist in your imagination…
      I repeat, they exist as much as the Bowling green massacre…
      They do not exist…
      nope…
      No sir, nonexistent!

      • Po,
        I think I specified that 15 of the 19. Sept 11th hijackers were Saudis.
        So, yeah, I would “disbelieve” that 19 Saudis were involved in 9-11, when the correct number was 15 of the 19.
        The point I attempted to make was that if the focus of the greatest terrorist threats is done retrospectively, that focus is not adequate.
        To repeat what I wrote earlier, after the first 1993 attempt to bring down the WTC Twin Towers, pundits could say “no Saudis were EVER convicted in that 1993 attack.
        I am A. Questioning the value what I called “rearview mirror” analysis, or “fighting the last war”.
        Using the same arguments that I am seeing currently, the “experts” could point to the nationalities ( listed by me earlier), and say “Look, no Saudis were convicted in that 1993 WTC bombing.
        I think you can now see the same mentality at play today, with the arguments that “x number” from those 7 countries have never killed anyone in American in a terrorist attack.
        How well served would we be if, in the wake of the 1993 bombings, we had a load of people spouting off that “no Saudis were ever convicted”.
        I am interested in a CURRENT assessment of what are NOW considered to be “riskiest countries”.
        I’ve yet too see it. In the meantime, I view the PAST record as being of limited value.
        The war against terrorism is not static, and what could be a technically true statement about the minimum risk of terrorism from Saudis in 1993 did not mean jacksh*t in 2001.
        CURRENT claims of assessing based primarily on past statistics are in that same “Jacksh*t category”.
        BTW, did you track down the “Twelve Questions, Twelve Answers”? 😊

        • Tom, sorry but I am not following you.
          Thieves are a threat because they stole.
          A criminal is under surveillance because of prior criminal acts.
          Though both may be watched in order to prevent their acting criminally. But the clearest indication of a criminal is his crime.
          Terrorism is a threat because of the terrorist acts of some people. To leave those people alone and go after others who never attacked you is pretty silly and illogical, no matter how much you try to flip it.

          • Ok, Po.
            Based on that logic, the track record by nationalities, what should have been the focus of anti-terrorism efforts after the 1993 WTC bombings.
            If you are that wedded to the idea of “past behaviour” dictating subsequent anti-terrorism focus, you’d argue that Egyptians, Pakistanis, Kuwaitis, and Pakistanis, based on PAST BEHAVIOR, should be specifically targeted.
            So, the fact that no Saudis were ever convicted in that 1993 attack means, by your “logic”, why be concerned about them?

            • Tom, between 93 and 2001, a break happened and a reset. 9/11 was a brand new game. 15 of 19 would be a pretty clear indicator of who to respond to and target. Instead we went into Iraq and Afghanistan. And since 9/11 we have not reset the game and started anew, no, based on that same 9/11 reaction, we are targeting these 7 countries that have nothing to do with 9/11. So seems like you are looking for means to justify the fact that the cops arrested the guy under probation because he was in prison 10 years ago rather than the guy who was identified by witnesses as the robber.

              • Yyeah, Po.
                Things do change, so a guy stuck in 1994 might say, hey, they Saudis weren’t convicted in the 1993 WTC bombing, judge was skepital based on past history.. Yet some exclude the possiblity that there may be a particular high threat, AT THIS TIME, from the 7 “countries of concern”.
                Whether there are 72 convicted terrorists from those countries, or 7, or 700, what is the CURRENT threat from those countries.
                Your example of monitoring a thief, or checking the past record of a thief within the U,S Justice system, is not relevant to the issue screening refugees from other countries.
                Law enforcement has a lot of info, virtually at their fingertips, on
                the arrest records, criminal history, incareatio, etc. of U.S. criminals.
                It’s not the same with a number of foreign refugees.

                • Tom
                  You confused the topic by bringing Saudi Arabia into it in order to explain the chosen muslim countries banned.
                  Your explanation works a little better without paralleling it with Saudi Arabia. Once you bring in S.Arabia, you are forced to make the opposite argument of the one you are seeking to make.
                  The guilty party of the most proximate crime is the one you focus on, not the one who potentially may commit a crime. Unless you focus on both, which makes the most sense actually. This means that though banning those countries make sense in some reality, that reality only makes sense IF Saudi Arabia is included. The moment an exception is made for SA, then the claim that the ban is a reaction to the fear of terrorism is deceptive.

          • Yeah, Po, IF you have a record/ documentation of an individual thief.
            If you are relying on an uncooperative third party to help screen thousands of people, you’re looking at a completely different situation.
            Do you understand that?

            • By uncooperative 3rd party do you mean Assad? If so, I have already demonstrated that it would be abnormal to rely on Assad to screen his own people. That is not how vetting, or extreme vetting if you like, works.

              • Yes, Po.
                You have such confidence in the vetting system that you think the country of origin( in this case , Syria, need not cooperate with the U.S.
                So you instead rely on the intel of the country they initially fled to on the way to the U.S.
                You don’t see a problem with that?
                If Assad’s Syria does not give America the intel, then you don’t see a problem with relying on the intel of the “stopover country”?
                And you somehow know that they must have Assad’s cooperation to know who they are dealing with?.
                Or is there intel so good that they can vet refugees from another country without the copperation of the country they initially fled?

                • Yes, that is how it works, Tom. That is how it always worked.
                  You can try to make an exception for Syrian refugees, but it works the same for all refugees.

  3. Po,
    I do have one question for you ( not 12!).
    If you do not have cooperation from the Assad Syrian government in vetting/ cross checking refugee applicants, where DO you go to screen them?
    No, I don’t expect cooperation from Assad’s Syria in helping the U.S. screen Syrian refugees.
    And I think we agree on that point.
    So under the circumstances, how DO we screen Syrian refugees without cooperation of the Syrian government?

    • Tom, the way they always do it. The Syrian refugees don’t usually apply from Syria, they apply from other places they found refuge in, like Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq…and even West Africa. These are the people who fled rebel areas, and the ones under government control are in no need to find refuge elsewhere since they are in their usual routine.

      But what about the saudis, why do you believe they are rightly left out of the Muslim ban, especially in light of 9/11 and in light of Hillary and Biden’s comments that they are sponsors of terror?

      • Po,
        I did NOT say that the Saudis “should have been left out of the (so-called) Muslim ban.
        If you find that I made that statement, point it out.
        On your other point, you evidently have great confidence in the vetting process of Syrian refugees, ABSENT the cooperation of the Syrian regime.
        You apparently believe that “third hand vetting assistance” from other countries is as valuable as direct cooperation from Syria itself.
        I don’t share the confidence you expressed.

        • Tom, unless I misunderstood you, and in that case please make yourself clearer, you are justifying the fact those 7 muslim countries are banned while Saudi arabia isn’t.
          As for vetting, how you feel doesn’t really matter here, what the process is matters. This is the same process that has always been. Your point is akin to saying that Jews should not be allowed in because Hitler is not helping us vet the refugees. (Not that Assad is Hitler but same structure you are setting up.)
          WHen we allowed the vietnamese in, we did not ask their government to vet them. Our state department is there for a reason, they are able to vet people effectively, as they have done for decades.

          • Po,
            First of all, I don’t think the U.S. ever faced a major terrorist problem from Jewish or Vietnamese refugees.
            I think I tried to explain this to you once before when you wanted to bring up Buddist suicide bombers, or Japanese Kamikaze pilots.
            There are reasons why, as I stated to you before, that Buddist suicide bombers or Japanese suicide pilots are not a primary focus of Aneeican anti-terrorism efforts.
            The history of terrorist attacks/ plots is a priority, for a reason.
            But pethaps you could lobby Congress to shift the anti-terrorism focus to kamikaze pilots, or Buddists.
            Your confidence in the State Dept. you expressed seems very odd coming from you.

            • am not sure what you are talking about here, Tom. I am not asking the state dep to focus on jews or Vietnamese, that was just to highlight to you how the process works. But remember that for both, there was a chorus against allowing them in for both were deemed a fifth column, same as we speak of Muslim refugees right now. Which is why many Jews were returned only to be sent to the camps and genocided.

              • Po,
                I don’t think it was fear of fifth columnist infiltration that lead to resistance to Jewish or Vietnamese immigration.
                I don’t know how the immigration vetting process worked back then….in the 1930s with Jewish immigrants, or in the 1970s with the Vietnamese.
                I suspect that there have been,numerous changes, in both laws and procedures and policies over the past 40 to 80 years.
                I also think that we will see changes in those procedure/ policy/law areas over the next few years.

      • I had a Somali client, a newly-minted physician in Mogadishu, not too long ago, who fled with his wife and five children across the border into Kenya and seven years of refugee camps there. Next to horrible conditions but they were alive. Now, he drives a cab and tries to be happy.

        • Exactly, Steve. Most Somali here spent years in Kenya before being allowed in the US. Most still remain in the camps where children are born and elders die, neither Somalian nor Kenyan. Only the lucky few make it out, kinda like Ayaan Ali. In that, it is akin to the exodus of the Israelites, roaming and camping in the desert, some found a home, many were lost to time and geopolitics.
          Another example is of the Yazidis. They will find refuge in a safe area, and from that safe area, they will apply for refugee status in the US or Europe or elsewhere, and all the vetting would be done from there by the closest consulate/CIA base.
          Same as for the Rohingas under Budddhist oppression, they had to flee and find refuge in Banglasdesh and Malaysia, and they will be vetted from there when they apply for refugee status.

  4. I wrote my book to give the reader a POV experience as a combat medic. I like the fact that veterans are speaking out about what they’re going through. It’s the only thing that helps you get through the rough times. Ive lived with PTSD for the past 12 years and I’m just now noticing a change in my emotions. It feels like Ive been cut off from them forever. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard my stomach hurt, but two weeks ago I did and it felt good. The empty feeling inside my chest isn’t growing anymore.

  5. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to watch this video. I think for the first time, I understand some of the affects that those suffering from PTSD are living with. I was married to a soldier with extreme PTSD and never could understand what he was going through. He went to treatment facilities and counseling but never seemed to overcome. It would have been really awesome to have this information back then. Thanks so much!

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