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“Don’t forget….”

June 20, 2008

Looking through a binder of old newspaper clippings, I recently found a story I had written years ago when I was a reporter in Ohio. The story was about an outreach meeting for Vietnam veterans learning to deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Seeing that old news clip reminded me how impressed I was with the give-and-take between the former soldiers and psychologist Walter P. Knake.

Knake, who for years had helped veterans cope with PTSD, told the group that talking about their war experience was key. First, the group watched the Academy-award winning film “The Anderson Platoon.” Then the soldiers started talking. Some said that the movie raised memories they would rather forget.

“Don’t forget,” Knake advised them. “You can’t forget it. That’s what makes you human.” The psychologist reminded them: “In all wars, they decondition you” from your normal human feelings so that, as soldiers, you can kill others.

“Be willing to share your experience with others,” Knake advised. “Don’t try to burn out the pain you have. Don’t give up on yourself…you’re worth it.”

In 2008, this is still timely advice.

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