Living With It

 

Garrett Nichols of Anaheim, Calif., was an Infantryman in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He returned from combat with pins and medals for his accomplishments, but also with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

When he left for the war zone Garrett, 24, had a thought in the back of his mind that he might not come back. He returned alive, but not the same person. He swore he wasn’t affected by PTSD, but he would make excuses for why he flinched at fireworks, why he got angry at the smallest things or why he suddenly became more protective. With the assistance of therapy and medication Garrett can function normally. However, every day can be a new battle.

Garrett is definitely not alone when it comes to PTSD, or depression, from war. After the Vietnam War it was reported that out of the 2.6 million Vietnam veterans, 15% had PTSD immediately after they returned, and 30% had PTSD at some point in their lives. Of the 2.7 million American veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, 20% have been diagnosed with PTSD and/or depression.

After surviving all of the battles on the field, it is hard for him to admit that the memories of what happened while  deployed may be the most dangerous of all. These servicemen and women have seen it all and have survived it all and many of them, like Garrett, may have not expected to come home alive, but rather in a casket draped with an American flag. Their struggle with PTSD is ongoing and some will loose this battle. Last year 8,000 veterans succumbed to this unfortunate condition and committed suicide.

On the outside Garrett lives a normal life, but on the inside the fight continues.