Remembering Those Who Came Home

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Veterans are often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Even though it is common knowledge, it isnít often connected with the real struggle that our veterans face upon returning home. Those who havenít served or donít have an immediate loved one who served donít often understand the side effects of experiencing war firsthand.

On Memorial Day, I was covering the event at the Salem VFW by using my Nikon camera to snap pictures and also using my phone to record video coverage to later post to social media. I wanted to get a quick video on a few members of the VFW firing their rifles to honor the memory of those who didnít make it back home.

Not being around gunfire often, I visibly flinched while recording the video, during the first firing of the rifles. Later, I spoke to a few of those same veterans and the veteran who was the commander of the firing party, Ben LaValley. I told them that I tried to record that quick segment of the ceremony, but I didnít know if it would turn out to be a quality video because of how visibly I shook because the noise always startles me.

After handing me a shell casing from one of the rifles that was fired to keep as a memento, LaValley noted that he felt the same way about the noise that the gunfire made after serving as a ranger in the military for approximately 10 years stationed in Iraq. That comment shook me to the core at the obvious realization that serving on the front lines can cause a lasting impact on a veteran. With the toughness and strength that is often associated with veterans, it was humbling to remember that theyíre every bit as human as anybody else.

He later noted that it really is any loud noise, such as fireworks. The Fourth of July can be a challenging time, hearing the continuous popping and pinging that fireworks make. During a stormy day, the thunder can also recreate memories of wartime. The clap of thunder and the explosion of fireworks is something that haunts him.

Those two types of noise are something that can startle anyone, but it isnít often realized, by those of us who werenít in the military, and donít have a closed loved one, that a soldier can hear those noises and it bring up those memories that they try so hard to forget.

Our veterans sacrificed so much ensuring to maintain the freedoms that we know today. Along with the sacrifice of serving their time to make sure that America continues to stay the land of the free, they also sacrifice their own ability to feel safe when they come home.

There are many who are remembered during Memorial Day, but it also should be forefront that we remember those who suffer every day with PTSD. Freedom has always gone hand in hand with war, but itís also something that later challenges men and women to overcome the byproduct of surviving a war-related conflict.

As a whole, since the Vietnam war, we have gotten much better at the understanding of how much a veteran sacrifices, both physically and mentally. Though there is multiple days of the year to show our appreciation, there needs to be a continuous reflection at how much these men and women have done for us.