This Marine Shares His Story to Help Other Veterans With PTSD
JUNE 22, 2017 | 3-minute read
Josh didn’t expect to see much direct combat as a Marine Corps Arabic linguist deployed in Iraq. He quickly realized he was wrong.
Attached to an infantry unit — “not an offensive force,” as he describes it — Josh and his six-member team found themselves in the middle of frequent mortar and rocket attacks. “One week, it was like five days in a row,” he says.
After two deployments to Iraq, the Marine Corps Veteran felt a lasting impact from the trauma of combat. “It’s taken me years to get comfortable with any type of siren, shrieking, whistling sound,” he says.
Following his military service, Josh found a passion for archeology, which became a career that required frequent trips abroad. It was on an archeological dig in Cyprus when he realized that the unknowns of a foreign country were a trigger for his stress and anxiety and social withdrawal — common symptoms of PTSD.
“I just remember thinking that I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I felt really uncomfortable,” he says, reflecting on that particular trip. “I couldn’t look out the windows of the vehicle because what I was seeing just magnified this feeling of discomfort and … tenseness.”
When Josh returned stateside, he reached out for support for his PTSD at his local VA. He began meeting with a counselor and found comfort in opening up in a judgment-free environment.
“[My counselor] did a really great job of listening instead of speaking, which I think is what I needed at the time,” he says. “And then explaining to me what was happening to me … trying to put it into context for me.”
Josh admits that he was initially concerned about being able to connect with a counselor who wasn’t a Veteran herself, but his counselor’s professionalism and insight put that worry to rest. “She was really good at saying, ‘I’m not a Veteran. I can’t relate, but I do understand.’”
In just a few weeks or months, treatment can make a significant difference.
“It’s going to improve your life dramatically,” says Josh. “And the sooner you do it, the better.”