You may recall the story of another Iraq veteran whose image gained notoriety in the opening months of the war. Like the `Marlboro Marine', he now suffers from PTSD. Read Army medic Pfc. Joseph Dwyer's story here.
From CBS News:
Lance Cpl. Blake Miller of Jonancy, Ky., came to be known as the "Marlboro Marine" when his picture was splashed across the nation. The attention didn't get him any special privileges, and he served his entire combat tour before he and his unit were ordered home. The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith was there in February when Miller got to hug his mother upon his return.
At the time, Miller told Smith, "I lost a few of some of my dearest friends. People don't understand how you can be so close to someone that you've only known for such a short time but, when you spend a year-and-a-half with someone, you know some things about them their own family doesn't even know about. People say that the Marine Corps is a brotherhood, and you truly do not realize that until you actually need your brothers, and that's when they're there."
After his return to the states, Miller married his longtime girlfriend and tried to put Iraq's experiences and losses behind him. It wasn't going to be easy.
"For the most part, I mean, it was a big adjustment (when I got home) just trying to get in that mindset of being able to just roam, run around without fear of being shot at or where to look for danger. ... It's unexplainable. I mean, just to go from that mindset to being able to walk around freely and just enjoy it."
Hurricane Katrina relief duty would definitively prove that he needed help. That's when Miller's PTSD began to surface. An event on the USS Iwo Jima triggered a violent reaction in Miller when "a sailor mimicked the whistle of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG)."
"For anybody to duplicate that sound," Miller told Smith, "they've had to hear it. Without even knowing what I'd done until after it was over, I snatched him up, I slammed him against the bulkhead, the wall, and took him to the floor, and I was on top of him."
Miller went into therapy, but wasn't told right away that he had PTSD. "At first, they thought maybe it was the pressure of being on the ship," he said. "The more doctors I talked to, the more they came to the conclusion that (PTSD) is what it is. ... I'm continuing my therapy; continued up until the day I got out (of the service), actually."
In November, he was honorably discharged; yet, worries about others who are suffering from PTSD, too.
"The more and more I talk to (other guys), the more I found out there were a lot of Marines that are going through same or similar emotions. It's tough to deal with. Being in Iraq is something no one wants to talk about."
Soldiers and Marines understandably may not want to talk about their combat experiences with us. It's admirable that they want to shield us from the images they must have to carry around. But we MUST continue to talk candidly and openly about PTSD.
From WKYT 27 News [Kentucky]:
His family here in eastern Kentucky says they are here to listen and help in any way possible. "He's struggling with a lot but I just hope and pray that everything can get back to normal and he can live his own life and be as happy as he possibly can," Bobbi Jo Childers said. Miller says he hopes telling his story can help someone else out there going through the same things.
Thank you, Lance Cpl. Blake Miller, for coming forward to tell of your struggles with PTSD.
This is another installment in a series aimed at providing information on combat-related PTSD.
For but a partial glimpse on the scope of this national tragedy, please visit ePluribus Media's PTSD Timeline.
Additional PTSD information and resources:
-- Politics of PTSD: Hide It, Deride It, Bleed It Dry
-- #2 | Returning Vet PTSD - One Wife's Story
-- #1 | Returning Vet PTSD - One Soldier's Story
-- 16,000+ Returning Combat Vets Need Our Help
-- Take That, PTSD! Rep. Lane Evans Rocks
-- Doonesbury this Week: One Vet's PTSD Struggle
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