It may seem like I watch a lot of television, and it is true. I do. It helps me disconnect from the past. It helps me deal with my “Service Connected: Combat Related – PTSD.”
I was recently awarded a 70% disability for PTSD, 47 years later. Well it is really “Unspecified trauma and stressor disorder” I think because there is no one incident, but there are eight incidents that could have caused me mental issues.
But, the other day I was trying to watch “Hacksaw Ridge.” This is a movie about Pvt. Desmond Doss, U.S. Army in World War II. Desmond Doss was a 7th Day Adventist and conscientious objector and became a combat medic. He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor on Okinawa where in a single day it is said that he saved the lives of 75 men.
He was a small man, not one that we would think of as a super-hero. Most of his leaders and comrade’s in his company thought he was a coward. Why else would he be a conscientious objector. They did not know Pvt. Doss’s story. They did not understand his devotion to his religion and to God.
He was not a coward. He was a hero. He should not have been able to do what he did, but he did. He did it with determination, willpower, fortitude, and faith in God to give him strength, because something had to be done. He carried wounded soldiers to a cliff, and then lowered them down to where the rest of his division was camped.
Could you have done that? Probably not. I could not have. Seventy-five men? Really?
But then I have done things that I should not have been able to do. I have witnessed others doing things they should not have been able to do.
I have worked 7 days with no sleep. I have, and have seen others, move things that one man should not have been able to move. It made a difference. Pvt. Doss made a difference.
Many things I do, I believe, make a difference. I have mentioned in other articles that I am a Veteran Service Officer. I try to help other Veterans get the benefits they have earned. I have had some successes that made a difference.
In one case, I helped a Veteran that did not know he was qualified for VA Health benefits get hearing aids. I helped another veteran with PTSD get counselling that has changed their outlook on life and get a high degree of disability so they don’t have to struggle trying to work through the anxiety, panic attacks, anger, and other mental health issues of PTSD. I have helped several veterans get what is known as Aid and Attendance so that they can hire home health aides to help them with daily living functions.
I have helped a nonprofit organization with a strategic plan for funding and constructing a new facility that was needed to replace one that had deteriorated. I helped a religious organization with a business plan for a project they were operating.
I am not trying to brag. I am just trying to demonstrate that we all have experience, knowledge, and strengths that can make a difference. Some of us have several. What are you doing that makes a difference?
Are you athletic? — Coach athletics. Are you good with numbers? — Be the treasurer of a volunteer group, church, or nonprofit. Are you a do-it-yourselfer? — Many organizations need that construction and repair assistance. Can you comfortably talk to people? — Be a friend, mentor, or counsellor. Can you teach some subject? — Be a tutor.
Anyone can make a difference. Maybe not the difference of those like Desmond Doss, but a difference for someone.
Find out what that is for you, and make a difference.
Please Remember: Many of our young men and women have sacrificed greatly around the world, to protect our country, our rights and freedoms, our allies, and the flag of the United States of America. I am proud to have been one of them, and would gladly defend this great country again today or any day.
Jim Daly, a retired captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a member of the Aberdeen Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 224 and its Veterans Service Officer. He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America.