This is the emblem that we have embraced; the sign of Marine. The Proud and the bold. The fierce fighter. The pillar of strength. We had this on our desktop for months while Philip was in Iraq, as a symbol of who he is - a Marine. Of what he stands for - the Brotherhood of our Nation.
We knew he would come home a little less the pillar. Scarred from the battle. He warned us that something had changed. He was fearful of the jumping inside himself.
It's called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Iraq - because, well, that is where he was stationed; in so many words. And for safety reasons.
And while the military "offers" help for these soldiers, finding it for them available, and getting it to them isn't what you would think it should be.
In the distance, on Friday evening, we could hear fireworks. I knew they would be going off because Marisa was marching in a parade for the festival that led up to them.
Philip; however, heard something completely different. In his mind, he was taken back to the desert. He was bunkered down in his fatigues for a moment. In his mind, he could smell the sweat, hear the blasts, taste the sand. And he froze. He shook as he asked his Dad what the sounds were. In his mind, they were the sounds of gunfire. In his mind. He knew the exact weapon, artillery, range, direction it was coming from. How long it would take for him to get his weapon loaded and ready. In his mind, he was there.
He came in the house, and Frank explained to me what happened, and by this time, we had fireworks going off in two seperate areas, the poor kid! In like a 10 mile radious north and south of us. He sat next to me on the couch, and the couch literally was shaking from his frustration. I felt so bad for him, but I just kept my calm, because with Philip, well, he is a Marine all tough and cool on the outside.
I very calmy explained to him, very slowly, that they were indeed fireworks. That there had been signs posted for them for weeks and Marisa was away in a parade and she had told him about it. He did remember her telling him about the parade, which made him feel somewhat better. Somewhat. But the shaking continued. As long as the fireworks.
With each crack and boom, he would tell me how the sounds reminded him of a bomb or a gun sound. I just listened to him and explained that it would get easier with time. I wonder, will it? I see the horrific stories of others that are struggling and I wonder if they too started like this.
When will it become a priority for our soldiers to get the help they need, when they get home? Will it be when they've become a menace to society, or when Walter Reed has just become to over-crowded with psych patients? Wait, isn't Walter Reed already in crisis? My bad.
Something needs to be done to help our vets!