Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Brother Is My Keeper: A Soldier Speaks

My little brother Julius posted this as a response to my blog yesterday about PTSD and the tragedy at Camp Liberty. I love my brother. And this should be read by the entire damn world.

Hey Billy,

I'm glad you're getting the help you need to deal with your PTSD. It is indeed a known fact that PTSD doesn't just come from war. For example, a rape victim could have PTSD far worse than any soldier whose been to combat. it's just the God awful honest truth. So once again, i'm happy you're doing what you need to to help yourself.

..At first, I didn't want to admit it. when i came back from Afghanistan, I thought after a couple of months I'd be fine. I went to mental health and was told to come back. I have what they call 'survivors guilt', a form of PTSD. I did return for two sessions, but later quit. I was scared. Everyone else wasn't going, so i felt weak. I didn't wake up in cold sweats, or wake up screaming. It was more subtle than that. I didn't realize how bad I was until I went to Disneyland a month later. The fireworks started going off and I panicked. In a crowd full of happy tourists and families, I broke down and started crying. My friend grabbed me and ran me to the restroom. I'd never felt so embarrassed. I could hear the fireworks still going off. I could picture the rockets incoming. The bullets hitting all my friends except me. I felt helpless and weak.. I just wanted to die and join my brothers in arms that had fallen. I felt I didn't deserve life. Why should I get to live when so many great young men had died, some with families and unborn children they'd never see. I felt I cheated death, and I wanted to meet up with him and pay him what was owed.

I still have flashbacks every now and again. When I'm driving sometimes, I see myself on the roads of Afghanistan, keeping an eye out for IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices). I get ancy when I'm in big crowds. My finger gets itchy, I need to shoot. I yell when there's no need, I freak out when I feel something's not right. I try to get help, but I keep putting it off.

Anyway, I just wanted to say, I appreciate you brother. Sometimes I get soo angry, because I feel no one cares. The world keeps spinning. But in war, time stops. You're ripped out of society and tossed in a life or death situation. Contact with the outside world is limited. All you can do is sit and count the days. Pray America still hopes for your safety. You say prayers, hoping everyone appreciates what you do. The 1-2 meals a day, 3 if you're lucky. The hiking up the mountains with 80-120 lbs. worth of gear. Not showering for weeks even months at a time. Sweating under the Middle Eastern sun. Watching your friends die and wondering when you'll be next. Bullets flying in the middle of the night. Looking out for Taliban trying to sneak into your base. Rockets and mortars hitting where you live. Taliban toying with you with harassing gun fire. trying to draw you out so their snipers can pick you off. Wishing, that you can make it back for 1 day to be with the one you love. The soldiers on the front lines experience this and I have not forgot. The taliban grow stronger and gain ground. It's hard for me to focus on my current course of life. If I let my guard down, my enemy will become stronger and better than me.

Take it easy Billy. I'll ttyl.



  1. wow, brandon. just plain wow. this is a powerful piece, a powerful response, a powerful brother.

  2. yeah...my brother is pretty frickin' amazing...

  3. ((Tears)) I am speechless...Please tell your brother I am sending him love and gratitude.

  4. Tell your brother I'm thinking about and praying for him and the others as are many, many people. You both are pretty amazing. :)

  5. Hey Yolanda and Melanie:

    Thank you. I will make sure he checks out the comments here. You can also harass him yourselves. He is on Facebook.


  6. Awesome piece. Hoping for strength, fortitude and safety for your brother.


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