We are all in this together


Uploaded by VeteransMTC on 12.11.2011

Transcript:

[MUSIC PLAYING]
My name's Jack.
I was in the Marine Corps from 1963 to '67, and in Vietnam in
'65 and '66.
I work with the kids at Balboa Hospital.
I love them.
They're the real deal, man.
Are you sleeping OK?
I have a little trouble sleeping at nights sometimes.
I don't generally fall asleep until about 3:00 AM.
So it's important that you get your rest to heal, in
particular.
It was great for them to see somebody that they felt very
comfortable with.
And Jack is such a giving person.
When a kid gets out of the service, that is enormously
disorienting for that young man.
So what I try to do at the hospital is just sort of share
my little story.
When I came back to the States, I had no idea what I
was feeling.
I'd freeze-dried my emotions.
They sent us in December 10, 1965.
And as we started down into the LZ, the ground fire was so
intense, everybody pulled off except for the
helicopter I was in.
Immediately as I got out of the helicopter, I was shot.
And we were sitting ducks.
Every time anybody moved, they had heavy machine guns.
And we lost some kids that night.
The whole next 12 years of my life was a gestation period
that I didn't understand.
Basically, drugs and alcohol is what allowed me to
self-medicate until I ended up in a psychiatric hospital.
I knew I had to stop what I was doing or I
wasn't going to be alive.
Take care, Jack.
Somehow inside, I realized that the kids that I'd lost
overseas were as old as they were going get.
And if they could talk to me, they would say, hey, come on,
you're living for me now.
There's still some effects of combat stress.
I now recognize more instances in our relationship where he
was kind of withdrawn or quiet about certain things that I
just didn't understand.
And he talked a lot about not wanting to be responsible for
anybody or anything.

December 7, 1979, there was a sort of a big-wig meeting,
talking about opening the Vet Center in San Diego.
And I went to that.
And that first rap group, that basically saved my life.
I got into that room, and I was able to exhale.
And somehow or another, we found each other, one by one,
just like in the [? rice paddy. ?]
He was in the first rap group we did with the first Vet
Center down here.
[? Gary ?] was the most seriously wounded person ever
treated at Balboa Hospital.
His unit was overrun.
You were in the country two weeks.
Yeah, four weeks.
Four weeks.
Overrun, shot point-blank twice in the head with an AK.
And it's a goddamned miracle that he's here.
And I'm really thankful.

For me, what worked best was the one-on-one
relationship-based counseling.
I saw a psychiatric nurse with the Veterans Administration,
and I met with her every month until,
well currently actually.
I don't think you can deal with the
war when you're drinking.
And I don't think you can stop drinking until you
deal with the war.
So it's almost like simultaneously.
Jack was almost like a dad kind of, like
an attachment dad.
Everybody knew him.
He was always there to listen, always there to help, always
there to guide, because he's been through so much more than
we could ever go through.
And he was willing to prevent you from going through it from
the lessons that he's learned.
And that was awesome.
To me, the important healing comes from each other.
In our case, there weren't a lot of older guys telling us
it's going to be OK.
For Korea or World War II, we kind of had to figure that out
on our own.
But once we figured it out, we said, hey, this is an
important component.
This next group of guys, we gotta pass the torch to them.
In my opinion, there's no better connection or support
for these guys than the Vet-to-Vet support.
And Jack and his wife both play a huge part here.
What Barbara does at Balboa is she works with the wives'
group, to let them know that you can have combat stress,
you can have gone through all of these challenges in life
and have a strong and successful relationship.
They need to know that that's a possibility.
OK, so let's begin.
Let's start with our legs crossed, shins
crossed in the center.
As I was working with the wives, a little light bulb
went off in my head.
Like, hey, it would be so great if we could actually
have yoga classes here for the wives, for the Service
members, because I knew how much it had helped me in my
life and Jack in his life.
And I knew we could help not just with the stress, but in
helping them with sleep problems, pain management.
The beauty of yoga, why it was attractive to me, was it
brought me back here, right here, right now.
So yoga's a natural to these kids.
Good to see you.
Bye Jack.
Hey, thanks for coming over.
I appreciate it.
Anything for you, Jack.
Yeah, I know.
Why I go down to the hospital, love these kids that much, is
because I know that once they get on top of this, there's
nothing they can't do.
It's a completion of the circle.

My guys are here with me.
Staff Sergeant [? McCarthy ?], Fox, [UNINTELLIGIBLE],
[UNINTELLIGIBLE], Hall, they're all here.
And I really feel that.
I feel that.

So going to the hospital completes that circle for me,
personally.
For those kids, I just want them to know that I completely
and totally honor what they've done.

If it's a Vietnam-era Veteran, it's been so many years now,
it's just very hard for them to talk about their experience
and their feelings.
They probably don't even recognize their feelings.
They just don't know how to make the first step.
And that's where I think the VA can be so helpful,
especially with a program like this where it's going to be
very easy to make a connection.
Get in the mix.
Do not isolate and pull yourself away from existence.
That's not a path to health.
And the VA is crucial, crucial, to the recovery of
these guys.
It's a safety net.
Find the place where you're supposed to be in this mosaic
of overall help.
Serve again.
Don't give up.