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Trauma and its Therapy

The fast study I did at the VA started with systematically asking weren,
What had happened to them in Vietnam I wanted to know what had pue?
When over the brink, and why some had broken down as a result of tg
experiencewhile others had been able to go on with their lives.: Most oile
men I interviewed had gone to war feeling well prepared, drawn close byte
rigors of basic training and the shared danger. They exchanged pictures d
their families and girlfriends; they put up with one another’s flaws. And thy
were prepared to risk their lives for their friends. Most of them confided their
dark secrets to a buddy, and some went so far as to share each other’s shins
and socks.
Many of the men had friendships similar to Tom’s with Alex. Tom met
Alex, an Italian guy from Malden, Massachusetts, on his first day in country,
and they instantly became close friends. They drove their jeep together, lis
tened to the same music, and read each other’s letters from home. They got
drunk together and chased the same Vietnamese bar girls.
After about three months in country Tom led his squad on a foot patrol
through a rice paddy just before sunset. Suddenly a hail of gunfire spurted
from the green wall of the surrounding jungle, hitting the men around him
one by one. Tom told me how he had looked on in helpless horror as all the
members of his platoon were killed or wounded in a matter of seconds. He
would never get one image out of his mind: the back of Alex’s head as he lay
facedown in the rice paddy, his feet in the air. Tom wept as he recalled He
Was the only real friend I ever had Afterward, at night, Tom continued’
hear the screams of his men and to see their bodies falling into the water Alf
sounds, smells, or images that reminded him of the ambush like the poppit
of firecrackers on the Fourth of July) made him feel just as paralyzed lef
rice paddy.
fifed and enraged as he had the day the helicopter evacuated him from the

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