How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

My fellow vets,

I’m a Vietnam veteran. Like in any war, we had moments of extreme, close encounters and moments of boredom. We came home to a political nightmare where we were hated, spit upon, and called names. I, like many that came home, suffered from survivor’s guilt and something that we’d never heard of at the time: PTSD.

We went to Vietnam as soldiers and came home as individuals, so I lost contact from my unit. I never contacted the VA; I had enough of the military. I was young, strong, and independent. I could deal with anything at the time. I went back to school, got a job, got married, began a family with two wonderful kids. I was living the dream but I had a secret that I kept from everyone.


As I aged, my PTSD turned into “flashbacks,” nightmares, and three suicide attempts. The last was the worst. I sat on our kitchen floor at midnight, mad and scared. That’s when I contacted the VA Suicide Hotline and was convinced to go to the VA Hospital. I snuck some clothes from our bedroom. I was going to sneak out, but my wife woke up and demanded to drive me.

My secret was out.

Out of the woods

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I got the help I needed from VA through the Prolonged Exposure Therapy Program (PE). My family now knows everything. It’s been six years and counting with no flashbacks, nightmares, or suicide attempts. My life and my family’s lives have changed. I believe I came through all this hell for a reason, and that is to help other veterans who suffer. The suicide rate among all veterans absolutely scares me, but most troubling is those who were like me: the 70% who don’t have any contact with the VA.

Get the help you need. Do it.

  • Watch Dave, his family and his therapist explain how Prolonged Exposure Therapy brought him back to a full and happy life.
  • See how treatment helped Dave enjoy walking in the woods behind his house, something he’d been avoiding for decades.
  • Go to AboutFace to hear more about PTSD and PTSD Treatment from veterans who have been there.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

Chinese Navy carries out brazen heist of American UUV

The People’s Liberation Army Navy stole an American unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) conducting oceanographic research Thursday in plain view of a U.S. Navy vessel about fifty miles from Subic Bay in the Philippines.


According to a report from the Washington Examiner, the brazen heist took place in international waters as the oceanographic research vessel USNS Bowditch (T AGS 62), a Pathfinder-class ship.

The BBC reported that the vessel responsible for the heist was ASR-510, identified in Combat Fleets of the World as a Dalang III-class “rescue and salvage” ship. The Chinese vessel apparently came within 500 yards of the Bowditch, lowered a small boat and seized the littoral battlespace sensing (LBS) glider.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Daniel Braun, left, Eric Sanchez and David Barney, Systems Center Pacific engineers at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), perform pre-deployment inspections on littoral battlespace sensing gliders aboard the Military Sealift Command oceanographic survey ship USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60). Each glider hosts a payload suite of sensors that will measure the physical characteristics of the water column as the glider routinely descends and ascends in the ocean. The gliders will be deployed during an at-sea test aboard Pathfinder Oct. 22-Nov. 5. (U.S. Navy photo by Rick Naystatt)

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said, “Bowditch made contact with the PRC Navy ship via bridge-to-bridge radio to request the return of the UUV. The radio contact was acknowledged by the PRC Navy ship, but the request was ignored.  The UUV is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States. We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law.”

According to a 2010 Navy release, the LBS glider can operate for up to eight months on a lithium battery. The data gathered by these gliders assist in everything from special operations to mine warfare to anti-submarine warfare.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62) — Navy file photo of the T-AGS 60 Class Oceanographic Survey Ship, USNS Bowditch. Her mission includes oceanographic sampling and data collection of surface, midwater and ocean floor parameters; launch and recovery of hydrographic survey launches (HSLs); the launching , recovering and towing of scientific packages (both tethered and autonomous), including the handling, monitoring and servicing of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs); shipboard oceanogaphic data processing and sample analysis; and precise navigation, trackline maneuvering and station keeping to support deep-ocean and coastal surveys. There are 5 ships in this class. (U.S. Navy photo)

This is not the first time the Bowditch has been involved in a maritime incident with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. Globalsecurity.org noted that a week before the 2001 EP-3 incident in which a People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force J-8 Finback collided with a U.S. Navy electronic surveillance plane, a Chinese frigate came very close to the unarmed vessel. The Bowditch, which is manned by a civilian crew, also was involved in incidents in 2002 and 2003.

China claims ownership of the South China Sea, marking its claims with a so-called “Nine-Dash Line.” An international panel rejected Chinese claims earlier this year in a case brought by the Philippines. The Chinese boycotted the process, and have since armed a number of artificial islands in the disputed region. Shortly after the ruling was issued, Chinese forces rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the disputed waters.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

First she invented tech to help amputees — now she’s giving it to veterans

Amira Idris Radovic is a biomedical engineer who developed a device that helps amputees manage phantom limb pain — now, she helps provide them for free to veterans.

She has managed to provide veterans with over 50 ELIX devices, each from a $210 donation, and now she’s eligible for an Amber Grant that would award her $25,000. All you have to do is click to vote — no sign-ups, no e-mails. Just click to support.

Idris is giving back to the military community — let’s show her we’ve got her six.


TheraV Our Story

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How it works:

“We’ve learned that the reason people suffer form this pain is because of mixed signals that are being relayed to the nerve endings of the remaining limb and we found that we are able to overcome those mixed signals and disrupt them by using vibration technology,” she reported.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

According to a recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Amputation System of Care, nearly 90,000 veterans with amputations were treated in Fiscal Year 2016.

“Phantom limb pain (PLP) refers to ongoing painful sensations that seem to be coming from the part of the limb that is no longer there. The limb is gone, but the pain is real. TheraV’s ELIX wearable specifically addresses phantom limb pain by stimulating periphery sensory nerves with vibrations. The vibrations activate large sensory nerve fibers, which carry touch and pressure stimulation to the brain. Activation of these large sensory nerve fibers closes the pain gate, thus inhibiting pain signals from reaching the brain.”

The Amber Grants began in 1998 to support women entrepreneurs. They have grown to a ,000 monthly grant and a ,000 annual grant. In March 2019, Amira won the Amber Grant and is now competing for the annual award.

With just two clicks, you can help her provide more devices for veterans with amputations.

Amira wants veterans to know that they can sign up on her website to get the device and is adamant about spreading the message that amputation doesn’t have to mean losing quality of life.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 of the major cues that will tell you if your boot is lying

Everyone lies — it’s natural. To say you don’t lie is a lie in and of itself because you know damn well you’ve told a kid at some point that, “it gets better” knowing full-well it doesn’t — especially as an adult. In fact, the only real truth we have is that everyone lies.

So it makes sense that boots will lie their asses off to avoid punishment and, just like any other human, they’re bad at it. But even a bad liar can be convincing from time to time. Luckily, the Marine Corps developed the Combat Hunter Program, which enables those who receive the training to proactively assess an environment to gain a tactical advantage over the enemy. Like almost everything you learn while in the service, these lessons can be applied to other areas of life — one of those being lie detection.

Generally, by the time you take on boots, you’ve become wise enough to identify lies — probably because you told all those same lies when you were an FNG. But if you want to be extra sure that you’re getting the truth out of your newbie, watch for these cues:


How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

If they’re this bad, be especially cautious.

Sweating

In almost every case, when someone’s telling a lie, they’re nervous — they don’t want to get caught. When someone’s nervous, they have trouble controlling their perspiration.

Of course, this isn’t a foolproof metric, especially when there are external, environmental factors at play — you know, like the sun.

Unusually formal language

A person who is a little over-confident in their lie will usually use more formal language. Pay extra attention when someone drops the contractions. Look out for “did not”s and “do not”s in someone’s explanation.

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Direct eye contact

While it makes sense for someone who’s nervous or ashamed to look away from the person they’re lying to, it’s also a very obvious sign. Someone who’s trying their best to be convincing knows this and will compensate by looking you directly in the eye.

Too many details

Liars have a tendency to over-explain their story. Usually, this tactic is reserved for the more experienced liars. After all, if you’ve spent time creating, remembering, and parroting a lie, you’re going to watch all of those painstakingly plotted details to emerge, right?

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

If they’re wearing sunglasses, you might want to have them removed.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alex Kouns)

Fake smiles

If someone is lying to you and hoping to drive the persuasion home, they might smile. Naturally, we smile at each other to signal to another person that we’re genuine but, as Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, suggests, an authentic smile is in the eyes — not the mouth.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This helicopter pilot will be the Navy’s first female aircraft carrier commander

For the first time in its history, the U.S. Navy has selected a female naval aviator to command a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Capt. Amy N. Bauernschmidt was selected for the position by the FY22 Aviation Major Command Screen Board. Naval Air Forces confirmed the selection on December 7, 2020. Although it’s unknown which of the Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers she will command, Bauernschmidt is no stranger to making history.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Capt. Bauernschmidt’s command photo (U.S. Navy)

She graduated from the Naval Academy in 1994, the same year that women were allowed to serve on combat ships and planes. “That law absolutely changed my life,” Bauernschmidt told CBS during a 2018 interview. “We were the first class that graduated knowing and feeling honored with the privilege to be able to go serve along the rest of our comrades in combat.” After she graduated from flight school in 1996, Bauernschmidt was assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45 (HSL- 45) “Wolfpack” in San Diego. Her first deployment was on board the USS John Young (DD-973) in support of maritime interdiction operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

Over her 26-year career, she has served as an aide-de-camp to Commander, Carrier Strike Group 7, a department head with HSL-51 “Warlords” in Japan, an action officer executive assistant to the Director, J6 on the Joint Staff, and as the executive officer of HSM-70 “Spartans” before taking command of the squadron. In 2016, Bauernschmidt became the first female executive officer of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). Her most recent command was of the USS San Diego (LPD-66).

Bauernschmidt has accumulated over 3,000 flight hours in naval aircraft. In addition to her military awards, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, she also earned the 2011 Admiral Jimmy Thach Award and Captain Arnold J. Isbell Trophy for tactical innovation and excellence. “For me, it is about supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States,” Bauernschmidt said in her 2018 interview. “But it’s also about these young men and women that I lead every day.” Her historic achievements have paved the way for future female sailors to continue to break barriers.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why troops need to be ‘spiritually and mentally fit’

“When you’re spiritually and emotionally fit, you’ll take care of yourself because you love yourself,” said Master Sgt. David Mundy, 35th Infantry Division chaplain assistant.


While sitting on a bench outside the main chapel at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Mundy made it clear that being spiritual is not necessarily the same as being religious, but that spiritual fitness has the ability to bring a peacefulness to anyone.

“Being spiritually, mentally, and emotionally fit will help lead to physical fitness and, ultimately, it all works toward the overall stability, fitness, and readiness of the individual Soldier,” said Mundy.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Chaplain Emil Kapaun celebrates a Catholic Mass for cavalry soldiers during the Korean War (Photo U.S. Army)

To build spiritual fitness, Mundy had a few key pieces of advice for Soldiers that he finds helpful whether at home or in a deployed environment.

“As an individual, accept pain for what it is — don’t keep it in,” Mundy said. “Once accepted, become transparent and work through the pain and analyze the situation that brought you to that point.”

This, in Mundy’s experience, helps an individual clarify the problem and work toward a healthy resolution.

In order to successfully work to resolve life’s problems and maintain our mental fitness, Mundy explained that there are four types of people we need to surround ourselves with.

“The first type are prophets — everyone needs a person who can hold their feet to the fire and make them own up to their mistakes,” said Mundy. “The next type of person is the cheerleader — we need to be surrounded by friends who can cheer us on regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves.”

Also Read: What’s the Commandant talking about when he says Marines need to be ‘spiritually’ fit?

“Teasers are the friends who won’t let us beat ourselves up and also make sure to show us a good time,” said Mundy. “Finally, we need encouragers. Encouragers help you find the good in your life and expand on that.”

After a Soldier establishes these friendships and recognizes the different types of people in their lives, Mundy suggests getting into a workout routine with someone who will help drive them.

“Once you find those people, work out with someone in better shape than yourself in order to push yourself to be better,” Mundy continued. “Everyone needs friends who are like-minded, who can encourage yet challenge.”

Like any military installation, there are plenty of avenues to work on physical fitness at Camp Arifjan. Options for workouts include anything from volleyball, basketball, swimming, and weightlifting to 5Ks, marathons, flag football, and soccer.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Master Sgt. David Mundy, 35th Infantry Division chaplain assistant (left), and friends play Christmas carols for the Christmas program at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 25, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Margaret Ziffer)

The key is maintaining a routine. Attaining spiritual fitness, according to Mundy, is no different.

“There are chapels and a mosque on Camp Arifjan if a person is looking for religious support,” said Mundy. “It’s all about finding and making the time to participate.”

If Soldiers are not necessarily religious in their beliefs, Mundy also encourages meeting with behavioral health support specialists to help lift or ease burdens.

“Both chaplains and behavioral health support will help you on your way to establishing spiritual and emotional fitness,” said Mundy. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Soldier stability, but Soldiers should be aware that they have all the resources available to them to stay strong.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what you need to know about the ‘green’ beret controversy

The veteran, military, and the special operations communities have been set ablaze after the leaked heraldry of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade surfaced, bearing the adopted moniker “The Legion.”


The newly developed Brigade was rumored to sport a dark green beret, a unit patch with an upward sword, and the acronym starting with ‘SF’ — but for the special forces community, it was far too similar a resemblance to the green beret and upward fighting knife unit patch worn by the Green Berets.

Even the nickname, “The Legion,” is already in use by the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Combat Advisor is not exactly Special Forces…

Make no mistake. Their missions are drastically different.

The 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade’s mission is to advise allied nations and combatants. The United States has a history of sending advisors to assist in training allies all the way back to the Philippine Insurrection and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s an important mission, but the proud history of the Green Berets has earned its distinction and recognition.

The backlash over the choice of beret can be pointed back to the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who told the Army Times that he’ll take responsibility. “If anyone’s angry, take their anger out on me, not [the Brigade],” he said.

Milley clarified that the proposed beret is not a “green,” but more of an dark brown based off the British infantry beret.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Something along these lines. (Image via Forces)

He defends the tab as a unit tab similar to 10th Mountain or the Old Guard. Patches can often be unintentionally similar. Arrowheads are a common symbol for leadership and they made it distinct enough by straightening the edges.

There is no defending the nickname though. Gen. Milley himself is a Green Beret and served in 5th Group. He says they “have proprietary rights” to the term.

Because of the backlash and online petitions, the 1st SFAB is taking measures to ensure the newly formed unit becomes distinct and its own entity.

Nothing confirmed, of course, but logically they might want to consider rearranging the name so the acronym flows more inline with ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) than Special Forces. It’s also humbly recommended that they pick a beret color that couldn’t possibly be misinterpreted as rifle green. Hey, the once-proposed and forgotten silver Air Assault beret or 101st Airborne’s old blue beret are both still available.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Or make it out of PT belts — because the Army always has a way to snap to extremes.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest memes for the week of June 22nd

Several months ago, no one believed us when we said that there would eventually be a Space Force. Everyone thought it’d be a foolish idea. We were the biggest fans of the idea from the very beginning. It’s not like we’re mad or anything — just that we’re calling first dibs in line at the Space Force recruitment office.

Whatever. Here’s a bunch of memes that are about the Space Force curated from around the internet and a hand full of other ones that aren’t space related, I guess.


How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via Shammers United)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme by WATM)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme by Yusha Thomas)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme by WATM)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(meme via Disgruntled Vets)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via BigRod50Cal)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

(Meme via Terminal Lance)

Articles

This is how one Marine earned a Navy Cross fighting in the ‘Punchbowl’

Intense firefights, mortar attacks, and rough terrain were just some of the many threats the Marines faced as they battled their way across the 38th Parallel of the Korean War.


In the fall of 1951, the infantrymen of 3rd Battalion 5th Marines dealt with overwhelming odds as they occupied an extinct volcano known as the “Punchbowl” located in the Taebaek Mountains.

While taking enemy contact, a Chinese mortar struck a Marine bunker near where replacement Marine Cpl. Salvatore Naimo was engaging opposing forces. From this position, he heard the screams of his wounded comrades coming from inside the newly-damaged area.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Salvatore Naimo’s boot camp graduation photo. (Source: Salvatore Naimo)

Naimo, who joined the Marines to avoid being drafted into the Army, dashed over to aid his brothers, exposing himself to enemy fire.

Related: These ax murders along the DMZ almost started another Korean War

As mortars continued to destroy the surrounding area, Naimo spotted two severely wounded Marines and scooped up one of them up, protecting him with his own body. Soon after, Naimo dropped off the first injured Marine at the aid station and headed right back for the second man as waves of incoming enemy fire blanketed their position.

After returning to the aid station with the second wounded Marine, Naimo informed the corpsmen that he was going to head back to the bunker and continue to fight.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
Salvatore Naimo in Korea. (Source: Salvatore Naimo)

Upon his arrival at the unmanned bunker, he was lucky to discover the Marines before him had stockpiled it with machine guns, ammo, and extra grenades. As the next wave of Chinese attacks throttled, Naimo fired the arsenal of weapons into the enemy — who closed within 15 yards of his position.

Also Read: The ‘Chosin Few’ gather to dedicate a monument to Korean War battle

Hours later, Marine Lt. Walter Sharpe came across Naimo’s bunker, where he found 36 dead soldiers from the 65th Army Group of Mongolian laid out. Sharpe decided to recommend Naimo for the Navy Cross but sadly was killed in action two days later. He never filed the proper paperwork to get Naimo his Navy Cross.

More than six decades after his heroic efforts, then-Lt. Bruce F. Meyers (who was injured in that same battle) filed the necessary paperwork to award Cpl. Salvatore Naimo the well-deserved Navy Cross.

Intel

Here is what you need to know about Cold War part 2

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Joshua Laidacker, 4th IBCT, 3rd ID


The Cold War ended in 1991, taking the threat of global nuclear annihilation with it. For over 45 years, America and Russia endured a stalemate that spawned the arms race, the space race, land grabs, proxy wars around the globe and more.

But like a bad eighties movie remade for today’s audience, the same elements that shaped the first one are defining the Cold War part two. So far it’s the same plot. For starters, there’s the Russian land grab of Crimea, the forces placed near the Russian border and the proxy war shaping up in Syria.

In Cold War 2.0, VICE does an incredible job making sense of the events leading up to this undeclared conflict. VICE founder Shane Smith meets with Kremlin officials and American leaders, including President Obama, to figure out what’s driving the new standoff.

You can view Cold War 2.0 in its entirety on VICE.com or YouTube. Here is a quick four-minute debrief about the report.

Watch:

MIGHTY MOVIES

Bill Burr, Jeff Ross, and Eagles of Death Metal rock out at Hollywood American Legion

In the first-ever Stand Up and Rock Out benefit event, American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, California, got a heavy dose of comedy and heavy metal; attracting celebs, rockers, and plenty of vets. Held in the new, beautifully remodeled theater at The Legion, the sold-out event featured sets from Bill Burr, Jeff Ross, and Bob Saget and a performance by Eagles of Death Metal.


Rounding out the show was Joe Derosa with American Legion member Jon Stites hosting the whole event.

Jon is no stranger to comedy, having made the rounds all over LA and abroad. Before becoming a professional standup comedian, Jon was a grunt in the Army and even spent a little time as a college language professor. Now, he helps the iconic Hollywood American Legion get the street cred it deserves by bringing them acts like Bill Burr and Eagles of Death Metal. Check out the video above for a taste of the epic jam session and stay tuned for news about more rock shows coming to a Legion near you.

If you want to check out more Jon Stites, catch Mandatory Fun, where he breaks down the most hilarious clips from across the military.

Articles

Navy keeps T-45 Goshawk fleet on the ground

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces, is visiting T-45C training commands across the fleet April 6 to April 8 to address recent concerns.


Shoemaker is visiting Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, NAS Pensacola, Florida, and NAS Meridian, Mississippi, to talk face-to-face with instructor pilots and student pilots about their physiological episodes experienced in the cockpits of T-45C training aircraft. Shoemaker will listen to their concerns and communicate the ongoing efforts to tackle the problem.

On Friday, March 31, roughly 40 percent of flights in the T-45C training commands in Meridian, Pensacola and Kingsville were canceled because of the operational risk management issues raised by local IPs.

“Our instructor pilots were implementing a risk management practice we require they do prior to all flights,” Shoemaker explained. “It was important for me to come talk with my aviation team members and hear their concerns as we work this challenging issue together. We ask a lot of our pilots, and we owe it to them to ensure they understand we are doing everything we can to fix this problem and that they have access to top leadership.”

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt
A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 makes an arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

“This will remain our top safety priority until we fully understand all causal factors and have eliminated PEs as a risk to our flight operations,” Shoemaker continued. “The NAE [Naval Aviation Enterprise] has been directed to expedite solutions for PEs and to prioritize those efforts.”

Engaging with aircrew face-to-face at their home stations is only the most recent in a series of activities undertaken by CNAF and the NAE to deal with PEs. Even before the concerns were raised by the pilots, CNATRA had scheduled expert engineers to visit the training sites and educate them on the ongoing efforts to fix the machines, and to enable the engineers to hear pilot feedback directly. The Navy implemented an operational pause for its T-45C fleet Wednesday at the direction of Shoemaker in response to the T-45C pilots’ feedback about the potential for PEs. That operational pause has been extended to allow Naval Aviation Leadership time to review the engineering data and developing a path forward for the fleet that will ensure the safety of its aircrew.

“We have the right team of NAVAIR [Naval Air Systems Command] program managers, engineers and maintenance experts in conjunction with Type Commander Staffs, medical and physiological experts immersed in this effort working with the same sense of urgency to determine the root causes of PEs,” Shoemaker said.” To tackle this as effectively as possible, we are using an ‘unconstrained resources’ approach to the problem, meaning we have not been nor will we be limited by money or manpower as we diligently work toward solutions.”

As far back as 2010, NAVAIR established a Physiological Episode Team (PET) to collect data, investigate occurrences of PEs and coordinates with technical experts to identify and develop solutions based on root cause determinations. Naval Aviation has provided training and encouraged reporting of PEs since the development of the PET.

Finding the causes is a challenging problem on a complex, highly sophisticated platform. Though the number of components and configurations of the aircraft make finding “smoking guns” difficult, Naval Aviation has continued to implement multiple lines of effort across over the past couple years to mitigate the risks. Naval Aviation requires pilots train in the simulator using a Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device to improve aircrew recognition of physiological symptoms related to hypoxia.

The improved On Board Oxygen Generating System material, known sieve bed (filter) material has been installed in all T-45, and new oxygen monitors are being fielded as part of an operational test in Pensacola. Sorbent tubes, devices that detect contaminants in breathing gas air, are also are being provided to pilots and, as soon as our inventory supports, will be required on every flight to help ensure we capture any PE event that might yield clues to the contamination agent.

Other mitigating efforts in place include: refinements to aircrew procedures; improved maintenance practices and procedures for better system reliability; releasing Air Frame Bulletin (AFB)-794, which changes inspection intervals to improve the rate of component failure detection; procurement of a cockpit pressurization warning system.

In one of his many previous messages to the Force, Shoemaker explained that, “Our aviators must be able to operate with confidence in our platforms and in their ability to safely execute their mission. To help ensure we eliminate this risk, collection and reporting of event data and your continued leadership is critical.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

One of Vietnam’s ‘Boat People’ is now an Air Force officer

The “boat people,” as they came to be known, are an oft-forgotten footnote at the end of the Vietnam War. In the years following the U.S. withdrawal and the subsequent fall of South Vietnam to the Communist north, refugees packed ships leaving the southern half, bound for anywhere but there.


Between 1975 and 1995 some 800,000 people faced pirates, traffickers, and storms to escape the grip of Communism and make it to a new life in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, or elsewhere. Images of boat people adrift on any kind of ship routinely made the nightly news. Rescued refugees would be resettled anywhere they would be accepted, many of them ending up in the Western United States. One of those people was Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Asan Bui.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

Vietnamese “Boat People” being rescued while adrift at sea.

Asan Bui was born on one of those vessels, adrift in the ocean, bound for nowhere, some 44 years ago. He was a citizen of no country. His father took his then-pregnant mother out of Vietnam because he had served in South Vietnam’s army as an artilleryman. Against all odds, he, his wife, and five children all escaped the iron curtain as it came crashing down.

Bui, like many who fought for anti-Communist South Vietnam, faced persecution and execution at the hands of the oncoming Communists in 1975. The fall of the southern capital at Saigon was imminent, and many were looking for a way to flee. Asan Bui’s father took his family by boat.

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

Air Force Reserve, Lt. Col. Asan Bui was born at sea 44 years ago while adrift in the ocean aboard a wooden boat.

(U.S. Air Force Reserve photo by Senior Airman Brandon Kalloo Sanes)

Bui’s family was just the tip of the iceberg. The fall of Saigon caused 1.6 million Vietnamese people to flee South Vietnam. The elder Bui was not happy to leave and wanted to fight the Communists every inch of the way. His sense soon got the better of him, though. If he were captured, he would likely have been tortured and killed.

“Anyone that fought alongside the United States would be killed or imprisoned in re-education camps,” Bui told the Air Force Reserve. “I have personally spoken with individuals that have gone through this brutal ordeal and survived. Some were not released for over a decade and still carry the traumatic scars.”

How this Vietnam vet overcame PTSD and survivor’s guilt

Lt. Col. Bui’s father, Chien Van Bui, calls in artillery fire during the Vietnam War.

(Photo provided by Lt. Col. Asan Bui)

If they did survive the capture and torture, Southern fighters could look forward to hard time in Communist labor camps, re-education centers, or worse. Instead of all that, Chien Van Bui fled with his family. When the family was rescued, they were taken to Camp Asan in Guam, naming their newborn child after the camp they called home.

Asan Bui joined the United States Air Force in his mid-twenties, now serving his 19th year for the country that took him in and allowed him to start a family of his own. Lt. Col. Asan Bui is the commander of the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla. He is dedicated to continued service.

“I want to honor those (military and sponsors) that have sacrificed so much for my family and the Vietnamese refugees,” said Bui. “Especially the Vietnam veterans.”

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