Combat vets share struggles, similarities
June 10, 2010
FORT JACKSON, SC -- Several generations of warfighters struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder had a chance to share their experiences and support each other during a visit by the South Carolina Combat Veterans Group to Fort Jackson last week.
After touring Fort Jackson, the group learned about the mission and goals of the Warrior Transition Unit and the Soldier Family Assistance Center before meeting with wounded warriors.
"The Combat Veterans Group was organized to be a therapeutic support group for combat veterans suffering from PTSD. I could not think of a better group of professionals to meet with Soldiers assigned to the WTU," said Col. Lillian Dixon, garrison commander, who invited the veterans to Fort Jackson.
Tommy Olds, commander of the group, said he is glad to see that the military addresses combat-related stress head on.
"I'm very impressed," Olds said. "This is something that is very much needed. It's something that would have benefitted thousands of Vietnam veterans."
Robert Harris, a Vietnam veteran, said that if programs like the WTU had been available during the Vietnam War, a lot of issues that veterans are dealing with today could have been prevented.
"When we came back - straight from the war - it was kind of hard to adjust," he said. "I'm just happy the (service members) who are going to war now are not going the way we went."
Capt. Michael Block, commander of the WTU, said he hopes to establish a partnership between the veterans' group and the WTU.
"I believe that the South Carolina Combat Veterans and the wounded warriors from the WTU will help each other to conquer some of the symptoms associated with PTSD, because the warriors from the WTU will be relieved to find other veterans in their community who can relate to their experiences while providing much needed camaraderie and practical guidance," Block said. "On the other hand, the South Carolina Combat Veterans will find fulfillment by serving as mentors to the wounded warriors and knowing that they are doing their part to help the next generation of wounded warriors to heal from PTSD."
The veterans left an immediate impression with the WTU Soldiers, Block said.
"I was thrilled with the visit because I got a chance to see my warriors' faces light up as they spoke to the South Carolina Combat Veterans and realized that they could relate to their struggles," he said.
Dixon said she hopes the new partnership will also help keep the veterans connected to today's military.
"I am always impressed with the South Carolina Combat Veterans Group," Dixon said. "They are proud Soldiers whom should be reminded that they are still a vital part of our Army family and deserve our thanks for the many sacrifices they made for our country."