Vietnam Vet Offers Ways To Help Returning Veterans Adjust

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 04:14 PM.

No matter how well-adjusted returning or returned veterans appear, they are likely carrying wounds that cut deep, and that pain sticks with them for the rest of their lives, says Vietnam veteran Ord Elliott.

“When I came back from the war, I filed all that pain away as ‘personal,’ but it invariably came out in my creative writing, and I think that kept me much more sane,” says Elliott, a former platoon commander with the Marines and author of The Warrior’s Silence (www.ordelliott.com).

“I still feel a sense that something was lost within me from that war, and it kills me to think that our country’s most recent wars have done the same to the latest generation of military personnel. When I hear reports of alarming suicide rates among soldiers and problems with drugs and homelessness, it reminds me of friends I’ve lost, and the lives they weren’t able to have.”

While intending to write books about business, Elliott found himself writing poems about his war experience.  Through the years, writing became an extremely helpful, therapeutic activity, he says.

“It just came out of me about five years after coming home,” he says. “Unfortunately, for many of today’s younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, they are expressing their pain through alcoholism, drugs, crime, depression and violence.”

There are many avenues available to vets if they’re having a hard time adjusting to civilian life after combat, he says.

"In some ways I was lucky; I had a good education from Princeton, a sense of purpose and I never had a full-blown case of post-traumatic stress disorder,” Elliott says. “But I think it’s safe to say all vets who have seen combat are haunted by what they’ve endured.”



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