Today, I listened to the advice of more than a few people and finally went to the TMC and Combat Stress hospital. My right hand hasn’t stopped twitching after nearly a month and it’s beyond irritating. I’m not sleeping, not eating, and highly irritable. I’ve been under a lot of stress and feel like many of those above me are just making things worse.
So, for three hours today, I sat and got to revisit many issues related to my PTSD, depression, and anxiety as well as some new ones. While waiting to speak with one of the case workers, I had the opportunity of sitting down with “SFC Zeke.”
Zeke looked very busy when I entered the room, but could tell immediately I was there for business. He set aside his distraction and gave me his complete attention. He didn’t say a word. Just sat there and listened to me. He didn’t judge me; he didn’t interrupt me; and he never blamed me. In 5 minutes, Zeke did what few others could do having just met me – he calmed me down and made me feel like I was worth listening to. I want to introduce you to Zeke:
“SFC Zeke” is a Vet Dog. These dogs are raised from puppyhood around the military. They are used to the sounds, the business, and the chaos that accompanies military service. They use Labs, which are the most laid back and gentle dogs.
When I walked into the room, Zeke was going to town on his bone. He looked up, saw me, and – I kid you not – placed the bone off to the side in an “it’s time to go to work” fashion. He was no longer focused on his chew toy, but on his patient…me. While it sounds hokey, I can now see the value in having these dogs in a combat zone.
Zeke has a busy schedule. He frequently visits other FOBs and checkpoints to visit with other troops. He works out with the service dogs and working dogs. It was refreshing to be human again for awhile and just pet a real dog. We aren’t supposed to mess with the animals around here because of fears about rabies. Dogs have a way of calming your nerves and reminding you what normal is supposed to look like.
Zeke did just that and I’m glad I got to hang out with him today. It was definitely a much better day. And I found a group of troops here to meet with on a regular basis for continued therapy.