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My name is Jesse Rivera.
I served with the Army '67 through '69.
I was wounded twice.
The first time I wasn't that bad so they sent
me back to the field.
But the second time it was a little worse so they sent me
to Japan and then back to the States.
The transition was so fast. I mean you go from being in the
jungle, and sleeping with your rifle, and going out.
And then all of a sudden you're back at home and
getting back to what is normal.
It was pretty tough.
I found myself sitting in a dark room there trying to
figure things out.
And the main thing I wanted to do was get back to work.
And they wouldn't give me my job back initially because of
the wounds that I had.
But the VA talked to them and they were able to give me
There was a lot of strain on my marriage.
I just didn't seem like I fit in anymore.
I just didn't seem like I had the patience
for a lot of things.
I got a divorce not too long after that.
I've had two marriages, really.
My kids, I probably didn't have the affection that I
should have had, that I would have had before.
It was like the love was gone, that emotion I hadn't felt in
a long time.
So it was real strained.
It was pretty tough on them.
I should've known better.
And I should have controlled it
better, but I just couldn't.
When my second wife left me, that same year my mother died.
That was so much depression there that hit
me all at one time.
I just wasn't able work then.
I didn't even answer the phone.
I was an engineer then.
Finally, I went to a good friend of mine that used to
work for the VA.
And she told me, you have PTSD.
And I said, I don't know what that is.
And when she told me, I said there's no way.
I said, my dad, and my uncle, and my
grandpa all went to war.
And they took it like a man, how come I can't?
That was the way I looked at it.
I'm too much of a man for that to have affected me this way.
So I was in denial until finally I just didn't have
anywhere else to go.
She guided me towards the Veterans Administration, had
me lined up for an examination with a psychiatrist. I let
everything out and I just cried myself crazy.
A lot from the hurt from my mom dying, my wife leaving,
and having to reveal all this other stuff that I had kept in
all these years.
We had groups where they tried to get us to talk about it.
And when it'd come to my turn I said, no, I don't have
anything to say.
And finally after so many years, I was able to start
contributing a little bit to the group.
I started coming out of my shell.
If you don't talk to another Veteran that's been there and
done that, you can look at other people's eyes and they
don't know what you're talking about.
So you really need to talk to another Veteran and get around
And maybe just get together and let it out.
And let that pressure out.
If I could have done that before while I was married, I
think that I would still be married.
But I couldn't convince myself that I had a problem.
And the VA knows, there's been a lot of improvement with the
VA in dealing with these things.
And they're really trying.
My dad, I understand him now.
He used to drink a lot, a lot of anger.
And I didn't know why.
And now I do.
They are a whole lot more aware of it now.
Because even the VA would say, bring your family
in, bring your kids.
Because if you have PTSD, your kids have some of it also.
Because they're feeding off what you're giving them
really, and your anger, and all this.
So they need to come and sit with you so that we can
explain to them why you're doing this and why
you act this way.
The VA had an open policy.
You could just take them into a counsellor and you could sit
there with them.
And I had good counsellors.
God has put good people in my path, no
matter where I've gone.
So I've got to thank God for that.
I've got to thank the VA.
You can't get out of the war without having
some kind of issue.
So they need to know that it's going to cause a
problem down the road.
They might be able to suppress it now for a long time, but
when it bubbles up again, it's going to
bring your world down.
So please, go get some help, it's free.
Just find the avenues, talk to other Veterans that have been
And find out how you get there.
And most of the time it's just for the asking.
Ask for the initial exam with a psychiatrist. And that
psychiatrist was a main thing also.
Those are the people that can help you.
Those are the only people that you can talk to and they'll
know how to treat you.
If you can catch it early, you're going to save your
family and friends from a lot of pain.