DINK #147 Sparking A Conversation About The Dry Land

Posted on : 16-08-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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Last night it was my privilege to see the screening of the film, “The Dry Land” (http://www.thedrylandmovie.com/) hosted by the Austin Film Festival (http://www.austinfilmfestival.com/new/) at the Bob Bullock Museum Theater. The film is about a returning Iraqi/Afghanistan War Veteran and his resulting PTSD from the war as well as the reprucussions to his family and friends. Ryan Piers Williams, writer and director, captured on film what I understand is going on for many of the returning troops. In his blog, http://thedrylandmovie.com/blog/?p=163, you can read Ryan’s passion to helping our returning soldier’s find help and the impact of such statistics as, “”Last year, 347 military personnel were killed in the two wars, while at least 381 warriors took their own lives.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/23/opinion/23fri3.html?_r=1) on getting his message out and why this movie is so important to him.

I’ve never been to war, but my father did three tours to Vietnam and I have several friends who fought and survived in Vietnam as well. Two of them are Native Americans who have what I call “shadow shocks” of the vestiges of their experiences there even today, some 35 years later.

At 24, I experienced PTSD and severe anxiety attacks as a result of taking a little bit too much of a recreational drug that forced me to face the traumas of a severe car wreck that I had at 21, as well as a major house fire and other events that I refused to face much less acknowledge. The good news was I did knock on every door I could til I found a therapist who could help me to settle the ravages of my past. The way I experienced PTSD was physically, my teeth would literally chatter in my head. I could not stand any kind of a loud noise. I couldn’t listen to most kinds of music. I developed phobias such as driving over bridges, having any kind of kitchen knife showing on the counter and was constantly fighting for my sanity. I was convinced that at any moment, I could lose my mind. It’s a dibilitating disorder.

In my case, I was very lucky because I was able to find peace and awareness through talk therapy and medication. I can only imagine what it must be like for a soldier if I a mere girl growing up in Texas could feel the level of fear, shame and guilt that I did over my past.

I have a step-brother who is around 33 now (I haven’t seen him since he was four) who was a medic over in Iraq, I believe he did a couple of tours. From what I know of him, he’s always been a quiet, thoughtful person who has a very sweet way with animals. Evidently when he and his medic friends returned from Iraq, the stories they told were quite bone chilling. I’m pretty sure that my step-brother has had a difficult time of re-adjusting to the world back home and It is my understanding that he is certainly not talking about it or seeking help. What I know I can do for him is to keep him in my prayers and when I do have the opportunity to interact with soldiers, to treat them as I would hope others treat my step-brother.

I went to see this film not so much because I didn’t already know about the devastating effects of the war on humans but because I wanted to be able to support the people who through their creativity can, as Ryan Piers Williams said in the talk after the film last night, “spark a conversation about the effects of the war (such as PTSD) on the soldiers and their family and friends.”

I’m grateful to both my brothers who I know are both active in various capacities helping returning soldiers. I’m grateful for my dad and the life he put into the service for what he believes. I only regret that I can now see today in my ripe young age what it must have been like for him to return home to a country under change, his own life under change and no way to really communicate what he underwent with his family and friends and himself.

Do what you can where you can, you never know what one little word, tilt of a listening head or willingness to help will do for someone else.

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