Sunday, November 13, 2011

Louise Erdrich

There are two Indian boys, Henry and Lyman, who buy a red convertible on a bit of a whim one day.  That summer they take the convertible all over and never have any plans really, they just live each day for the day.  When they got back is when the Army seemed to remember that Henry had signed up, though when he left he was a Marine.  He was gone for three years, in the Vietnam war and Henry was taken by the enemy.  When he returned he was different.  Lyman took care of the red convertible while Henry was gone but he didn't notice.  When Henry first got home he would never sit still, but when he watched the color television that Lyman had gotten he sat still.  After awhile Lyman got an idea and beat the convertible up, when Henry noticed he yelled at Lyman about it and Lyman left before Henry could notice that he spoke.  Henry made the red convertible his project and almost froze working on it around the clock until it was finished.  One day Henry asked Lyman to take it for a drive to the river.  The boys seemed to enjoy the ride, feeling a little bit like old times.  When they got there they made a fire and noticed the current was high and strong.  Henry gave Lyman the keys and said he could keep it for good now but Lyman refused.  They got in a fist fight about it until it ended in laughter.  When the fight was over Henry said he needed to cool off and headed into the river.  When Lyman looked up Henry had gone a long way, knowing that he hadn't swam there but the current had taken him.  That's when Henry went in.  When Henry got out he went to the car turned on the lights and drove it directly into the river, got out and stood on the bank and watched the car as it shorted out.  Then it was dark and quiet and all you could hear was the river.

This story is heart wrenching and sounding so true at the same time.  Many veterans came home from Vietnam and were changed forever.  The fact that getting help for PTSD was looked down upon.  If you said you had PTSD you were seen as weak and crazy and were often committed.  It was not a "manly" quality and you were expected to put up with everything and put it away and not think about it.  This story is something that often happened to those who couldn't work through their experiences at war.  The suicide rates went up after Vietnam because of so many things that the soldiers had seen while they were gone.

To this day PTSD is still looked down upon in the military.  If you admit to having serious problems with PTSD you are released from the military.  There are therapists that the military provides but if you tell a military therapist then they are required to tell the military if you're having PTSD symptoms.  I find this to be counterproductive.  These soldiers gave their lives to go fight for this country and when they come back and say that they're having problems dealing with what they went through we cut them out on their own.  I think that is cowardly of the military because those soldiers weren't cowards when they were forced to go fight in another country, they were willing to give up their lives.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you included PTSD in your blog. This is a disorder that affects many veterans today that no one knows about. I can see why a man would keep these things to himself because he doesn't want to seem less "manly" but they really do need to tell someone about it so they can get help. No one in my family has been in the war except for my grandfather who passed away a few years ago and he never said anything about it. So i have no current active members to relate too. But I did see a episode of NCIS where a man was reliving a experience that happened when he was in the war and he was harming other people in the process. Watching that episode really made me understand what was going on in their minds and it helped me understand this story!