by Bobby D. Gayton

PTSDCARTERSVILLE, Ga. (BNc) — I served in the U.S. Army as a combat infantryman soldier during the Vietnam War. My tour of duty in Vietnam was Sept. 4, 1967, to Sept. 1, 1968. I was assigned to Alpha Company of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Battalion, and 22nd Infantry of the 25th Infantry Division.

This unit was involved in four counter-offensives during my tour of duty.

During my military service, I was not a Christian. After my military service, I struggled with the events of Vietnam.

As I sought help from the doctors, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This became my thorn in the flesh.

All I ever wanted was to have inner peace. I discovered that what I wanted was a struggle to find and when I found it, it was a struggle to keep it.

Jesus told the apostles, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

All the symptoms of PTSD prevented the inner peace that I so desired in life. To those who suffer from PTSD I say, I know where you are going because I know where you have been.

The symptoms of my PTSD are survival guilt, depression, withdrawal, inner rage, avoidance of feeling, anger, anxiety reactions, sleep disturbance, nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts.

When I became a Christian, I thought that God would take away all my memories of my past, but this was an irrational belief and I had to find the truth.

As a Christian, I struggled with the person I was in 1967-1968. It was and is hard to see me as that person. I studied the Bible from cover to cover, and I went back to college to study counseling psychology. It was a struggle to tell those with whom I studied the Bible that obedience to the gospel of Christ would bring peace when I knew that I did not have the inner peace I desired.

Help came when I re-studied the life of Paul (Saul). Paul continuously made “havock of the church.” The “threatening and slaughter (murder)” were the continuous element from which Paul drew his breath (Acts 9:1-3). After becoming a Christian Paul struggled with his past life.

How could Paul write in Philippians 3:13-14 that “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”?

This took place in a Roman cell around AD 62. Later, he wrote to Timothy that he was a “blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” and described himself as “chief” of sinners.

Paul forgot those things, which are behind. Were they gone? Paul was saying that he was not going to allow his past to keep him from claiming heaven for faithfully following the Lord. He replaced living in the past with living in the future.

Paul shows those who suffer from PTSD that the past will always be there, but it should not keep us from attaining heaven as our final home.

Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderI found my answer by changing by irrational belief system, with telling myself the truth, no matter how hard it was.

I will always have the memories of my time in Vietnam. I will always suffer from PTSD, because there is no cure.

PTSD means many things to many people but to me it has come to mean “Pleasing The Savior Daily.”

Bobby has written a book on PTSD called “My Thorn in the Flesh: A Vietnam Veteran Speaks About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Bible,” which may be ordered from Lulu.com, or directly from the author.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us

2 thoughts on “PTSD: Recovering from war

  1. Brother Gayton
    I too was in the Nam and went through a similar experience upon my return. I submitted to Christ after about 6 years back in the world. With the power of God’s grace and our faith He will remove this inner fight if we let him. He did just that for me. I’ve tried to tell my vet friends that in Christ he will bless us beyond measure. May 1 Peter 5:6-8 be the rule for our lives. Thank you for your service to Christ.

  2. Brother Gayton,
    I was deployed to OIF II for 13 months, I am struggling every day with the memories of the events that I had to live through while in Iraq. I was given a copy of your book by a good friend and Brother in Christ, Don Turnmire, and can’t lay it down.
    I want to thank you and every Vietnam Veteran for all the sacrifices and hardships that you have gone through for me , my family, and our country. I will pray for all of you and ask God to help heal us every day. Thank you again for your service.
    James C Puckett

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