Young vets urged to get help for PTSD

Man who fought in Korea, Vietnam struggled for years before seeking treatment

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Army veteran Bobby Goode, 80, of Grovetown, developed post-traumatic stress disorder after his time in Korea and Vietnam. Goode suffers from nightmares so vivid he can smell the gunpowder from battle.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Army veteran Bobby Goode, 80, of Grovetown, developed post-traumatic stress disorder after his time in Korea and Vietnam. Goode suffers from nightmares so vivid he can smell the gunpowder from battle.

Bobby Goode’s dreams started right after he returned home from fighting in Korea. The vivid dreams were filled with the smell of gunpowder and cries for help.

At one point, he thrashed so hard to fend off the bayonets closing around him that he broke a window by his bed with a kick.

For the retired road construction foreman, coping with what he knew as “shell shock” was a private battle and one he didn’t admit to for more than 50 years. It was part pride, part shame.

“I didn’t want anyone to think I was a crybaby,” said Goode, 80, of Grovetown.

It’s only in recent years that he has sought professional help and opened up about his struggle with what’s known to today’s service members as post-traumatic stress disorder. Goode, who received Silver and Bronze Stars fighting in Vietnam and Korea, wants veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to avoid a lifetime struggling with bad memories.

“Go get some help,” Goode said. “Don’t be so hard-headed.”

Though it’s still unclear why some service members are more affected than others by the sights of war, doctors have identified several factors that increase the chances of developing PTSD. Goode experienced several of those, including exposure to combat and witnessing a friend’s death.

A native of Spindale, N.C., Goode joined the Army in 1948 and was deployed to the growing conflict in the Korean peninsula in 1950 with a speciality in communications. Days after arriving, Goode survived a shell explosion that blew apart a friend only a few feet away. When he regained consciousness, Goode saw his lieutenant kicking the severed leg of his fallen comrade.

“When you see your friends shot and killed, that bothers you, that works on your mind,” Goode said.

Several incidents added to his survivor’s guilt, including a face-to-face encounter with a North Korean soldier and another shell that landed close to him while he was drying his socks and boots. In Vietnam, Goode survived an attack on the Da Nang Airbase while a direct hit from a rocket wiped out most of his platoon as they slept in their barracks.

“You see so many of your friends killed, but you got to forget it and go on,” Goode said.

If he wasn’t entirely successful at forgetting his memories, Goode was at least able to ignore them. By day, he went about his normal duties as a father, a husband, a supervisor at work. At times he grew edgy in crowds and jumped at loud noises, but it didn’t affect his ability to function.

Nighttime was a different story. At times, Goode would stay up late watching television for as long as he could, fearful of the inevitable dreams.

“You don’t know when you go to bed what you’re going to come up with,” Goode said. “It’ll be Korea one night, Vietnam the next.”

Goode was prescribed medication after seeking professional treatment, and that has helped abate the dreams somewhat. He is skeptical about further psychological treatment but sees the benefit of confronting PTSD early instead of living in denial.

“I would tell a young trooper, ‘Don’t be afraid to go (get help),’ ” Goode said. “They’re so many people like me that didn’t go.”

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KSL 07/16/12 - 04:40 pm
You don't have to be in

You don't have to be in combat to experience PTSD. I have, but I got over it without professional help, but then mine was due to a one time incident. It took about a year for the flashbacks to finally go away.

itsanotherday1 07/16/12 - 06:44 pm
It is close kin to panic

It is close kin to panic disorder, agoraphobia, etc. All are devastatingly painful, keeping one living on the edge of sanity.

bclicious 07/17/12 - 10:17 am
PTSD and the VA

The sad thing about PTSD is that there are so many military veterans that have it who are not willing to seek help. And, when they finally muster up enough guts to ask for help, the VA says,"Oh, you are pretty much functional". "It's not like your an alcoholic, or a drug user". "You have hurt yourself, or anyone". "You don't want to hurt yourself; do you?"

Well, I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and I draw disability for it. I don't want to hurt myself, or anyone else, but I do struggle with the stored anger that is associated with PTSD. I have too many friends who have been turned away by the VA because they were not out of control.

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