The Valley Reporter’s annual tribute to veterans is a reminder of how many, many people in our community have served in the military. When this tribute first started, we interviewed people who served in World War I and later in World War II.
As time has gone by, those vets’ pictures appear with the words “In Memoriam” on them as our interviews shifted to the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and other conflicts.
This year, in addition to features about the Streeters, Larry Corthell and Peter Mahoney, The Valley Reporter interviewed Jim Parker, Warren, and Dick Kingsbury, Waitsfield.
We specifically asked Parker and Kingsbury if they would be willing to talk about the impact of war and their subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They were willing and they did.
They spoke to us with such open honesty and candor about what they went through, how it impacted their lives and how they – eventually – learned (and are still learning) to cope with it.
These are well-known, successful people in our community, who, once they learned they had PTSD, were not afraid or ashamed to talk about it. They made clear that their time in Vietnam, being shot and at shooting, is still with them, decades later.
Kingsbury went to Vietnam at 18 and Parker at 23. During his interview, Kingsbury pointed out that at 18, he was old enough to vote and do many things, but in so many ways, he was still a teenager, too young to understand at the time, how war would become a part of him and remain in his life.
Parker too, talked about feeling like a responsible grown up at 23 with a wife and child, and he also could not have known that what he was experiencing in Vietnam would be something he would carry for decades.
Thanks to Parker and Kingsbury for sharing their stories with us and for talking candidly about PTSD. Both pointed out that PTSD should be something that people talk about and that it doesn’t just impact veterans.
Mental health is often considered the red-headed stepchild when we talk about health and it shouldn’t be. Their willingness to share their experiences and their struggles is critical to destigmatizing mental health care.
Thanks to all who have served and who serve.