Our Turn: What is a hero?
“Heroes don’t wear capes, they wear dog tags.” I know that quote is used a lot, but I think it is very true. Yes, heroes like Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Batman, The Flash, etc. are cool and fun but soldiers are heroes on a completely different level. Yes, seeing little kids dressed up on Halloween as Superman or Spiderman is cute but I think it is so much cooler and makes a bigger impact if there is a little boy or girl dressed up as a soldier of the United States Armed Forces.
Have you ever had that certain something inside you that you have had the need to do, you didn’t know why or what influenced you but you just needed to do it? Brett Foley did and that something was joining the United Stated Marine Corps.
Brett talked a lot about his five years in the Marine Corps, but he also talked about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He was one of the lesser cases of PTSD, but just because he was a lesser case doesn’t make it any less serious.
PTSD is a mental health condition that is caused by experiencing a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, extreme and consistent adrenaline rushes and severe anxiety as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Brett talked about the troubles he had with PTSD. One of the things he said he had trouble with when he came back was sleeping. You may think that’s no surprise. Well, he had a few nightmares here and there but he said that they weren’t awful. His reason though was because he was used to sleeping in a room with a bunch of sleeping men that he got so used to the snoring that when he came home and was just with his wife he felt “alone”. Brett said what helped the most was the dog that his wife, Whitney, had bought them had a short snout and that she snored really loud so that helped him get to sleep and stay asleep.
Brett also talked about what you could do for someone who is an older veteran or someone who has just come back and that is to just listen. He said speaking from experience, vets don’t want someone to sit there and say yeah I know how you feel and talk. He said it helps so much more to just listen and say I’m sorry for what happened I couldn’t imagine going through what you have but thank you for your service. One of Brett’s friends, David Chrisinger, came to school to express his point of view on how to help. He explains that when Brett first came back, he began talking to David. David talked about how he wanted to help Brett but didn’t know how. Brett and David both found out that the best thing they could both do for each other was to just listen.
Whitney, his wife, also came to our school and talked about how all of this affected her. In January 2007, Brett volunteered to deploy to Iraq for a seven-month tour. During that time he made two phone calls; one of those was to Whitney. She said that what killed her most was that it was just pretty much a call that said I’m going to be gone for another seven months and that she didn’t really have any say in it. She also talked about the things that helped her get through it all. One of those things was not watching the news all the time; just a little bit here and there. If she saw something on the news such as two marines dead after roadside bombing, her first thoughts would be: Which marines? Was one my marine?
Listening to someone can do a great deal for the person and yourself. The person doesn’t have to be an armed forces vet or someone with PTSD, just listening to your boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, parent, grandparent, anyone. It can help more than you would probably ever know and all it takes is time and patience.