Readers React

Roots of PTSD in veterans run deep

It's hard to explain to people who have never been in the armed services just how much a person changes from the experience. I was drafted during the Vietnam War. Like everyone else, my parents taught me not to harm anyone. Basic training wiped that away. ("Better to treat too many veterans for PTSD than too few," Letters, Aug. 6)

From the beginning, we were taught to kill — with a rifle, a bayonet, our hands. When I was finished with basic training, I couldn't wait to get to Vietnam.

But I was lucky: On the way, I was pulled off the plane in Hawaii and told to report to Ft. Shafter.

I spent 23 years as a respiratory therapist at the West L.A. Veterans Affairs hospital. Post-traumatic stress disorder is real, but most of the guys learn to bury the memories and start all over. For those who can't, it's not their fault.

The only problem with blank-check PTSD disability is that not enough Army doctors with combat experience are making the judgments. Addressing that would go a long way in identifying questionable claims.

John G. Boyes, Long Beach

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