When Your Job In War Is To Save Soldiers' Lives, You Never Really Come Home

GUEST WORDS-Guys still fly across the country to show up at Travis Landchild's door in Vancouver, Wash., and he waves them right on into his garage for marathon counseling sessions. These are the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. They've never quite come home from that 2007 combat tour in Iraq, and Landchild, who deployed with them as a mental health specialist, is still providing therapy. 

"It's tough here now, I still hear from guys," said Landchild, 32, who now runs a food cart across the river in Portland, Ore. "They're my guys, they're my brothers. They'll come once a year, and that's their counseling. I've done so much trauma counseling, I can see it, I can understand, no matter how horrendous it is." 

 

But the burden on military health care providers like Landchild is crushing. 

"I still have nightmares that are not mine," he said. "Plenty of nightmares where I'm going in, busting down the door, killing kids. That's not what happened to me; that's something that was told to me."

Landchild said PTSD is just a medical way of trying to describe a condition that isn't medical -- it's spiritual.

"War changes you for the rest of your life," he said. "For warriors, the rest of your life is a path of healing. One of the most important aspects of that path of healing is a new role in society. As combat veterans, we don't have a position in our society that we fall into, and therefore we can't heal." 

Landchild, an Eagle scout, enlisted in the Army after 9/11. "I wanted to do something I could do," he said. "It was not, 'I'm gonna go over there and kill 'em.' It was, 'I'm gonna help.''' 

Trained as a mental health specialist, he later deployed to Iraq with a psychiatrist, Capt. Peter Linnerooth, and with Brock McNabb, a soldier whose personality made him a natural mental health worker. (Read the rest … including what happened to Peter Linnerooth … and what our wars really cost … here)

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CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 77

Pub: Sept 24, 2013