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Wars terrible toll should not surprise

MY VIEW • Veterans of all ages still struggle with emotional costs
by: L.E. BASKOW, Jerry Janeck receives acupuncture at a weekly clinic hosted for veterans by Dr. Diane Miller  at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church. Many veterans who experience stress and anxiety as a result of their service find acupuncture offers some relief.

Wars have always created walking wounded who are unable to readapt to civilian life upon their return. This generation fights in the Middle East, my generation fought in Vietnam, and my mother's and father's generation fought in World War II and in the Korean conflict.

I have no interest in debating the justifications of these wars.

All I know is that my father was crippled by post-traumatic stress disorder from his service as a rescue helicopter pilot in Korea, and due to his illness I grew up without a father in my home. I followed him into the Navy and served as a corpsman. In my 30s, I went through therapy at the Portland Vet Center when it was on Southeast Belmont Street.

Fortunately, I suffered from a minor issue - survivor's guilt - not full-blown PTSD. About a year after graduating from the program I was recruited to serve as a co-facilitator for groups at the vet center. My nine years of volunteer work there were both rewarding and traumatic - much more traumatic, in fact, than my service in Vietnam.

I bring this up only to point out that our society always seems surprised at the price our veterans pay for their service. Why is it a surprise that war creates casualties?

I wept when I read about the suicide rate among returning veterans in your article ''Suicide epidemic' hits veterans' (Aug. 21).

I wept for the human price to the veterans and their families, I wept from my too-raw memories of the men and women I worked with at the vet center who lived and continue to live emotionally crippled lives, despite the best counseling we could provide.

I weep for those who face the same and their families and children who will endure the pain I still suffer.

All wars have victims - victims in-country, victims back in the world. I weep for them all, for the futility of war and the human devastation it creates and man's inability to bring an end to war.

Jim Fisher is a Vietnam veteran living in Northeast Portland.