As part of our ongoing coverage of veterans affected by disability claim backlogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, I’ve got a story up at The New York Times’ At War blog this week.
“Sparring with demons, combat medic turns to martial arts” is the story of Kyle Dubay, 28, who served three tours in Iraq and struggled with the symptoms of PTSD back at home.
Click over to the Times for the full story. What was remarkable to us was the way he talked about what PTSD feels like.
From the story:
He felt the ball of fire in his chest first. Then it started to grow. “The bigger it gets,” he says, “the more it pushes down into your stomach. It can make it hard to breathe. You feel it just spreading into your limbs, going down through your arms and into your fingers. Everything is so tense and so angry. You just want to scream to get rid of it.”
Every guy he knew had a different threshold for the terrible stuff of war, and that was vexing to Mr. Dubay at first. It’s one of the things he says he has some clarity on now. “Everybody has a different size cup. Once it’s full, it’s full.”
The cup and the ball of fire are not the same thing, he explained: “The cup is the memories. The ball is the anger and frustration you have for those memories.”
For more of Dubay’s story, check out the audio slideshow. “Love, war and mixed martial arts,” created by Meg Martin and Samara Freemark. We’ll post more about Dubay in coming days.
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