One veteran shares his story about his fight to return to ordinary life.
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
They leave as our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, cousins, nephews, uncles and aunts—and return as strangers.
They are trained for warfare. They adapt to a different world. A world filled with bullets, grenades, bombs, dismemberment and death. When they return, they have to adapt to “normal” life once again only—there’s no one to guide them.
A veteran, going by the name “Binx,” has such a story. Living in Southern California, Binx has struggled trying to regain some semblance of life after leaving the military.
Binx had aspirations to be an athlete and signed on with the military in 2004. He was stationed in Texas. He was a 92 Foxtrot Airborne Specialist and was in Iraq for eight months. He returned home in 2008.
“Any veteran could tell you this, I’ll go back in a heartbeat and do everything all the way up until the point when I went to war,” said Binx. Because, basic training—it built character… my knowledge… my relationships.”
He went on to describe how the benefits of being in the military were overshadowed by the reality of war.
“Mortar attacks, people blowing up in my face, I don’t like going into explicit detail,” he said visibly on edge and cracking his knuckles during the interview.
“Losing people in barracks next to me…getting fired at from 9MM and AK-47’s… I don’t like going into detail,” said Binx.
He went on to describe how the process of war itself left scars and damaged his psyche in ways he couldn’t imagine or understand.
“My first year, being back from Iraq, I had no clue as to what was going on in my mind,” said Binx.
“I would wake up at night [in] cold sweats. I would wake up thinking I was in Iraq… waking up under my mattress thinking I have my M-16—it was insane for a while.”
“I’m usually at the malls, at the parties, I’m the life of the party,” said Binx. “When I came back, my mom was the first one to notice, when we were in the food court [at a mall]… I was shaking at the table, I was looking around… and I said, I need to get out of here, I can’t do it.
“I still close myself in my room; it’s nerve-racking. It’s almost embarrassing not to even have the rapport that I used to have with my dad. I don’t even talk to [them] like I used to…with my mom, my grandmother, with no one.”
Binx received a lot of his treatments and recovery from numerous VA hospitals throughout Southern California. Although he received what seemed proper treatment, according to him, it made life worse and failed to help him find peace.
“I was going to my appointments at the VA hospital,” said Binx. “[I] was seeing my psychiatrist, I was seeing my neurologist… doctors and everything.”
“No one could tell me what was going on,” said Binx.
It wasn’t until an incident occurred, involving Binx’s wife, that he realized he had a serious problem.
“My wife snapped,” said Binx. “She just started screaming at me one day…and I flipped out.”
The subsequent events would involve smashed windows, jumping out of a car at 40mph, being held in a psych ward with no memory of what occurred and a diagnosis of post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD).
Binx has stopped taking the regiment of medications, he had been put on for his PTSD because of even more problematic side effects. He shared that his medication for epilepsy has been changed several times with little success.
“I don’t take [any] of the medications that they have me on except for the epileptic medication and… medicinal marijuana,” said Binx. The medicinal marijuana as been successful in treating most of the PTSD symptoms and seizures according to Binx. He also touched on the difficulty of finding a job.
“I even tried to go back into the military because there was nothing else for me here,” said Binx. “There’s no jobs for me, I was a liability because of my epilepsy for any job.”
Binx spoke about the struggle in keeping jobs due to his condition and once employers find out, they refuse to hire him because of it.
“As soon as they find out, you’re gone, you’re a liability and it’s always within that 90-day probation—always,” said Binx. “It was hard knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to have a job or get a job.”
Binx gave an account how the military failed to deliver on a job coming out of the service due to his condition.
“The job that they said they had lined up for me, in petroleum, one of them got my medical records from the VA,” said Binx. “[They] found out I had epilepsy and didn’t even go through with the interview process.”
Even though the military helped Binx in many ways, it seems to have hampered him in many others.
“I mean going to the military was a stepping stone,” said Binx. “I was using that to further my career not detriment to my career or completely annihilate [my] career—and that’s exactly what happened.”
Binx stated that the VA programs and facilities do not really offer the kind of therapy and help that veterans truly need.
“There’s no facility or no place that I would actually recommend any veteran to go to,” said Binx. “Because I’ve been to every single one—every single one, from northern California, down.
“The main thing that is lacking is actually a core group that is taking veterans and understanding where they’re coming from. It’s not just someone who has a degree in neurology or psychology or anything like that; it’s an actual veteran that knows what we’ve gone through.”
Binx also offered some advice to returning veterans on keeping up with important information and being advocate for themselves.
“Make sure you have all your paperwork, a proper supporting cast and stay on you j-o-b, because no else is going to do it for you,” said Binx.
Make sure you get medical [information] from your doctors from every date you were in the service.”
Binx expressed interests in being a person vets could come and speak to about their struggles, and hopes to be apart of some kind of future group geared towards healing veterans.