17 posts tagged “veteran”

“Our countries have come together, but our people have not”: PatientsLikeMe’s Margot shares her story

Posted May 26th, 2017 by
The 2 Sides Project

Margot visiting the location where her father’s plane may have crashed in 1966. Photo courtesy Istrico Productions.

Margot Carlson Delogne is the Vice President of Communications at PatientsLikeMe. She is also the child of an American soldier lost at war.

This Memorial Day we wanted to show how she’s working on her own healing process, but also repairing some of the divide left in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. In December 2015, Margot, along with five other grown sons and daughters of American fathers who were lost in the war, travelled to Vietnam to confront the painful history of the parents they’d lost and to meet face-to-face with grown Vietnamese children who had also lost parents in the same war, but on the opposite side. The journey, named The 2 Sides Project, also allowed the group to visit the locations where each their fathers had fought and died, an experience that left Margot “changed forever.”

“My father’s plane went down 200-300 meters from a bunker that had been his target,” Margot says of her father, Air Force Captain John W. Carlson, who was shot down in December 1966. “We looked at online maps before we went and they showed an odd line of trees along the edge of a road, and exactly 200 meters from that, another set of trees that looked different from the rest…So we went to that area and got permission to walk toward the spot. One of the other American sons on the trip, Ron, watched his GPS and reported how close we were every few steps. He stopped me when his map said 200 meters and pointed in front of me. I looked and saw a crater. I asked Ron if its shape and size were natural and he said no, he didn’t think so. So, I walked into it and sat in the center. That’s where I held my father’s service. I read messages from my sister and my mother and played a favorite song of my father’s, Greensleeves. Margaret, a fellow airman’s daughter on the trip, helped me read the poem High Flight, by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. I climbed out of the crater and left, a little lighter than before.”

The 2 Sides Project

Margot sitting in the crater where she held her father’s service. Photo courtesy Istrico Productions.

In the same trip, Margot and the group also met with twenty Vietnamese sons and daughters who were children of parents lost fought in the war on the opposite side. Their meeting, according to Vietnamese officials, was the first formal one between children whose fathers died fighting on both sides of the war.

Mr. Xiem, 66, took part in one of the historic meetings, sharing with the group that his father had been killed by American bombs in 1965, and two years later his school was bombed by an American aircraft killing 33 students at 1 teacher. “When I was informed that I would meet with The 2 Sides Project and interact with children of U.S. soldiers killed in the Vietnam War, I began to think a lot,” Mr. Xiem said. “My feelings gradually changed from hatred and resentment to empathy and pity for the children of American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. When I came to the meeting, I saw the lack of confidence, the anxiety on their faces…I witnessed their tears. And at that moment my hatred seemed to melt away, leaving only sympathy.”

The 2 Sides Project

Mr. Xiam wearing The 2 Sides Project pin, standing with Ron Reyes, an American son. Photo courtesy Istrico Productions.

The entire journey, which has been covered by the New York Times and the Washington Post, was documented in film by Anthony Istrico, Director and Founder of Istrico Productions, and premiered at the GI Film Festival last night. Three members of the Vietnamese group joined Margot and the five other American sons and daughters for the premiere – watch the trailer here. They also visited the Vietnamese Embassy and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a number of other cultural activities, and ABC News was there to cover their journey.

The 2 Sides Project

The American sons and daughters, from left to right: Margaret Von Lienen, Ron Reyes, Margot Carlson Delogne, Mike Burkett, Susan Mitchell-Mattera, Patty Loew.

When she presented the idea of the 2 Sides Project to the Vietnamese government, the official’s reaction amazed her. “He looked me in the eye and said ‘our countries have come together but our people have not, and I think your project will help. We will support you however we can.’ That’s when I knew this was going to become a reality.”

In her own way, Margot is working to mend the rift between the two countries the best way she knows how, communication. To read updates and stories about their journey, visit the 2 Sides Project website .

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Meet Christopher – “PTSD is not just soldiers whining and complaining about struggles in life”

Posted February 15th, 2017 by

Say hello to Christopher (ChrisBC), a father, musician and Purple Heart recipient living with PTSD and bipolar disorder. We recently caught up with him to hear about how PTSD affected his marriage and how his diagnosis pushed him get the help he needed and connect with his feelings.

Keep reading to learn how he copes with stigma and the one thing he wishes people understood about PTSD.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are you passionate about?  

I was born in Seattle WA, and my family moved to Alaska where I grew up. I joined the Army when I was 19 years old and went to my first assignment at Fort Polk, Louisiana. I spent the next 22 years in the Army. During my time in the Army, I was stationed in seven different locations including Germany. I had five different deployments of varying lengths with three combat, and two peacekeeping. I received a Purple Heart as well as many others in my platoon during my Iraq tour for being wounded under enemy fire. I retired in 2014 and have one daughter who is 11 years old.

I am passionate about music and I play the electric bass guitar for the church that I attend now here in NY. I have played guitar since I was 8 years old and have been playing bass guitar about 12 years. I’m also passionate about family, church community, and raising my daughter.

How has PTSD affected your life? What’s the most challenging aspect of your diagnosis?

PTSD affected my life in a big way in my marriage. It was my then wife who noticed the differences in me and encouraged me to go get help. I finally went after struggling with the symptoms and believing that I didn’t have it and I was strong enough to forget the things I had been through.  Once I knew that I had PTSD and was diagnosed, then I started getting help for even more things that I was struggling with that needed to be addressed.

The most challenging aspect of my diagnosis is being in touch with my feelings. I would tend to block out my feelings and hide them deep inside and put on a false persona because I was scared. I still struggle with this today and have so much support helping me to make it through this.

How do you cope with stigma? 

I believe there should be a law against stigmatizing those of us with PTSD and other mental illnesses. I cope with stigma by not talking about it with those that stigmatize, that don’t understand it, because they already have their views and I don’t like to confront people. I believe the stigma is a real thing and when I see it makes me angry and upset. People are going to do what they are going to do and I just don’t want to discuss issues with them when they won’t understand it. Basically, I use avoidance to deal with stigma.

What’s one thing you wish people understood about PTSD?

I wish people understood that PTSD is not just soldiers whining and complaining about struggles in life. We all have those, but when you have PTSD you are dealing with a 24 hour, 365 days a year illness that is a constant struggle.

What advice can you give others who are struggling with PTSD? What do you find most helpful?

The advice I would give others is to have a support team to help you. Find a psychiatrist, and a psychologist, for those that don’t already have those. Those are the two most important people that will help you through those real hard times when the symptoms are overwhelming.

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