I recently got out of the Army and am now going to college. I did a tour in Iraq where we did and saw some things that were pretty bad. Some of my nonmilitary friends think I may be a little “nuts” when I laugh about the things we did and when telling my stories. Now, since being out, I have been with a few girls. It’s hit or miss with having good sex. Sometimes I can’t get it up or finish too quickly, and other times, I feel like I’m in a porno. I’ve done some research on this topic, and it could be PTSD or lack of an adrenaline rush or just trying to readjust to regular life. I don’t think I have PTSD — it just seems that I’m all about the adrenaline rush.
It’s just kind of hard to get excited about anything in life nowadays, including sex, so I have to take it to severe extremes. But I’m afraid someone’s going to get hurt. Help me out, please. What do you think I should do?
Soldier Boy in the South Bronx
Anyone willing to go to war to protect our rights, our freedom, and to allow us to go to bed with peace of mind is a hero in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing your story, because I know there are many out there experiencing exactly what you are, but haven’t had the courage to speak up. Since I am not in the military, and have never been subjected to the horrors of war, I cannot relate to your stories, and nor can your friends. So my first bit of advice would be to find a veterans support group where you can share your stories, and no one thinks you’re a little “nuts.” The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a different type of war – having occurrences of suicide as many as those from the Vietnam War! Today’s military men are sent to war for longer periods of time, and sent for more than one deployment/tour – some are returning four times! War is hell, and you are eyewitnesses to the unthinkable!!
I know you’ve researched PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have too, and just in reading your letter I can tell you that it appears you are experiencing some of the symptoms. For example, you say that you find it “kind of hard to get excited about anything in life nowadays.” To me that sounds like one of the symptoms: hopelessness about your future. And when you talk about “needing an adrenaline rush,” it reminds me of the symptom of destructive behavior. You’re looking for something to give you that edge that you most likely felt when you were in Iraq. Impotence & premature ejaculation are also symptoms for many veterans experiencing PTSD, but many are not talking about it for obvious reasons of feeling shame and not “feeling like a man.”
And, although I am not a doctor, I recall in college taking a psychology class, where the professor told us that sex is not just something that feels good, but something that gives us a sense of power. Sex also involves being vulnerable, and after going to war, who wants to feel vulnerable? I am wondering if the problems you are feeling during sex are linked to feeling out of control, or feeling somewhat powerless. And I think your experiencing of sex like a ‘porno’ is your feeling of being detached or removed from being connected, vulnerable and close to someone – also a symptom. The fact that you mention that you are worried that ‘someone might get hurt’ to me is a red flag that you are VERY aware that you feel a bit out of control. Besides, who in the world would be able to function at all in life after seeing the horrors you have?!
The biggest question here is, how LONG have you been feeling this way? If you’ve felt like this for more than a month, I would say it is time for you to seek professional help – find out if you actually have PTSD or some other form of anxiety disorder.
You can reach out to the National Center for PTSD at www.ptsd.va.org or call toll-free National Caregivers Support line: 855-260-3274, or speak to your doctor for a referral. And if it’s a true crisis and emergency, call 911.
Many veterans feel like the civilian public does not care…please know that we DO. I pray for you, for your peace of mind, for your life to feel like it’s back to “normal” and for you to feel joy, emotional connection and real LOVE with a good woman! You have been a hero to us, soldier. Now it is time to be a hero to you!!