Depression Disabled Marine Combat Veteran Seeks Help To Make Ends Meet
by Robert Edwards
(Metairie, Louisiana, USA)
I am a 51-year-old retired US Marine Gunnery Sergeant. I am married to a wonderful 58-year-old woman. I have no children.
I only have a high school diploma and have never been able to attend college because during my 21-year military career I was constantly deployed to areas of conflict throughout the world. I am a proud Marine.
I am a 100% disabled veteran due to PTSD, Major Depression, Hearing Loss, High Blood Pressure and Alcoholism (in full remission for seven years thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous). I live by the 12 steps.
I was in active combat in Panama, Desert Storm and Bosnia, which is where I developed my PTSD and alcoholism. I used alcohol to dull my pain.
When I was in the Marines I participated in heavy combat in Panama (1989), Desert Storm (Kuwait and Iraq 1991-1992) and Bosnia 1995.
After these major life-changing experiences I found myself constantly depressed, isolated, unloving, hyper-vigilant, paranoid and suicidal.
I lost too many Marines in combat where they were killed. My best marine buddy, Staff Sergeant Biggs, caught a sniper bullet in the head and his brain matter splattered all over my face and uniform.
I cry all the time. I attend PTSD groups at the VA weekly but it doesn't help. I recently completed a 10-week Sleep and Nightmare Program at the VA.
I have nightmares of my combat almost nightly (when I can sleep). Just last week my wife woke me from a nightmare and in my sleepy confusion I threatened to cut her head off.
She said she is starting to get scared of sleeping with me.
I have attended three 90-day PTSD Residential Programs at the VA hospital in the last four years without any results. I have suicidal ideations regularly and I also suffer from survivor's guilt.
I have tried to commit suicide twice in the past. I feel like my life is out of control. My VA psychiatrist has me on 11 medications. They don't work that well. I am at my wit's end.
Between my VA Disability, Military Retirement and SSDI, I make a decent amount of money, but there is not enough to go around when it comes to paying all of my monthly expenses.
My wife is also disabled.
My rent is $1400 a month, which really cuts into my income. My home is a decent place but not where I want to spend the rest of my life.
I own a pickup truck and my wife owns car. The only place I ever go is to my VA appointments because I'm scared to leave my home.
Many times I have flashbacks from my combat that last for several days and thank God I have a wife that knows how to take care of me when these episodes occur. I don't remember them.
I am on 11 different medications prescribed by the VA: everything from depression meds, anti-anxiety meds, sleep meds, PTSD meds, nightmare meds, acid reflux meds, blood pressure meds, pain meds from a back injury I sustained while in combat and nerve injury meds.
According to the VA, I am classified as individually unemployable and they won't allow me to obtain gainful employment due to my Psychological problems.
Before I became unemployable I never could hold down a job because I couldn't get along with the other employees and I was accident-prone. I injured myself three times while working for Bellsouth as a phone technician.
I was working in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina restoration and they had me working exclusively in the lower 9th Ward, which was the worst hit off Katrina.
All of the broken homes and debris lying all over the place plus the occasional body reminded me of the war zone and I was having flashbacks at work. I couldn't handle it and I had to quit for my own sanity.
What I really need help with is financial assistance and food stamps if possible.
Most of my income goes towards my rent, electric, gas, water, sewer, lawn maintenance, medical bills for my wife and supporting my wife.
There is just not enough left over after bill paying to make ends meet and have any quality of life. I constantly worry that the government is going to cut my benefits and the fact is, they have, starting in 2015.
I will lose approximately $600 a month. I have also had to charge up all my credit cards in order to live and now they are maxed out. I am screwed financially.
I feel that after 21 years of honorable and faithful service to this country I should be able to live a decent life and live the American Dream that I have earned.
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