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Dear FRONTLINE,

My boyfriend was in Afghanistan for about 18 months ... and after had to go back again for a few months. He came back, we went on a little vacation to the Keys, things were great, later down the road we bought a house. I then started seeing changes..He would snap with attitude, he wasn't as passionate, loving, etc. He was extremely depressed and it hurt because I could only imagine what he's seen/done over there (that we would never talk about).. It was really taking a toll on our relationship so I would sit him down and try to talk to him and his comment was "I'm fine, it's just a bad day"..I let it be.

Then came the nightmares, shaking, screaming, crying. I just held him and said it's going to be ok, but deep down I knew it wasn' So then I did some research online because I knew only little about PTSD. I looked at the signs and cried because he had them all. I called the VA Hospital and spoke to a DR there and told them my story and asked if they could please send a packet to the house so I can review it with him. About 3 days later it was here and I left it on his desk so I didnt push the subject. That was 6 mths ago....He has his ups and downs since and I knew he still needed help.

Last night his Mom called him and said please come over I want to give you something. She gave him the a copy of "The Soldiers Heart" that she recorded last night. He came home and said, Babe will you watch this with me? I said sure. We both watched, while I cried..

All I want to say is thanks to your special he is going to the VA this Friday to get help. I can't thank you enough. God Bless all the troops.

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

Frontline,WOW! Life revisited! Thankyou for your program.

I am a widow of a Vietnam Vet. My husband died 3 years ago of a massive heart attack. That is what he died from, but not what caused his death. He lived with post traumatic stress every day. I believe, like so many others, that the stress to his heart, after 30 years, killed him.I am wife number four. I did not meet Art until 1992. I began helping him work on his claim for service connection afer many, many attempts he made over the years. He needed treatment, but more so, he desperately needed validation the he was not the crazy one. He had been seen by the VA many times and had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder, addictive-compulsive disorder, and personality disorder to name a few (we know now that this is all post trauma stress). He was in-patient for suicide attempts and had even been sent to the VA's PTSD unit during the late 1970's. Yet the connection for his PTSD was never acknowledged. Shortly after his last hearing for connection, he died. One year later I recieved the letter stating what he waited to hear for years. Service connection came too late, but I know he now knows he was not that "Wacked-out Vietnam Vet with a GED", as he used to call himself.It was clear to me that Art had all the obvious signs of PTSD. Even the VA doctors stated it over the years. Validation is what he so desperately needed, and never recieved. Before he died we talked often about our nation's soldiers in today's war, so like himself years ago, gung-ho to save our country. He wanted to remind people how it may be for these soldiers coming home. He wrote an editorial and submitted it to the Sioux City Journal asking people to understand and help.

Thankyou so much for helping inform us all. Maybe we can all help. I will forever try.

Kay Gosnell
Sioux City, Iowa

Dear FRONTLINE,

My cousin suffered from PTSD and the end result was on Dec. 7th 2005 he first killed his father and then himself. His deployment in the Marines was to Pakastan and Afghanistan in the beginning of the War on Terror and his work as a Flight Engineer with C-130's was done under the watch of the CIA Because of that there was no reference to his having served in those places.

It took him a year to prove it in order to get his VA benefits and he was so far gone by that then and because there were no in-patient services to be had, he snapped and did what he did. He would never have done such a thing but for PTSD. Watching "A Soldier's Heart" really hurt, because my cousin's name was also "Jeffrey Michael" Lehner. There was an article in the LA Times about Jeff on Feb. 12, 2006 titled "For One Marine, Torture Came Home" by Ann Louise Bardach. If you get the chance read it.

We are now trying to gather the information we need in order to present it to a local Congresswoman who is passionate about VA Affairs. We hope to get the funding that is needed and the education needed for both our soldiers and their families. We don't want anymore families to suffer as we have and so many others have suffered.With the number of Vets serving in combat now the PTSD sufferers is going to be staggering. That's a lot of wives/husbands and children, parents and others across this country who are going to be living in hell if we don't confront this issue and get the funds to provided the right help.

Vince Miller
Henderson, Nevada

Dear FRONTLINE,

I just viewed THE SOLDIER'S HEART after coming home from my job as a psychotherapist/chaplain at a mental health facility. What kind of insanity is it to treat someone for PTSD and then send them back into the environment that caused this? The parallel for me, as therapist, would be sending a person back to an abusive parent or spouse. I doubt that the HMO paying for this kind of treatment would approve of this approach. When will we, as a society/world, get it that WAR IS INSANE.

Pat Roop Robinson
Westminster, MD

Dear FRONTLINE,

I would like to thank you guys for exposing the more personal effects of this pointless war to the general public. My long time friend of 9 years was deployed by the Army on 2 tours in Iraq. Every day I still think about that kid because when he came back was not the same person. Needless to say bringing up the subject of war is probly the worst thing to do around him.

I have noticed that his dimeanor has hardened over the past 3 years, and all this from the funniest, most energetic person I have ever known.I hope that everyone that has seen this program will develop ,at the least, a sense of pride or be thankful for these men that have given the ultimate sacrifice and their mental wellbeing.

Aaron
HAMPTON, Va

Dear FRONTLINE,

What a beautiful message, that there is help and that people do care.

When I left Iraq in July 04, the morale was very low. The military prepared us well on fighting the enemy but no one prepares a soldier on how to handle the misery and death that they will witness. My thoughts of coming home to my son is what kept me functioning over there. Now that I'm home, I'm back to my role as a Mom and Police Officer.

On the outside I appear strong and confidant but sometimes when I'm alone a memory will be triggered and I'll cry for that memory that I tried to bury in Iraq. Thank you for the validation.

Chicago, ILL

Dear FRONTLINE,

My response to the idea of soldiers being in a unknown area/country is wrong because, the Army doesn't only takes you away from your families and love ones it change you into a different person also sometimes it even takes you to a different level of being all jerked up with being from a normal person to being a crazy killer that just wants to kill everyone and everything around you. After coming back from war it makes the soldiers need psychiatric help, which causes them to doubt themselves resulting in them trying injuring themselves to make everything go away without seeking help from anyone.

Kawayne Stephens
Middletown, Connecticut

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a Chaplain in the Vermont State Guard and with so many of our National Guard being deployed, I/we have found this program on DVD to be extra helpful. We have shown it to many Family Groups of those deployed and we've shown it in our own support Battalion musters in the Vermont State Guard. It continues to be one of the most important and sensitive documentaries regarding combat related stress and the symptoms and possibilities of PTSD.

A special thank you for the work done on this documentary. marty

Rev. Martin Fors
Lyndon Center, VT

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank You for informing the public about PTSD. My son came back from Iraq an angry, anxious young man. He suffered severe anxiety attacks,which required medical attention, he became an insomniac, and his personality changed drastically. Even with all these warning signs and symptoms he was not diagnosed as having PTSD until he had a very violent psyhcotic episode. He was arrested and then sent to a psych hospital for ten days.

After a number of tests that took months my son was finally diagnosed with PTSD and deemed incompetent at the time of the incident. The military still intends to Court Marshall my son or force him into signing a chapter 10 which will state he is guilty of his actions and he signs away all his benefits, (benefits he will need to get him help with PTSD)and I know my son is not the only soldier out there who is being coerced into signing chapter 10's.

This is how our military is dealing with our soldiers. No wonder there is such a stigma attached. Please continue to help these soldiers. Not many goverment agencies seem to care. Thank You.

Lisa McLaughlin
North Collins, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

at my age, i know vets from ww2, viet nam, korea and none of them were untouched by war.

some recovered better than others. some destroyed their families and their own lives, as a result of the mental battles that lasted long after they no longer faced battle. ptsd isthe biggest thing i fear when some politician or bureaucratstarts talking war.

peggy maher
gainesville, fl

Dear FRONTLINE,

Wow! Finally, truthful journalism about PTSD and the men and women in the military. I am the ex-wife of a Marine who never left the jungles of Vietnam. Underneath all his torment, my soldier had a good heart, but after Vietnam, it was hidden under the horrible memories of war. I tried for so many years to try to get him to seek help, but like the young men in your show stated, he felt that it was somehow not what a Marine should do.

Instead, he hid behind alcohol and drugs and, over the years, became more and more despondent and angry. He took his problems out on me and his two daughters. Soon, it became unsafe for us to stay.

Sick, tired and an old man at 56, he died of heart failure last February. The year prior, he had finally sought help from the V.A. and was diagnosed with PTSD. For him and for his family, however, it was too late.

I thank the young men who courageously reported about their experiences. I hope your show will help soldiers to see that courage is not only needed on the battlefields of foreign lands, but also on the psychological battlefield they face here at home, as well. My family is proof that you cannot do this alone. Please seek help. The Veteran's Administration and support groups can help you through your problems, but you must be willing to seek that help.

God bless you. My family and I thank all the soldiers who bring us our peace each night. We thank Frontline for, hopefully, bringing peace to them.

Valley Springs, Ca.

Dear FRONTLINE,

This program was very well done, but chilling. Being in my twenties, I know this war will affect many of my generation - and I only hope those of us who choose not to fight are willing to be a listening ear to those whose lives have been forever altered by the psychological affects of war.

sue swinger
Harrisburg, PA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was very heartened to view the Heart of the Soldier. I am a psychotherapist who specializes in working with combat trauma. I am sub-contracted with the VA in California and have worked with veterans from all of the conflicts, including WW II.

It is important to know that the symptoms do not have to continue for years and years. Proper help can help to end the "war" going on in the nervous system at any stage following combat. I was honored to be in dialogue with one of the producers of the Frontline piece, and have been thoroughly impressed with their integrity and caring for this subject. Healing is possible, and I am hopeful that the soldiers and their families will have the opportunity to receive the information and help they need. The information for soldiers and their families is sorely lacking when a soldier returns home!

Mary Tendall
Nevada City, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Congratulations to Frontline for your informative broadcast of "A Soldier's Heart." I am the wife of an infantry soldier who has not yet been deployed. Many of his friends have been deployed and some have died. My husband has become depressed feels guilty for not going to war. He refuses to seek professional help out of fear that it will adversly affect his career in the military.

I hope the military will soon realize that soldiers are human, not machines, and that their mental health is equally as important as their physical health.


panama city beach, florida

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for another excellently done piece on a very important subject. I wish President Bush and his supporters, especially those who have never been in the military much less in combat, would be exposed to these personal stories from soldiers. Perhaps they might then know why so many of us protest war.

newton, ma

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have been reading all the comments that have been posted since your airing Tuesday. I cried during the show and for every letter that I have read. I finally had to write.

Watching "A Soldier's Heart" was as frightening as it was informative. My Marine was in Iraq only a short time before he was injured and sent back to the states. He is a young man in an old man's body, which is depressing him enough, but what I really worry about are his mental injuries. There was no brain damage but he remembers nothing before Iraq. They call it conversion disorder. He has problems with anger and is on meds for depression and sleep. I thank God that he is alive but I worry so about his future. I worry about all the young men that will be coming home from this war. We cannot let them down.

Houston, Texas

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posted march 1, 2006

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