Friday, January 12, 2007

Coming Home from Vietnam

I was at the edge of an emotional precipice in 1984 when my family
doctor suggested that I attend a Come Alive program at The Haven. I'd
never heard of Come Alive or The Haven, but I was desperate enough to
take a chance. It was a life-altering decision.

Joann was one of the leaders of the Come Alive that I participated
in, and by the end of the week I had a new appreciation of myself and
of the meaning of "family" in a context beyond that of blood and
marriage. More significantly, Joann and I had a private meeting late
one evening at the restaurant. Over mugs of Sleepy Time tea,
surrounded by the unique Haven ambience, the subject of my Vietnam
duty with the U.S. Marine Corps came up. I explained how I had been
seriously wounded in a firefight 18 years before, but had always
considered myself lucky that I hadn't suffered psychological trauma
along with the physical trauma. Not many minutes passed before, to my
shock and dismay, I experienced a flashback to an incident that was
far more traumatic, in a psychological sense, than getting shot. It
was the first flashback I had ever experienced, and it left me
shaking and with tears streaming down my face.

Through Joann's gentle and empathetic concern, I had come face to
face with at least one source of my depression, insomnia, and anger.
She recognized something within me that I had not recognized, or even
remembered. She guided me through the first, painful hours following
the flashback and started me on a healing journey. Subsequently I
suffered two more flashbacks, and I cannot say today that I have
truly come home from Vietnam. Indeed, I may *never* complete that
journey. But along the way, at a critical moment, I had Joann
Peterson on my side, and she made my future path smoother than it
might otherwise have been. Thank you, Joann. I will miss you.

Semper Fidelis,

Bob Ingraham


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