He comes in, still feeling the mental wounds of combat. Referred by his Primary doctor at the VA clinic, for a positive PTSD screen, he scans the room, and then sits with his eyes on the door. Reluctantly, he has brought his wife in, and she glances at him, with her hands fidgeting. I ask him, “What brings you to the mental health clinic? What problems have you been having?”
“I feel like the Tasmanian Devil,” Kevin, a returning Iraqi combat veteran, says in therapy session. Nodding her head in agreement, his wife says, “His rage boils over for no reason, at me and the kids. He needs help.” While watching cartoons with his two young sons, one had said, “Dad, you blow up just like Taz,” pointing to the puffed-up, violent cartoon character on the TV screen. That comment had hit home with Kevin. From desert combat to mundane family life, Kevin’s emotions whirl like a dust devil.
He agrees to group therapy, where he shares his most troubling combat story. Kept inside for so long, the story begins to lose its power when expressed in words. As other combat soldiers share their stories, Kevin knows he is not alone. After six weekly group therapy sessions, looking me straight in the eye, Kevin says, “Group therapy got me out of the wilderness. I’m home again.”