Tuesday March 26, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro’s recently opened Veterans Administration Clinic will host a presentation this week on post traumatic stress disorder.

Vietnam veteran Tom Smith, whose book, "Facing PTSD: A Combat Veteran Learns to Live with the Disorder," came out last year, will talk about his experiences.

The discussion will be held on March 27, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Brattleboro VA clinic at 71 GSP Drive.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Smith, who now lives in upstate New York, was a helicopter scout pilot for the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, which he wrote about in his first book, "Easy Target."

In "Facing PTSD," Smith gives a first hand account of his experiences returning from combat with PTSD, and then coming to terms with the disorder.

Smith writes about his ongoing struggle to learn how to live with PTSD.

Sharon Levenson, a nurse at the Brattleboro VA Clinic, said Smith’s experiences will be helpful to vets, and others, as well as to family members and friends who want to learn more about the disorder.

"Tom is amazing. He has overcome many challenges related to this disorder and is eager to share his experiences to help others," said Levenson. "He is informative and inspirational, and we are expecting a very powerful event."

In his book the author tells emotional stories of his experiences of realizing he has returned from war as a different person.


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He was drafted in 1968, and his first book tells of his time flying helicopters, and of being shot down.

Smith returned from Vietnam in the 1970s, before PTSD was recognized as a disorder that was common among veterans.

Upon returning home Smith found that he was a different person, he was more easily irritated and angered.

"I wrote my first book, ‘Easy Target: The Long Strange Trip of a Scout Pilot in Vietnam,’ to see if I could," Smith wrote in his biography. "My second book was different. I wrote it because I felt I had to."

After the war Smith moved around, and struggled to control his drinking.

In the book he talks about how his acceptance and understanding of PTSD helped him to move beyond it and build a productive life. He says the veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq face similar challenges, adding that there has been a heightened awareness and acceptance of the disorder.

Since writing his book Smith has talked to veterans who are returning from the Middle East.

Along with veterans, police, firefighters and other emergency responders, as well as victims of rape and abuse, can suffer from PTSD.

For more information on Wednesday’s talk, call 802-251-2200.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer