An anonymous respondent wrote his personal story in the comments section of the survey. The intent of this report is to give veterans a voice, and all comments related to the content of the survey have been included here. This Marine’s story is included below to allow him a public voice, and to inform readers about this and similar struggles that many NYC veterans face.
I AM A MARINE COMBAT VETERAN FROM OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. I HAVE SERVED MY TOUR OF DUTY FOR THE UNITED STATES AND ITS MILITARY. I HAVE SERVED THE UNITED STATES SEVEN MONTHS IN A HAZARDOUS COMBAT ZONE AS A 0311.
I CAME HOME WITH PTSD COUPLED WITH OTHER MEDICAL ISSUES DEVELOPED WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY. I WAS PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS BY NAVAL MEDICAL OFFICERS AND I BEGAN TO EXPERIENCE AN HALLUCINOGENC STATE. I QUICKLY BECAME LOST TO REALITY, AND I GREW HATE FOR MYSELF. I BEGAN TO SEE DRASTIC DEGREDATION AFTER TAKING THE MEDS AS PRESCRIBED; MY HAIR RAPIDLY BECAME GRAY IN A PATCH, A RASH APPEARED ON MY LOWER BODY SHORTLY AFTER COMING BACK STATESIDE, RAPID WEIGHT LOSS, SYSTEMIC BURNING AND PAIN, IRRITABLITY, LOSS OF BODY ORIENTATION, SADNESS, DEEP DEPRESSION, RECKLESS THINKING, DEAD FEELING, INVOLUNTARY MUSCLE SPASMS, UNEXPLAINABLE SHORTNESS OF BREATH, BLOOD FOUND IN MY BIO-FLUIDS, LOSS OF INTEREST IN ALMOST EVERYTHING, COLD SWEATS, INVOLUTARY ACTIONS IN MY SLEEP, SELF-ISOLATION, LOSS OF FEELING FOR MY LOVE ONE, HEADACHES, CHEST PAINS, AND MORE.
MY NEED TO FIND SOLUTIONS TO THIS PROBLEM LED ME TO SELF-MEDICATE WITH THE USE OF CANNABIS AS A LESSER FORM OF NARCOTIC TREATMENT. I BECAME FEARFUL OF ALL CAPSULE FORM MEDICATONS, BECAUSE I WAS NEGATIVELY AFFECTED BY ALL 15 PRESCRIBED MEDS. I WAS GIVEN MEDS BY THE MILITARY RANGING FROM ANTI-PSYCOTICS FOR PTSD TREATMENT TO NARCOTICS FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY. THE MARIJUANA ONLY CREATED A TEMPORARY SOLUTION TO A GROWING PROBLEM. THE MILITARY'S MEDICATONS TURNED ME INTO A PERSON WITHOUT GOOD JUDGEMENT ABOUT ANYTHING, AND I WAS BEGINNING TO MENTALLY FEEL AN INCREASE IN STRAIN AND DEGREDATION.
My wife complained to my command that the medications was affecting my behavior. She said "my husband that went to Iraq is not the same coming back home." My wife and I met as marines, but she has never been deployed or experienced the effects of PTSD on someone so close to her. My marriage dissolved quickly due to the issues that came about due the side effects from the medications. I came home to regrets from my loved ones not a celebration of my service. My wife and child left me shortly after, saying I should have left the military prematurely, maybe things would have been different. I felt as if i lost everything that I loved due to my service.
I went AWOL to hang myself, however military police found me minutes before my commitment. I was found with a cord in my bag and the writing materials for my last letter. The military police was already looking for me because I was absent from my command for less than 30 days.
I have numerous health problems after coming home from Iraq, such as my lungs ache and pain. I inhaled many toxins from moon dust aboard Camp Habbaniyah, Anbar province, said to have low radioactive contaminants from previous wars during Saddam’s regime. I am without any health coverage and my health is quickly degrading. I feel as if I am fatally ill inside. I know that I took an oath to die for America, I didn't expect it to be this way.
After my discharge i was without an income or military health services. I became homeless after 6 months. My family (mom) was afraid of me because, she claimed veterans with PTSD is dangerous and unpredictable. I felt as if the effects of my service made me hated. I couldn't believe I was treated as monster. I can’t even begin to explain what negatives I have lived since the end of my enlistment. I had a rough experience in Iraq, during my post deployment, and back home with civilians due to their fear from what is often seen in the media. I was homeless and I lived from house to house until I reached the city shelter system.
Discouraged, I seeked employment at $4 an hour as a building porter. I then became the maintenance man making $5 an hour. I was suffering financially and my children's mother needed money due to lack of employment as well. I couldn't believe that as military family we couldn't find money to care for our daughters better. My wife wanted to give the relationship a chance again, but at that point i was in financial woes stemming from my time in the military.
I AM NOW ENROLLED IN TWO COLLEGES; ONE FOR FACILITY MANAGEMENT AND THE OTHER FOR EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT. I HAVE BEEN SERVING FELLOW VETERANS IN THE CIVILIAN WORLD TO GET INTO SCHOOL AND FIND HELP WITH VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS EXTERNAL OF THE VA.
SO FAR THE ONLY MEDICAL THERAPY I HAVE RECIEVED IS FROM PTSD RESEARCH PROGRAMS. I HAVE BEEN SEEN BY NYU LANGONE AND WEILS CORNELL HOSPITAL. THE RESEARCH DATA COMPILED IS AIMED AT SERVING FUTURE VETERANS.
SO FAR I HAVE CONNECTED 62 VETERANS TO MILITARY OR CIVILIAN SERVICES, MANY OF WHOM HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED IN THEIR LIVES FOR THE BETTER. I BROUGHT VETERANS TO THE VA MEDICAL HOSPITAL WHO WAS SEEN AND THEY NEVER BEEN GIVEN ACCEPTANCE. THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN IN COMBAT, BUT I HAVE, AND I HAVE YET TO EVEN BE CHECKED BY THE VA.
LAST YEAR I TRIED AGIAN TO SEEK HELP BY THE VA, AND I WAS TOLD THAT I WAS INELIGABLE FOR VA HEALTHCARE BENEFITS. I NEEDED MEDICAL HELP SO BAD, I NEEDED ASSISTANCE GETTING INTO A VETERANS HOMELESS SHELTER; AND I WAS DENIED EVERYTHING DUE TO MY DISCHARGE STATUS.
DURING MY ACTIVE DUTY ENLISTMENT, I WAS FILING TO BE AN AMERICAN CITZEN. I PASSED THE TEST AND I WAS GIVEN AN ACCEPTANCE. AFTER I WAS DISCHARGED I WENT TO MY SWEAR IN CEREMONY, AND I WAS TOLD BY THE OFFICIAL THAT MY DISCHARGE DISQUALIFIED ME. I FELT CRUSHED, BECAUSE I WENT TO COMBAT TO DIE FOR THE UNITED STATES WITH HONOR AND NOW HERE I AM, NOT EVEN A CITZENSHIP TO SHOW FOR IT. IT IS SO SHAMEFUL THAT ONE STICK OF MARIJUANA COULD DENY ME EVERYTHING. I AM SO ASHAMED TO EVEN SAY MY NAME.
 Although all responses were completely anonymous, this story has been verified. The respondent is currently receiving support services outside the VA.