A Legion of Shadows

“It’s good to know that I’m not alone.”

A half dozen dark-suited men nod somberly in fraternal understanding. They stand outside under a gray sky, clustered next to a cemetery in the quiet intimacy of the mutually bereaved. The speaker is one of their own, a decorated Marine veteran of multiple combat deployments to Iraq. He now struggles to assimilate into the genteel culture of a prestigious Florida university.

Combat had been difficult, but he expected that. That’s what Marines do. But school? School is an entirely different beast. School is where you chase girls, party, and maybe go to class once in a while. Fresh-faced kids straight out of high school do it by the casual thousands every fall. So what’s his problem? Why does he have such a difficult time fitting in?

The military does a fine job of training men to go to war. It does an awful job of training them to come home.

The gusting winter wind snatches a humorless laugh from the speaker’s lips and dashes it against the headstones. “Every night I drink myself to sleep. And I think that I have to be the only one—that no one else could possibly be having the same problems that I am. Panic attacks. Trouble sleeping. I push everyone away, only to realize how much I love them once they are gone. ” His downcast eyes focus on the gray pavement of the country church parking lot. A handsome, outgoing man like him is unaccustomed to feeling like an outcast.

“I talked to James’s mother last night at the viewing. She described his symptoms, how he fought against PTSD since he got back from Iraq. It sounded like she was talking about me.”  He raises his head and jerks it in the direction of the gleaming casket.

“That could have been me.” Then, slowly, “that could be me.”

Killed In America

James “Rooster” Dixon III was killed by a State Police SWAT team on the steps of his house early on a quiet Sunday morning in Baxley, Georgia. The Purple Heart recipient left the Marines after his third combat deployment to Iraq and went on to earn his MBA at Georgia Southern University in the spring of 2011. But friends and family noticed a sobering difference in the once gregarious and still tousle-headed veteran: although James had left the service, the effects of his service hadn’t left him.

Marines carry James Dixon III to his final resting place. Surrency, GA - February 24, 2012

James sought treatment from the VA for his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but was unable to shake the constant anxiety and depression that are hallmarks of the disorder. On February 19, 2012 James decided to end his struggle by walking into the bullets of law enforcement: as much a casualty of the war as any service member who died in Iraq.

I served with James during the bloody desert campaigns of Al Anbar Province in the spring and summer of 2005. Although we served in different platoons, his thick drawl, easy laugh, and perpetual shock of unruly hair made “Rooster” stand out in my memory. He was a friend to many and a good Marine. The loss of such a dynamic, joyous personality to the cumulative effects of PTSD is a tragedy which should sound warning bells in a society that has very little idea how to properly reintegrate its returning legions.    

Walking with a Limp

One of the reasons America fails to properly reintegrate returning veterans relates to a flawed understanding of the nature and effects of combat-induced PTSD. We—the military included—treat it like some strange psychological malady: as if it is a mystery why normal men sent into horrific, abnormal circumstances come back changed. Science documents and history affirms the cause and effect between combat and PTSD. Despite this ancient link, our medical and psychological professionals have only recently begun to understand the disorder in a way that might yield effective treatments.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder classifies as an anxiety-producing disorder that is the result of exposure to a psychologically traumatic event. Its features last beyond 30 days and are often difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. While anyone exposed to a traumatic event – such as a car wreck or sexual assault – can suffer from PTSD, combat veterans are a favorite case study of medical professionals due to the veterans’ prolonged exposure to terrible events.

Behavior modification is the signature “limp” of veterans who struggle with PTSD. I’ve walked with that limp for more than five years. Veterans with PTSD aren’t sure what’s “wrong”—we only know things aren’t right. As common situations trigger the same unbidden, unpleasant response, we adapt our behavior to avoid those triggers. When we can control a situation we feel safe. When we can’t, we avoid it or sedate ourselves. For veterans, PTSD is inherently an anti-social disorder.

You can spot veterans suffering from PTSD as they sit uneasily in the back of classrooms, shift uncomfortably on the edge of pews, and scan the room nervously at family gatherings. Alcohol often becomes the unofficial medication that allows veterans with PTSD to feel “normal” or to relax. The cultural stereotype of the drunken, homeless veteran rests squarely on many cases of sad reality.

Shortly after I returned from my second combat tour in Iraq, I visited a local home improvement store near Seattle. Carrying a list of needed materials—and filled with boundless enthusiasm—I thought nothing of entering the cavernous structure as I had a dozen times before. But this time, something felt different. I was uneasy, on edge. I pressed on, ignoring the increasing sensation that I was unsafe.

As I walked down a narrow aisle filled with tools and yard implements my entire world suddenly shifted under a pulsing wave of nauseous fear. The comfortable space around me disappeared as my self-confidence and sense of security crashed to the floor like abandoned armor. I felt unprotected and out of control. Every person became a threat. Sounds, smells, and the glaring overhead lights passed unfiltered through hyperaware senses to assault a brain in overdrive. One instinct overrode any rational thought: Get out!  Shoving a few unpurchased items onto an unseen shelf I strode blindly to the exit. Ten minutes later I huddled in my truck, tears streaming down my face as I drove home—unable to understand what had just happened.

Episodes like this became more frequent in the ensuing years. I became a functional recluse—avoiding social situations and new experiences that might trigger a panic attack. Friends and acquaintances got accustomed to me declining their invitations to socialize. Eventually they stopped asking. I drank heavily and destroyed romantic relationships in a depressing cycle of thrilling novelty, fear of entrapment and cold dismissal.

After three years of struggling with the symptoms of my unknown malady, I chose to leave the Marine Corps. On my way out the door, the VA finally diagnosed me with combat-induced PTSD. I moved to Georgia and began working at a small nonprofit while pursuing a Master’s Degree at UGA. To my surprise—and frustration—education has become a grueling experience in endurance. Trapped in a classroom for hours at a time, I fight the urge to get up and pace. I find it difficult to focus and frustrating to deal with concepts and ideas when all I want to do is take action. When I look to my left and right and see students happily engaged in conversation and the process of learning, I fight the urge to compare myself with them. And yet we are different: I have a disability as a result of combat—they do not.

Pretending to be unaffected is like asking a man in a wheelchair to get up and walk.

A Wound by Any Other Name

Civil War veterans knew PTSD as “Soldier’s Heart.” The twentieth century saw a new type of total warfare that relied on intense shelling and close combat for weeks at a time. During the world wars, “Shell Shock” and “Battle Fatigue” accounted for more medical evacuations from front-line units than did physical wounds. However, in spite of the prevalence of PTSD, combat veterans rarely heard that what they experienced was normal. The military warrior culture—specifically, the infantry—had a difficult time stomaching the idea that combat has a psychological impact on even the toughest men. Soldiers suffering from PTSD were often ostracized as “weaklings” and sometimes disciplined for cowardice or dereliction of duty. As a result, many veterans simply returned home and never talked about their experiences. Alcohol became the socially-accepted drug of choice to numb the pain and get on with life.

The Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration—as stewards of our current and former combat veterans—have made admirable attempts during the current wars to educate and assist combat veterans who have PTSD. Unfortunately, the VA’s “National Center for PTSD” website downplays the seriousness or scale of the problem. It suggests that few people experience anxiety more than four weeks after a traumatic event, and that many of those who do will recover quickly. Such a minimization of the problem leaves open the idea that some—perhaps many—men in combat are able to return to society with zero physical or psychological repercussions. My experience—and the experience of hundreds of men with whom I served in the war—flatly contradicts such an idea.

The bravest and most competent combat veterans that I know suffer from PTSD. One friend is a Marine officer who was shot through the shoulder by an insurgent sniper during a firefight in Iraq. Picking himself up from the ground and dripping blood onto the radio handset, he calmly called in his own medevac. He was—and is—a tough, personally courageous man. He now serves at the Marine Corps’ professional-level school for company-grade officers and is concerned at the lack of dialogue about the reality of PTSD. “There are only two of us that have even talked about it, although there must be dozens of other officers in the class who suffer from it,” he says. We—he and I—share a concern that the military is continuing to promote a culture of denial about one of the basic consequences of going to war: personal combat against an enemy often produces PTSD.

The military and VA label PTSD a “service connected disability”—just as they do for carpal tunnel syndrome and sleep apnea. This does little to validate veterans who suffer from the long-term effects of their combat service. Combat-induced PTSD is not simply a service-connected disability or an unpredictable mental disorder: it is inflicted by the enemy during combat and results in biochemical changes to the brain. It is, in fact, a physical wound with psychological effects. Mislabeling it leads to a perpetuation of stigmas, the marginalization of its sufferers, and misdirected treatments.

Why do we fail to classify veterans with PTSD as combat wounded? I suggest that the reason has less to do with logic and more to do with the emotions surrounding a small bronze portrait suspended from a narrow purple ribbon.

Purple Hearts for PTSD?

I often heard Marines jokingly refer to the Purple Heart medal as an “Enemy Marksmanship Badge.” It signifies neither valor nor exceptional performance under pressure; yet it has been coveted by combat veterans since its inception because it serves as a visible symbol of contact with the enemy and of the cost of that contact. To receive the Medal, a recipient must meet stringent requirements.

The Purple Heart

It was not until midway through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the requirements were modified to include Traumatic Brain Injury due to the prevalent use of Improvised Explosive Devices. Most of us who experienced combat in those wars also know of individuals who faked a concussion or failed a cognitive test after proximity to an explosion, in order to earn the Purple Heart. Such individuals are sad and repulsive—they do not deserve the lifetime of benefits that accrue to Purple Heart recipients. But far more veterans earned the Medal by dint of personal sacrifice at the hands of the enemy.

Would it be appropriate to award the Purple Heart to veterans suffering from combat-induced PTSD? I argue that it would. One of the only treatments that consistently reduces the effects of PTSD is community. That’s why combat veterans gather at reunions, over drinks at the VFW, and sometimes next to sad little cemeteries in rural Georgia. Interaction with others who share a common, unseen malady promotes healing through identification and the ability to safely emote.

Communities are where we feel safe. The military—a place where a common culture and purpose unites members from various backgrounds—stands as perhaps the greatest community of all. When veterans with PTSD leave the service, they often leave the only community where their condition is common and their service honored. While it is difficult to maintain that sense of community after leaving the service, veterans with PTSD could be afforded a permanent, visible badge of pride—a stamp of approval—and  identification with that community which they have served so well. We could award them the Purple Heart for their wounds suffered in combat.

Some will argue that awarding the Purple Heart to those with combat-induced PTSD will “water down” or make the medal less meaningful. Really? Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9277 in December 1942 stated that the medal was to be awarded to persons who “are wounded in action against an enemy of the United States, or as a result of an act of such enemy, provided such would necessitate treatment by a medical officer.” Denying that combat-induced PTSD fits Purple Heart award criteria is disingenuous and misleading. I pray that our leaders in government and the military come to see the real cost of war. I pray that society will have a visible means to identify those who have sacrificed in defense of our Nation, rather than relegating them to the fringes or sequestering them to the shadows. 

Until we correctly label combat-induced PTSD as a “wound” suffered from contact with the enemy, we as a society will continue to view its sufferers as a shadow legion of men with strange habits and questionable character. We will not methodically identify the trauma, apply medical treatments, and provide appropriate rehabilitation and therapy during the recovery process. In short, we will draw distinctions between segments of combat veterans based on an arbitrary and antiquated determination that only the visible wounds of war are worth recognition, honor and treatment. Such a view will not be helpful to the thousands of combat veterans waging a daily war within, nor prevent some from ending that struggle before victory is won.

In the meantime, those wounded with PTSD—men just like James Dixon III—should take comfort knowing that you are not alone. We—you and I—march together as a Legion of Shadows.

Let’s help each other to the light.

In Memory of James "Rooster" Dixon III

(Note: For those suffering from PTSD, there is help and hope. We will explore PTSD and its treatments in greater detail in a future article. If you feel hopeless and lost right now, reach out to a trusted friend and allow them to help. Or call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press “1”. We are all in this together and we can win this fight.)  


About Nate

A 2003 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and former Marine infantry officer, Nate is the Chief Operating Officer of Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans get jobs. He holds a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Nate lives with his wife and dog in Alpharetta, Georgia.
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26 Responses to A Legion of Shadows

  1. Steve Smith says:

    So proud of you, brother. Keep marching toward the light. I’ve got your back.

  2. Anissa Gonzales says:

    That story is on point when it comes to the way people think and look at us veterans with PTSD. While we, too, are suffering like our brothers and sisters in arms that have unfortunately met up with an IED, VBIED, or suicide bomber, we suffer a kind of pain that is being seen as a pain that can be dealt with easily, because its an internal pain. What they don’t understand is it starts as an internal pain, but can sure turn into external pain and suffering from what we in turn do to ourselves. Most don’t completely understand why they are hurting theirselves and loved ones, its just a reaction, that “Fight or Flight” reaction that enhances in us after seeing the combat a lot of us have seen. One last thing…..please don’t forget about the females that will get right up in there, get dirty, crawl in the dirt, carry some heavy shit in their rucks, and I speak for medics here also(yes I am female medic)we will carry our needed gear, and make sure our aide bag gets thrown up on the mound we got goin on our backs……and trust me a medic will easily carry 40+ extra pounds in their bags, to alwasy make sure she is ready for anything, to include trauma, dehydration, cuts, burns, fractures, anything that keeps us fully engaged with our casualty, even if that means just sitting with them and comforting them until we can get them loaded out on a bird or casevac, where we know you will be heading to a higher eschalon of care, and we can feel good about knowing you were still interacting when you left. So sad how so many of us get labeled as fakers and lazy cuz u can’t work when ur 100%. Its sad. I’m off my pedestal now….:)….I will say this, I have deployed with a Combat Heavy Engineer Battalion, A Field Artillary Battalion, and a CAB, Infantry Regiment, and I learned a lot of what they do, and they learned what I do. Its a like that right of passage, as medics we have to prove we are good enough to earn the title “DOC”, and its slightly harder to do that as a female, but let me tell you all……us female medics are KICK ASS……..thanks for listening to my tangent!!! LOL……HOOAH

  3. pete jackson says:

    As a Veteran and very patriotic American, I have great respect for all who have stood and taken the oath to serve our nation. I do not in any way, shape or form, discount the tragedy that takes the lives of our young. I do however want people to know that serving in combat, in no way, shape or form, makes a person better or more of a Veteran than those who were cooks, clerks, or any other support person. It is simply the luck of the draw or your MOS that puts you in that position. Fighting a war is a team effort and without the team behind you, the strongest soldier, sailor, airman or marine is lost. It saddens me that there are clubs in this country, that do not put non-combat veterans in the same light as combat veterans. We all stood before a flag and swore an oath to protect this nation. None of us are any different, or better than anyone else. If it makes you feel like you are “something more” than the vet next to you, who pushed a pencil all his career, then you have missed the point completely in serving to begin with.

  4. Becky Scheel says:

    As someone who has friends and relatives returning from combat, I would be curious if you have any thoughts/advice for how civilians can support soldiers in this area (PTSD) when they return.

    • C.W. Miles says:

      Personally, I think this PTSD is a free ride. Those who claim to suffer from it are taking badly needed funds away from other veterans who have real, physical challenges ahead of them. The fact that soldiers are standing in line in record numbers for a check from this last war, when veterans from WWII have never even considered filing a claim , is embarrassing.

      • mike says:

        Your stupid and should go stand infront of a ups truck. I take it you are one of the few that likes going thru loosing your best friends. U laugh move on about your day. i suffer from ptsd, t.b.i. Blown lower Back, jacked up knees that either Lock up or give out whenever they feel like it, i also have Two jacked sholder cups and cant hardly lift my one year old son. My right ankle gets stuck and feels like a million needles are stabbing me in my ankle joint. I cant remember what i wore yesterday my short term memory is shot, i can remember some things but for the most part i carry around a pad and pin and write down what is important i.e. dr appointments significant things. I set an alarm on my Phone when its time to leave to go somewhere. But the most painful injury i have is my ptsd, i average maybe a scatered 4 or 5 hours of sleep broken apart. So before you open your mouth. An talk about nothing u know of or your just to much of a (Edit) to admit your jacked in the head cause u wanna be tuff go and do some reserch on the subject u talk about. Your ignorent and i feel dumber reading your post.

      • sniperdad says:

        Hey Mike with the jacked up knees, don’t sweat Mr Miles’ ignorance. He seems to think the WWII, “Greatest Generation” guys were in some way better than today’s conflict veterans. Funny, every time I see a WWII vet give an interview about their combat experience they can hardly finish without breaking down even after al these years. So I know there are a few that have undiagnosed PTSD that they have endured and, over MANY years, learned to cope with. Today we say this to our vets who are suffering,…”go get yourself some treatment and make your pain go away faster.” If that is considered a “free ride” then I’m afraid we, as a free society, have forgotten the significance of those who VOLUNTEER to protect and defend our freedom in the first place. BTW, I know several WWII vets who have been bounced around for undiagnosed/misdiagnosed problems for years only to be recently recognized as PTSD sufferers and FINALLY get the treatment and recognition they deserve. Good luck to you MIKE…and welcome home!!!

      • Steve Smith says:

        Re: C.W.’s post. Dear Sir or Madam, you are entitled to your opinion, as is any other citizen of this free country. By leaving a post on this page you presumably read the article above, which you disagree with. That is your right. But have you noticed that your short post is sandwiched between an articulate, well-researched article about PTSD, and an equally valid, gut-wrenching knee-jerk response to your post by a Marine who suffers from the very PTSD that you deny exists?

        As an honest question, what evidence would you require to believe in the existence of PTSD? Medical evidence overflows; literary evidence multiplies; existential evidence by thousands of veterans corroborates the existence of PTSD. If you’re looking for more information, let me suggest Dr. Judith Herman’s well-researched book, “Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror,” which helps describe PTSD. It is considered a classic in psychological literature, and the New York Times calls it “One of the most important psychiatric works to be published since Freud.” On page 238 of that book, Dr. Herman notes, “The fundamental question of the existence of PTSD is no longer in dispute.” The end notes and bibliography of this book alone could keep you occupied for years–if you’re truly interested in learning.

        Before you deny another person’s pain–which thousands of highly-trained, highly-educated medical professionals acknowledge–please consider the impact your response may have. Until you do, you are part of the problem and not the solution.

      • Teressa Smith says:

        PTSD is real as real as a lost limb or paralysis. PTSD causes real, physical challenges to the people who suffer from the disorder. PTSD not only effects to our men and women in combat but civilians to can be effected also. Do your homework. Any traumatic event or series of events can lead to PTSD. I only pray you or no one in your family ever suffers from this truly debilitating disorder. Let’s stop hiding our head in the sand so no other family has to go through what the Dixon family has experienced.

    • brandon says:

      Dont let them push you away!

  5. Doug Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Nate. It is very eye opening to a civilian with no military experience – and thank you to all who have served America (= all of us) in any capacity in the military – you have my respect, admiration and gratitude.

  6. brandon says:

    Good to know your not alone! Dont give up, keep up the fight.

  7. Rose says:

    I don’t mind giving my money to the men and women who fault for me to be free. I have seen PTS
    D first hand and it is real. Thanks to all who have gave.

  8. Kimberly Pucciariello says:

    Thank you Nate for honoring James and bring this issue to light. We, as Americans, need to take care of our soldiers (when they retire or complete their service) better than we currently do. They fought for our country and we owe them more than we give them. James Dixon III was a remarkable person and he will be missed more than words can express. Law enforcement should be trained to handle situations like this. They had other options and I pray that this does not have to happen to another soldier.
    To all soldiers:
    THANK YOU for your service. Be courageous. Don’t stand in the darkness alone because you are not allow. Others share your pain and family members care for you. Please seek help from a loved one or a trusted friend. We will listen and try to ease your burden. Praying James’ death will spark a fire and cause a change in America that will help everyone that suffers from PTSD.

    Keeps the fire burning.

  9. Carol Smith says:

    I am so proud of you, Nate!

  10. Michael says:

    His writing is amazing isn’t it! I have read this article at least once a day. It give us all hope and insperation. Keep up the good work boss.

  11. Michael says:

    I have been reading a book that someone tossed to me at the VET Center “Thank You Person” i’m going to share some of whats in it, and then the name of the book. I’m not good at understanding alot of big words or something wrote by brilliant people because i’m a simple person. This book is helping me. Maybe it can help some of you.

    There is no substitue for the experiences of combat and the excitement of a war zone. Combat is an adrenaline-fed, high-speed, whirlwind, tiger-on-the-loose, exhausting daily dose of life and death. To think that you won’t react, feel, behave, and think differently than before your tour of combat duty is, of course, incorrect. Your experiences in combat will forever be part of you. Allow those combat experiences and knowledge to become your strength.
    “First Sgt Mike Schindler”

    In Chapter 6 ” Narrate Your Story” and I think this is what helps Nate deal with his things. “I’m proud of you sir for finding what helps you” In this chapter paragraph three it goes on to explain…

    Why does narration help? There are no clear answers to this question, but there are a lot of things that are associated with narration that seem to be important; for instance, connecting emotions and feelings with events. When warriors wall off their emotions, it can negatively affect other things in their lives. An important component of narration is recognizing that you’re not alone in your experiences. Even if the person you’re sharing with has no experience with the military, they may have had other life experiences that can help them to relate to yours. Wartime experiences are some of the most profound that humas can endure. War evokes both what is most terrible and most divine about being human. War brings out the best and worst in us. Sharing stories and feelings that are painful is a very personal experience and can bring you close to the person you share them with. Narration help you to live with your experiences and move forward with them as part of you.

    Probably the most important thing that narration does is allow you to express your emotions and feelings in words. One of the skills from the last chapter is learning to monitor your emotions internally, acknowledge how you feel, and when necessary put space between your immediate feelings and actions. The limitation of this skill is that it’s very difficult to know exactly how you feel unless you have someone to talk with. WE NEED FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS. We need to struggle to come up with the right words to express our feelings, and it’s very difficult or impossible to do this alone.

    It goes on to say some more things but i’ll leave the tittle of the book and if you guys are interested into better understanding what we go thru as a Military Fighting Force. This book is awsome, i’m not done reading it but someone highlighted those two spots for me and I just thought I would share it with everyone.

    The book is called “Once A Warrior Always A Warrior, Navigating the Transition from Combat to Home Including Combat Stress, PTSD, and mTBI.”
    Charles W. Hoge, MD, Colonel, US Army (Ret.)

  12. Michael says:

    I just got to skimming thru all of the replies… Alot of them are your family members. You are blessed that you have so many standing behind you. An to all of those family members that have posted and support Nate, your doing great things possibly more then you will ever beable to understand. So with that being said you guys ARE making a difference so stay with it because not all of us have support like this.

  13. mhsands says:

    This is truly such a well written piece that brings honor to my cousin, James, not shame. The shame is on all us Americans that didn’t know or haven’t recognized the problem exist. I really had no opinion on this very subject until it hit so close to home. James was a remarkable man and I would be surprised if you could find anyone to dispute that fact. Being a police wife, I do see both sides of the issue; but nothing will change the fact that the loss of life is a tragedy no matter the circumstances. James was a man of God and Country and this world lost a true hero with his death. I am grateful to all our soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guardsmen and airmen that protect my freedoms and am truly thankful for the sacrifices their families make for mine!

  14. arichter says:

    I was abused as a child by my military father (one of my major triggers was the way he yelled) and it was only when I reported to basic training at a military academy that I was diagnosed with PTSD. After fighting through the training and being sent home due to an injury and the PTSD, it’s only gotten worse. It’s nothing like combat induced PTSD, but reading this brought me to tears because I’ve been fighting with myself and been told by many that I’m acting irrationally and to get over it. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  15. DTapp says:

    Nate, God Bless you, thank you for your service and thank you for writing about PTSD. We should honor Dixon for his service and sacrifice to our country. This tragedy should have never occurred in our day in time, however, stunning as it may be it clearly points out our Govt learned nothing from Vietnam and the effects of war on the human mind and body. We prepare our military for combat but do not place the same level of importance on helping restore them physically & mentally. Our young men & women today serve in repeaded tours to the Middle East; how could anyone argue the combat isn’t an overload on the human mind and body? To those who harshly criticicize and downplay PTSD, you may be entitled to your opinion as it is a free country, but kindly thank and honor those who fought for that freedom. There is a huge need to bring awareness as it pertains to the effects on the brain when certain types of head injuries occur. There is no high degree of importance placed on these injuries. I guess it’s easier to dismiss someones old football injury, but a long term knee, leg, or shoulder injury or minor concussion from a football injury is far different from a combat wound to the head or brain, not to mention the physiological effects of seeing your brothers and others blown up. Competely different healing process. God bless the Dixon family and bless our fine military men and women and their families! 3/2 Kilo Mom

  16. Pingback: PTSD: Time For a Name Change | The Soldier's Load

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  18. Kit says:

    Thank you so much. I knew James and we were close a long time ago.I am devastated by his death. Thank you so much for representing my friend so well.

  19. Pingback: Combat Loss and PTSD – Part 6: Memorials and Healing | The Soldier's Load

  20. Pingback: Combat Loss and PTSD – Part 7: When the War Continues – PTSD | The Soldier's Load

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