From the Dec. 25 edition of Street Roots
It manifests itself differently in different people. For Joe Holness it was anxiety, a constant need to be on the move. It was frustration and intolerance in the face of obstacles and crowds. Even a trip to Wal-Mart could be debilitating. For Neils Roley it set in as anger and a feeling that no one understood, which led to violent situations, and eventually homelessness and drug use. The nightmares, however, are common ground, a place where even comforting old memories could be hijacked by the violence of the war.
Both were combat veterans a generation apart – Joe in Iraq and Neils in Afghanistan – and post traumatic stress disorder complicated their lives in ways they say people who haven’t been there, haven’t seen what they’ve seen, could truly comprehend. So when Neils showed up at Joe’s house on a cold and rainy night in November, bloody and beaten from an attack on his camp, Joe was there to listen, to talk through what they each had experienced overseas and upon their return. It was a series of conversations that lasted nearly three weeks, while Neils lived at Joe’s home, and ended this month with Neils in housing, and with both veterans on a course toward ensuring a better homecoming for those who have yet to return. Continue reading