“Thank You for Your Service”: Healing from the Trauma of War
[bright music note]This conflict started August 2nd,when the dictator of Iraqinvaded a small and helpless neighbor.Five months ago,Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait.Tonight, the battle has been joined.[tank exploding][eerie music][jet roaring][flames rumbling][gun shots][bomb exploding][soldier panting]This is me actually. [laughs]It’s unbelievable but I can actually rememberthat picture being taken of me.I had such a
[bright music note]
This conflict started August 2nd,
when the dictator of Iraq
invaded a small and helpless neighbor.
Five months ago,
Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait.
Tonight, the battle has been joined.
This is me actually. [laughs]
It’s unbelievable but I can actually remember
that picture being taken of me.
I had such a round head they called me pea head. [laughs]
I never thought about dying.
I never thought my life ending
because I’ve been sent to war.
I wasn’t afraid to die, oddly enough,
but I didn’t want my life to be altered.
When I returned home, I was an alien.
How do you describe being on Mars?
Fast forward, I was having trouble in my relationships,
I pushed away most of my friends,
ended up asking my husband for a divorce.
I was at the bottom of a well
and someone had pulled the ropes out.
Like I knew that if I tried to climb up,
I would fall back down.
I finally got to a point where I’m like
I just can’t feel like this anymore.
Inside, it was like …
I think something happened to me over there.
So I was being treated by my psychiatrist
and she just said you know,
I really think you should start looking for a service dog.
Who is it?
That’s a good boy!
You’re right on schedule!
This is my service dog, Orbit,
and he’s a golden retriever/Labrador retriever mix,
and he’s been my service dog for three and a half years.
That’s good. [laughs]
He’s like none of your cues are making sense,
so I’ll just keep doing this.
Are you comfy? [laughs]
Are you comfy?
He gave me my life back.
Orbit, can you sit down?
Can you sit?
Can you sit down?
Orbit, thank you.
So you might notice Orbit tends to put his weight against me
and face outwardly and survey.
A lot of people with PTSD will constantly be surveying
and looking around, but it’s actually very comforting for me
to know that he’s got my back, you know? [laughs]
He’s either surveying or wanting a paw massage. [laughs]
So I guess he’s multi-purpose. [laughs]
You want that one massaged too?
Gimme a kiss.
I didn’t even know about this park before I got Orbit.
I just love being in nature and I think he does too.
So yeah, I think it’s good for both of our mental healths.
Can you stand?
Orbit, can you squish me again?
Give me squish.
I know, give me squish.
Gotta stretch first?
Give me squish.
Thank you, baby.
You’re the best puppy.
Actually, it took me a few months to be comfortable
even with cuing him to help me.
I thought maybe he doesn’t want to. [laughs]
I guess that’s part of the whole process
and healing aspect of having a service dog
is you realize it’s okay to ask for help.
Doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with you
just ’cause you need a little help.
Just because you get a service dog
doesn’t mean everything’s fixed.
From the outside in, I just look like an average person
going and getting groceries. [laughs]
But internally, I’m just kind of falling apart.
When there’s a lot of movement and commotion,
my brain gets very tired.
It just comes on and I can’t predict it sometimes.
All right, let’s go.
Yeah, I guess I just feel frustrated
’cause I know this is not gonna go away any time soon,
maybe it will, but it’s been a long time.
At one point, the whole right side of my body went numb
and it was very strange, and all of a sudden,
I’m at home and having a hard time walking.
They did an MRI and then they did a spinal tap
and my MRI was swiss cheese, basically,
and it was a very classic damaged brain,
and I did not long after get a letter from the US Military
that said oops, we’re sorry
but it looks like you were exposed to sarin nerve gas
while you were deployed.
You just feel like you have this …
Like there’s something in your bones
that you’re never gonna be able to get rid of.
That’s a good boy.
And so today, we just wanted to honor you,
who are veterans, with our flag raising.
So I’m gonna ask all my vets that are present
to come on up, I’m gonna hand the flag over to you,
and I would like you to raise it.
So if I could have my veterans come on up.
[US anthem playing]
[Veteran] My wife has mine hanging in the closet
with all my memorabilia,
and I took it out, looked at it,
and like you see, everything fits.
You did good, I think people liked you.
Did you make some friends?
I’m actually still a little bit overwhelmed.
I usually just hide. [laughs]
On Veteran’s Day ’cause it’s kind of heavy.
The whole spirit of being in the service,
we take care of each other.
I feel like sometimes, these days, it’s getting lost,
like people don’t really watch out for each other anymore.
But I’m glad I came, I’m glad I came
because it was great to be with people who understand you.
I’m realizing that I should probably reach out more.
Come here, Orbit, how you doin’?
Want to stand on my foot?
Yeah, how are ya?
It does, it sucks.
Some days are good.
That’s right, that’s right.
That’s right. Sorry.
No, don’t be sorry.
My little sweet, Lorelai.
What do you think?
I thank you for your service. [laughs]
Thank you, Orbit.
I remember I was in the midst of my really dark time.
I used art to get through a lot of the real tough stuff.
So I drew this.
Not really a professional. [laughs]
But it definitely helped.
Let’s see, what should we do today?
When I’m making art,
I feel like I don’t have to be anybody for anybody,
I can just be me.
It’s very freeing.
And watercolor, especially for me, because it flows,
it dries, it has its own life,
I love that I don’t have a lot of control.
You just gotta go with the flow
and make it into happy accidents.
I went through a long period of my life
where I’m like I just want to be back who I was
before all this happened and then finally,
with the help of my therapist,
she’s like I think we just need to accept what’s going on.
Maybe that’s part of my journey is just being okay
with who I am and all that comes with it.
I don’t know what I’m doing.
One of the things I learned from being in the military
is that you’re there for each other,
and as I become more and more resilient every day
with this dog, I definitely put him to work
to give lots of love to people.
He’s my family now and it doesn’t take any work
on his effort, that’s just who he is.
How do we help each other?
That’s the question.
Maybe it just starts with me making sure
I’m reaching out to my friends.
If we could just stop for a minute
and ask someone how’s your heart?
How’d you sleep last night?
Do you wanna pet my dog? [laughs]
If we could just not leave people behind.
[Cameraman] Hey buddy, how’s it goin’?
He’s like what is this?
[Lorelai] Who is this?