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By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES
March 2, 2010
The first day Kristine Wise returned from eight months military service in Iraq, she knew something was wrong. Driving from San Diego to Bakersfield to see her brother, the road signs triggered flashbacks.
One said 'railroad,' but instead I saw 'roadside' and in my mind a roadside bomb," said Wise, who supplied parts to combat vehicles in the first wave of the war. "I would see 'beware' and my mind would see 'Baghdad.' I couldn't explain it."
The depression and panic attacks began long before her honorable discharge in 2004, but the battle to get the www.va.gov/">Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to take her symptoms seriously was just as difficult.
"They had a hard time comprehending I was a combat vet and didn't treat me with the same respect," said Wise, now 40 and rated 10 percent disabled for post traumatic stress disorder.
I returned from Vietnam in 1962. When I got out of the service in 1964, I began to long hard path to getting help. As a once hard working Veterans advocate, I have tried to tell others that they are not alone. Even as a POW, in the beginning I was rated with 10%. Afriend of mine with an ulcer was rated 20 %. It is important that each of us find a Veterans Service Officer that will work with you and help when we must do all the paper work all over again.
Just remember that you are not alone and that many of us will never forget what you went through and what you are going through now.