spreading the word

SSG Eddie Black’s remarkable message

Posted by Mike Francis, The Oregonian April 13, 2008 12:09PM

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I had the pleasure of hearing recently from SSG Eddie Black, who was deployed to FOB Volunteer with the 2/162 in 2004-05. As you’ll see when you read his message after the jump, he has experienced — and seen others experience — some of the highs and lows you hear about when veterans come home. He has responded by creating and delivering the terrific, short presentation on PTSD, which you can find by clicking above.

(If it doesn’t come through, send me your email address at mikefrancis@news.oregonian.com and I’ll shoot you a copy. I can also put you in touch w/ SSG Black, who is eager to communicate with anybody who needs or wants to talk about this issue.)


Thank you for your support. We shared some of the same dirt in Iraq in 04/05. I was with A Co, 2-162 at FOB Volunteer.

I am contacting you to ask a favor, simple really, to keep me in your rolodex and shoot me an email when you come across a contact/group that might like me to talk to them, or look me up on your blackberry and give them my number. That’s it.

I am enclosing a PDF of a presentation that I gave to my class (army instructor training) at OMA in Monmouth dealing with PTSD. I am as guilty of everyone else of gaffing off the reintegration talks given to us by VA officials and others over the years. Even though I studied psychology before and after Iraq. The various presentations didn’t work for me and it was a surprise for me to find that I had symptoms of PTSD later after going to therapy for a year. Enclosed is a PDF version of the presentation. It isn’t great, it isn’t a ‘bolt from the blue’ but it is different than other presentations I have seen. It is, to me at least, more approachable. It isn’t a psychologist (someday, however) speaking to them, but someone who knows what it is like to be shot and to shoot back and what it’s like to be on pins and needles on the 4th of July.

So the goal now is get out and talk to people. I am trying to find anyone I can to give this talk to. I made it for the audience of a group of soldiers, from asoldier. It is the sort of thing I wish I had. I am also looking at ways to change it up a bit so that it is more accessible for the family members of veterans so that they might understand what a vet is going through.

I am in the National Guard, but this is not a National Guard sponsored program. While I did give the lecture at the OMA to a group of NCOs, and will do so again for NCOPD (development) it is not affiliated with the Guard. I am doing this because we veterans take care of each other. I needed help and I got it. Now I want to explain the process to others. It is amazing how many soldiers I know have not been to any sort of mental health help, but who are on ‘quick and easy’ psychological pills, or how many more self medicate with alcohol. If the numbers of 1/3 of vets will have serious mental health issues, then this will be another major problem for the VA as the numbers of Iraq/Afghanistan vets swell. Add the increased risk from repeated tours and it is more important that I try to get a soldier to seek help. Military vets in Oregon are five times more likely to commit suicide. That fact bowled me over and really motivated me. We are losing our best and brightest to IEDs and when they return home, complacency.

Again, all I am asking is if, in your dealings with other people/groups you find a spot that might be open to my coming and giving a quick talk, please give my name to them. I ask for no charge, no donation, no nothing except time. Well, for now I do ask if there is any projectors available (such as INFOCUS machine) as I do not own one and they are a bit expensive. If a group has one, I can show up with my laptop and talk. I am not a counselor and I offer no counseling. I am only a Marine and National Guard vet with an open ear who might offer some information about where to go next (and help steer them toward help).

Thank you and Semper Fi

Eddie Black

SSG, Oregon Army National Guard


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