Coming Home – featuring Vietnam veteran Joe Gates’ (Melzer, 2014)
Upon returning home from his second tour of Vietnam in 1970, as part of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR), Joe Gates felt socially and emotionally isolated. He packed away his Army uniform and tried to drown his memories and emotions with alcohol. Joe found he could not relate to his family and he could not control his anger. A simple thing such as his children coming home late would cause Joe to fly into a rage, as his Army training surfaced. The Army trained him to believe ‘if you’re late, you’re dead’, a train of thought triggered anxiety and aggression. He would do anything to get away from being in family situations. Joe’s behavior led to his divorce.
Nearly thirty years after returning from his second tour to Vietnam, Joe was identified with PTSD and found help with prescribed medication and counseling. Joe does not want any other service person to go through what he went through and once he found treatment that improved the quality of his life, he started a journey to help others to get PTSD treatment. Joe used the movie ‘The Railway Man’ as a point of reference, for others to understand how completely disabling PTSD can be.