Living with PTSD: A Desert Storm veteran shares his story

Post-traumatic stress disorder, at its core, is a loss of trust or control. And it manifests differently for every person who struggles with it. 

Chris Bown is one of those people. He's a married father of two, a school board member, coach and real estate developer. He's also a war veteran living with PTSD and spoke about it publicly for the first time. 

Right out of college, Bown volunteered for the ROTC program at the University of Washington. Serving his country was a family tradition: his father served before him along with several of his uncles. So in 1991, he answered the call. 

Bown led a platoon of 43 reserves through the Saudi desert during Desert Storm. He delivered troops and supplies to Iraq, spending nearly a year in the middle of a war zone. 

"There are certain times you have to take action that is not consistent with what you have to do [back home,] " Bown said the fear was tangible, and the guilty magnified over the months. 

"We had one kid, he just could not... I mean he could not leave the tent. He was so terrified, I don't think he left the tent the whole time we were there."

Bown came home a very different person. "I understand that war is part of life...that's the nature of the way we live. But it's just difficult to think that we were part of a machine that caused that much damage," he said. 

The damage for Bown was both physical and emotional. Small triggers would set him off, including being late or getting lost.

"We got lost over there a couple times and things happened over there that were less than positive... so i don't like being lost."

Nearly 17 years after coming home, coping became impossible. On a day Bown was supposed to pick his children up from school, his wife Sandra came home to find him curled up on the floor, crying... unable to move. They both knew it was a cry for help. 

More than five years of weekly counseling and group therapy has changed his life. It's been a learning curve for the entire family, but Bown feels relieved he has such a big support system now. 

"it's so much pressure when you're the only person dealing with it," Bown said, "so just having more people who can help, who know..."

His wife Sandra also feels as though a weight has been lifted. She said, "the more people that are in that circle... the more easily you can cope and I feel he's taken care of... He has come a long way, and that's as a a family, why I would want people to get help..."

Copyright 2016 KING


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