I saw too many people fall apart before leaving country, it's a hard thing to see, and can't do anything about. We still have a long way to go to help vets with the transition. My last deployment I started to see a bit more attention put towards PTSD, but the first two, we just had a couple of briefings about transitioning back to civilian life, and that was it.
The best thing that happened to us was when we went for our annual training, and got to sit around and talk at length about what happened on our deployment. That's the trouble with being in the National Guard, everyone went back to their families across the state, and we rarely saw each other. When we got back together for training it was just us that we could talk to that would understand what we all went through, nobody wanted to share the worst stories with their families (of course) so the majority would just keep it to themselves, until you can find someone who will understand. Which is the trouble with a lot of the psychologists at the VA, they are either: just out of school/in school or have never been to combat, so trying to just feel comfortable talking to someone like that is weird.
There have been many outreach programs spring up (eager to help) but if you are still serving, there is/was a stigma attached to getting help. I have a friend who was going through OCS and because he was seeking help, and taking medication they were going to kick him from the program. He could choose to stop taking his medicine, or drop out, so he dropped out. I have heard they are trying to change the way it shows in your medical record, but it is too little to late for a lot of vets already. I know that there are some places that dig up the medical files, and see PTSD, and will decline a job offer just on that being noted that they were treated for it.
There is a battle of them saying it's not a weakness to seek help, and once you seek help, we're limiting your possibilities of advancement, or outright dispensing medical discharges. There are several people I know getting quite a lot of money (tax free) for taking the medical out, but for a lot of guys it was a way of life, and it makes life harder to get out, and then have nothing to do. There are many who self-destruct once boredom sets in and you are left to your thoughts.
I do miss being in, but I'm in college now, looking forward to new horizons I hope bring good things. There are so many times I wish I had a helmet cam, or something, but all I had was a crappy camera that would only record in 30 second increments. I managed to get some footage, but if the tech would have been readily available I would have some wild footage.
Thanks for sharing Steve, sometimes we forget there are a lot more vets facing the same issues, and we're not in it alone. I wish you an easy road brother. Take care