I was in Congress for six months, and they put me on blood pressure medication. I flew helicopters in combat and I was fine, and I survived 13 months in recovery in the hospital... I got to Congress, and six months later I'm on blood pressure medication. Fourteen months later, they doubled the dosage!
I do not have PTSD, but if I watch part of a movie like 'The Hurt Locker', or when I spend time around Blackhawk helicopters, I will close my eyes that night and live an entire day in Iraq, flying my missions. I remember the smell and the feel and the heat and everything about it. Then I wake up in Illinois, and I'm exhausted.
I remember my mother taking me as a very little kid to the roof of our home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to look at the bombs exploding in the distance. She didn't want us to be scared by the booms and the strange flashes of light. It was her way of helping us to understand what was happening.
I know from personal experience that engaging with your community and helping others helps foster a sense of shared sacrifice and - at a time when our politics seem more focused on tearing us apart than bringing us together - that shared sacrifice will help us rekindle the national unity that has made us the strongest nation in the world.