Andy Brandi – P.T.S.D Counsellor
Today is Veteran’s Day. I have lifted this post from my friend, Al Levenson, who blogs about his experience: “A Year on the Road.” Al met a man named Andy Brandi who served in the Vietnam War. Forty years on, Andy is still living the war.
Andy recounted to Al how when he sits in a room, he will always have his back to a wall and be able to see the door. When he crosses a parking lot he will automatically scan the roofs of the surrounding buildings. A car backfiring can make him instantly drop to the floor.
These stories sent chills through me.When my family first arrived in the US, we visited Chinatown in San Francisco with some friends. As we exited a store someone let off a firecracker. I instinctively threw my son (then 2 years old) behind a parked car and dived on top of him.
I freaked the group out (not least my two-year-old) and we decided to go sit for ice cream and tea. One of our friends asked me about my reaction and my wife told about other behavior traits I have that I took as ‘normal.’ This was the first I heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D). I too hate to have my back to a door and scan around me in unfamiliar urban areas. I have been shot at from roof tops and had rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown from above.
Today P.T.S.D is recognized as a genuine anxiety disorder caused by extreme psychological trauma. In a severe condition, it can overwhelm the person and rend them helpless to deal with it. Symptoms include “re-experiencing the stress through flashbacks, or nightmares, difficulty falling or staying asleep,anger and hypervigilence to the extent of impaired social function. Most often, they are plagued by a feeling if intense guilt that they survived when so many who were close to them did not.
Andy has written a book meant to serve as a guide for those (and their loved ones) who are fighting a fight they should have left behind in the desert or the jungles. Al says that The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity, Traumatic Stress and Life, “is a book that will haunt you from the first page.”
Al says that the most important message in the book is that there is help available to the combat vets today. Although Andy is critical of the level of services, they are vastly underfunded in his opinion, he points out that the Veteran’s Administration does offer counseling, and there is peer support at the posts of Veterans of Foreign Wars. He encourages veterans to reach out to these services.
Andy maintains a website (www.sgtbrandi.com) from where he wants to reach out and support veterans. He is also happy to speak to veteran’s groups.
The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity, Traumatic Stress and Life is free to combat vets and their families and Andy funds his book giveaway from his own pension and disability checks. If you wish to help get his books into the hands of those who need it, you can donate at the following address. Just $20 can help cover the p&p for a half dozen books to get to men and women who need to read it.
Sergeant Brandi, P.O. Box 574, Cerrillos, New Mexico, 87010.
The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity, Traumatic Stress and Life is also available from Amazon in tree or e-book. Buying a copy will help fund more books going out for free. Put that book in the hands of a veteran that you know is suffering.
Show them you care.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).
Alon, Thanks for the great plug for the work Andy is doing. I am pleased to report that my post prompted several book sales for him and $200 in donations for his work. On my last visit with Andy I left with 15 copies of his book which I give pro bono to any combat vet I meet. Best regards from SW MO. Today I cross into NW AR. AL http://www.allevenson.wordpress.com
Alon, Thank you for supporting our Troops, the True Heroes of this nation, and thank you for this article. If we give life, then life responds to the giving. How better then, than to help our young men and women who have given their lives for the principles of freedom. No one comes home from war unchanged. Our Troops only ask for respect and to be acknowledged for their sacrifices. This is the least we all can do. Thank you again.
Sgt. Brandi, United States Marine Corps
Thank you Andy, for all that you do.
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How we tret our veterans is ridiculous. They gave their freedom for our country and deserve to be treated like royalty. Thank you!
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I am trying to reach the author of “The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity”. SGT PTSD Brandi, if this is the way to reach you, my name is Lorenzo Aguilera. I’ve read your book and it has inspired me, along with the book “Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior” by Charles W. Hoge, MD., Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret)., and have an idea I want to share with you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, an alt. email is email@example.com.
I was in the Army, a Calvary Scout, from 2005-2010. I’ve recently been given counseling and treatment for PTSD, however, my idea involves a fundraiser for PTSD and my “therapeutic” way of coping with PTSD, CrossFit. Please Serg, if you’re out there, email me!
SG Aguilera, Lorenzo