The Demons of War


What are these “Demons” of war that too often come and haunt Vietnam Veterans? Who knows why they stay with a man for the rest of his life. Too many times these demons have taken a brave soldier and reduced him to a person no longer caring whether he lives or dies. This soldier, who was ready to die for his country, is now ready to take his own life. He doesn’t ask himself why; he knows that the demons have won the battle.

Sometimes the demons come in dreams during the night. They may come during the day for no apparent reason. They take on many forms; some will not be easily recognized. Sometimes they will come as only a quiet voice, perhaps the voice of your friend you held in your arms as he died. They come at times as a loud scream – the scream of a man as his body is riddled by the bullets of an AK-47 or shrapnel from an explosion. Sometimes they come as a feeling of fear or sadness. At other times they will appear as an image so clear you feel as though you have gone back to the "Nam".

At times they come as a vision of the countless horrors you witnessed; these horrors of a war that you did not understand. Young and naďve, you went because it was the right thing to do… at least this is what you thought. It is a shame that when you needed your country to help fight these demons, you were cast aside, left to fight them alone.

How do you deal with these demons? Some brave soldiers have hidden them deep down inside their soul. For many the battles have meant alcohol, drugs, and as a last resort… suicide. For a lucky few, God has cast the demons away. For most, the demons hide deep within the soul… waiting. They wait patiently for something that has shattered your heart and has made you weak and in this moment of weakness, they come.

If you have never been in battle, if you have never seen death up close, you will not understand. You will not understand why this soldier will not let you inside his heart. You will not understand why this soldier will not speak of the horrors that he has seen. You will not understand him, for you have not walked in his shoes. You have not seen what his eyes have seen. The love that was once in his heart has been replaced by hatred and fear. This hatred will be for the people of his country that have deserted him in his time of need. This hatred will be overcome by a heart-felt feeling; a feeling of patriotism and love for his flag and country. You will ask; how can this be? The answer is one that only another veteran will understand… it is the true measure of a soldier. The fear is the fear of these demons that will surely come again and again. A fellow veteran, however, will share this fear, and you will comfort one another and the fear will go away. This gives true meaning to the statement: “We left as strangers and came home as Brothers.”

As a friend or a loved one, you ask; “what can I do to help?” Stand by his side, support him, and help him with the battles that continue in his mind. The demons may come in many different forms, and if he does not have your love and support, these demons will win his soul and destroy him. This brave soldier, the boy changed into a man overnight, will continue to fight these battles and at the end of his time on earth will join the legions of heroes gone before him. Then and only then will the demons be gone and rest, oh merciful rest will finally come.

©Copyright 2018 by Phil “Country” Crowley

Click on the Heart below for Monica Harvey aka "Little Sis" ministry for Vietnam Veterans and the "Bandaid For The Heart"