Gulf War Veteran Andrew Hodnik
I am a combat vet, of the Desert Storm conflict. I was a Combat Engineer – 12B – as MOS and also a senior rated airborne trooper.
My rating with VA is 90% after years of fighting for that rating, first starting with trying to get my knees fixed, and receiving a 0% rating, then getting mad and coming back at them with all guns blazing – I finally built a case that was so solid that VA had no wiggle room. VA has so many laws, as you may already know, that using the incorrect verbiage can cause a zero rating. I then sent a barrage of letters to senators and congressmen.
When the rating came out I was unsettled by the 100% because of dreams I had of friends who lost their lives in Iraq and came to me asking why I was taking money when I had my life. These dreams, along with other dreams that I call “play-dates” of times when I can go back into combat or times that embody the camaraderie we had in the military have ruined my sleep cycle.
I also grew up with an unemotional father, a man who bred me to be a perfect soldier. Once in the military and before combat, I was in a unit that was a bit hard-core and we used corporal punishment to keep our men in line instead of Article-15 or other military measures. There is quite a bit of guilt and confusion built up before and after my combat situation.
When I left the Army in 1993 I had several run-ins with the law, all involving violence either with weapons or fighting.
Alcohol and cocaine became a problem, and then I was court ordered to go to VA for counseling. Once I was in the VA system they started pumping me with their pharmaceutical cocktail, and as you may know, the providers changed, yet my medications were never reviewed so many times I was taking overlapping meds. Once my rating came out the pain medications came out, and those meds came into the mix.
By 1998 I was 28 and a complete mess. At that time I had a collection of over fifteen fully automatic weapons, twenty semi-auto long arms, plenty of combat shotguns, and more short arms than I could count. Many times I would lose a girlfriend within a day when she would come into the house and could not move three feet without bumping into a loaded firearm.
I have two anniversary times that effect me the worst, one is now, the next is in the winter when we cross the Line of Departure. During these periods my mind goes back to my old guard duty hours and I find it more comfortable to sleep in the recliner.
I have also been told that I sleep walk, and have been seen hiding behind “cover”, standing “guard” with weapons, and finally one night – in the recliner – I added to my wounds by discharging a .45 into my right leg. It was at this point that I realized that things were way out of control.
My rage, my hyper-vigilance, my being defensive towards “loved ones”, my reclusiveness, my self-medication, I was a loose cannon. In 1998 I quit cocaine, put down the Wild Turkey, and started trying to not sleep with firearms.
I began a weekly and sometimes biweekly counseling with a Vet Counselor, went on meds that kept me from sleep walking, sold most of my automatic weapons, and tried to get on a “self-awareness” program. ALL OR MOST FAILED. The only thing that really worked was quitting cocaine and stopping alcohol.
What finally happened to change my life was Emotional Freedom Technique, Gary Craig, and Ingrid Dinter. I was terrified to leave the safety of my home and expose myself to those EFT people.
My initial interview was with Ingrid, and although I was uncomfortable, and I do not like opening up to begin with, there was something about Ingrid that I difficult to put into words, but I will recall this event to put some power / color into this initial meeting:
Ingrid and I initially started with my military events, then reverted to my childhood, and after twenty minutes I could feel the power, identity, and self-love taken away from my biological father, as if he were there and Ingrid had gotten up, taken them away from him – as physical things – and given them back to me. The amount of trust and care I felt after that meeting was intense.
This was not some voodoo mind melt, or a mental collapse, it was that Ingrid had helped me to see that I was worth something more than a soldier, a tool, I meant something to people and was important. I also felt very tired and vulnerable – yet Ingrid made me feel safe, not just in a motherly way, but in a solid friendly way – a way that our military brothers would make us feel in that camaraderie and compassion without a price.
And there was not that sympathetic poor-boy treatment that some counselors or people give, it was just matter-of-fact giving, and a “I am here for you” moment.
I hope this makes some sense.
When I returned to Alaska my hyper-vigilance had subsided, I no longer sleep with firearms. My Valium has been cut by 2/3rds and several other psych meds have been cut, under doctor’s supervision, I am able to tap on the EFT work on the difference between Power vs. Force as we were trained in the military. There is always more work.
EFT works, I know it works, I see a future that I never knew was there – even if that future is next month, and hopefully I will be able to plan for six months; all I am getting at is my life is improving. The fact that I can concentrate on this e-mail, which I know is getting long-winded, is an improvement. Even though you don’t know me, believe in Ingrid, believe in EFT. The Basic Recipe can be used anytime. And if you would like to work together I would be willing to e-mail or talk.
Feel free to get in touch.
If you would like to contact Andy, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.