The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity, Traumatic Stress and Life, by Sergeant Andy Brandi, is a book that will haunt you from the first page.
Prior to Viet Nam, battle fatigue and shell shock were thought to be recoverable stress reactions to combat. Today, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is known to be a severe anxiety disorder, caused by psychological trauma which overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope. Symptoms include reexperiencing the stressor through flashbacks, or nightmares, difficulty falling or staying asleep,anger and hypervigilence to the extent of impaired social function.
Andy Brandi has a severe case of PTSD—compliments of the Viet Nam War. And forty years later, its effects still define his life.
When Andy sits in a room, he sits with his back to the wall facing the door; if he hears a car backfire, he drops to the ground and looks for cover; if he walks across a parking lot, he scans the roof line of adjacent buildings. He is vigilant for anything that will trigger a stress reaction.
The Warrior’s Guide, his first book, tells how his coping skills were overpowered by the constant adrenaline alert of battle preparation, the battle itself, and its aftermath.
Andy is one of hundreds of thousands of Viet Nam era warriors discharged into civilian life without any de-programming of the warrior psyche.
Among his brother and sister warriors, tens of thousands of suicides resulted.
Brandi’s primary audience is combat veterans, the returning warriors who feel guilty about becoming a killer and whose guilt is doubled for surviving a war when their brother and sister warriors did not.
Blamed for doing their patriotic duty, many Viet Nam veterans were spit on by the anti-war protesters. Andy and many of his comrades were themselves disenchanted with the war. Veterans of Nam and later wars are reviled and feel betrayed. And they are trained in violence and are walking among us.
The book’s most important message is that there is help available to the combat vets today. Although services are insufficient and underfunded, in Andy’s opinion, the Veteran’s Administration does offer counseling, and there is peer support at the posts of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Speaking of his experience of PTSD, he writes in the voice of a Marine Sergeant, “Listen up, we’re movin’ into ambush country, but don’t worry, I’ve got your six o’clock.”
The book speaks also to the warriors’ wives, children, parents, and siblings–people who need to understand that the man who returned is not the boy who left.
And Brandi hopes for an even wider audience: civilians and elected officials, who send their sons and daughters off to war, seemingly with little awareness that personal human consequences reach across decades and generations.
Andy has a website (www.sgtbrandi.com) that reaches out to combat veterans and where he offers himself as a counselor to anyone.
He speaks to veterans groups.
If you want to write to Andy, he gets email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy’s book is available from Amazon in paper or Kindle. It is free to combat vets and their families. Andy funds his book giveaway from his own pension and disability checks.
If you have a little spare cash in your Help-Out-A-Good-Cause Fund, send it to: Sergeant Brandi, P.O. Box 574, Cerrillos, New Mexico, 87010.
Twenty bucks will pay the postage to get a dozen or so books in the hands of warriors where the book might make a profound difference.