Andy Brandi, PTSD counsellor

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:  ‪sgtabrandiusmc@gmail.com

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.

10 Responses to Andy Brandi, PTSD counsellor

  1. karen wittgraf says:

    Thank you so much for the information. Jerry’s daughter is with an Iraq combat vet (2 deployments in the Marines) and is experiencing the very symptoms with him as described. I will forward this blog to her in hopes it will help. Such a sad destruction of young lives that so desperately need help..and so hard to overcome or cope with. Thanks, Al.

  2. Greg Wanamaker----- says:

    Well Al—-what a relief to read you were on vacation—I have to say it took me too long to call and leave a msg with your answering service asking if you were OK. I will send Andy a contribution to get more than just a few books out and buy one for myself.
    So I expect you are re-fueling your soul and other tanks before you get back on the road. Will fill you in on the East Coasr stuff on your private email when I find it . Take care.

    GREG

  3. Colleen Rae says:

    Thanks Al for the info. The book sounds very intriguing. I have known many Vietnam Vets that suffer from PTSD. In defense of the Vietnam war protesters (I was one of them) we never faulted the soldiers over their doing their jobs, our criticism was with our government. But the vets were treated very badly when they came home by many. That was a travesty. Many V.V. still suffer from PTSD. Apparently it doesn’t go away.
    Nice to take a vacation from a vacation. Have fun (as I know you are doing), stay healthy and I look forward to your next travel blog.

    • allevenson says:

      The Andy blog is the reason I have not posted. I wrote the review weeks ago and was unsatisfied. I did not bring andy to life, there was too much of ME, and too much generalization about the times. Where to start and where to end–the same old reporter/journalist concerns.

      Of course, many who protested the war did not fault the warriors. Those arent the people Andy met. He remembers the woman who spit in his face, shrieking “Baby-killer.” at him. No surprise that he can describe her hair, her clothes, and the baby on her hip decades later. . I have a lot more about Andy. Notes from a 6-hour conversation with him and a female marine sergeant from the same era. And I have Andy’s 2nd book and there is a third.

      PTSD is an important issue and Andy is an Everyman spokesman. The topic deserves more study. I am undecided how much depth to give it in the blog.

  4. I remember that spitting-on-returning-vets era and know of at least one of those spitters who is now very conventional critter working at the Lawrence Livermore Lab. My nephew was a Vietnam vet. I will send the twenty bucks to the above address. Thanx, Al. By the way, I sent for an Iraq-vet book titled Mass Casualties.

    • allevenson says:

      One very nice thing is how time mellows people.

      So many people do thing at 20 that they believe in and believe they will never regret. But they do.

      I dont think Andy thinks in terms of what he would do if he could roll back 40 years.

      But I can tell you he is an anti-war guy. Yet once a marine always a marine. And he is compelled to reach out to today’s warriors and help them back from insanity.

      AL

  5. I never thought of myself as having PTSD, but when we came to the US and visited Chinatown for the first time, someone let off a firecracker as we were exiting a store with friends. 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 and my wife told about all these behavior traits I have that I took as ‘normal.’

    It’s about those who know they need help, but also those who don’t realize what is behind some of their actions. There are many veterans out there who don’t even know they are wounded inside.

    Glad you featured this, Al, and glad there are people who care.

    Alon

    http://www.leftcoastvoices.com.

    • allevenson says:

      Thanks for your personal experience, Alon.

      There are different levels of PSTD. Andy is worried about today’s warriors, who have higher stress levels and longer combat tours, and more hours of actual combat. He is concerned about what will happen when more and more of them return to civilian life.

  6. Thank you for the informative post, Al. I feel so very blessed that my son never had to go into battle, that he’s still ‘himself.’ Hopefully Brandi’s book will help inform people about the effects of war that some people forget about or chose not to acknowledge in the first place.
    Sandy

  7. Karen Goucher says:

    Al,
    You need not be so hard on yourself. Your worst work is good
    enough….not that you have posted such. You have a gift….period.

    The subject is out in the light…..thanks for that!

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