Help is available for PTSD, depression

To the editor:

As a co-founder of Vietnam Vets of America Chapter 65 Berkshire County, and having attended the excellent ceremony on Park Square put on by three veterans organizations including Chapter 65, I decided I would tell my story of having PTSD which was the key theme of the ceremony aptly presented by James Walsh.

When I came home from Vietnam in 1969 after nearly 16 months, I thought I was lucky not to have been killed and I thanked the Lord every day for sparing my life. I enrolled at BCC and maintained a nearly 4.0 GPA. The majority of my classes were in the sciences.

I was always tired and I thought this was due to the fact that I stayed up late every night studying. After graduating I went to NASC in North Adams. I graduated with honors but life was getting tougher due to not sleeping as I should have.

I went on to successful career as a high school teacher and as an executive at Krofta Engineering. I became more and more plagued with an inability to sleep and suffered extreme fatigue when I would have to travel all over the world as director of technical marketing for Krofta Waters Inc.

In 1996 I suffered a total collapse, I had seen many doctors, trying to figure out why I was becoming so ill. From 1996 to 2001 I lay in a bed at my mother's house staring at the ceiling. I tried just about every type of medicine available, with no result. My mom, my sister Gail and her husband Jerry took care of me and my brother David moved into my home to take care of the house.


In June of 2001, I had no more will to live. My friend and doctor, Barry Lobovits, sent me to see Dr. Alex Sabo, chief of staff of psychiatry at BMC. Dr. Sabo knew of my history and we decided I would have electro-convulsive therapy or shock treatment every few days. It took some time, but I started to feel dramatically better. I went to bed after the last treatment and slept through the night. I woke up the next day and it was the best day of my life. I have been doing quite well ever since then. I will have to be on medication the rest of my life but it is a small price to pay to feel well.

What was I suffering from? Extreme PTSD from the Vietnam War. PTSD is the same illness as clinical depression. Left untreated, one could slip into such despair that suicide is always on the mind.

I wrote this commentary to alert anyone who may be suffering from this deadly disease that there is help out there and you must seek it. Family members may see the disease before the sufferer sees it and they must bring their loved ones to seek medical help. This country looks down on individuals who suffer these types of afflictions and we must change this mind-set. Clinical depression must be treated like any other illness, with no stigmas attached.

Good luck to all who seek needed help. You can get better and once again enjoy life. Also pray for help — it will come.

Craig Gaetani, Pittsfield