A few weeks ago I visited an online forum for veterans and their families dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Their stories are very moving. Looking a bit more deeply, I learned recent studies suggest that one out of four coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan bring with them PTSD or related problems. The popular press describes it as a “hidden injury”. Incorporating some of the stories and press, this song erupted over a period of a couple hours. You may also recognize a few actual classic “Bushisms” that I took the liberty to put into this context.
Talkin’ Post Trauma Blues
© 2007 Tom Smith
Sittin’ here on this front porch swing
My chest vibrates, my ears ring.
Wonderin’ what the hell is the matter with me
The inside my head is like World War Three.
More than a little bit hazy,
I think I’m going crazy.
Others call me lazy, looser, wimp, coward.
I’ve heard it all.
I lost my job, lost my wife
Cut my wrist with a pocket knife
I drive down the road to Walter Reed
Thinking every mailbox I see is an I.E.D.*
They say, “You’ve got Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
They call it a “hidden injury”.
Not to me it ain’t.
President comes and he tells me “Son,
You need a change of attitude, get off your buns.
Just shake it off, work your way through it,
Get up on your feet, put your mind into it.”
What he says is “It’s mind over matter”
But what he communicates is “Your mind doesn’t matter (to me)”
Mr President, with all due respect,
Let’s talk about disorders, if I can be direct
Been readin’ a lot about afflictions of mind
I’d like to describe one of a different kind
Indicated by irrational thinking,, confused language, and an inability to empathize,
Called Presidential Spongiform Encephalopathy **
Also known as “Mad President’s Disease.”
He cocked his head and looked confused
A little baffled and a bit bemused
He held my hand to prove me wrong
To make me feel better before he moved along.
“Son, you misunderestimate me.
I know what you are going through, and I am doing everything in my power to leave behind… a more peaceful tomorrow.”
What the hell does that mean?
He shook my hand, and I shook my head
Leaving angry words unsaid.
I’ve got a “hidden injury”, fancy that
And a hidden outrage, under my hat
But what I want to know is,
With one in four of us coming home with hidden injuries
What’s goin’ to happen when our injuries run out of places to hide?
* Improvised Explosive Device
** Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy is “Mad cow disease”