It was September 11th. 2019. An OIF Marine Veteran called our Lifeline for Vets. Mary Ann Mayer received the call and quickly referred him to Counselor Louis Geiger, also a Marine Vet. Louis reports, “At first, he was very quiet and nervous. He told me he did not work but stayed home alone; he had no family. He said crowds made him nervous and he was always on the alert, anticipating a sudden attack even when he knew no one else was around.”
That was the opening Louis was listening for. “I know exactly how you’re feeling—that sense of anxiety arises out of nowhere. That happens to me, too.” Louis shared that he was also a combat Marine veteran. “After telling him a little about my experiences, he said to me ‘you do know exactly how I feel!’” Louis went on to explain, “You don’t have to be in a crowded environment. You can be alone and that anxiety comes to the forefront and consumes you in a split second.”
The caller was relieved to hear that someone knew exactly how he felt. “Family, friends, neighbors, civilians just don’t understand,” he said. After a few minutes of conversation about their military backgrounds, Louis said his caller let his guard down and they both opened up to their experiences. “He asked me if I had a funny story to tell him and I said sure. I shared a tale that would surely make him laugh, and it did. After we talked awhile longer, his anxiety dropped and he felt calmer. He thanked me for answering his call. I told him he was the one who’d picked up the phone to make that courageous call to the National Veterans Foundation.”
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.