My name is Timothy Long. I am a retired Army combat veteran out of Bravo Company 3rd Battalion 8th Cavalry Regiment of FT. Hood Texas. I deployed to Balad Iraq on October 1st 2006 for a 15th month tour of duty. As an Infantryman my job was to conduct cordon and search of villages known to have enemy forces present and active in our area of operations. I also pulled security for engineers and medical personal on "Heart and mind missions". My job prior to the military was a firefighter in south Florida, and I was also on the local Red Cross Disaster Response Team. These jobs gave me a slightly higher level of medical training than most the other soldiers in my company so my Commander asked me to be a stand-in medic for some of my deployment.
On September 17th 2007, myself and several other members of my squad were in a M2A1 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle on our way to pull security for a platoon of engineers that were rebuilding an overpass that had been destroyed by a VBIED several days before. About half way to our destination, on a road we had been down hundreds of times before, a large command wired IED exploded directly under the left track of the vehicle. I was Med-a-vaced to Balad hospital where I was treated for my injuries then sent back Stateside to continue my recovery and transition out of the military. At this point the real battle began.
I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder only months after I returned to FT. Hood. I quickly became addicted to the pain and anxiety medication I was being prescribed to treat my injuries. I was mixing them with alcohol and they had become my way of coping with what I had just endured. I denied all accusations of mental health problems and continued to spiral down a path that was destined for prison or death! I knew I needed help and finally reached out to the VA and began the treatment I was desperate for. After several years of proper treatment I finally began to live a normal life again.
Today I am a student at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Substance Abuse. I am a active member of the community and serve as the Public Relations Coordinator for the Psychology Club and a member of the Veterans Club. My goal now is to bring awareness to as many people as I can about PTSD. The more people that are aware of this disease, the easier it will be for a veteran to reach out for help. We are talking about our Brothers and Sisters, our Mothers and Fathers, our neighbors, the protectors of our nation. Its our time to protect them.