Local War Vet Talks Psychological Injuries

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The Missouri History Museum will host Captain Michelle Matthews of the Missouri Army National Guard.  She will sign copies of her new book Re-Entry: Surviving Life After War while the museum holds a screening of Hell and Back.  Both the book and documentary tell true stories of harsh emotional adjustments to civilian life after combat.

Combat veterans can often bring home critical physical injuries.  But, local a war vet says invisible

“I lived in Baghdad, and the area we were in was called Mortar Alley,’ recalled Captain Matthews.  ‘So, we were mortared pretty often, everyday probably, the whole year were there.”

Matthews` story of two years in Iraq sounds a lot like the documentary “Hell and Back”.  The film features real soldiers fighting for their lives, and then fighting for their sanity once they get home.  Captain Matthews adds that even if they make it home to the relative peace of U.S. soil, even in one piece, most war vets don’t consider themselves survivors.

‘We’re on an adrenaline rush for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,’ Matthews explained.  ‘So you’re kind of living in the fight or flight syndrome.  And then, you come home.  There’s nothing here that creates that same adrenaline rush.”

So, she says she drank.  She found help in therapy, faith, and her black lab.

“Mulligan,’ Matthews smiled.  ‘I rescued him in 2008 from the Humane Society.  Basically, he saved my life.”

Still, Matthews just does not know what to say.

“How do I speak about my war experience to someone who has never been to war?’ Matthews asked of herself.  ‘It’s like, for me explaining to somebody who was blind all their life what the color blue is.”

But, she says she will try.

Captain Matthews will sign copies of her new book “re-entry” during the screening of “hell and back”.  This will be at the Missouri History Museum, Thursday April 5, 2012 at 7 p.m.


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