Other Post Survivor's Guilt


Sergeant Major
MI.Net Member
Mar 20, 2004
For many combat vets this is a big part of their suffering from PTSD. "Why not me? Why was I spared when others weren't?"

I enlisted in the Army in JAN66 specifically to be a paratrooper. I turned 19 in Basic Training. I also volunteered to go to VN. By the end of JUN66 I had gotten both of my wishes. My MOS [job title] was 11b2p, Airborne Infantryman. Less than 2wks. after arriving in VN, I was sent to my unit, C co, 2/502, 101st Abn. Div.. They were in the Dak To area in the Central Highlands. They had been over-run a month before. 2 days after I got there, I saw my first American KIA.

I always knew what my job description was and what I was expected to do over there. I have never asked for forgiveness for killing anyone over there, nor do I regret it. It was my job. I always knew that I could be killed and that it was a given that people around me were going to die.

I don't believe that I suffer from Survivor's Guilt. I have had people, literally right next to me, killed while I was unscathed. I have mourned for the men that I've seen die; even cried over a couple of them; but deep down, was relieved that it wasn't me. I sometimes wonder why I was spared when others died, but I don't feel guilty about how it played out. I just accept it and have come to the conclusion that I was saved to go on to do other things in my life. I lived to father two great kids and to help raise them to become fine adults, for example. And we survivors were spared so we could keep the memories of those who didn't make it home alive. Someone needs to say their names outloud sometimes. They deserve that.

I think that part about losing your youth in VN was true for me. When I came home a year later and hooked up with the friends that I had left behind, it didn't take me long to realize that I no longer had much in common with them. While they were home tinkering on their cars, I could field strip and clean an M-16 or M-60 machinegun without hardly thinking about it, or booby trap a body with a hand grenade. While they cruised El Camino Real in their cars, I rode around in helicoptors, or walked countless miles, while often being shot at. While they were out chasing girls, I was chasing, and being chased by, men for the sole purpose of killing each other. While they were picking up girls, I was picking up body parts of my buddies. While they took a hot shower at home, I washed up in a river, stream, the muddy water in the bottom of a bomb crater, or a monsoon downpour. I reported into Ft. Bragg 3 days early from a 30 day leave. I needed to be with men that I could relate better with. Men who had done what I had done and seen what I had seen.

Survivor's Guilt is a very real and debilitating symtom of PTSD. I, in no way, mean to minimize it in those who suffers from it. These are just my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I only speak for myself.
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Frisco-Kid, in my humble opinion, I think you have the right philosophy and deserve the life you have built.
I tried to respond. Quite a lengthy and personal one, I'm afraid.
Another "your submission cannot be submitted" message and deletion of my post.
I surrender !
Jaysus, that's frustrating. I've had that happen to me before on long, thought out posts. I think they "Time Out" somehow. Maybe some kind of a time limit. Take a deep breath and try again, Fox. I really want to know what you were trying to say. As you do it, hit "REFRESH" once in awhile.

Bombardier: Any thoughts or suggestions on this?
I think I'm several stages beyond frustrated. I'm to the point that I no longer ask why and I'm way beyond expecting any kind of change. I try to keep it short, but as you know, this gets impossible when you write what you feel. That's a problem for me, too much conviction and not enough computer knowledge or typing skills.
Later my friend, Scott
Good post, I guess it also demonstrate that PTSD is not a simple black and white issue. We are all unique and it's (trauma) effects on each individual varies greatly.

One aspect of dealing with PTSD, that the government can not address, is faith. IMHO it helps very much.
FYI If I have a long post to draft, I draft it up on Word and post it once complete. Posts here can be mentally draining and they are something you want to make sure it makes sense. So yes they take time.

Hopes this helps, Bob out sal;
Several years later, wiser, but just as frustrated, I'm still around and still someone who knows this subject well. I'm still of the opinion that there are many like me, who are not candidates for group or personal therapy, and I'm still of the opinion that all of us are not easily put into a statistical data base that can spit out a solution for each and every situation. No one has walked in my shoes except me and tho there are many of similar persuasion, only I know where, how and when I arrived at this place in my life. Self- therapy and introspection is still a bitch and has its limitations but I prefer it to the alternative officially suggested cure-for-all. I may be out of the main stream, but at least I'm still swimming, albeit always upstream, against the current.
Semper Fi
As I said in my intro I have never served but I can understand this topic well.
I have had numerous situations in my life that have caused me concern and feel for those of you that suffer mentally.

"Survivors guilt" again understandable and probably suffered by many in these recent times too.
Important topic so bumping this post

"The Torment Of A Distant War"


The author (center) and other field corpsmen in Vietnam wait for transportation back to rear lines, 1968.