PTSD/Vietnam Novel Excerpt
Monday, August 20th, 2012 • PTSD Guest Post: Survivors Speak •
Guest post by Alan C. Thomas. This is an excerpt from a chapter entitled, ‘The Blame Game’ in his book, FLASHBACK VIETNAM: Cover Up PTSD
I see you looking at me, uncertainty on your face. I expect you remember little of what you said and did, during this most recent manic episode. Please know that I remember in detail what you said and did and the impact on Robby and it is still vivid. Your illness, I could deal with but the irresponsibility with your medications has been unbearable. Over and over and over I have experienced your mood swings with you. Your anger and even rage has frightened Robby and I and probably you as well, but you are the only one, who can do anything to prevent your raging. Robby and I have been at your mercy; whether or not you will take your meds and do whatever is necessary to prevent the episodes of rage. I know you will do what you decide is best for you, with little if any regard for your own son and me. You have succeeded at alienating me. I accept that my love for you has been insufficient to convince you to manage your illness and to be responsible.
Other things, other relationships are more important to you than your immediate family. You would probably even willingly, promise me anything, as you did after your 2000 episode. I know, that at the time of your saying, your words would be honest. I also know, you will change and abandon your promises without warning. I will support your relationship with Robby but at the same time, I will make sure he is safe. I am still shocked and dismayed at your utter disregard for his safety and well being at the movie theatre in 2002.
Yesterday, Robby asked me if I would take him to see a movie, during Christmas break. After I said yes, he asked me to promise not to leave him alone in the theatre. We talked and for the first time Robby admitted that he was afraid that night in the theatre with you. He went on to say that that whole weekend alone with you was really scary and he only wanted me to come home from the beach. It will be a very long time before I have any degree of trust in you again and it will only be after you have demonstrated a very long period of stability.
Nearly a year has passed since that meeting. Jan filed a petition for a hearing to have a judge order that she become the custodial parent of Robby, receive child support, spousal support, and something called marital adjustment compensation from me, which would be equivalent to the amount of money I had contributed to our marriage. Finally, she asked that my visitation with Robby be determined by his Child Psychologist, Dr. Milton Cohoe.
The outcome of that hearing before a Judge Timothy B. Oreck required that I maintain my 65% contribution to the household income but I could not live in that household. Jan asked Judge Oreck to include my Veterans Disability Benefit as income. He concluded that my government disability check was income, because, I received the check monthly; while I lived in the household. As it would be more difficult to access my VA benefits money, which I had the VA deposit directly into my checking account, he ordered that the full amount of $1,938.72 per month be garnished from my wages. At that time, I was not aware that Judge Oreck had an 11 year professional relationship with Milton Cohoe and knew Jan through her work on other domestic violence cases in his court. Today, I pondered the thought that there was a conflict of interest but nobody else had a problem with it. The judge agreed with Jan’s lawyer Elliott Roach entirely.
Cohoe’s decisions following the court hearing required that my visitation with Robby would be limited to visits in the presence of Jan for two hour periods at the Calvary Baptist Church Hall in town.
So with that decision, Jan began to come around to rethinking the estrangement between Robby and me. I am sure that the steady support payments every month, helped her rethink things.
Shortly after my attempt to reconcile our joint debt, I received the following Proffer of Jan Marie Thomas, which began her successful effort to “DETERMINING CUSTODY AND VISITATION IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD”: She submitted her written statement to Elliott Roach, Attorney At Law, who submitted it to the Clerk of the Court for Henrico County.
“Robert Edward Thomas (Robby) is 12 years old (D.O.B. 2/20/90) and is an only child. He has had respiratory allergies and asthma since birth and he is treated daily with Rhinocort Nasal Spray, Singulair tablets, and weekly allergy shots by Steven Shultz, M.D. Robby periodically develops sinusitis, which requires treatment with antibiotics. The chronic allergies and recurrent sinusitis cause much fatigue, difficulty sleeping, irritability, decreased appetite, and headaches. Robby also has vision– related learning disabilities and is treated weekly with vision therapy by Dr. Richard Tolley, Optometrist. Robby has been diagnosed with ADHD and is treated by David Rollin, M.D. Robby takes Adderall daily to help decrease his frustration, while increasing his concentration, memory, and academic performance. Additionally, it helps him with the separation of his parents. He sees Milton Cohoe, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist two to four times per month. Robby typically has four to six doctor appointments per week, which requires transportation in and around Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Williamsburg. He receives much of his school instruction in a Special Education Program at Lee Middle School.”
“Robby requires consistent structure in his daily activities to minimize disorganization and frustration. He needs time, love, and attention from his mother and father; however his father, Rob Thomas lived for 15 years with me and our son, Robby but he rarely had time to give to us, because he was not with us psychologically. Rob is a damaged human being, who is incapable of a meaningful relationship with a family. He spends much of his waking hours reliving the events that he experienced nearly 35 years ago, which keeps him from living in the present. He is a veteran of war, who sacrificed for his country but the effects of that sacrifice has left Rob suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar disease. ”
“Rob Thomas repeatedly has “Flashbacks” to the time he was a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy and during those episodes he believes that it is 1970. Due to Rob’s instability, it was necessary for me to legally separate from him. He lives in a small apartment in Henrico County and enjoys visitations with Robby at the Richmond office of Dr. Cohoe.”
My Attorney and friend, Scott Mason, assisted me with preparing my Proffer and submitted it to the Clerk of the Court for Henrico County. At the hearing with Judge Oreck, Jan’s attorney told the judge about my mental health diagnosis and on–going treatment with psychotropic drugs. My attorney told me that he had no rebuttal to Elliott Roach’s comments about me.
Scott said, “Unfortunately my friend, Jan has an open and shut case against you.”
Alan C. Thomas, HMCM/USN, Ret. was a US Navy Hospital Corpsman/Medic, who served on active duty from 1967 – 1970. Following his Honorable Discharge from the USN and completion of a Bachelor of Science degree, he enjoyed careers in the medical and environmental professions. He is a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans.