Author, PTSD veteran seeks to help others
When Don Pearsall wrote a book explaining post-traumatic stress disorder, his publisher gave him five books to give away to promote his writing.
Pearsall, however, has given away more than 120 copies of his book, most to people suffering from PTSD. He has handed out the book “Back from the Front” to veterans he encountered at times when he delivered food to them in wooded camps in Brevard.
I talked to Pearsall after recently seeing my late father-in-law’s discharge papers from the U.S. Marine Corps and his letter awarding him a pension for what the Veterans Administration in 1945 called “Nervous Condition.” It also mentions scars on his right thigh.
S. Lee Witt was injured three times as he served with the Marine Corps in action against Japanese forces on Tinian and Saipan during World War II. Each time he was treated and sent back to the battlefield. There is very little that he would say about his service, but he left behind papers, photos and memorabilia that helps to paint a picture of his service.
I was curious about the “Nervous Condition” designation that gave him a 60 percent disability compensation. I just know that Witt’s children never went to fireworks displays or to anything that would create a sudden explosive noise, because he would be bothered by it. He would react surprised, angered and in a defensive mode if someone walked up behind him and touched him on the back. He also suffered from nightmares.
Pearsall suspects Witt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s been called many things over the years,” said Pearsall, district commander for Veterans of Foreign Wars for Brevard and Osceola counties. “That’s probably exactly what it was. There are so many types of PTSD.”
Pearsall knows. The Vietnam veteran who was a helicopter gunner, was shot down twice. He came home suffering from PTSD.
“I noticed I had a lot of PTSD issues,” he said. “I was looking for ways to help myself.”
What he learned he is sharing with others through his book and through group and individual counseling. The book contains a lot of self-help tips and information for those suffering from PTSD and for their caregivers and family members.
“I’ve been there, done that,” he said.
After learning a little about PTSD through the years from talking to veterans and experts and now talking to Pearsall, I too believe that Witt suffered from PTSD.
I don’t know if he would have acknowledged it or talked about it. We will never know. He died suffering from cancer more than 20 years ago.
Pearsall’s book “Back from the Front” can be obtained through Connectionstoanewlife.com