August 20, 2016
"This a not a social gathering. This group is designed for problem solving. We talk about things that many of us haven't even shared with our families. There is no pity or shame given here. There is only compassionate understanding and genuine support. Here, at these meetings, we provide each other with the tools, the courage, we vets need to live our everyday lives." Roger ReynoldsAs a young U.S. Marine in the late 1960s, Roger Reynolds, of Ottawa, fought for his country in the jungles of Vietnam.
"The time I spent in Vietnam turned me into a crazed, heartless killer," admitted Reynolds.
"I caused a lot of death and destruction while I was over there and, on Valentine's Day, 1969, I shot and killed my best friend during a night fight in the jungle. That mission — my buddy's death — has become my eternal nightmare. I know it will never leave me."
With little memory of his last days in Vietnam, Reynolds came home to La Salle County — like many returning combat servicemen and women — suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Part of his personal salvation came years later, as he helped form a peer-led, community-based group at the Veterans Administration Clinic in Peru for local veterans affected by PTSD.
These days, as a steel-minded leader of that group, Reynolds, 68, fights for the proper mental and physical care of fellow former servicemen with the men themselves and the VA.
At weekly meetings, he is the organizer of discussions that range from personal family problems to medical issues, from recurring nightmares of combat trauma to dark depressions.
In the private gatherings, the veterans share their fears, pain, heartaches and, perhaps most importantly, fellowship.
"I have become my brother's keeper and that is just fine with me."read more here