An excerpt from Art Schade’s “Not Alone,” a non-fiction piece featured in the forthcoming volume of The Journal of Military Experience:
The group leader asked me to talk about my post-war years, an area where he knew I had some success. I told them that when I left the Marines after four years, I was youthful and confident in myself. I had no clue what depression and anxiety were, and I thought the nightmares were personal and temporary. I was determined to look forward, not backwards to the war. Unfortunately, today I realize that while constantly looking forward helped me avoid chaotic memories of war, it also cloaked the memories of my formative younger years, and positive events throughout my life.
Art Schade returns to The Journal of Military Experience with a powerful retelling of his experience first talking about PTSD in a group therapy session. Art, a Marine and Vietnam Veteran, carefully crafts his narrative to detail the experience and offers hope to all veterans and their families that there is hope in the battle against PTSD.
In a recent interview with MEA’s Katt Blackwell-Starnes, Art elaborated on the need to encourage veterans and their families to understand the benefits of seeking help. “My stories about PTSD were written thirty-five years after Vietnam, when I recognized my years of denial and accepted the control PTSD had on my life.” Art’s healing included group therapy, one-on-one sessions, and medications, and through these sessions, he came to realize the importance of writing. “I knew I had to write my stories to help all veterans and their families break the stigma of PTSD and seek medical assistance which so many of us older warriors refused to do.”
Art began raising awareness through social media, publishing and promoting “The Demons of War are Persistent.” The self-promoting worked; MEA’s President read the work and invited Art to participate in workshops to polish his work for publication in The Journal of Military Experience, Vol. 2. The support and writing critique Art received led him back for another publication in the forthcoming Journal of Military Experience, Vol. 3. “It was not until I worked with MEA team members that I comprehended the commitment they make to helping veterans bring their stories to life–without grammar errors. It has changed my writing process considerably; when I form a story, I know there are ideal volunteers willing to help me significantly improve it!”
For Art, writing is a means of raising awareness, working through troublesome memories, and, in the case of his novel Looking for God within the Kingdom of Religious Confusion, a way to open minds. The novel details a personal journey where the character has meaningful religious and secular conversations on a quest for the truth about God. The novel emerged from unanswered questions: “As a combat veteran, there were always questions I had regarding the carnage of war and a loving God. [The novel] gave me an opportunity to share my thoughts with others.”
Art is an excellent example of the inspiration, hard work, and growth we try to accomplish at Military Experience and the Arts. If you are a veteran with a story to tell and want help getting the story onto paper, canvas, or photograph, we can help. Our staff of nearly three dozen educators, professional writers, and veterans’ advocates is currently working on the publication of nearly two hundred original works of fiction, non-fiction, scholarship, art, and poetry by members of military communities throughout the world. We would love to include you in the next publication.