Pictured is Craig Dahms with a special Coin sent to him by one of the top researchers of PTSD after Craig shared one of his writings with her. He is rightfully proud of the token.
It is a definite honor for me to have the trust and permission of my friend Craig Dahms to share this article with you. For the last year I have been privileged to mentor Craig in his aspirations to become a published author. He is laboring hard on his memoirs which he entitled; Too Much, Too Soon, Too Often. I came to know first hand that the title fits the content and that this Iowa boy who was the product of the culture of the 60’s, would enter the military through the draft and soon be thrown into Vietnam in its rawest form. Although he would achieve a position as a radio technician, skilled in field repairs and maintenance, he would be a part of the elite Blackhorse Regiment which was a revered military fighting machine and thus took Craig Dahms with them into the bowels of hell in Vietnam. He sustained an injury beyond the physical and spent the next dozen years in and out of treatment for PTSD. Today in his sixties, he lives quietly and independently in his own apartment with his parakeets keeping him focused on their care intermittantly, as he sits nearby writing poetry, memoirs and the thoughts I am about to share with you.
It has been my goal to see Craig know the fuflillment of seeing his words in print and to that end, I selected this piece for his debut in the printed word. It is a simplistic outlook on solving a critical need among troops who return from war. Indeed his return was more than 40 years ago, but the yearning for that feeling of camraderie and belonging never leaves. Despite the tragic devestation of his life goals as a result of the PTSD, one senses a gentleness and an acceptance of his life as it played out. One is honestly shown the humbleness of a man who fought for his country and fought back when war took his mental health hostage, and he had to fight that war alone.
I salute my friend, Criag Dahms and am grateful for his service. I am grateful that he was one of those who “we learned through” as we found out about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and that we are blessed to know that he has come to a place in his life where he is at peace. God Bless, dear friend.
By (Former) Pvt. Craig Dahms, 11th Calvary Blackhorse Regiment, Vietnam
My objective is to preserve and strengthen the camaraderie formed in regiments by standing for the dream that someday all Troopers will feel warmer toward each other. There has to be a warmer way. This country needs wamrth and a steady hand, much like a newborn colt needs help to protect it from the different elements of nature. My dream is to bring warmth into every Trooper’s heart.
Some Keys for the Blackhorse Regiment to come together are honesty, trust and warmth–then friendship. The deeper the friendship, the more Troopers will care for each other.
Through my observations, I’ve found that life can be sweet or sour depending on how you handle it. If you are not prepared for life when you leave the nest, you are going to run into problems you don’t know how to handle. Too many problems will make you sour, mainly from being disorganized and unknowledgeable about the facts of life. IF, however, you are aware when you leave the nest of how to handle problems at a moment’s notice, life will be sweet.
Dealing with the general public is a lot like a sports game: sometimes you’re on the offense–the ball is in your court–and sometimes you are on defense: the ball is in theirs.
Lady Luck is a state of mind. It mostly has to do with how a person’s mind works. For example, if your mind works in a negative fashion, Lady Luck won’t be with you. If your mind works positively, however, she will.
There is no such thing as good sense and bad sense. The laurels of your fate–your karma–will guide your tour. Once you have your timing down pat and you’re looking out, life is a breeze.
A person should know what it is and whether it is right or wrong. When life begins to seem like a roller coaster ride, you should try to take time to think about what you’re doing and correct your life pattern to keep it on a more even keel.
If we, as a people, as Americans, could teach one another and learn that we should be warmer toward each other, we would grow stronger and more stable as a country. In the long run, it would be better for our children.
A person almost has to have a political mind to survive in American Society on a day-to-day basis–life is just so complex. And with the differing mentalities in the country, it’s almost impossible to get along unless you have an attitude of acceptance.
It isn’t so much that cold hard cash rubs off on people, making them cold and hard. It’s more the contrast between how much money the rich have, and how little the poor have, that causes so many problems in American society today. Not only that, but the system more or less locks people that don’t care, into place by making it-what is happening to them, what invisible forces are at work–so hard to figure out. Not being able to follow what’s going on makes people feel lost, like there is no use of trying. Then the people who feel bad about themselves when they go to bed at night start to scheme on ways to get hold of money when all the time they should be thinking about making themselves better. Thinking people, in turn, enrich their personalities more and think less in terms of monetary values. People who look at things in a shallow way are bound to feel cheap when they are around wealthy people, because they think that money is everything.
The mind can be a beautiful thing. It can work in very positive ways. Warmth makes the mind work constructively. Not only does warmth turn the mind on, but when it is taken away it can turn the mind off. If there is no warmth to fall back on, the mind can never work in a positive way. And if the mind never finds a positive way–unless there is self-love, it will never work properly. If people love themselves and have warmth to give, they will always find warmth in return.
“Once you have learned to be warm, you have learned to live.” Craig Dahms
A WORD FROM CRAIG DAHMS: (Taken from one of his letters to query and inform others of his work.)
I am a writer focusing on my biographical experiences as part of the 11th Calvary Blackhorse Regiment in the 1960’s, and my service in the Vietnam War. I include my thoughts concerning the war and those events that followed as I struggled with PTSD following my release from the service and subsequent hospitalizations in mental health institutions. I believe my writings might be a catalyst for others who have suffered, and for those who have been suicidal at some point.
I write so others are able to see that there is life and hope for something better. Today I live comfortably on my own and enjoy driving my PT Cruiser to visit many places and participate in many activities as I begin to write in a more serious fashion working toward the opportunity to be published.
I sent a copy of my 18,000-word autobiography summary to some people including General Sherman Crow who at that time I sent it was the General and person in charge of the Blackhorse Regiment. He sent me a response with the challenge to “keep writing”. For the sake of others, I shall. I have also written a piece on my thoughts regarding what we should do about our outlook on life and the need to be warm to others. I believe we need to show them caring attention to aid their pain in experiencing PTSD and other war related problems.
My friend Craig Dahms received his bronze star years after his service, and hospitalizations. He did not realize what it meant, quietly putting it away. When I found out about him and his award, I sent him this information. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the military of the United States after 6 December 1941, distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.