DEAR ABBY: I'm a man who feels all alone in the world. My mother once told me I was the "experimental child" (seeing as I'm the oldest of two).
My girlfriend doesn't understand the living hell of post-traumatic stress from a tour in Iraq, and every time I need comforting, I am pushed away. The only friends who I'm in contact with are her family. Support from my family isn't easy to get.
My father, a Vietnam veteran, understands what I'm going through, but has told me he chooses to stay away because he's afraid of a possible relapse. Help! -- STRESSED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR STRESSED: Consider this: You may have been the "experimental child," but the outcome was obviously a success because your mother went on to bring another child into the world.
I'm not sure that anyone who hasn't been through it -- or isn't a trained psychotherapist -- can truly understand the pain of post-traumatic stress. And that is why I'm urging you to contact your nearest veterans hospital.
More than in wars past, the military medical system seems to appreciate that a large number of vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will need professional help to overcome their trauma. Help is available, so please don't wait to reach out for it. And while you're at it, take your father with you, because it appears he could use some help, too.
Please let me hear from you again in a few months, because I care. And I have a strong hunch you will have started the healing process.