James Hall

  • State of Residence: Arizona
  • Branch of Military: Navy
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Wars Involved In: Vietnam

As a U S Navy Lieutenant in the year 1972, during the Viet Nam conflict era, I entered the Navy SEALs program (class ’72). I became an ordnance specialist, working with bombs and missiles. I was engaged for nearly four tours of duty in Viet Nam, spending a portion of my career on board the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk (CV-63). During those six years I endured 27 days in a prisoner-of-war facility, but was rescued from that frightening experience only to be given another assignment with only a short three month rehabilitation period. During that same six year period (what same 6 year period?) I was injured three times.

The worst of my three injuries happened one stormy night while running through the ‘jungle’ I happened to run into a thin metal wire, which was stretched between two trees. The wire caught me across my neck just below the jawbone. I woke up later in an Army Medical facility where the medical attendant was sewing up my neck so that I would not bleed to death. The Doctor also had an x-ray done of my head to assure that I did not have any brain injury.

I later resigned my commission to return home to assist my Parents in a business venture. I kept suffering through horrible thoughts and even nightmares of my wartime experiences. I was not sleeping very well and I suffered badly with sciatic nerve damage pain from an injury to my foot, and could not rid myself of the bad memories.

One day, while helping my parents with some furniture purchases, the owner of the furniture gallery, who knew of my injuries, told me about the VA (Veterans Administration) Hospital and suggested that I go there for treatment. I had no idea about the VA Hospital and did not know I was eligible to be treated there. I went there and was not only treated for my physical pain, but was also given psychosocial therapy.

In the year 2005 the Northeast Program Evaluation Center (NEPEC) located in West Haven, CT, asked me if I would help set up a PCT (PTSD Clinic Team) at the VA Hospital in Prescott, AZ, where I live. I set up the clinic, which consist of a team of two Psychologists, two Social Workers, an Addiction Therapist and a Nurse Practitioner. This team of professionals work together to provide individual and group care for patients who have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) by the Mental Health Team within the VA Hospital. The Veterans Administration began in 1926. I am very grateful for the treatment and medications I have received over the years, and all the people I have met.

One of the greatest feelings, which a veteran could experience here, would be to meet up with another veteran who traveled the same part of the Earth at the same time and, perhaps be someone who you recognize.

Far be it from me to recommend that veterans join a Service Organization such as the VFW or the American Legion, because the reminiscence might trigger bad memories and give one hard-core PTSD. Plus, in the minds and out through the mouths of some veterans, the so called stories, which may not have happened directly to that veteran, keep getting bigger and more embellished each time it is told. The stories are quite comical, really, but still potentially devastating.

I’m alive today because of great coping skills which I teach to anyone who has the desire to listen.