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After joining the Navy Reserves in 1966, Chuck Sprague became a Navy Corpsman who served in the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam. He was injured during Operation Dewey Canyon and felt lucky to survive, where he felt the government was trying to get him killed. He returned to the United States and became a student, where he had similar feelings about the government, which he took very personally. Chuck then became a medical doctor and psychiatrist and spent his career at Veteran Administration Hospitals throughout the United States. Today, Chuck resides in the Milwaukee suburb of Muskego, Wisconsin.
Chuck joins me today to discuss the emotions of war and healing through work and our relationships. He discusses how working in Navy hospitals is a hard introduction to the reality of war injuries and his feelings of fear as he arrived in Vietnam to serve the regiment nicknamed as “The Walking Dead.” Chuck reveals the toll that his time in Vietnam has had on his body and mind. He highlights how the stigma and treatment of Vietnam veterans affected him and the healing process that required the support of his relatives, finding meaning in his experiences, and how his work became a form of his own therapy.
” You can sometimes heal yourself through work and your interests.” – Chuck Sprague
This week on the Stigma Free Vet Zone Podcast:
- Chuck’s experience while training at a Navy hospital and how it felt to know you would be in a perilous job
- Why Chuck believes working in veteran hospitals is a difficult introduction to the graphic injuries of war
- Arriving in Vietnam in 1968 and being told to “run like hell” as they dropped the deck
- How it felt to be assigned to One-Nine Marine Regiment, given the nickname “The Walking Dead,” by General Giap and the communist forces in South Vietnam
- How no promised replacements meant Chuck could not rotate out and how this led to feelings of betrayal
- How constant trolling across the infiltration routes resulted in Chuck dropping from 240lbs to 150lbs in eight months
- How the emotions of war change from fear to numbness as you recognize who gets hurt is a matter of luck
- Being injured in Operation Dewey Canyon and the crushing feelings of being so changed that his wife did not recognize him
- What it was like to be shunned by older veterans and the stigma attached to being a Vietnam veteran
- How flashbacks plagued Chuck 15 years later, causing depression and anger
- How working as a physiatrist and giving back to other veterans became a form of therapy
- The importance of support from relationships and the difficulties of reintegrating into normal life
- Why finding meaning in your experiences will help you heal and rejoin civilian life
- The Wounded Healer by Henri J. M. Nouwne
- Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This episode is brought to you by…
The Orban Foundation for Veterans is dedicated to bringing greater hope, understanding, resolution, and togetherness on issues of civilian readjustment for all military veterans and their families. Orban Foundation for Veterans promotes the importance of education, identification, understanding, acceptance, and resolution of many of the complex and severe responses to war and military life.
Visit our website to learn more about the Orban Foundation for Veterans and to support our mission.
Helping Veterans & Their Families Transition to Civilian Life
Thanks for tuning into this segment of the Stigma Free Vet Zone podcast, the show dedicated to helping veterans and their families make the transition from the military to civilian life and culture. If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to Apple Podcasts to subscribe to the show and leave a review. For more stories, insight, and resources on coping with military-related trauma and PTSD, visit our website and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes across social media to help us raise awareness and help our brothers and sisters and their families transition to civilian life.
DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban & Bob Bach, are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing