Vietnam Vet Helps Deployed Soldiers with Combat Stress

Article excerpt

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - After three deployments-one in Vietnam and two in Iraq-MAJ Ernie Proud has a deep understanding and empathy for what Soldiers go through in combat. His calm voice and demeanor invite Soldiers to express their worries generated by the mundane life of an overseas deployment, by battle fatigue, by troubles on the home front and for some of the Soldiers, by the reality of losing a comrade in battle.

Proud, a member of the Army Reserve's 113th Medical Company (Combat Stress Control), Stanton, Calif, has a passion and a sense of duty to help Soldiers deal with iheir circumstances when they are deployed in Iraq. Proud, who volunteered for his mission in Iraq, takes his personal experience from Vietnam as a motivator to help Soldiers deal with stress and grief.

"To know you are able to help Soldiers get back to life, and to function well and provide those services that were not allotted to Vietnam veterans, is a satisfaction for me," said Proud. He cites the problems experienced by Vietnam veterans as the reason why the Army became more committed to providing services to help Soldiers deal with combat stress, post traumatic stress disorder and grief.

After serving in Vietnam, Proud left the Army to complete 10 years of medical schooling. Remarkably, after a 22 year break in service, he decided to join the military again this time to use his education to benefit Soldiers on the battlefield.

As the officer in charge for the Victory Base Camp Prevention Team, he works seven days a week utilizing two different offices. One of his offices is a typical construction trailer or portable housing unit, the kind seen throughout Camp Victory. His other "office," the one in which he feels he works the most effectively, is the Humvee. The mobile Humvee office allows him to make scheduled and unscheduled visiis to units.

"The focus is to keep our Soldiers in theater and work any potential mental health problems," said Proud. He believes his unit visits are proactive measures which tackle any problem before they get bigger. In this way his team contributes to winning the overall light. "When we visit units we present ourselves as force multipliers and enablers to accomplish the mission," he said. …