Hidden wounds of war: One man's fight with mental, spiritual fitness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rusty Frank
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

"The brave men and women, who serve their country and as a result, live constantly with the war inside them, exist in a world of chaos. But the turmoil they experience isn't who they are; the PTSD invades their minds and bodies."
-Robert Koger, Author

One of those brave men went off to war to combat the physical enemies that threaten the U.S. and allied forces. While in combat he received physical wounds, only to discover when he returned home he had also received the hidden wounds of war. This is the story of U.S. Army veteran and Air Force spouse, Daniel Titus.

According to the National Institutes of Health, PTSD affects more than 7.7 million people.

"It's an anxiety order," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Joel Foster, 52nd Medical Operations Squadron mental health flight commander. "It's one of the few disorders where we know what causes it. We know the enology of it, because it has to do with some kind of traumatic event in the person's life."

Before he left for war, Titus was just a regular person trying to make a normal life.

"I was someone who somebody could talk to," said Titus. "I was a fairly loving person, who enjoyed doing a lot of stuff."

Titus enlisted in the U.S. Army in February 2001 because he wanted to pursue a proud tradition.

"I wanted to join to follow in my brother's footsteps," he said.

After enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserves, he left on a deployment to Iraq. It was during this deployment that his life would change forever.

"The day the IED went off we were coming back from a three- or four-day mission," Titus said. "We were number two in line in a five vehicle convoy ... The explosion went off."

Titus said when the explosion happened he went blank.

"When the smoke cleared, my guys kept coming up one vehicle short," he said. "They looked over and saw our vehicle in the canal. They saw my troop commander, and he was hanging out of his hatch. I was hanging on to what was left of the engine; it had to be the grace of God that got me out of there, because if I would have been knocked out, I would have drowned."

When Titus came to, he found himself in the hospital. It was during his time here that he felt something dark inside of him start to come out.

Among the screams of the hospital, Titus said what he really desired was to go back to his unit. It was when he felt this anger that he first started to feel the symptoms of PTSD.

"I felt lonely," he said. "I wanted to get back to my guys. I had even asked the doctor if I could go back, I said 'Hey after this is all said and done, can I go back and be with the guys?' and he said 'no you're done,' and that's when it got worse."

When Titus returned home after being discharged from active duty, the world felt different to him. Titus said that even something as simple as driving would cause fear.

This wasn't the moment when Titus hit rock bottom. That moment would happen when he realized that something had to change. Titus noticed that if he didn't change he would hurt himself or hurt someone else.

"I became not a full blown alcoholic, but it was about a borderline alcoholic," he said.

It was this moment that he started his recovery and Titus drew strength from his faith.

"Shortly after my second deployment in 2010, I became saved," he said. "I chalk a lot of it up to the good Lord to the reason why I'm able to deal with a lot of it by myself."

In the most recent years, Titus and his family live with his PTSD. It's because of his strong bond with his family that he is continuing toward a full recovery.

"Through the grace of God I'm still standing here," he said. "My advice for people who have this is seek help."

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD or other conditions causing them concern, seek help through your mental health provider or check out some of these resources available to you to keep you fit to fight: