Jack Remembers: Familiar today, PTSD was mystery ailment of older wars, too

By Jack Hackley

I spend every Memorial Day north of Grain Valley at Swan Lake Memorial Gardens, a private cemetery for veterans and their family, owned by Medal of Honor recipient Donald “Don” Ballard and where the services are conducted by the Blue Springs American Legion Post #499.
This year, Col. Ballard gave a brief talk that was one of the best he has given. The gist of his speech was the government had let us, the veterans, down.
I have heard Doc Ballard say several times that it was more difficult wearing the Medal of Honor than it was to earn it.  All I know is, he does a fantastic job representing the veterans.  He also made the statement that all veterans who have served in combat suffered PTSD (Post-Dramatic Stress Disorder).
I had never heard of PTSD until Viet Nam, but looking back, I am sure World War II and Korean Veterans also suffered it, even though there were no VA treatments back then.
Those veterans quite frequently treated themselves with alcohol.  Taverns and beer joints sprung up on every road and town in America.  Even veterans of the Civil War suffered from this terrible disease that is now recognized and treated.
My great-grandfather served with Gen.  Joe Shelby in all of his battles in the Civil War, except for the time he made a brief trip back to Kentucky after his mother wrote him that his brother had joined the Union Army. He went back to Kentucky and killed his brother.
After the war, he settled back in Lafayette County to be with his family, and tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.  He failed, and spent the rest of his life in a hospital for the insane at El Dorado Springs.
Doc Ballard’s revelation answers a lot of questions about the behavior of some of our combat veterans, including my great-grandfather.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or  Visit

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