Sunday, January 22, 2017
"Waiting for First Light:My Ongoing battle with PTSD", by Roméo Dallaire
Most of us are well acquainted with Roméo Dallaire (especially Canadians) and how he devoted his heart and soul to his work. This former Canadian senator, humanitarian and lieutenant-general who was the military commander of the UN during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 reminds us in his account how he will seek to explore what the events have done to him since he came back. The genocide is fully described in an early book “Shake Hands with the Devil” and a subsequent book “They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children” are a must to read.
In “Waiting for First Light”, Mr. Dallaire takes us from the point he was relieved from his command through his released from the Forces on medical ground (PTSD) in 2000 till today as a civilian. He also served from 2005-2015 as a Liberal senator and how he tried desperately to influence the ways Veteran Affairs operates….and impossible task he later confirmed….
Traumatized by witnessing genocide his nights are invaded by despair and nightmare he simply couldn’t sleep. In 1994 no one saw PTSD for what it was. At any moment he was pitched into a living memory back in Rwanda. He struggled day and night with visons. His mental and emotional anguish lead him on a path to alcohol abuse, overeating and many suicide attempts. Although his PTSD left untreated for too long became permanent but with medication and therapy he managed to push forward the many causes he had at heart and helped to comfort the others walking a similar path. He has risen from the depths and returned as an inspiration.
This book is quite an emotional journey: sad, heartbreaking and soul-wrenching. It is terrible to know that the Canadian government and military authorities do not recognize the negative impact PTSD has on its service personal and are slow they are to provide all the help needed. Well maybe there is hope things will change…..