County Veteran Honored to be Entered into West Point Library
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -
One County veteran and author is being honored later this month by having his story permanently entered into the United State’s Military Academy at West Point’s library. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has his story.
“It hasn’t hit me yet, as far as the significance of that. I’ll leave a piece, a very small piece of legacy at West Point”
Raynold Gauvin, Local Business Leader, Vietnam Veteran and Author of the book “A Soldier’s Heart – The Three Wars of Vietnam” is being honored later this month with an interview and speech at West Point that will see his story entered into the academy’s permanent oral history library. 53 years after separating from the United States Army, Gauvin felt compelled to share his experiences and struggles as a form of coping with his longstanding PTSD from the war.
“There’s a lot of veterans out there who are suffering from PTSD and they’re walking around not really realizing it.”
Gauvin attributes his PTSD to his mission in Vietnam as a 22 year old newly enlisted soldier from Presque Isle. He worked as an X-Ray tech in a mortuary tasked with documenting the fatal wounds of soldiers as part of the then classified and scarcely known Wound Data and Munitions Effectiveness Team.
“During that period of time, we did about 2500 autopsies, they were very long days. We basically studied the body, we studied the wounds and the ammo that was being used and what it did to the body and the ramifications of those wounds”
With over 200,000 pages of documentation and 150,000 photographic slides taken as part of the Wound Data effort, the information would ultimately go on to be used in modifying the equipment and medical procedures of the American warfighter. The modifications went on to save countless lives through the innovation of Kevlar body armor.
“That’s when I decided that I needed to write about this mission, because it’s not been covered anywhere”
Gauvin recounts years of depression and repression of his memories of the war, hiding his trauma from family, friends and business associates like a sort of camouflage. He says he regrets not getting help for his PTSD sooner.
“I think my wife suspected that I had PTSD, but I was never approachable to that, like most veterans of the Vietnam war and even current wars that we’ve had, most of us don’t want to admit it and back then it was very different because Vietnam veterans we’re treated very differently from the sense that if we complained about depression, whatever it might be, they seldom diagnosed us.
Despite the mental and emotional challenges that have haunted him since 1969, Gauvin feels at peace with the ghost of his former self, hoping to share what he did, and what he learned with other veterans and survivors of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Gauvin will be honored at West Point from the 23rd to 25th of this month.
Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8
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