posted on August 31, 2011 15:34
Bob Wegrzynowski served 13 months in the Vietnam combat theatre in the 1970's. He was deployed on bases in the port towns of Da Nang and Chu Lai. And he killed men, as Uncle Sam told him to.
Which has had a lasting effect on his life.
"I'm 100% PTSD-affected," Wegrzynowski said today. The veteran has isolated himself from his family, he's highly emotional, and he speaks extremely quickly. He told a reporter he had to concentrate on slowing down just to be interviewed.
Wegryzynowski was at the VA Clinic on Richmond Avenue, to see Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The senator was on a four-county tour today, which included a stop to see the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder clinic. Bob Wegrzynowski was able to walk right up to Gillibrand and hand her a personal letter, which was published in The Buffalo News one year ago.
An excerpt from his letter on PTSD reads: "...many returning vets will never be able to go home again...home will be but a snapshot. Things may look the same, but everything will have a different feel."
Wegryzynowksi echoed that today, but he says in the year since that letter, treatment at the Batavia PTSD clinic has helped improve his life.
"Once you've taken a life, it's over. Now you're wondering, 'Did I do the right thing?' I can't get out of that," he said. "But they have helped me get of that, step-by-step.
"It's a tough thing to do, because most of us (veterans) are hardest on ourselves."
Gillibrand referred to cases like Bob's as the hallmark achievement of the Batavia center.
"Our men and women who put their lives on the line: they really deserve everything," said the senator. "They deserve all the resources and healthcare they need to be able to re-integrate back into the community."
Bob has since taken up a course of political activism. He's begun trying to spread a message of bi-partisan politics and public debate, and he brought that up in conversation with Gillibrand as well. Bob says no politician had listened to him about his ideas, before today.
"She's one of the few people I have any amount of respect or trust for out there," he said. "And for me to have spoken to her...I gotta tell ya, a whole lot of pressure is off my chest now."
PHOTO: Kirsten Gillibrand speaks with Bob Wegrzynowski at the Batavia VA Clinic