Interview with a Combat Medic with PTSD

Today I’m sharing something a bit different. A book review and an interview with the author of My Journey as a Combat Medic

My Journey As a Combat Medic

by Patrick Thibeault

I was interested in this book because of the PTSD and how much I’ve heard about it affecting those serving our country – as well as those here at home suffering from PTSD from domestic violence and sexual abuse.

I had also recently read Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors so war was on the brain I guess.

The Good

It was very interesting to read a book about war from the perspective of the medic. It was not war war war – fight fight fight – it was about humanity. I loved his honesty. I like that it was raw and real and that the author wrote it himself.

This was not a story of a medic written by some ghost writer trying to get inside his brain, this is from the real guy which gave the book much more heart. Another publisher would have sent it off to be polished and rewritten and lose it’s realness.

I love how the author wrote to the new medic too, giving advice and encouragement to those deploying overseas.

The Bad

Must we always point out the bad? Isn’t it all personal opinion?

Some love what others hate while others hate what many love. Who knows what’s the truth – you have to find it yourself. That said, there was only one thing that bugged me about this book. The layout. I’m a stickler for design and it may have just been because I read a PDF version, but the paragraphs were not aligned well. There, I said it. It made me nuts. But look beyond that and don’t be such a snot.

I disagree with Patrick that there is no cure for PTSD. I was diagnosed with PTSD too and no longer have it after working through various healing techniques, EMDR and NMT being the best. Was the diagnosis incorrect or did I heal from it?

Some would say that PTSD from abuse is not the same as going to war. That may be true in my case, but I’ve heard some domestic violence and sexual abuse stories that would make you prefer war. Those survivors have PTSD very badly. I realize there are complex cases and some may really think there is no cure because they are going the traditional medical route. I still believe it is curable.

The Ugly

There is a lot of SHIT going on in the world. SHIT in the medic’s life is Super High Intensity Training.  It’s pretty wild to read about journeys to Afghanistan and thinking yay, so glad that’s not me having to do that. Then you think oh crap, I know someone who went or is going to go or I have a family member who is there, or I know someone who lost someone there… ugh. It’s ugly.

I’m glad people write their stories. You should write yours too.


Interview with Patrick Thibeault

 Patrick Thibeault

I didn’t want to ask Patrick the “normal” questions you as an author. I wanted to crawl outside the box.

Here are my questions and his answers:

What makes you laugh the most?

Laughing at myself through the observations of others and in the everyday things they do or so as we have had similar life experiences. This is a reason why people like to watch certain TV shows or watch certain comedians. I am sure that other combat medics who have read My Journey as a Combat Medic will get a laugh out of it because they have been in similar situations. I laugh at others as I see that they are learning some of the things that I have learned and I remember how frustrating it was to learn those things and understand the stress that they are going through. I don’t believe in laughing at someone in a manner that is degrading or insulting. I find no humor in insulting others in the name of a cheap laugh. Besides myself and some of the silly things I do, such as a having a tool box with tools I have no idea how to use, I enjoy good comedies. Laughter is the best medicine.

If you had this life to do over, what would you change?

Nothing, I believe that everything happens for a reason or because of something, so to go back and change would disrupt the time space continuum. Sure I have regrets about everyday matters and decisions I have made, but do go back and erase or change those would mean a lesson in life that was not learned. As a new young combat medic, I used to struggle starting IVs on people. It was during Desert Storm where I really learned how to start an IV. It was also where I developed my PTSD. If I had not served in the war, I would not be a master now at starting IVs and I would not have PTSD. I like the ways the cards have been dealt and I believe I have had a good set of cards so far and mostly, I have learned to deal with the hand that I have been dealt.

What’s the best advice you ever had?

In the 12th grade, my history teacher Mr. Meuller placed an empty coffee cup on the floor. All of the students including myself walked into class and did not have the common decency to pick up the cup and put it back on his desk. The teacher then gave us the best lecture that a school teacher since has ever given: How to be a decent human being and how it starts with the little things.

What was the most helpful PTSD healing technique?

I have learned to avoid triggers or painful situations that will exacerbate the PTSD. There is no cure for this; sadly the only real cure is to die. I am not ready to die yet, I want to live. I avoid crowds of people and other things which I know will trigger my PTSD. If I have to go into a crowded place, it helps to get into the place early as it is not so crowded and as the people start filling the area, my mind adapts to the area slowly getting filled up and I don’t freak out.

What calms you?

The thing that calms me most effectively is a nice hot long bath with bath salts and some bubbles. When I was in Afghanistan outside the wire and at the new forward operating base I spent most of the time at, we had limited water to clean with. I went several weeks at times without a good hot shower. When I came home from Afghanistan, I missed having a bathtub and it has become my favorite thing to calm and relax me.

Exercise also calms me down and relaxes both my body and my mind. Nothing like getting on a treadmill and just listening to some music and walking.

How were your dreams when you were in Afghanistan?

Vivid, I would dream about the days and nights events that had occurred and I would dream of coming home. I never had any nightmares or very vivid dreams when I was in Afghanistan. I was a very light sleeper. We had to be light sleepers because of the situational awareness. Some of the best sleep that I got was when I was outside during combat operations.

What was the most important thing you learned in school?

Listen to the patient and use common sense. Listen to the patient and what they say will help guide you in making a treatment plan that will work the best for them. I have learned that without having common sense, nothing else matters.

Do you pray? If so, what do you pray for the most?

I pray for world peace and for humanity to unite in common interest sort of like on Star Trek. Instead of spending millions on a weapon to kill others, humanity will create a weapon to kill disease and make our lives better. I pray that others also pray for world peace.

What’s next for you?

Currently, I am working on a book of combat medic poetry. I found that poetry is a great outlet for stress relief and a good way to work the mind. The poetry is rather raw at the moment and every day I work on the poems and refine them, they are slowly becoming the pieces that I want them to be.

Visit the Patrick’s website at

Read his book:

Take The Year-Long Healing Course

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