I did an article on Post Traumatic Shock Disorder or PTSD a while back. I received thank you letters from several of my police friends who suffer from this and felt momentary satisfaction when their ordeal was revealed in a real way to the general public. I wish to again touch on the subject, through a joke from Facebook. So how does littering relate to PTSD? Please read on to find out.

A friend of mine joined the police after his tours in the United States Army, including serving in Iraq. I will call my friend Murph, in honor of a Navy Seal who gave all and is a hero to those of us who follow the military and police worlds. I do not mean to diminish the memory of the original Murphy, but to show what high esteem I place on my friend.

Murph was on patrol outside the Green Zone of his base of operations driving a Humvee. Neither Murph nor his fellow troops saw it in time, but a little bit of garbage on the side of the road exploded just as the Humvee passed. The Humvee kept going but Murph had sustained serious shrapnel damage to his neck and right side. The troop in the right front seat had his femoral artery severed. Both men were bleeding out and knew they were about to die.

Murph hit the gas and headed straight to the Army Base as fast as the Humvee would go. Each man did what they could to stem the loss of blood. They did this until they arrived back at base and were able to be treated by the doctors then he was taken by Medical Helicopter to a surgical unit, allowing both men to live.

So what got me telling this story in the paper? Murph and I are friends on Facebook. He just posted a three panel joke. In panel one the photo is of a desert road with garbage bags and fast food bags lying on the side of the road. Panel number two show’s a nice young mother with her four year old child in the back of their SUV and the mother is commenting on how people are littering our roadways and she intends to report anyone who litters. The caption under panel number two is “How normal citizens see litter on the side of the road.”

Panel number three is the photo of a man behind the wheel, pushing on the brakes, grabbing the steering wheel with a look of panic on his face and shouting, “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” The caption is, “How a Veteran see’s trash on the side of the road.”

Don’t get it? Murph does, that is why he posted the joke. It is not a joke to him, it was real life for him and a memory of how something as mundane as litter almost cost him his life. This friends, is a true story as Murph’s vehicle was hit three times by IED’s. One never knows when a normal innocuous setting can trigger fear, panic and what to us is irrational reactions in the Veteran who see’s much more than litter on the side of the road.

So the next time you think about throwing anything out of your window, don’t. If you see litter somewhere and you can safely stop and throw it away, do so. And if you get cited by a police officer for littering, do not come crying to me, he is quite possibly doing a Veteran a favor. Thank you Murph for your service, what you went through and what you still have to deal with I am sure.

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