Vietnam vet finds a way to heal by serving others      

 Bob G, served with the Marines in Vietnam for 16 months

…………….and for many years has been treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) stemming from his combat service during the late nineteen sixties.

During the more than 30 years after his service, overcome by his fears, anger and addictions, Bob lost his family, went to prison three times, once for murder, and attempted suicide ten times. At one point, he was given a year to live because of his numerous afflictions.

Bob eventually overcame his own demons and helped countless others get well too. I met Bob at a Recovery Central Narcotics Anonymous meeting in Little Rock a couple of years ago and after hearing him speak at the meeting about his addiction and recovery, I asked him if he would tell me his story so I could use it to help inspire other veterans to recover from their addictions.

Bob, who sponsors many vets in the NA program, quickly agreed. It was very rough sledding at first.

After his return from Vietnam,  Bob wrecked numerous cars trying to kill himself, and he killed another man in a pool hall gun battle, which brought a murder charge that put him in prison for the first time.

Bob served 30 months in Cummins state prison in Arkansas for the murder charge, another two years at a State Police facility on related charges and then another four years at FCI medium security Federal prison in Memphis on drug charges.

The symptoms of PTSD are for many unbearable. They fall into four categories: re-experiencing (e.g. relentless nightmares), unbidden waking images, (flashbacks); hyper arousal (e.g. enhanced startle anxiety, sleeplessness); and phobias.

Many veterans who are afflicted with PTSD try to self medicate with alcohol and illegal drugs which may offer temporary relief but inevitably end badly.

Today, Bob, drug free, is a happy man with a family and a mission who, because of his service to others, is loved by many who know him. And he loves them back.

A voice for Narcotics Anonymous

            He sponsors more people than he can count. And he does it by the book (See The Narcotics Anonymous Step Working Guides and Working Step Four in Narcotics Anonymous available on line).

When Bob is your sponsor, you can figure you’re going to spend a year working with him on the steps. And you’re going to attend meetings. And you’re going to take his “suggestions” about what else you need to do to recover.

Big as he is, he’s no drill sergeant. No one escapes a meeting without a hug from Bob. Not if he can help it. Of course, it’s kind of a one armed hug not a full embrace, especially with women. He hugged a young woman once at the end of a meeting, and she burst into tears. In response, he quickly backed off and said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”

Smiling through her tears, the young woman said, “You didn’t offend me! It’s just that I’ve never had a hug.”

Bob has been clean and sober for more than ten years, and he and his wife of more than eleven years, also a former meth addict and in recovery for the same length of time, live in North Little Rock. She is his second wife, and they have children and grandchildren between them. She works, and he draws full disability and devotes whatever free time he has to helping others.

Bob also suffers from diabetes, heart problems and pain from back, neck and knee injuries sustained in a rocket attack. The injuries require that he regularly attend a pain management clinic, but it was the emotional pain that nearly killed him and God, he says, who saved him.

Bob got 8 medals and ribbons for the 16 months he spent in Vietnam.


Note: Bob’s full story is included in the book “Pathways to Serenity. Overcoming Your Addictions One Day at a Time.” By David Palmer