Veteran Helping Veteran with PTSD

Kit and Rex exercise their dogs together during a visit to Savannah. They agreed to share some of their conversation as Rex supports Kit who is living PTSD.

Many Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans say only those who have been through combat can understand their experiences. That’s why veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often turn to their buddies for solace.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rex Temple has become such a touchstone for Georgia Army National Guard Sgt. Christopher “Kit” Lowe.

Kit and Rex making Thanksgiving dinner together at Rex's home in Tampa, FL.

SMSgt. Temple and I collaborated on the year-long series, My Last Tour, for WUSF 89,7 FM, Tampa, FL. We talked weekly about the life of U.S. soldiers deployed, about the Afghan National Army soldiers he was there to train and about the people, country and culture.

He also introduced me and readers of his blog, Afghanistan: My Last Tour, to Sgt. Christopher “Kit” Lowe, who was then a Specialist with the Georgia Army National Guard.

On the right, Georgia Army National Guard SPC. Christopher "Kit" Lowe poses for a photograph by Air Force SMSgt. Rex Temple at an Afghanistan lakeside. The two developed a friendship while deployed with an Embedded Training Team in the summer of 2009.

Kit became known for a photograph on Rex’s blog where he was proudly holding an AK-47 wearing his Georgia National Guard Stetson, a pair of boxer shorts and nothing else but a smile.

Not too long after that photo in August 2009, the Taliban ambushed a mission where Kit was lead NCO. Twenty-nine-year-old Marine Capt. Mathew Freeman of Richmond Hill, Georgia was killed during that ambush. Kit was shot in the upper thigh and almost bled to death pinned down by gunfire on a rooftop for more than an hour.

Kit and Rex work together to remove a hook and release their catch during a Thanksgiving weekend fishing trip on Tampa Bay.

Kit spent nine months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center . Doctors saved his leg, but there’s nerve damage requiring him to wear a brace.

He also was diagnosed with PTSD. That’s where Rex has become invaluable. Kit sees a psychiatrist and a psychologist. But like many combat veterans, he is most comfortable talking to his battle buddies and other combat veterans.

And Rex, who Kit refers to as “Senior,” gladly fulfills that role. Rex visited Kit at his home in Savannah and then Kit came down to Rex’s home in Tampa for Thanksgiving weekend for good food and a fishing trip.

The two war veterans agreed to share part of their conversations about Kit’s PTSD hoping it will enlighten others on what it’s like to live with PTSD and how civilians might help.

You can listen to a portion of their conversation here.

This edited radio version was the first segment for WUSF’s Florida Matters Program, PTSD: New Hope.

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