Learning to Take a Break

By Cheyenne Forsythe

Cheyenne Forsythe proudly wears his Iraqi Freedom veteran's cap.

Before I left for Iraq I had a wife, a son, a family, a home that I had built to my specs. Since returning, I’ve managed to completely reinvent myself. I’m divorced, I might get to see my son once a year, talk to him once a month. There’s still a lot of guilt there, a lot of tearfulness about this issue.

I changed jobs a few times but settled on selling cars for Honda. I used to tell all my customers about the PBS documentary (The Soldier\’s Heart) hoping someone could put it to good use.

When I Joined the Army to be a mental health specialist, my goal was to make sure there were less alcoholics and fewer grandkids with no memories of playing or interacting with their grandparents. Time spent drinking takes time away from the family, affecting it in so many ways than we care to imagine.

Despite being an mental health specialist, Cheyenne Forsythe had to learn to give himself "time off."

Kind of ironic – I wanted to help others and ended up getting myself caught up in the emotional turmoil of PTSD to the detriment of my whole family and career.

No one would hire me. Of all the four or five military, veteran, and civilian hospitals I applied to, I never got a return call despite my qualifications. I never took a break either. Two weeks before I was officially honorably discharged, I started the job at Honda.

Everyone needs to take a break. The longer the better.

 Contributor Cheyenne Forsythe is a University of South Florida student and a 6-year Army veteran who served with the 85th Medical Detachment. He was on one of the first Combat Stress Control Teams sent to Iraq’s frontlines in 2003 to help soldiers with combat stress symptoms while still “in country.” After surviving two IED attacks, Cheyenne now lives with PTSD as well.  Speaking out on veterans’ issues has become his self-ascribed mission because as he puts it: “It’s just the right thing to do.”

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