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VA Western New York Healthcare System

 

A Veterans Perspective

Photo of Guy Allegretto Jr. telling his story to a group of individuals.

Guy Allegretto Jr. telling his story to VA staff and Veterans.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Vietnam Veteran Guy Allegretto Jr. is a man clearly built on pride and an undeniable fighting spirit. As a survivor of the 77- day Siege of Khe Sanh, Allegretto was able to share deep insight about what it truly means to be at the front lines in combat and the unbearable suffering that goes along with it.

At the age of 18, Allegretto followed in the heroic footsteps of his father who fought in the Navy and joined the Marine Corps. In 1967, after two years of training, Allegretto was sent off to South Vietnam to serve in an elite company of the Marine Corps. Allegretto quickly learned that although he was always fighting for his country, he was fighting for his survival as well as the survival of his friends.

At the age of 20, Allegretto and 6,000 other American soldiers in I-Corps were surrounded by nearly 40,000 North Vietnamese troops. For 77 days and nights the Marines at the Khe Sanh base courageously fought through enemy rockets, artillery, mortars, and brutal rat infested conditions. The United States Airforce, Navy, Marines, and later Army, worked together as warriors, refusing to give up on the South Vietnamese they were fighting to keep strong and free.

“Additionally, this was truly a case where America was fighting together for Americans,” Allegretto said.

When Allegretto was discharged to Treasure Island, California, in 1968, he noticed a psychological transformation had taken place while serving our country. Due to the lack of American public support and traumatizing events he witnessed at the front lines in combat, Allegretto was suffering from a clinical diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He describes his PTSD as feeling emotionally dead and experienced a tremendous change in his psyche. Allegretto recalled how he would wake up in the morning drenched in sweat with no energy and would sometimes be forced to address his daunting Vietnam experiences in living color.

“We Veterans suffer everyday while trying to fight this dreadful disease,” Allegretto said. “I try to control it by not letting it control me.”

Allegretto, along with thousands of other Veterans, come to VA Western New York Healthcare System (VA WNYHS) to find a sense of relief while fighting an everyday battle against PTSD.

“This place is a sanctuary; a place of happiness where I feel at home,” Allegretto said.

If you or a loved one is suffering, VA WNYHS can provide you with the help you may need through programs such as the PTSD Coach Online,  PTSD residential treatment, as well as individual and group counseling.

For more information please contact your primary care provider, or call VAWNYHS Behavioral Health Clinic at 716-862-3123.  You can also visit our webpage at  http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp.  If you are in crisis, or having thoughts of harming yourself, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1800-273-8255 (Press #1).

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