Monday, October 22, 2012

Hi Riana, I came across your blog today quite by accident. My name is Ross Hesom and I was a National Serviceman at 101 Workshop Unit in Grootfontein from July 1984 to December 1985. Although based at Grootfontein, I travelled extensively between Ruacana and Katima Mulilo to all the artillery bases and smaller mechanized camps to service the field guns and also Ratel and Eland 90mm guns and turrets. I also did some camps on the border during the SADF withdrawal. We were based at the gates of 61 Mech and I was tasked with looking after the Olifant tank guns and turrets since I was a "Gun Tiffie". I read your blog on PTSD and I also have a story to tell. In May 2006 I had a complete breakdown and ended up in therapy being treated for Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What a shock after all that time back in divvy street to be given a diagnosis like that! Although I never saw actual combat, I was exposed to the trauma enough to carry the scars for 20 years before actually being able to deal with them. As a release for the stories and memories causing daily flashbacks over those 20 years, I started writing everything down exactly as I remembered them. I showed the transcripts to my therapist who asked if I had told any of this to my wife or family. The official secrets act forced us to bottle everything up and having shown the transcripts to my wife and parents, they were shocked at what I had written. My parents who waited and worried while I was on the border for 18 months as a NSM and then during the camps had no idea what we were doing. As a result of the reaction from my family and the lack of knowledge of what we went through, I cleaned up the transcripts and have had them published under the name "From Boys to Men" - by Ross Hesom - A Victim of Conscription. Writing the book was very easy as I remembered every incident in crisp, clear detail as if it had happened an hour ago. I now have to go back to the book to recall a lot of the stories. Writing is wonderful therapy and I recommend that every veteran sit down and write his stories. I know that this is not realistic to expect. The other reason for writing and publishing the book was to hopefully reach as many of the SADF veterans who 'Knew that they were different" when they returned home and "didn't know why". I put those two comments in inverted commas because there is a whole generation of South African men out there who are feeling the way I did for 20 years. It is not a lost or forgotten cause and recovery is possible with the right help. The book, "From Boys to Men" is available for download through Google Books as an e-book for Canadian $7,99 at If you would prefer, send me your address and I will mail you a paperback copy for free. Thank you for taking the time to create the blog. It is something that is sorely needed. Regards Ross Hesom

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