Ty Carter goes to the White House today to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest award this country bestows for bravery. The real honor is for all he’s doing to help the wounded deal with that invisible war injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Others tell the story of the 12-hour battle in Afghanistan in 2009, when then-Specialist Carter helped save lives of fellow soldiers.
Carter tells the story of what PTSD does to men and women after war.
Instead of focusing on the bravery it takes to win battles, the 33-year-old Army veteran talks about the courage it takes to get help with post-war healing.
The Staff Sergeant is unafraid to speak publicly about the unseen wounds that can last a lifetime. Carter speaks with the honesty of a soldier who struggles still with the trauma of what he witnessed that day.
And he urges others to seek treatment for PTSD.
This is the most important message Ty Carter bears, and I am grateful for his courage.
While others glory in the victory of a battle pinning 54 Americans against 400 Taliban, Carter downplays his role in saving anyone. Eight of his fellow soldiers were killed that day, and 25 others were wounded.
Carter speaks about the anger and the hurt — some of it aimed at himself, for not saving more soldiers.
Carter does the unsoldierly thing in telling others that love saved him. He speaks of the support of his wife, Shannon, and their children, in helping lift him from the darkness that follows trauma.
He speaks directly about the counseling of army psychologist, Captain Katie Kopp, and how their private sessions have saved his life, far from the battlefield.
Carter has announced his intention to be a national voice for wounded warriors dealing with PTSD and other psychological wounds of war.
He speaks with the clarity of a man who has suffered much, and has the courage to name his suffering: Post-Traumatic Stress, without the D. As wounded warriors learn, it’s a normal reaction to the abnormal events of war.
I haven’t met Carter, but he is my neighbor. He’s based at JBLM, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the massive Army and Air Force base near Tacoma, Washington. Here, he helps lift other wounded warriors, and encourages them in their recovery.
This takes a special kind of bravery that no Medal of Honor or Purple Heart of other award recognizes (Carter has many awards). It also takes a special voice, to convince other wounded soldiers to listen.
The awards ceremony will be live-streamed by C-SPAN at 2 p.m. EST.
Kathleen Kenna is a rehabilitation counselor and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional.