Corner Brook soldier still re-living Afghanistan horrors
MacWhirter diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder
A man from Corner Brook has written a book about his experience as a soldier stationed in Afghanistan.
Corp. Jamie MacWhirter says he kept a journal during his deployment to keep track of his experiences with his fellow soldiers.
A Soldier's Tale: A Newfoundland Soldier in Afghanistan is based on his journal and his personal story as a soldier.
"When you read a book, you usually read about just a soldier, what his experience was overseas, but a lot of people forget about the problems at home," MacWhirter said.
"I know myself I had a hard time over in Afghanistan, but I can't imagine being the father of a child over in Afghanistan, or being a husband of a wife over in Afghanistan, and not knowing what they're going through."
But MacWhirter said the battle doesn't end in the warzone.
"I want to show that the war is not just over in Afghanistan ... the war is also at home ... and the big war is when the soldier actually comes home — because when a soldier comes home, he isn't the same — he could be better, he could be worse, but he's not the same," he said.
"The family members and the friends, they kind of expect that same person to come home … and you're not [the same]."
After effects of war
MacWhirter said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder about a year after coming back to Canada.
He and his family were living in Alberta at the time, but he said once he moved home to Newfoundland, his stress levels came down.
"I wasn't sleeping well — nightmares every night. [My kids] would wake up to hearing their dad scream and yell in his sleep," MacWhirter said.
"I'm still dealing with it — I think PTSD is something I'm probably going to have to deal with the rest of my life," he added. "There was a time when I couldn't go outside, I couldn't go to the mall, I didn't want to do anything, but I have to admit, since coming back to Newfoundland there's been a huge change."
While he is improving, MacWhirter said there are memories of his time overseas that he thinks will haunt him forever.
"When I saw children die, it reminded me of my own children. I watched a suicide bomber take out a group of children, and from what I could tell, this suicide bomber came from the village that these children came from ... so in my mind this guy knew who these children were," he said.
"I still have nightmares about it. To this day, when I hear a child cry, I'm brought back to that moment and that's when my hands will start to sweat and I'll start shaking — I'll have to leave."
MacWhirter will be at Costco in St. John's on Saturday, July 27 between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to sign copies of his book.