James Jenkins served our country for three years. Two of those years, in the Vietnam War.
Although those days have physically and mentally scarred him, he has found an outlet through poetry.
“I remember being dressed head to toe in olive green… with a full pack on my back and an M-16 slung at the hip and on full automatic. I remember walking down a trail I’ve never seen before… will I survive, or will this be my finale,” said Jenkins as he reads his poem.
Jenkins says poetry helped him cope with his PTSD.
“I had a psychiatrist. She told me that it will help me with my PTSD if I write down my experiences, and sure enough it did and I’ve been writing ever since,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins joined the army in 1967, when he was 17-years-old.
“Willie, the guy that was walking behind me. He took most of the blast in his back and [then] this rocket came out of his chest and hit my radio, and that radio was made out of aluminum. That was it. I hit the ground,” said Jenkins.
That moment is forever etched in Jenkins’ head.
“And I opened my eyes and the helmet was between us. And there was smoke, and the last thing he saw was the picture of his little girl,” said Jenkins. “It was a long time ago but it still brings back feelings…”
Jenkins is now walking with a cane, since the explosion decades ago. He said he is hopeful that he will be walking on his own again.