The Enemy Is Not The Enemy
By Phil Symchych
Last week, I attended the November 11th Remembrance Day services at Regina Victoria Park to honor the memory of my father, Private John Symchych, a veteran of World War II. Yes, I wore a mask, and yes, I socially distanced from everyone.
My Dad was severely injured in WWII and suffered physical injuries as well as undiagnosed and untreated post-traumatic stress disorder throughout his life. He could not sit in front of an open window for fear of something bad happening. In our house, the drapes and blinds were usually closed.
When I was growing up, Dad told my brother and me stories of World War II. We saw his battle scars on his leg, abdomen, chest, and shoulder. He told us how he was chased by, and outran, a German tank. He was blinded by tank artillery that struck a brick school house where he was hiding, and he didn’t know if he’d see again. Once his sight returned several days later, he was sent back to battle where he suffered machine gun fire and was hit in his leg, abdomen, chest, and shoulder. He was 20 years old.
As he lay bleeding on the battlefield, two German officers came across him. My Dad, bleeding and in shock, thought that was the end of his life.
However, one German officer covered my Dad with his officer’s coat and the other gave him his flask of brandy. The German officers probably saved my Dad’s life. Canadian soldiers found and rescued my Dad a few hours later.
Sometimes the enemy is not the enemy.
(Phil went on to further describe his experience at the service and ended with this:
As a society, we can and must do a much better job of supporting our military who protect us in times of war and our first-responders who protect us in times of peace. Post-traumatic stress disorder is real even though the scars aren’t visible. The enemy is a lack of public awareness and support for people suffering mental illnesses. The enemy, therefore, is us.