Heard on Campus: Brian Turner discusses PTSD at Penn State Altoona

Brian Turner

U.S. Army war veteran, poet and memoirist Brian Turner reads a selection of his poetry during Penn State Altoona's PTSD awareness event on March 14.

Credit: Sierra Snigier

"In talking about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and some of the traumas I’m carrying, the question is why did I join the Army in the first place? I wrote a whole book about it, a memoir. I offer some of my thinking on it. That’s what poems or stories or essays are for me, they’re vehicles to meditate and to discover things about the world. I’m not trying to preach when I sit down to write about this stuff. I try to write what is discovery for me and also what is maybe worthwhile to share with someone else.

"I’m trying to figure out how to live a little bit more of a global life, and at some point, I don’t want to keep fighting the people who we’ve been fighting. At some point I’d like us to figure out how to live on the same planet together."

— Brian Turner read from his poetry and shared stories of his experiences as a solider during Penn State Altoona's PTSD awareness event, which was hosted by Omega Delta Sigma Veterans Fraternity on March 14.

Turner served seven years in the U.S. Army. He is the author of the memoir "My Life as a Foreign Country" and two poetry collections, "Phantom Noise" and "Here, Bullet," which explores his experiences in Iraq as both a soldier and a human being.

Turner challenged the students in attendance to consider their roles in caring for veterans.

"Most of you didn’t vote for the war, regardless how you feel about it now, you didn’t have any say in it," Turned said. "Your country has been at war your entire lives. You haven’t taken a single breath where we weren't at war, even if you didn’t feel it. And now as you come to power, you have this massive responsibility. How do you take care of the men and women who are coming home from overseas? How can you help veterans work through what they’re dealing with and find a way to move forward?

"I’m hoping one of you or many of you or all of you will have some answers that generations before you haven’t seem to come up with. So what do you do? What will you do?"