Decatur, Illinois

Decatur, Illinois
Curve-In, Fairview Avenue

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lynn Calhoun: Victim of Vietnam

Tomorrow is Flag Day. Let's revisit a soldier classmate of ours today.

For the Class of 1965, perhaps one of the most overwhelming background bits of noise that remains in our lives is that we existed in America during the Vietnam War. No reason to be political about this; it is merely a fact of being a child of those times. In one way or another, we made life choices due to Vietnam, and probably knew someone tragically touched by the war. It is a fact that is hard to avoid.

For some of our classmates, the War lives on in their day-to-day existent. I'm going to look at one such person today: Lynn Calhoun, whom Donna Camp tracked down. First a little info on the syndrome.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS) was conducted by the U.S. government to better understand the psychological effect of being in the Vietnam War. The findings from this study were more shocking than what people were prepared to hear since it was only a decade after the end of the war. Among Vietnam veterans, approximately 15% of men and 9% of women were found to currently have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Approximately 30% of men and 27% of women had PTSD at some point in their life following Vietnam. This comes about through a variety of manifestations. Nightmares and anger are examples that are constantly mentioned; there are others. If you happened to have a precondition vulnerability to mental health issues, you might be predisposed to suffer PTSD even worse than others did.

In addition to psychological treatments for PTSD (for example, cognitive-behavioral therapy), medications have also been found to be useful in treating the symptoms of PTSD. A number of factors can interfere with the treatment of PTSD, such as stigma, avoidance, and other disorders, as well as substance use disorders, depression, and anxiety disorders.

In the time leading up to this posting, various people have talked to Lynn about his troubles, and he has given permission for me to share some insights and information with you. I'll be very honest with you. This is another moment in our "reunion" history where a simple card or note from you, Lynn's old Mac '65 classmates, might do a world of good for Lynn.

First, do you remember Lynn? He is recalled as a great guy around school, a big part of Mac.

Lynn Calhoun's Cadet sketch tells of him playing football as a freshman and sophomore, four years of baseball, playing in the student faculty game as a freshman and senior, and helping out with the Big Mac Assembly as a freshman, sophomore, and junior. Indeed, as a junior, Lynn was heavily involved at school with the Homecoming Queen Committee, Homecoming Assembly, Spanish Club, Student Council Alternate, Class Council Alternate, Student Council Assembly, Spanish Club Float, and Homecoming Float. His senior year, Lynn was back working on the Homecoming Float.

But what happened to Lynn, after graduation?

Here is some of what Lynn shared with classmates, which has been sent on to me, with his permission to send out his call for communications.

First of all, Lynn Calhoun went to Vietnam and was injured in some way there, mostly mentally. He has been a disabled vet for decades. He has been in and out of the VA in Danville, on at least an outpatient level.

Lynn has had a rough time, since Vietnam. In 1976, his mother died by suicide, and one of his two sisters was in and out of institutions. All of this, of course, impacted Lynn greatly, troubling his mind, and ending his marriage (there were no children).

For Lynn, the Vietnam War lives on, and in the recent past he tried to share reading material and military photos with a neighbor about this period of his life, causing concern for him from folks who didn't quite understand what was going on. Lynn sometimes constantly reads the Bible too.

Today, Lynn is diabetic, fights his weight, has a congestive heart ailment, and has been given a schizophrenia diagnosis, mainly due to episodes he has when he goes off his medications. He knows he shouldn't do that, and perhaps that is behind what has recently happened to Lynn.

Lynn said that he has been at a nursing home (Arcola Health Care Center) since September 26, 2008, when he refused to take his meds.

His sister recently passed away, and he is now feeling more and more isolated. Lynn told Keith Rogers who talked to him that he would like to talk to anyone! He needs his old classmates to send him cards! He can go out on passes...he can walk but really needs a wheelchair, just in case. His appearance might shock a few of his old classmates: he has a full head of white hair and a long white beard.

Lynn is at the Arcola Health Care Center
422 E. 4th Street South
Arcola, Illinois

His mailing address is

Lynn Franklin Calhoun
P.O. Box 70
Arcola, Illinois 61910

He'd really like to hear from you, if you'd like to contact him.

The P.O. Box number is where you send him mail.

Help out a classmate; please send him a note!!

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