St. Cloud Vet’s Book Explores Struggles After War
ST. CLOUD -- A St. Cloud veteran of the U.S. Air Force has taken the struggles he's experienced firsthand and channeled them into what he calls a reintegration tool for soldiers returning home from overseas.
Todd Kuikka served five tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict areas performing explosive ordinance disposal duties. Since his return home, he has suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- something he says is somewhat of a taboo subject.
"I think it's pretty typical, but not spoken about very often," Kuikka says. "The hardest battle that I fought was not actually on the battlefield -- it was trying to re-enter civilian life."
Veteran Field Manual: Civilian Life 1-1 focuses on mental health issues, criminalization of veteran behavior, maintaining family structure, and chemical dependency -- what Kuikka calls the "thin gray line" of prescription medications.
Kuikka, who describes himself as a curious person, says he researched and took notes on experiences with PTSD to write the book.
"I wanted to know why I was experiencing these difficulties," Kuikka says. "[The book] was put together more as a discussion guide to get the communication opened up about some of the hardships endured not just by service members, but their families [also]."
Kuikka says the support from his family makes his ongoing struggle with PTSD more manageable.
"It's something that I have to approach day-to-day with the support of my family, which thank God I've had available to me," Kuikka says. "They helped me through some struggles that I can honestly say I would not have made it through."
"With that in mind, on a day-to-day basis maybe not everything gets easier, but a heck of a lot more copable."
As for his next book, Kuikka says he plans on writing about veterans and the criminal justice system.