EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 20, 2007

Veteran's anti-war broadside posted on his barn

CHESTER - Bruce Juchniewicz doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, he wears it on a barn written in white letters.

It's because he knows what war can do to a person that he decided to post the message "Stop The War" in bold letters with an American flag on the side of his red barn, a statement visible to anyone traveling through Chester on Route 102.

"It's just the way I feel," the Vietnam veteran said, sitting in his Colonial home, built in 1812. "With every war there's more veterans."

As a veteran himself, Juchniewicz is worried about the next generation of soldiers returning from war.

Since returning from Vietnam in 1972 after serving as a rescue swimmer and helicopter crew chief with the Navy, Juchniewicz's life has been plagued with insomnia and post traumatic stress disorder, he said. He's worried that the president and U.S. military leaders don't consider how much war can affect the lives of returning troops.

"Anybody exposed to that trauma, it will affect your livelihood," he said.

Juchniewicz, who regularly attends meetings with a combat support group in Lowell, Mass., said he knows veterans who led normal lives and held normal jobs for more than 20 years but who are now so paralyzed by post-traumatic stress they can't leave their homes.

"They'll fund war, but they won't fund the soldier after the war," he said.

When Juchniewicz returned home after three years in Vietnam, he said, he turned to drugs and alcohol to soothe the pain. He has been sober for 20 years but wishes it had been easier to find help when he came home from Vietnam.

"I'm just afraid this war is going to have walking dead people around," he said. "When you can't look a man in the eyes, there's something going on in there you don't want to know about."

Juchniewicz, who served two tours in the Navy during the Vietnam War, comes from a military family.

His mother was an Army nurse who worked in a burn ward. and his father was wounded in South Africa while serving in World War II. His sister served in Korea, and his grandfather, Arthur F. Hargraves, was featured in National Geographic after World War I for having his lung cut out with a bayonet on the battlefield after he had been attacked with mustard gas.

Juchniewicz said it's time to pull the troops out of Iraq.

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