Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Today is Monday March 23, 2015. This is an interview with Judy Johnson
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about growing up on the north side of Chicago (Illinois) and relatives who have served in the military, including her father.
Map Coordinates: 41.885, -87.784
Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Growing up, what was high school—your high school experience like?
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about her high school experience and her plans to be a teacher. She talks about meeting her husband, Darryl Johnson at school.
Link to Oral History Interview with Darryl Johnson can be found in "Interview conclusion" segment below.
Partial Transcript: Johnson: High school, Darryl graduated in January. I was a majorette in high school and he would come to majorette practice in the summer.
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about her decision to go to Northern Illinois University and her first impressions of the campus.
Map Coordinates: 41.934, -88.773
Partial Transcript: Interviewer: I haven't gotten this far with Darryl yet so you can clue me in. What was his homecoming like?
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about Darryl's return from Vietnam and moving to Fort Benning (Georgia) where he completed his enlistment period.
Map Coordinates: 32.391, -84.822
Partial Transcript: Interviewer: I'll back up a little bit, just to talk a little bit more about your experience of Darryl's experience really.
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about her experience of being at home while Darryl was in Vietnam and coping strategies that she had. She also talks about her impression of Darryl after he returned and the public's lack of respect for veterans.
Partial Transcript: Interviewer: How did he meet George? How did they start interacting?
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about Darryl becoming involved with Artists for the Humanities, via George Kamps. She talks about the impact of Darryl receiving a PTSD diagnosis.
See below for a link to Session 1 of George Kamps' Interview.
Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Tell me a little bit more about what you've learned about being a spouse to someone who has PTSD
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about her experience of being a spouse of a veteran with PTSD, and the ways her and Darryl Johnson have worked on their relationship.
Partial Transcript: Interviewer: Tell me a little about the art that Darryl has done and how he started with the program.
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about Darryl attending the Artists for the Humanities group art therapy sessions, and the benefits of doing so. She talks about her own artwork and the way that the meetings run.
Partial Transcript: Interviewer: I think one of the only other questions that I had written down that we haven't touched about in detail was how Darryl's PTSD manifested itself.
Segment Synopsis: Johnson talks about the ways Darryl's PTSD presented itself and the impact on their family. The interview is concluded.
Link to Oral History Interview with Darryl Johnson below.
BROOKS: Today is Monday March 23, 2015. This is an interview with JudyJohnson--who is the wife of Darryl Johnson--and the interview is being conducted in Judy's office in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The interviewer is Ellen Brooks and the interview is being recorded for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. We're just going to start at the beginning--if you could tell me when and where you were born.
JOHNSON: Oh! Really at the beginning.
BROOKS: Yeah, all the way back.
JOHNSON: I was born in Oak Park, Illinois, across the street from Chicago. July6, 1946. I'm an only child.
BROOKS: Can you tell me a little bit about growing up in Oak Park?
JOHNSON: Well I grew up in Chicago--on the north-west side of Chicago. An areacalled Irving Park. I had pretty much a Ward and June Cleaver type of lifestyle. My parents loved me, they loved each other. Family was close. My best friend 00:01:00lived next door. She's a month younger than I am. She's still my friend today. I feel very, very fortunate.
BROOKS: That's great. What did you parents do?
JOHNSON: My dad worked at Schwinn Bicycle--he was on the assembly line. Then hegot a job, in fact, with my friend Pat next door, her father got him a job at Weiss Memorial Hospital--he was a stationary engineer and he loved that job. My mom was primarily a homemaker but then she lost two babies after I was born and she suffered from depression. Didn't know it at the time but I think it was pretty severe. She took a job working at a grocery store just stocking and then they found out she was capable of more and she started working in the office. 00:02:00She did that. My grandma, however, lived downstairs of us and she was there when I came home for lunch because back them everybody came home for lunch. When you were in grade school which was K-8 you went home for lunch. My grandma was there for me. My grandma passed and my aunt lived down at the corner so--my mom didn't work for a while, but then when she lost the other baby I think she went back to work--I'm not real clear. Then I went to my aunt's for lunch. It was very, you know, normal. Everything's normal for a kid.
BROOKS: Yeah, that's true. Do you remember--you would have been prettyyoung--hearing about the Korean War at all? Do you remember conversations being had?
JOHNSON: Not a whole lot about the Korean War. My uncle--no, I don't think he00:03:00was in the Korean War either. The only person that I really knew was a friend of ours after we got married who talked about the Korean War. My dad was a World War II person and I don't know if you talked to Darryl about him at all?
BROOKS: He mentioned him, but yeah--
JOHNSON: My dad was very proud of the fact that he served. His brothers--he hadtwo brothers--and they all served. My dad used to talk about his experience of walking and marching--I think it was through France. He was in the Battle of the Bulge. He actually opened the gates in one of the concentration camps. 00:04:00Nordhausen it was-- but he pronounced things differently than a lot of people--something that sounded like that. He had wonderful stories about that as well.
BROOKS: Did he talk about it often?
JOHNSON: You know, he did. My dad was a very heavy sleeper and he told storiesabout how he went to sleep under a stairwell and when he woke up in the morning the house was gone. You know, there he was. I don't know if that was exactly true or his rendition of reality or whatever.
BROOKS: He was in the Army?
JOHNSON: He was in the Army, mm-hmm.
BROOKS: Growing up, what was high school--your high school experience like?00:05:00
JOHNSON: My high school was a Chicago public school. It was, again, prettyidyllic. It was the '60s and it was--I was friends with everyone. There were groups--there were three main groups. The Jewish kids, which comprised about I think about 90 to 95 percent of my high school--that was one kind of division. Another division was the jocks and the college prep kids and then the greasers. The same as you see in the movie--
JOHNSON: Yeah, that would be it. I was in a club and there were greasers as well00:06:00as another friend of mine who was in a lot of my classes--the college prep track. My best friend was going to be a secretary. You had choices--women or girls had choices--you could be a secretary, you could be a nurse or you could be a teacher. Mary and I were going to be teachers, Pat was going to be a secretary, and didn't know anybody who was going to be a nurse, at the time.
BROOKS: Were you fulfilled with that?
JOHNSON: I always wanted to be a teacher, from the time I was, like, went toschool. I always wanted to be a teacher. Then in high school I took a Home Ec[onomics] class and it was a sewing class. Then I decided that's what I wanted to teach because you could sit and talk to the girls, like I talked to my teacher while they were stitching or while they were cooking or something. It 00:07:00wasn't just getting up in front of the classroom and talking--I liked that part.
BROOKS: Darryl and I talked a little bit about the air raid drills and thingslike that. Do you remember that and the political climate at the time?
JOHNSON: I remember the air raid drills when we were in grade school. When itsounded--the noise was sounding--then you had to go into the hall and sit against the wall in the hall and wait until everything was clear.
BROOKS: Do you remember what your thoughts and feelings were about that?
JOHNSON: No, it was just something you did. I don't remember being afraid or,you know, we did have--again after we were married we had a friend who had a 00:08:00bomb shelter in their house that was left over from the fifties--the house was built in the fifties. There was this cement thing and they used it more or less like a fruit cellar.
BROOKS: You didn't have a bomb shelter? Or know anybody that did at that time?
JOHNSON: No, no.
BROOKS: Just another part of life?
BROOKS: Okay. Tell me a little about meeting Darryl.
JOHNSON: We met in high school. He sat behind me in study hall. He wasdarling--he was cute and he was a gentile. And he was new to school--he didn't come to Roosevelt until my, it was the last half of my junior year because he 00:09:00had to go another whole year. He graduated in January, I graduated the following June. Back then in Chicago they had January and June graduations. I used to do anything to get his attention. He'd come and he'd sing to me, he'd pick me up from my gym class and take me, walk me to my next class, sing "Maria" from West Side Story because that we had gone to see at the movie.
JOHNSON: Yeah. He was a very much sought after because he was new, he was cuteand he was a gentile. There weren't that many gentile boys in our class. Not that I wouldn't have dated a Jewish boy but Jewish boys didn't date gentile 00:10:00girls. We were friends but not dating friends. I don't know of anybody--now that I think about it--don't know anybody who did that.
BROOKS: Not really an option at that time. What's next? What's after high school?
JOHNSON: High school, Darryl graduated in January. I was a majorette in highschool and he would come to majorette practice in the summer. We had our first date actually when we were still in high school--October twenty-fifth--that would have been '63. We were dating-dating by the time we graduated and I don't 00:11:00know that he thought he was going to school or not but I knew I had to cause I wanted to be a teacher. He decided to go to Northern because I was going to Northern. At least that's what he said at the time--I don't know if that was true or not. We both went to Northern and then we were there for a little bit and then we decided we were going to date other people. Yeah that worked for a while. We broke up once actually in high school I think it was because of religion--he was Catholic and I was Methodist. Lines were pretty well drawn back then. But then his father--from what he says--told him he was silly because his dad was Baptist and his mom was Catholic. When we got to college we started going to both churches. That didn't last real long. 00:12:00
BROOKS: I can see that.
JOHNSON: Spend you whole Sunday morning going to church when you're in college.No, no. Then I actually did convert. I took lessons while he was in Vietnam actually. I had to do the marriage prep all by myself.
BROOKS: Alright, well we'll probably talk about that a little bit more later buthow did you decide on Northern?
JOHNSON: I belonged to the Future Teachers of America when I was in high schooland we toured with the organization. We went to--I think it was the National Education College or something like that--it was some fancy college on the North shore somewhere, one of the suburbs. Then we went to the University of Chicago. 00:13:00Then we went to Northern. I just fell in love with Northern, with the campus and everything. It had an excellent--it used to be Illinois' Teachers College, Northern Illinois Teacher's College. It had a wonderful Home Ec department. I didn't know anybody. Well, I take that back, I knew one other freshman.
BROOKS: What were you first impressions?
JOHNSON: I was very lucky in that as a freshman I met--when we went for thepre-college day thing to sign up for your classes and to learn about the school and stuff--another young woman who was in the Home Ec department as well. Back 00:14:00then, when you were a freshman, you walked in the door and they gave you a grid that said "Freshman first semester, second semester, you will take these courses, these courses, these courses." By the time you were second semester senior, you got to choose a class. We signed up because we'd started talking, we signed up for a lot of classes and that was in June or something. By the time we got to school in September it was, "Oh, she's showed up in all these classes." And we finally put two and two together that we had done this on purpose so we became friends. I was very lucky in that she was friend of mine for all four years. I pledged a sorority, she did not. That created a little bit of a distance in our relationship but I still considered her to be a good friend.
BROOKS: Did you do the sorority all four years?
JOHNSON: Three years. Darryl pledged his freshman year. Then I didn't until my00:15:00sophomore year.
BROOKS: How was that experience?
JOHNSON: Good! You know, I am the type of person who always did what wasexpected of me. I was the brown-nose in grade school. I always did teacher's pet in high school. I always did what was expected and it worked for me--still does, I still do.
BROOKS: When was the first time you started hearing--you remember hearing aboutVietnam and the conflict that was happening?
JOHNSON: Yeah, that. You know, I was pretty much--okay I'm trying--'68 I was--Igraduated in '68. At Northern, Darryl was a student supervisor at the university 00:16:00center and they had speakers so we would, during--no but that was seventy--I'm sorry, take that back. When we were in college-college--nothing. I mean, no, it was more important. Anyway, for me the first I heard of it was when they started the draft. I think it was our junior year, Darryl decided he was going to drop out of school for a while to make some money--he was tired of being poor because 00:17:00he had to pay his whole--own way all through college and he was running out of money so he decided to go to work. It ended up he was--he took a job as a firefighter and so we were all happy when the draft thing came out and his chief gave, I'm sure he told you the story--
BROOKS: Yeah, but it's good to hear--
JOHNSON: Yeah, different perspective. But his chief came and wrote him adeferment letter the first year. We were all happy, why not? You don't have to go. Then the second year he didn't. He showed Darryl his medal and that was history. He was gone. The reality from my perspective was, "Okay, so he's gonna be gone and that's okay because I'm going to get a teaching job. Then I'll teach 00:18:00and he'll be back and then we'll get married." We talked about getting married before he left but decided that wasn't such a good idea. Essentially we were engaged but not--the whole breaking up thing once to date other people didn't last very long. Probably about a couple of weeks. Probably.
BROOKS: Do you remember hearing anything about the protests or anything?
JOHNSON: Oh yeah. That was--I'm trying to put things into--it's hard toremember. The protests--we were married in--okay. The protests on campus were not prevalent when I was a student--that I was aware of anyway. Then when Darryl 00:19:00got drafted and was gone it was the '68 [Democratic National] Convention. The '68 convention in Chicago was a disaster. I remember I did have--I had long hair, I had my beads and I wore sandals and jeans and I had a friend who lived down on the Outer Drive in the Mies van der Rohe buildings that are right by the curve. I used to park the car and then I'd walk over to her house. I remember walking down Michigan Avenue one evening--probably not real late--maybe ten 00:20:00o'clock which is not real late when you're that age. I remember walking to go see her and there were military all over downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue just guarding the whatever--looking out. Everything actually was happening further in Lincoln Park. I remember seeing that and just I remember stopping and talking to some of the guys that were on the corner and telling them that my boyfriend was in the army and just chatting and stuff like that. I wasn't a protestor per se because that wouldn't have fit my personality but I remember hating the war because I didn't think that war was the way to resolve things. It 00:21:00was difficult to have those kinds of feelings and then having your boyfriend in the army. Everybody was against the war. It was--I don't know it was a very difficult time.
BROOKS: Do you remember what your initial reaction was when you found out thatDarryl was going to have to go this time. That he had to accept the draft notice?
JOHNSON: I probably cried. I mean, who wouldn't? I can't say that I wasoverjoyed but I didn't get angry that he--because his brother was in the service, I mean that's a pretty hard gig especially when you're following somebody like Ritchie who was a Marine and very stalwart and very smart and you 00:22:00never can live up to him. That type of thing. I knew that he would do a good job, just because that once he makes a commitment to something, that's what you do.
BROOKS: Did you have any expectations for what his life was going to be like,and what his experience was going to be like?
JOHNSON: No. You know it was all about me! I was going to be teaching. I wasvery excited about that. I got a job teaching in Chicago, I mean, not too far from my house. I mean, it doesn't get much better than that. I was more concerned about my teaching and you don't think, this is the stupid thing, you don't think about the dangers of war. You just think, "Oh, he's going to be 00:23:00fine. He'll just come home and we'll just get married and everything will be super-duper." Do you get angry at the political thing of you know, "Why can't--" this is the simplicity of it, "Why can't you just stop the whole thing and talk about it for a while? Iron it out that way rather than people killing each other." War still doesn't make any sense to me.
BROOKS: I don't think you're alone. So what year did you graduate college?
BROOKS: Okay. Then you got a job, what were you teaching?
JOHNSON: Home Ec to senior high school at Foreman High School in Chicago. Backthen, again, it was all girls took Home Ec, so I didn't have to contend with 00:24:00those little boy things. I had five classes and one group was nicer than the other. These were really nice girls. I was a first year teacher and I was young and many of the teachers thought I was one of the students. Luckily the other Home Ec teacher--there were two of us--she had taught a whole year before but I always thought of her as being so much older because she was so stunning and attractive and stately. She was a very nice person. She was the head of the department.
BROOKS: Of two?
BROOKS: So you and Darryl probably exchanged a lot of letters?00:25:00
JOHNSON: Yes. Did he show you all the letters?
BROOKS: Yeah he talking about potentially donating them, we're going to talkthrough it a little bit more.
JOHNSON: I think that I'm all in favor of that. When they came out--I can'tremember when it was--when the Vietnam wall came to--the travelling one--came to Oneida. There was a person from the Wisconsin Historical Society who took all the letters and made copies of them. I told him at that time "Why don't you just give them letters and you take the copies?" Well I'm glad he didn't in retrospect because I think it's a better home--that's just my personal feeling--that it's a better home at the Veteran's Museum. Even though we lived in Illinois at the time I still think that there's value there. We've lived in Wisconsin longer than we have in Illinois now. 00:26:00
BROOKS: You're rooted here it seems like now. So tell me a little bit aboutthose letters, what would you send back and forth?
JOHNSON: You know when you were talking about that I do have--[telephone rings]I still carry this with me in my wallet. I think it's a really cool picture.
BROOKS: That is neat. Nice little peace sign around his neck.
JOHNSON: The peace sign and the rosary. That was my pencil sketch, the rosary--Idon't know, I did one of those things. The letters were--from a historical perspective--I think that the letters were very indicative of what was going 00:27:00through most of the GI's minds at the time. The interesting thing is that now that we know what we know to get the pictures of him standing in front of this foliation, that's perhaps the scariest thing to me, is all that--what's there, did he pick up something that's not going to show up? But he's seventy now so I mean at least it wasn't anything that adversely affected him from a cancer perspective or whatever else they could have mutated during that time. After we found out about Agent Orange, that was the biggest concern. Never thought of him 00:28:00as doing anything but the right thing and being the leader, I would think. He was much like me in that he always did what he was told to do. He probably made a very good soldier, he might grumble about it, but he would do it.
BROOKS: You said the letters were indicative of what was in the GIs' mind at the time.
JOHNSON: When he was teaching he had a lot of Hmong students in his classes andI think he always tried to be especially nice to them--the whole idea of trying to make up for what happened over there. In the letters he does refer to "gooks" 00:29:00and I know that's painful for him now because that's not--everybody's racist but I don't perceive him to be a racist fanatic of any sort so I could see that bothering him, having those words. And two of the letters that are in that Voices from Vietnam book, I think one of them used the slurs that he had used in his letters. I think that probably bothers him.
BROOKS: What else was in the letters, what was the typical content?
JOHNSON: Talking about the guys and what they're doing. Talking about firefights and we also I got two tape recorders and it was reel-to-reel. He had 00:30:00one--I sent one to him. He would use the batteries until they were gone. Whereas I had to-- drove me crazy because sometimes he talked like this- [imitates sped up recording], real fast and he'll be gone before I knew it. Then other times the batteries [imitates slowed down recording]--so I different sets of batteries but he couldn't do that because he had to carry all those batteries. To carry this heavy tape recorder--which doesn't seem that heavy but--when you're carrying all the stuff that he carried, it was quite a sacrifice on his part just to be able to do that. The cool thing about that is we also had my engagement on tape. We had someone take a look at it a while back and tried to 00:31:00put it on another kind of--it didn't come out very well. The quality of the tape after all that time was bad.
BROOKS: Was it him asking you?
JOHNSON: Yeah but that was pretty cool because when his mom gave me thering--which is not your typical 1968 ring--everybody else had these little orange blossom jeweler with the diamonds about half an inch, no quarter of an inch big or fat. That would have been a big one. That was--the engagement was on tape and you know he'd say in the letters--I should reread the letters too 00:32:00because it's not coming back to me, what he wrote, because most of the time he was talking about people coming and going and I can't--oh, they did get --we were supposed to, you're supposed to get an R&R after you'd be in country for six months or so. Every time he'd got to get an R&R, it would be his turn, they'd lose somebody and he'd have to stay. We didn't get an R&R until June. We got married in August. He came home in July. It was nice that we got to meet in Hawaii before then to talk about some of the things for the wedding but that probably in retrospect that's--what I was doing a lot of was just obsessing about the wedding and that type of thing, rather than thinking about poor 00:33:00Darryl. [laughter]
BROOKS: How was Hawaii?
JOHNSON: Hawaii was really fun, that was really interesting. Darryl's sisteralso came because she was flying- she was a stewardess - and she was flying Frisco to Hawaii. We got to go out with his sister and her--I don't know if he was a boyfriend or just a friend--and they showed us Waikiki beach and the whole thing. That was kind of cool.
BROOKS: While you were there, obviously you were thinking about the wedding butwas Darryl talking at all about service and combat?
JOHNSON: Not really. I don't' recall him talking a lot about that. Mostly wewere looking toward the future. He hadn't seen a television for so long that he was glued to the television, some of the time. There's sports on--we don't talk. 00:34:00
BROOKS: You talked a little bit about what was in Darryl's letters, what wereusually in your letters to him?
JOHNSON: Mine were probably kind of boring because I was teaching and I don'tremember talking about individual kids in the letters. I was probably just said--you know a lot of what he said was the same stuff over and over. I'm thinking mine was probably the same stuff over and over again. I do have my dad's letters to my mother. I don't know if you would be interested in those?
BROOKS: Very possibly. I would have to put you in touch with our archivist.There's a whole process--
JOHNSON: I would love to have those be some place where I knew, because thoseare very special.
BROOKS: Of course, we would love to talk more.
JOHNSON: I don't know if the Wisconsin thing is or--
BROOKS: Yeah it would depend on the connection but if they don't fit in ourmuseum we could talk about other options for you.
JOHNSON: Anyway, I would talk about, just stuff. I wrote every day and everyweekend I would send him a package. I had this--I would sit and write and I'd use this Ouija board, back side of a Ouija board and I would mark off the 00:35:00letters and I'd have to number because you never knew what letter came in what order. I think it was like, maybe it was June--maybe it was by month that I would write--I'd put the date somewhere so that he would know--why didn't I just use the date? I think I just wrote one dash one, then one dash two and then one dash three. It wouldn't have corresponded because he went in country in July. I don't know but I remember doing that and then marking off after I sent them. I would put--
I started sending the packages in coffee cans because they didn't get as torn00:36:00up. The boxes would just sometimes get annihilated. I'd send him silly things. I sent him a car. He'd bought a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda convertible--navy blue with a white racing stripe--before he left. I got the car. Maybe it was a '68. I don't know what year it was. Anyway, I got the car, I got the payments too. I found this little blue convertible and I took some adhesive tape and made little stripe on it and sent it to him. It was in one of the boxes that got smashed and he thought I was telling him a story--telling him that the car got hurt because there was a little dent in the car by the time he got it. Baubles, I'd send him. Kool-Aid. Why Kool-Aid? Because they couldn't, they didn't have the cold water 00:37:00and warm Kool-Aid doesn't taste so good. But you think you're doing the right thing.
BROOKS: I mean when you're out there anything different.
JOHNSON: Right, toys, little toys. Just so that it would be something to havefun with and cookies, obviously.
BROOKS: At what point did you decide to talk to him mom and do the whole Catholicism?
JOHNSON: Well probably started before he even left that I had made the--we hadstarted going just to the Catholic church. Then while he was gone I did the instruction thing and did the political coup of the century in that I asked his mother to be my confirmation sponsor. Took Mary as my name--which was his 00:38:00sister-in-law's name. His sister said, "We can't compete with you." His mother was just so happy that she got to be my sponsor [telephone rings]. I didn't even think about it, that was just what I wanted to do but Abby and Diane thought there was some hidden agenda somewhere.
BROOKS: Probably didn't hurt.
JOHNSON: Yeah. It made her happy and she was a wonderful woman. I had the bestmother-in-law ever.
BROOKS: How did you feel about the instruction?
JOHNSON: It was interesting. It was one-on-one which I don't think that's thenorm but it was kind of like the instruction combined with the pre-Cana talk stuff, as I recall. Father John was a young priest who was just really nice and 00:39:00I remember asking him a lot of questions and stuff like that. But there were some things he couldn't answer but you just--you don't think about that when you're that age. You're just taking the steps to get it done so that you can get married in the church, basically.
BROOKS: Was there a problem with Darryl not being there for the pre-Cana.
JOHNSON: No, they didn't like it but what you gonna do?
BROOKS: They didn't ask you to wait or anything?
JOHNSON: No, absolutely not.
BROOKS: So throughout all of this as the war is kind of progressing, did youbecome more conscious of feelings towards the war effort or protests?
JOHNSON: I'll probably have to say that if Darryl wasn't in the service I might00:40:00have done the whole protest thing. I couldn't do that because it would be like going against what he was doing and that wouldn't have been right to me.
JOHNSON: Did you ever talk with him about it via your letters? He said thathe--the only news they got was Stars and Stripes, everything's very rosy or tinted one way?
JOHNSON: I remember him talking about Stars and Stripes when we were in Hawaiiactually. How that's the only news he got. How different is it today? That's real interesting. I remember when he came home he didn't wear--I don't remember 00:41:00what he was wearing when he got off the plane. Huh. There's pictures of it but I don't remember. I don't remember really talking about it and he didn't really talk about it a whole lot. Even when we lived in Fort Benning--right after we got married we moved down to Fort Benning for six months I think it was--until he got an early out for education in January. It was right after we got married which was in August. It was only five months that we were down at Fort Benning 00:42:00but people didn't talk about it. At least we didn't. Not that I can recall.
BROOKS: I haven't gotten this far with Darryl yet so you can clue me in. Whatwas his homecoming like? He got back in July?
JOHNSON: Yes. We met him at the airport. My mom and dad and his mom and dad, andme. My mom and dad had little flags. I remember it being very pleasant, very cool and just glad to have him home.
BROOKS: Did he fly into a Chicago airport then?
BROOKS: Did he have to go through any debriefing? He wasn't out of the service00:43:00yet, right? He was just Stateside.
JOHNSON: Yeah, and he had to leave for a month maybe, I don't know. We had sometime before the wedding, before he had to report to Fort Benning.
BROOKS: Was there any risk of him being deployed overseas again?
JOHNSON: No, I don't think--well the only thing was, I say that no, but since itwasn't me, and this might be wrong but I remember that we got down to Fort Benning and I had to find a place to stay. I dropped him off on base one morning at five o'clock in the morning that was a whole other thing trying to get off the base because all the lanes go into the base in the morning. I managed to 00:44:00stop by this one apartment complex and was right off the base and since I was so early I had brought a book and then I noticed that--but it didn't open until nine o'clock so I thought well I'm not going to go anywhere I might as well just sit here and read my book.
I noticed then--it was maybe about 7:30--somebody else came and they stood bythe door. Well I thought, "Okay that person's there I better stand by the door, sit by the door, and read there as well as read in the car." By nine o'clock there was a line a block long for these apartments. She opened up the door, I was second in line and I said "I'd like a one bedroom apartment, furnished". She 00:45:00said, "Yes we have one." She told me what the rent was. It was like eighty bucks or something like that. I thought, "Holy crap, I don't know if we can afford that." But I said, "Okay, can I see it?" She said "No. Either you sign here right now or one of those people will want it. We only have five units." "Is it air-conditioned?" "Yes." "Where do I sign?" It was so hot. That's all I cared about--it was air conditioned. It wasn't that bad, we just had to be there for five months but wasn't the most lovely place. It was all these asphalt floors and we didn't have a vacuum cleaner, there was one throw rug and everything was white.
BROOKS: Had you planned to leave teaching at that point?
JOHNSON: No. I had to quit because I knew I was getting married and I was going00:46:00to be going. I did quit my job in Chicago. That was really cool because my girls, each class gave me a shower. It took me like three trips to the car to bring all my presents, it was very cool they were so sweet--my train of thought has gone.
BROOKS: Your career, leaving teaching.
JOHNSON: Leaving teaching. No, it didn't even dawn on me to think twice aboutleaving teaching. But then when we got to Fort Benning, then I did substitute teach and then--I had very much enjoyed that. Then we got to DeKalb when Darryl 00:47:00got out and I got a job at the information desk at the student center but I had gotten a teaching job in DeKalb which was unbelievable. There were only like five Home Ec teachers in the city and there were like zillions of teachers but right place at the right time. I was very fortunate to get a teaching job but then I was pregnant. I didn't know I was pregnant when I took the job but back then you didn't keep a job when you had a baby so I taught for one semester and then I quit because Kristin was born and I was a stay-at-home mom for a while. That was very cool. I enjoyed that a lot. 00:48:00
BROOKS: Darryl got out of the service, you said on an education--?
JOHNSON: Early out for education.
BROOKS: What does that entail?
JOHNSON: He probably shouldn't have gotten out his--I don't know when he wentinto the service but he should have gotten out I think in February and so he had a couple of days before that, or a couple of weeks. He got out early so he could start the semester. That was very nice. But you had asked a question before about getting sent another deployment. My recollection is this--that when we got down to Fort Benning and we got a place to stay and so we were all happy and then all I had to do was drive him into the base every day and then he was there for about a week or two and they were going to send him down to Florida. They 00:49:00were going to send him down to Florida to help train the rangers. Not help train--sorry, wrong word. They needed some guys to be people that the rangers capture. So here he is, back from Vietnam with all this experience and he's supposed to sit in the woods and wait for the rangers to capture him. That didn't go over real big as you could well imagine but the worst part--I had some minor medical thing so he went to his sergeant and he said, "How can I leave? We just got here, my wife is having medical stuff and I can't leave her." Turned out his sergeant was very cool and found him an office job. He spent, from what 00:50:00I remember, the rest of the five months working in the office.
BROOKS: Did you spend time on base at all? What were those five months like for you?
JOHNSON: No, we had obviously the apartment was like a four-plex. I don't knowwhether the people from Illinois, if he was an officer or not, but the other two were officers, they were lieutenants--Freddy and Matt. They were officers. We were all friends, we did things together but they hung together more. I went on 00:51:00base to go the PX, that's about the only thing I did on base other than to drop Darryl off.
BROOKS: Okay. So you're back in DeKalb and you have your daughter, what was nextfor you?
JOHNSON: For me? I got a part time job being a hostess at a restaurant which wasvery fun. I got to work a couple of days and we didn't have to get a babysitter because I worked when Darryl was at home. Then we had friends, we had a really nice group of friends, when we were in DeKalb--none of them were military I 00:52:00don't think. There were five couples and we were the only ones that had a child. They came over to our house a lot, plus I cooked a lot. Darryl had guys with the student union, he had student supervisors and they came over to our house all the time because they knew I'd cook. The guys played whiffle ball in the back yard and it was a great time. It was just a wonderful time. We actually put an addition on to the house--my dad helped Darryl build it. But then our friends who had moved away, one of the couple--gradually they started moving away--Ted and Linda came back and said, "How would you like to be the food service director at St Norbert?" I looked at Darryl and Ted said, "No, I'm talking to you Judy." I became the food service director at St. Norbert, we moved up here because Darryl was taking classes at NIU but he'd take classes and he'd drop 00:53:00classes and he'd take classes and then he'd drop classes. Ted had it all planned out for us. We would move up here, I would run his food service and Darryl would take classes and there was nursery school for Kristin to go and it worked pretty much like that.
We did that for two years and then I decided it was Darryl's turn to work--hehadn't finished his degree and he should have. He found a job and I stayed at home again for a while. Then it got to a point when I thought, "I have to work part time at least." I got a job--a nothing sales job--then Darryl started in the insurance business and then they said "Judy you'd be really good at this" I 00:54:00said "I don't like that idea, at all" "You can just study for the exam" "Oh, I like to study, okay, fine." I studied for the exam and we worked together in the business for a couple of years with the Equitable. Then Kristin was getting to be a teenager and we thought, this is silly, both of us gone all the time, it doesn't work. I had more daytime activity than Darryl did and I had more CLU [Chartered Life Underwriter] classes than Darryl did so I stayed in the business and he got a real job. I didn't do very well the first couple of years but then things started to develop and I'm real happy where I'm at now.
BROOKS: You moved up here in '74?
JOHNSON: '74 yeah. It was cool because the [Green Bay] Packers trained at StNorbert and I got to know the players and Bart [Starr]. It was fun, it was 00:55:00another ideal time.
BROOKS: Was it hard to leave Illinois since you'd been there your whole life?
JOHNSON: Yeah, it was because we thought we'd only be here for two years. Butthen Darryl got the coach at Babe Ruth baseball team and he loved coaching the kids so we stayed primarily for the coaching thing. It was good--the schools were good here and we started rethinking. You stay and then you stay and then pretty soon this is home. Now I can't imagine going back there--for a vacation or for--not to live. We really love the Green Bay area. It's much better for us.
BROOKS: Your daughter lives in Madison?00:56:00
JOHNSON: Yeah, she lives in Madison, which is far enough away, but we're veryfortunate to have had a big part in our grandchildren's lives.
BROOKS: I'll back up a little bit, just to talk a little bit more about yourexperience of Darryl's experience really. I guess there's a couple of questions I had written down. I think you answered most of them but--I'm just wondering your feelings while Darryl was gone in service, in country. Did you have any coping mechanisms for times you were particularly lonely or frustrated?
JOHNSON: You know, I wasn't--I missed him but I don't remember feelingresentful, I don't remember--I was just so busy teaching. For a first year 00:57:00teacher, it's unbelievably time consuming. You really don't have time for anything, if you're a good teacher. You're teaching all day and then at night you're grading things and you're preparing for the next day. It's a job, it's an unbelievably time consuming job. I have wonderful friends and one of my college sorority sisters stayed with us when she was doing her student teaching--I had friends to go out and stuff like that. It wasn't a sad time for me--I missed him 00:58:00but I knew he was coming back.
BROOKS: I know a lot of people who were over in Vietnam had the "Dear JohnLetter" experience. Do you remember hearing about those?
JOHNSON: Oh yeah. I had a friend who happened to be male, he came to pick me upone time and my dad said, "You can't go out with him. I'm going to write Darryl." Number one, my dad never wrote a letter in his life and number two he loved Darryl as much as he loved me, if not more, so he was very upset that I was doing this very innocent seeing a friend thing. I mean that's the closest that Darryl got to a "Dear John Letter"--it wasn't from me it was from my dad. I'm thinking that he wrote something about somebody got a letter or 00:59:00something--maybe I'm just making that up. People break up when they're right next to each other so why wouldn't it happen if there's this gulf between them? It never once crossed my mind.
BROOKS: When Darryl got back, pretty much immediately after he got back fromVietnam, do you remember how he seemed to you?
JOHNSON: You know what, I was probably totally oblivious to anything because allI wanted to do was get married. I mean that's-- if he would have grown a second head I don't know if I would have noticed. No, I can't say that I noticed and 01:00:00then once-- the interesting thing about that is that once you do get married and you start forming patterns everything is normal then. If he has an anger spurt, then "Okay." and that happened occasionally. My husband is probably one of the nicest men that ever walked the earth, in reality, but you don't see things because you're not looking for them. You're looking for the good so you see the good.
I think the thing that bothered him most was the lack of respect because that's01:01:00really big for him. If he feels somebody doesn't respect him, he doesn't want to spend time with them. I can see in retrospect that that happened a couple of times. The fact that he doesn't, to this day, feel that anybody in his family thinks that anything he says has any value because he's the youngest child. Youngest of four. Rich, his brother, just passed so now he's got a sister but he doesn't think. From my perspective I think that they value him greatly but that's not his perception. When he came back you spend a year of your life--not 01:02:00just a year but two years of your life essentially--doing this and then you come back and you don't get any respect whatsoever? I mean that's devastating. That's absolutely devastating to anybody. But for somebody like Darryl it's gotta--
Then if you don't talk about it, I mean he talked about it a little bit but nota whole lot. The fact that I'm--he's caught on by now--that I'm outgoing. I make friends everywhere and I keep my friends--I work hard at being a friend. Darryl, once friends are gone, okay, his army buddies, no. Just reconnected because I got on the phone and called one of his old friends from grade school. We were 01:03:00talking about him and I thought well lets Google him and see, you can talk to him. I like those connections whereas they're not as much value to him.
BROOKS: Do you remember any specific instances where he felt like he wasdisrespected or that his service was disrespected? Or was it more like a general--
JOHNSON: I think it's more of the general feeling because everything that cameout--after you're home, you haven't been in touch with the media for a full year, then you come home and you see that everything you've worked for that past year and all the garbage that you had to put up with and all those meals that were just yuck. You did that for a year and then you come back and you see 01:04:00people saying that you're an idiot for doing this. That would put me over the edge. That just isn't right. No matter how you feel about, or how you felt about the war, it shouldn't affect how you treat the soldiers that are just doing their job. That was wrong. It's got to affect you.
BROOKS: You said he only talked a little bit especially earlier?
JOHNSON: Yeah because people didn't ask questions. People didn't want to talkabout it. Our friends certainly didn't want to talk about it. They didn't say "How did it go over there?" No. Really the friends we made, the tight group of 01:05:00people, those people became friends after he got back. It was like this whole new world, it wasn't like, people that he knew, his fraternity brothers or something that--the thing that I think bothered him the most was the fact that his friends--his fraternity brothers--I think only one or maybe two ever wrote him a letter, the whole year he was gone. I think that hurt. But the other thing is that would hurt him but did he write a letter? No. But that's kinda Darryl. He expects other people and he'll reciprocate. He doesn't want to interfere, he doesn't wanna expect anything.
BROOKS: The early times when he would talk about his experience, do you remember01:06:00what he talked about?
JOHNSON: Being on top of the hill and just building bunkers and sometimes he'dtalk about the bugs. Talking about the guys and playing cards or whatever. He talked every once in a while, very rarely though about going out on a mission. I guess I didn't realize--again, living in la-la land here, I didn't realize the danger in doing some of the things he did. Maybe I didn't appreciate it as much. I don't know.
BROOKS: I'm wondering what stimulated him to talk, was it usually questions or01:07:00just something out of the blue?
JOHNSON: If somebody asked him about it, he would talk. But he would never havebrought anything up, no.
BROOKS: Is there a certain point where he became more talkative--more willing toopen up about it?
JOHNSON: Since he started seeing George [Kamps]. I mean you're talking fortyyears of not saying anything and then feeling good about what he had done. The climate has changed. I think the turning point actually was the whole LZ Lambeau thing. That was wonderful. That was absolutely wonderful. People started talking about it more. Friends of ours now would talk about "Oh, I read this book, what 01:08:00did you think about it?" Darryl would say, "Well, if you really want to know The Things They Carried is an excellent book" Or he would talk about it--if he really felt they wanted to know. But then that's Darryl saying, "Oh, they don't really care. They're just being nice." When other than the people he knew cared. Other than our circle. If other people would say things, then he would comment but he'd say "They don't really get it." Nobody can--I can't understand it, I wasn't there. Thank god. Nobody can understand what it's like not to have even 01:09:00the simple things like having a shower, for months. That must have been--oh god, I can't even begin to imagine how gross that was and I'm not a clean freak but that would really, that would--no. Just the simple things that we take for granted--nobody can understand that.
BROOKS: And who's George?
JOHNSON: George Kamps. I don't know if you've met George yet.
BROOKS: I haven't. I've been in touch with him; I'm hoping to sit down with him soon.
JOHNSON: He's like the most wonderful person. He is unbelievable. He managed toget Darryl to talk more about the whole experience and to feel good about it, I think. I think Darryl now feels good about having served. I think he always did 01:10:00in some way shape or form but not. Now he'll wear a hat that actually says it on it--that's kind of a clue.
BROOKS: How did he meet George? How did they start interacting?
JOHNSON: Darryl started getting real sullen and arguing--it was not a real goodtime in our marriage. We asked our friend Bob who Darryl should see. He gave us two names I think and Darryl chose George because Bob told the story about both of them. Darryl saw George once every other month or something like that--nothing intense but he would give Darryl things to think about. [telephone rings] Then I also went to hear more but the best thing that came of that is not 01:11:00that but the artist thing. Because then George told Darryl about the Artists for Humanities. That had been a wonderful experience for Darryl, just a wonderful experience and through that found out about the book that--he has that big canvas, I don't know if you've seen it. It's a book--oh god, what's the name of it now? Anyway it's a book, a husband and wife wrote it about PTSD and actually having a name to go with that has been extremely helpful. Darryl did this big canvas and he used the book and it's gotta be down at the museum, you've got to 01:12:00take a look at it--it's really good.
The book was the best book from a spouses standpoint to help understand thecyclical friendship that he has, does he stay friends with people. The fact that we've had the same friends now for a great many years is pretty remarkable. The book has probably helped me the most to understand the whole PTSD thing.
BROOKS: Do you remember the first time that you heard the term PTSD or wereintroduced to the concept?
JOHNSON: No, I don't. I know it had to be before he started recognizing it--he01:13:00and George came about with that. Then there's always that, "Oh my god, I have a disorder" thing going on but we all do. Most of us have had some kind of traumatic thing that has occurred in their life--it's just that this was prolonged and I think that's one of the issues obviously, is this prolonged trauma that these people are exposed to when they're in a military situation. I don't know that you ever, I don't know I'm just supposing, but I don't know that you ever feel really safe. If you're in a war zone, certainly not, there's reasons for that and your brain has to get conditioned to that so what happens when you come home? It shouldn't have taken all these centuries for people to 01:14:00figure that out. You brain is just doing what it's supposed to do. Then you gotta relearn the whole thing over again.
BROOKS: I've read a little bit a--well someone I was talking to said somethingand I read up on it about how certain people and certain groups are thinking about trying to remove the disorder from PTSD. Would just be post-traumatic stress.
JOHNSON: It's still what it is.
BROOKS: It's semantics. But for some people it seems to make a difference.
JOHNSON: There's the new--I don't know how new it is but I was just introducedto it about--Kristin actually--sent us a link, it's a YouTube video on post traumatic growth. That is powerful. It's about a video gamer who had a traumatic 01:15:00brain injury it wasn't military but she had a traumatic brain injury and while she's laying trying to have her brain heal, she can't do anything. She can't read, she's just supposed to lay there then the brain will heal faster. Then after she was able to she started figuring out how to make a game of the growth piece. That was good.
BROOKS: Interesting. Was it a game that she played in her mind?
JOHNSON: It's been a while since I've watched the video but if you searchYouTube--post traumatic growth. I can't remember her name either. It's very cool. It's not just the post traumatic trauma--it's the growth that can occur. 01:16:00Then there's a book on post traumatic growth as well that I read cause I did a presentation with another vets wife and I did a presentation to a group that we belonged to of women. We did it on PTSD and post traumatic growth, and compared and talked about it.
BROOKS: Tell me a little bit more about what you've learned about being a spouseto someone who has PTSD, either from the book or from your personal experience.
JOHNSON: I think the most important thing is to not just accept what's going onand say that's normal because you're not going to be happy. If you're not happy 01:17:00then your spouse can't be happy. You're not being happy at the expense of your spouse--you're trying to be happy together. It's very difficult to try to work together on some of the control issues. I never perceived him to be a maliciously controlling individual--I'm going through that with a friend right now, that it's just all about power and control. I don't think with Darryl it's the control piece for the sake of control, it's a result of--if you're in the military you have to control what's going on in your area otherwise you're dead. 01:18:00When you get back to the States, you still want to control that because you're trying to protect something. That conditioning for year that's been going on so to open up and actually have someone who's willing to try to work together to make it better--that coupled with the whole idea of respecting and not poo-pooing a thought.
It's hard. Any kind of a relationship is hard but when you add this other layerof trying to make things better. My thing is that I always thought that "If I 01:19:00just do this or I just do that, then it'll be better." That never works because you cannot do anything to help somebody else feel better. You can be there for that person, but you're never going to make them feel better--never. You can make them feel good but it's not gonna--it's a difficult dynamic to be married for forty-six years. It's because you tend to pick and then when you pick--"Time 01:20:00out here, what are we doing? What are we trying to accomplish here?" Knowing and identifying the post traumatic piece has been extremely helpful for us because now we think many times before we speak.
We were just reading a different book for a different group and it was talkingabout how if you have an argument sometimes the best thing to do it just to step back and I'm always wanting to fix it, right away--"I gotta fix it." That's what I do--I fix things. He just wants to be left alone so he can think about it. He's an introvert for god's sake--he doesn't just blurt out things like I do. Just to back off and let that person be and let that person think. Then come 01:21:00together and talk about things. That just makes so much sense but we don't do it all the time, even when you know it's the best thing to do, you still want to have your own way. I'm an only child! That's pretty--and I'm a really nice person but I can be a bitch.
BROOKS: So it's a matter of not trying too hard to control things and work onthings together, especially if you come from such two different ways of thinking?
JOHNSON: Yeah you have to try to--it's the respect and the commitment, okay? If01:22:00I respect you and you respect me, and we're committed to be together, everything else has just gotta fall in place, one way or the other. We have to work together in making it fall into place--it's not just gonna happen. It's gonna be work.
BROOKS: Do you ever think about how your life and your marriage would bedifferent, had Darryl not been in the military?
JOHNSON: No. [laughs]
BROOKS: That's okay.
JOHNSON: That's who we are--I don't shoulda, woulda, coulda, it's a big thingwith me. Are there things I wish could be different? Sure. But they're not.
BROOKS: Tell me a little about the art that Darryl has done and how he startedwith the program.
JOHNSON: Darryl's always been--he likes artsy things but I don't think he ever01:23:00thought of himself as being particularly creative other than the garden. The garden is a masterpiece of a creation and that's a very artistic outflow. But I think what the Artists for the Humanities thing has done for Darryl is to help him during the winter to express that creativity, that creative side of him that he never really thought about and that Tim has managed to pull--to guide and be there. The art that he did originally was all words--it wasn't flowers or gore 01:24:00and guts and stuff--it's just what he's feeling, I think, inside and trying to bring out some positive stuff.
Comparing, that's what he does, he compares you know this and this. It makessense and it helps him put things into perspective. If you can see something, it's a lot better than if you're just feeling it or you're just seeing it. If you're just trying to visualize it's not going to happen but if you actually can see it down on paper then you can. It's the whole create--the painting of the 01:25:00birdhouses now, it's just another--nothing to do with Vietnam in a sense but it's showing his creativity.
BROOKS: So have you noticed changes in him since he started the program orchanges in--
JOHNSON: Oh yeah, most definitely. Number one he's very proud of it. He's veryproud of the fact that he's helping something to grow that is helping--that he feels is helping other people as well as himself. It's bigger than him and I think that's important for everyone, is to feel like you're a part of something that's bigger than just yourself unless you're so myopic that it doesn't matter.
BROOKS: What other ways have you noticed him being different?
JOHNSON: He has somebody, a group to express the way that he feels about certain01:26:00things. This canvas that he did with the book, he's proud of what he's done--just the pride that you have in creating something. Not just creating something but something that you think is going to be of value to someone else. That will be able to help them. If they could just read this then everybody would find something in that would help them be a better person. I don't know if that answers your question.
BROOKS: Yeah, it's about how you perceive his changes.
JOHNSON: He looks forward to it and being with other veterans is--I think it's01:27:00good but it also--not with this group but with other things that he's done that involve other veterans--just seeing how good you have it compared with some of these other guys and how they've handled their situations. As terrible as the things were that you had to go through there's always going to be something that somebody else experienced that was worse--that's the reality of anything actually. When you have a sore shoulder and you can't play tennis but you see someone else without an arm. It's not good I guess to compare but, yeah. Just to 01:28:00have the--again it goes back to the whole idea of respect. I think that the guys that he'd been working with the artist thing have a lot of respect for Darryl in what they do and he likes that respect--he appreciates that.
BROOKS: You did a drawing, a pencil drawing, yourself?
JOHNSON: I thought it was really good. [laughter] I'm not that artistic, but itwas the peace sign thing that he war and then the rosary, maybe it wasn't. It was the dog tags, the peace sign and the dog tags. That probably is what I 01:29:00thought when Darryl was gone, was more the fact that he wore the peace sign--endeared me--because I think that was important, even though you're fighting you still have the idea of peace in mind.
BROOKS: Where did he get that?
JOHNSON: I don't know where he got that. I might have sent it to him--he might remember.
BROOKS: How did you decide to do the drawing, did you participate in the class?
JOHNSON: I went to one of the meetings. After Darryl had gone he said, "Whydon't you come too?" I said, "Okay, fine" I went and then took me a couple of sessions to do it but I felt good actually about doing something creative 01:30:00because I was trying to think, "What can I do?" I was looking through the pictures--his pictures that he had brought--and I saw him, this picture probably [referring to photograph]. Oh, his dog tags aren't on, holy crap. I don't see.
BROOKS: --maybe they're in his pocket or something? Unless they're behind there,but I don't think so.
JOHNSON: But he's got a watch on too--that's weird.
BROOKS: He does. Bucking the system.
JOHNSON: I liked the feeling of doing that and the next time I went I couldn'tfigure out anything, nothing was coming to me and so I watched some other people do some things. There's another wife that goes along and she's really nice and 01:31:00she does collages with paper but that didn't appeal to me, I couldn't find anything. Then Darryl had bought all these patches and wanted to put them on a piece of fabric and so he put them--we went shopping multiple times to find the right colored fabric and so he did that. He's got the patches and then I sewed them. I figured I was doing something creative anyway.
BROOKS: I'm just wondering how the meetings are run, if it's okay for you tojust sit there?
JOHNSON: Oh yeah, you can just--some guys do, there's a couple of guys that, you01:32:00know, then there's one guy that--what is interesting is that when they first get together then Tim does a little bit of talking and then they work and then they allow probably forty-five minutes or an hour to clean up and then regroup and talk about if they want to talk about what they did that day. That's when you hear the stories about some of the guys that do have some real issues. What I like about it is they try in their own way to help each other. One guy was having trouble sleeping and I thought this was a real interesting story--my recollection of course--but he said every night before he goes to sleep he 01:33:00imagines himself being in the field. But being surrounded by the people who he knows are keeping watch over him and he goes through that every night and then he can sleep. Before he was having terrible nightmares, but he's put himself into a very safe situation before he actually falls asleep and that enables him to be more peaceful. I thought that was a wonderful thing to share and then of course another guy just says, "That would never work for me."
BROOKS: Did you share anything?
JOHNSON: Yeah, probably but I don't remember, it wasn't of any consequenceprobably not. But some people do.
BROOKS: What percentage would you say?01:34:00
JOHNSON: Oh, at least half. Everybody says something--except maybe a couple.Almost everybody says something.
BROOKS: Are these veterans from every conflict?
JOHNSON: Yeah, I think it was originally--there were a couple that I've met--Ihaven't gone for a while because I'm working, but one was from Iraq, so it was a younger person. It's not just old guys which is good because the experience is the same it's just a different conflict.
BROOKS: That has a lot to do with what we're thinking about when we design ournew exhibits because we represent from the Civil War to now and that universal 01:35:00experience. Some of the details change. If you had to--this is probably a difficult to question to answer because it's pretty broad--but if you had to give someone who was a new spouse to a veteran, some advice what do you think you advice would be?
JOHNSON: To read that book--hands down. Because a good portion of the book isfrom the wife's perspective and I think that there's so much wisdom in it. Everybody is different but if the vet is willing to talk, that's just absolutely 01:36:00wonderful but know something before you encourage them to talk. Don't just do it from your experience that's why I said, "Read the book." because that will give you some of the answers, or some of the questions. It'll give you more questions than it will answers but by doing that--and finding the right time to talk. Don't talk while the kids are running around--go find, and this is from another book, but finding a neutral space to talk, like a park or something like that so that you don't have to worry about if the kids are going to wake up--if there are children still involved.
And to really listen, that whole reflective listening thing of "Okay, you talk,01:37:00and then I tell you what I think you said." Why don't we do that more? That just makes so much sense. If you're going to pour your heart out to me--and that's not going to happen right away, that's for sure--but if you're going to just the whole idea of doing it with respect and whatever the person says, that's their reality--accepting that. That's hard, you know. It's hard to accept that that's another person's reality when you're home safe and sound and they're doing their thing, that's really hard. Any vet would probably rather change places with 01:38:00somebody who's in the States but the person who's in the States, there's some guilt there too: "You did all that and here I am sitting eating bonbons?" Just the whole idea of respect and finding out what the other person needs. It's not rocket science.
BROOKS: Do you have any coping mechanisms for yourself, to keep yourself stable?
JOHNSON: The whole idea of gratitude. Being thankful for what you have and a01:39:00friend gave me an empty book for a gratitude journal just 'cause she had found it helpful and no matter what there's still things that you are grateful for and just trying to remember those rather than dwelling on the things that are in the past that you can't do anything about. Or thinking about what's going to happen in the future which is always a crapshoot 'cause you don't have any control. One thing I have learned is you don't have any control over anything--other than what relates to you in the here and now.
BROOKS: I think one of the only other questions that I had written down that we01:40:00haven't touched about in detail was how Darryl's PTSD manifested itself. We talked about how you figured out how to give it a name but before you could name it, what were his symptoms?
JOHNSON: Anger. Anger. And again, for someone like Darryl--I always perceived tobe very quiet and gentle, for him to get angry is scary. Also increasing moodiness, that was the worst. Never know what's up. That's difficult. If I had 01:41:00time to think it I might think of other things but just the moodiness and then the anger. Never got violent--never hit. That wasn't the issue but other manifestations of anger--the moodiness probably.
BROOKS: It just built up until he started talking with George?
JOHNSON: Yeah because it was starting to affect our relationship but also hisrelationship with his daughter and that's hard. That's mutual dynamics of the family. 01:42:00
BROOKS: When did he start talking to George?
JOHNSON: You know what, I don't know. I'm thinking seven years, maybe six, maybemore--somewhere around there.
BROOKS: You think he'll continue doing work with Artists for Humanities?
JOHNSON: Yeah because I think he sees how it's helped him and he wants to sharethat. But it's hard, some people he's--friend of mine went and nope, wasn't for him. That's kinda like "Oh why don't you see that this could be really helpful?" 01:43:00But it's their decision.
BROOKS: I don't think I have anything else, is there anything that you feel likeI left out, or you'd like to add?
JOHNSON: I've been flapping my gums here for quite a while.
BROOKS: If there's anything else, I have these questions but there's alwaysthings that I don't think of to ask and stories people want to share.
JOHNSON: Or if after you talk to Darryl you have other questions too, myperception might be entirely different, that's going to be interesting.
BROOKS: Definitely is and it's nice to talk to someone else who was affected ina way by someone else's experience. 01:44:00
JOHNSON: I think the interesting thing is that you don't think you're affectedor you don't think there's anything wrong and then it reaches a certain point and it's not good. It's not a light that goes on or maybe sometimes it is, I don't know.
BROOKS: But not for you?
JOHNSON: It was a gradual being less and less happy maybe. I don't know. Who knows?
BROOKS: All right well we'll sign this and I'll turn this off so thank you.