Veteran, 73, works through pain of PTSD in his poems

By Carson Deveau

Nov. 2, 2016

Brian Sutton had never attended a veteran’s support group meeting before, but he needed help.

Sutton served in the military police in the Air Force from 1962-1974, during the Cold War, and was suffering from PTSD and depression.

The 73-year-old wrote poems to work through the pain, but he decided to attend a meeting after a fellow veteran told him it would help.

Sutton went to the meeting and read one of his poems to the 30 other people there. After he was done, one man got up and turned to him.

“I want to publish your book.”

“What book,” Sutton asked.

“You’re going to write a book with all of your poems in there, and I’m going to publish it,” the man said.

And that’s exactly what Sutton did.

Only Sleep in Merciful was published Aug. 29, 2016. Through poems, Sutton takes readers through the journey of pain, depression and sorrow he suffered during, and after, his time in service.

Sutton had never been interested in poetry and had never written any poems before. Once he began writing, however, it was a way to let out the demons inside of him.

“It was a way of relieving what was going on inside of my head.”

Before he began writing poems, PTSD had overcome Sutton’s life. He was unable to communicate with his loved ones, especially his wife of 49 years, Donna.

“I couldn’t talk to anyone. Not my friends. My family. My wife. No one.”

But Donna didn’t give up on him, even when Sutton’s PTSD would cause him to suddenly change moods. That is something he is grateful for.

“You have no idea what it’s like when your bubble burst – all of the anger and paranoia going through you. But she stuck with him and began to understand why I was acting the way I was instead of getting upset with me.”

Along with his poems and constant support from his family, Sutton continues to receive help from his veteran’s support group. The group has become a second family to him, he said.

“We are all brothers and sisters in there. We all have each other’s backs if any of us needs help with anything.”

Still, he carries around the horrifying experiences with him and he will never forget them, but he continues to try and keep moving forward with his life.

“I take it one day at a time.”