Artemio “Art” Bayna is currently a senior at the Syracuse University College of Professional Studies and is working toward his degree in professional studies with a major in creative leadership. Now an aspiring author, Bayna first enlisted in the US Army in 1997. Four years later, the events on 9/11 changed the course of his life forever. The entire military, especially the Army changed,” he says. Bayna first deployment was in Iraq in 2004. He was assigned to the forward operating base camp Liberty. Later his team ended up moving to an Iraqi Army compound to support a military transition team (MiTT). He was stationed there with around two dozen American soldiers and hundreds of Iraqi army soldiers. “While I was there, our camp almost got overran by insurgents. It was pretty crazy experience.”
After a year in Iraq, he returned to his assigned post at Fort Drum near Watertown, NY. Three members of his team also returned to Fort Drum. “We had experienced things that nobody else in our unit had experienced,” he said. When he would talk about what happened while deployed, people outside of his team couldn’t relate. “That’s really when I started feeling post-traumatic stress. Bayna’s wife was the first one to recognize it because he was constantly angry. Bayna deployed to Iraq twice more and his condition grew worse. After a final deployment to Afghanistan in 2014, separated from the military. “That’s when everything spiraled out of control. I ended up having a mental and emotional breakdown.”
Bayna started attending therapy in 2018 and started writing about his experience at the suggestion of his therapist. “Initially it just helped me to put things into perspective,” he said. “It just helped me to get it out of my head and then it just evolved into a therapeutic process, it has definitely helped me.” During one of his therapy sessions, Bayna had his therapist read his journal. “He was like, ‘Wow, this is powerful stuff. You should think about sharing it with others.’” After some initial hesitation, Bayna worked with a writing professor and felt confident enough to share it. “My only hope was that hopefully somebody out there will read it and be like, ‘This sounds like something I’m going through. If this guy came out the other side, then maybe I can get some help.’ That was my inspiration.”
For veterans struggling with trauma, Bayna advice to them would be to first realize they are not alone. “Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. The fact is everybody needs help at one point or another. So it’s okay. And that’s what I learned along the way.”
Bayna’s article “The Pain of Not Seeking Help for My PTSD” was recently published on the National Alliance on Mental Illness and can be read by clicking on this link.