Affield carried memories of Vietnam for more than twenty years before a VA doctor suggested he be screened for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the early 1990s he was diagnosed with PTSD and began attending a veteran therapy group. “After a couple of years, I came to realize I’m really not a groupie person, but I knew I had stories to tell. In 2001 I began attending Bemidji State University’s English program to learn the writing craft. Over the years my Vietnam ‘memory stories’ grew.”
Students and professors encouraged Affield to develop his essay collection into a book. Muddy Jungle Rivers was published in 2012.
“An interesting thing happened during those years of writing,” Affield said. “I began to talk about my Vietnam experience; now, I realize I was beginning to integrate my time in Vietnam into my total life experience. We never forget the horrors of war, but we learn to live with those memories. Today I know there is a name for it: ‘Expressive Writing Therapy.’”
Affield says trauma memories are like a collage of images bouncing around in the head. Put those images—those memories—on paper, they become tangible. You can organize them, perhaps find some meaning.
Today Affield facilitates a Veteran Writer Group at his local VA Clinic in Bemidji, Minnesota, with a medical doctor, very knowledgeable in mental health, in attendance. If you are interested in learning more about this group, contact Wendell here.
“I’m humbled that I have been able to touch other veterans’ lives in a positive way,” Affield said.
Reviews for Muddy Jungle Rivers
Some Amazon reviews for Muddy Jungle Rivers: To see all reviews, click here.
“My father never spoke to us of his time in Vietnam, so this is all new to me.” ~Affield’s forty-year-old daughter
“I read this book in a day, as I couldn’t put it down. There has been too much silence about the reality of war; silence that has not necessarily produced healing for the first victims of war; those who are trained to kill. I can only believe that many soldiers are silent upon returning home because of shame, or because they intuit that many of us do not want to know about the reality of war. The author has broken this silence, and he has done it publicly. I found Muddy Jungle Rivers to be well written and beautifully (sometimes painfully) descriptive. Having not experienced the unnatural situation of combat first hand, I felt I could trust his words, partly because of the lack of self-aggrandizement and partly because there is no perceived agenda; i.e. the author is simply telling us what he remembers experiencing. This takes honesty and courage as well as craftsmanship, and in my mind, is what makes Muddy Jungle Rivers a success. I hope more veterans will tell their stories.”
“As someone who had a high draft lottery number and did not go to Vietnam, I found this book compelling, chilling and intensely real. The experience of being there with a slice of American youth good and bad, the tension of frequently being on edge, the horror of battle and being wounded severely is the start, but the rejection upon returning home and carrying all of those feelings for the rest of a vet’s life sank even deeper. I found myself profoundly grateful that the author described his experience, and even more so that he was able to get this off his chest. As a fellow author, I understand the catharsis of pulling thoughts from within and describing them for others on a printed page. Congratulations and thank you Mr. Affield.”
“I was also a riverboat coxswain, Tango 131-3. A while ago I suffered a total melt down, I could not understand why after all these years the nightmares returned. My chest tightened many times reading this book thinking it could have my boat, my crew or me. Two VA doctors actually forced me into therapy. Thank you Wendell.”