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Who is Arn Manella

Who is Arn Manella

Arn was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1945 to Scot/Welsh and Belgian parents. His birth father, who recently returned from service with the US Navy in the Pacific, often beat his mother. The beatings were likely due to two key factors: 1. His aircraft carrier survived many Japanese attacks, and he lost many good friends; consequently, he may have suffered from PTSD, and 2. Upon receiving word that her "true love," thought to have been killed in Germany, was repatriated from a POW camp, his mother asked for a divorce. Once the divorce is final, she remarries for love. Moving to Chicago, Arn’s family is increased by a brother.

Arn initially did well in school until sixth grade, when he suffered a TBI falling from a moving car. As a result, his ability to focus suffers. Still, he does well enough to the letter in high school and college sports, receiving numerous awards for leadership.

The advent of the Vietnam War finds Arn in the US Marines, where he and his new best Marine buddy Eddie become fast friends. Unfortunately, just ten days before his return from Vietnam, Eddie is KIA. That singular event begins Arn's free-fall toward combat-related PTSD, exacerbated by his assignments over the next twenty-plus years on active duty. Additionally, betrayal by a close friend results in Arn's divorce from his fabulous wife—the mother of their two fantastic children. She dies of ovarian cancer at the young age of fifty-two.

For the next three decades, Arn's attempt to adjust to a civilian career is hampered by his inability to bend when faced with superiors motivated by profit and advancement over moral leadership.

Finally accepting that the problem is likely more profound, Arn turns to the Veterans Administration. Initially, the diagnosis is mild PTSD, with treatment running the gambit from Tai Chi to drugs—his reliance on medication results in a loss of motivation and an inability to focus critically or continue professional writing.

In February 2020, Arn stood before Eddie's name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, better known as 'the Wall." Haunted by Eddie's mom asking at the funeral, "Why not you?" Arn drives back to his Virginia farm and plans how he’ll commit suicide, yet leave the impression it’s but a terrible accident.

Recognizing that suicide is not the answer, Arn begins a rigorous remaking of his life. He returns to the VA medical center for clinical treatment. He successfully negotiates the minefield of the Veterans Benefits Administration for the benefits he's earned and to God to see him through it all.

Today, Arn has decided to live a long time, and he wants to share his journey revealing "how he" is negotiating the many speed bumps and potholes that continue to hamper a safe exit from the active suicidal ideation highway toward his ultimate destination of living a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.

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