Vietnam veteran doesn’t let PTSD define him.
Photos: Nicole Hamel
Experiencing the war zone of street fights and gangs while growing up in Brooklyn, New York, may have been a precursor to the anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder that Richie Quarantello, 75, experienced after being wounded in Vietnam.
From 1966-67, he was injured by a booby trap, hit with shrapnel from a grenade and came home on a Medevac flight after getting shot in the thigh.
Instead of burying himself in drugs and alcohol like some combat veterans, Richie threw himself into 18-hour workdays at his flooring business.
“When I slept, I crashed. I was in my 40s when it hit me,” Richie says of war flashbacks. “I lost the mother of my children because of it. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I had a heart attack, a double bypass, and I was so stressed to where I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat and I was crying all the time. It is normal for (PTSD) to catch up to guys.”
Life is better for Richie now, thanks to Veterans Affairs, the federal agency that provides health-care services.
“They gave me a state-of-the-art medication that suppresses my dreams and it is wonderful,” he says.
He strives to help fellow veterans with PTSD in a video, “PTSD Movie Richie Q,” which can be found on YouTube. He wrote it especially for veterans who are thinking of committing suicide or feel they have no life.
Richie cherishes each day on his 3-acre Lady Lake farm with his wife, Wendi, and their seven rescue dogs and three cats. He also enjoys playing jazz, blues, Latin reggae and rock music and is part of the Heart & Soul duo with Lisa Coan.
Richie Q’s life and advice:
- I eat good and make a juice every day with bananas, beets, clove of garlic, coconut water. If I’m playing, I drink green tea with honey and apple cider vinegar.
- Do new things, do things you love. It keeps your mind movin’ and groovin.’ When people come to hear me play, they say, “I want to be like that guy!”
- My advice to veterans: Stop the guilt. Don’t feel guilty anymore about the things you think you did wrong. The best thing you can do for your family or your spouse is be happy. If you’re happy, then everybody around you is going to be happy.
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