Medal of Honor recipient now advocates for vets with PTSD

WASHINGTON—Capt. Gary M. Rose, awarded the Medal of Honor in 2017 for extraordinary heroism during the Vietnam War, now sees one of his most important personal missions as being an advocate for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Every person who’s been to combat, or has had to clean up the mess from combat, has PTSD,” said Rose, a Catholic. “One of the things I’m really concerned about is the severity in some cases is such that there needs to be intervention.”

Rose said it is important for family members and friends of people exposed to combat to stay attuned to their behavior and intervene immediately upon noticing “little odd things” or unusual mood changes. Rose believes that forcing a person to talk can help save their life, even if it causes an argument.

“It’s better to have them mad at you than to have some very negative serious consequences resulting from the PTSD,” Rose said, emphasizing that PTSD can often lead to suicide.

Rose said combat survivors should feel that they are valued as individuals.

“The thing is, they’ve got to understand that they are important,” he said. “Their life is as important as any person that’s ever been born on this planet.”

Capt. Gary Rose

Rose, now retired from the U.S. Army, is an active member of the Knights of Columbus based in Huntsville, Alabama. The former Green Beret became a 1st degree Knight around 1972.

Rose enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967. As a Special Forces medic, he took part in Operation Tailwind, a secret mission in Laos in 1970. While surrounded and exposed to machine-gun fire, Rose treated nearly 70 wounded soldiers and is credited with saving the lives of most of them. He continued his military career and retired as a captain in 1987.

“I can tell you one thing about my service in the military. I have lifelong friendships based on my service. … They’re like brothers to me,” said Rose. “Every place that I have been stationed in the 20 years I was in the Army, I have left there with a lifelong friend.”

He said one place where a combat veteran can feel valued, talk to others and make lasting friendships is their local Knights of Columbus group. As a Knight, Rose said he is glad to be part of an organization devoted to improving people’s lives and helping surrounding communities.

“What I have found in the Knights of Columbus is a great network,” said Rose. “You’re associating not only locally but nationally and internationally with a whole bunch of great people.”

Rose said he has appreciated opportunities to participate in diverse initiatives such as assisting people in finding jobs, facilitating drop-offs to charity and supporting widows and families of members. However, for Rose, being a Knight is about more than just being Catholic.

“You’re in among good people. And I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you maintain relationships and friendships with good people, life is so much sweeter and so much better than if you’re not associating with good people,” said Rose. “That’s why I think the Knights of Columbus is so important.”

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher / Catholic News Service

Top photo, CNS/Lucas Jackson, Reuters: U.S. Army soldiers Rick Kolberg and Jesus Gallegos embrace May 30 as they visit the graves of Raymond Jones and Peter Enos on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Below are some images from Memorial Day, held to honor the men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

CNS photo/Peter Foley, EPA: U.S. Marine and Iraqi war veteran Croft Young and his 3-year-old daughter, Evelyn, visit the graves of veterans at Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Memorial Day.


CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters: A member of the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment places flags on graves in Section 60 during a “Flags-In” ceremony May 22 at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington. Section 60 contains the graves of members of the military who fought in recent wars. The soldiers placed American flags in front of more than 220,000 graves. In interviews with Catholic News Service, veterans said Memorial Day doesn’t stand out for them, because they always remember their fellow soldiers who died in battle.


CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz: A U.S. military veteran salutes during a Memorial Day service in Setauket, N.Y.


CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters: A woman sits among a field of U.S. flags displayed by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund on the Boston Common May 26 ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. The 37,000 U.S. flags are planted in memory of every fallen Massachusetts service member from the Revolutionary War to the present.


CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz: Two Scouts salute as they march past the reviewing stand during the Memorial Day parade May 30 in Smithtown, N.Y.


CNS photo/Eduardo Munoz, Reuters: World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors John Seelie, 95, and Armando “Chick” Gallela, 93, attend an annual Memorial Day commemoration ceremony May 29 at the Intrepid Museum in New York. The ceremony honors the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the U.S. armed forces.


CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz: Visitors attend a Memorial Day ceremony at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, N.Y., May 25.


CNS photo/Octavio Duran: A helicopter hovers near the Statue of Liberty on Memorial Day May 29.