Missouri guardsman wrestles with post-traumatic stress disorder

Monday, November 10, 2008 | 2:39 p.m. CST; updated 11:12 a.m. CST, Tuesday, November 11, 2008

COLUMBIA — One Thursday afternoon last month, Donnie Hoffmann was washing dishes in the basement of Truman Veterans Hospital.

It had already been a long day. But it was nothing like his days in Iraq.

He wasn't stuck in long-sleeve camouflage on a journey aboard a Humvee driving through 145-degree air. Or on a disturbing search-and-recovery mission amid the remains of the bombing of Baghdad's U.N. headquarters. Or coming home to a flooded tent.

No, he was only doing dishes.

The task is one of a number of duties Hoffmann, 26, performs in the veterans hospital main kitchen eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. His work is part of a Veterans Affairs program called Compensation Work Therapy, which offers veterans a place to sleep, the opportunity to work and the help they need.

And Hoffmann, who enlisted in the Missouri National Guard in 2001 just before graduating from Crocker High School near Iberia, appreciates the help.