Information on "Project Rebuild", which produced this booklet:
(via the VIETNAM FIELD REPORTER archive)
Army Reporter information
for 164 CAG
For date 710322
164 CAG was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Location, Can Tho
March 22, 1971
All skyed up and coming down slow CAN THO - Most soldiers look forward to the end of their Vietnam tour but there are exceptions. "I used to dream about getting off the plane and having my entire family there to greet me. That seemed the greatest thing in the world.
It was really nice to get off that plane and be home with them again. "But you know, now that doesn't seem too important, to me. I don't know what it is, but nothing seems too important anymore," said one of the patients in Project Rebuild, a drug amnesty program sponsored by the 164th Combat Aviation Gp. here. Jim (not his real name) has less than two months to go on his tour in Vietnam.
He feels little elation about being short because he is trying to get straight after being strung out on heroin for most of his tour.
Trying to get straight before going home, he is finding the days longer now. "I'm OK when I'm talking with someone. You know, my mind is occupied with what I'm trying to say and with understanding what the other guy is saying. But if I just lay here, I get to thinking about skag (heroin) and in five minutes my head feels like it is going to explode," said Jim. Jim is in a difficult phase of Project Rebuild as a patient in the isolation ward of the Can Tho Army Airfield dispensary.
It is during this week that patients undergo physical withdrawal from heroin. The final week of the intensive care portion of the program is spent in the Rebuild Platoon, where they receive classes in everything from karate to vehicle maintenance. Some classes are designed to aid patients in deciding what type of jobs they would like to transfer to after they finish the program.
Other classes such as karate and arts and crafts and enjoyable and help patients pass the time and keep their minds occupied. A major part of Project Rebuild is group therapy, where patients can rap about their problems and anything that is on their minds. Group therapy sessions are held every day throughout the intensive care portion of Project Rebuild. During these sessions, patients often find they once shared the same misconceptions about heroin when they first started using the drug.
Several said they were told their first "hit" was cocaine. "We have not detected and cocaine in Vietnam. We have had a few people come in who thought they were addicted to cocaine, but it was heroin," said Capt. Harry Silsby, 164th Group flight surgeon. Most of those who thought they were taking cocaine, soon learned that it was heroin, but the effect was so nice, according to one, that he thought he could risk it a few more times. "You figure you can enjoy it a couple of nights and then stop for a day or two before trying it again. You may do that a few times but then the nights without it get fewer and further apart and then you start hitting up in the day," said one patient. Many patients go for weeks before they realize they are hooked. After using it for several weeks, they try to stop and discover they can't.
Often a patient will attempt withdrawal on his own, but this can be very difficult except for those with very small habits. The medication available in Project Rebuild cannot eliminate all the physical discomforts, but it does help. A patient in the program is able to concentrate on the immediate problem of getting off drugs while he is with people trying to do the same thing. Immediate help is available for medical and nonmedical problems. The initial screening and counseling for the program is done by Chaplain (Capt.) Richard G. Callentine, 13th Combat Avn. Bn. chaplain, and Maj. Richard H. Anderson, 69th Engr. Bn. surgeon. They learn the type and degree of the habit and make the first decisions on treatment. Another common misconception among novice heroin users is that smoking or "snorting" (sniffing) heroin is not addicting. These are the most common methods of taking the drug in Vietnam.
"There were all these guys in (Continued on Page 4)
[sorry page four was missed and not copied]
Photo Caption: THURSDAYS at Project Rebuild usually include a cookout and a volleyball game for staff and patients. The next day, one group graduates from the program and another group leaves the ward to join the Rebuild Platoon.