But an acclaimed author and veteran says soldiers need to write their stories, for their good and that of others.
Ron Capps, founder of the Veterans Writing Project, was at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock Monday. He said veterans there's two reason why veterans needs to write: 1), to bear witness of what happened, and help people understand what it's like in places where American soldiers are deployed, and 2), because writing can help veterans work through and understand their feelings.
"Telling stories helps you make sense of it," Capps said. "There's a very therapeutic aspect of writing. So that's really what we're trying to get at."
Doug LeFebvre attended Capps' presentation. LeFebvre says he served in the Army for more than 20 years, and was deployed in cities around the globe, from Vietnam to Grenada.
He retired in 1986, but had avoided going to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. until a friend talked him into it.
"When I saw the statuary of the three soldiers, that's when it started," LeFebvre said. "When I want to the wall, I absolutely broke down... I was amazed at, even now, the emotional impact that it had on me."
It was a moving experience for the veteran, finding the names of several comrades on the memorial. LeFebvre says he cried through the entire experience; it was a healing event that helped him release powerful emotions he kept bottled inside.
"I just started writing, and as I have written, stuff has come up," LeFebvre said. "It's been a cathartic experience."
LeFebvre talked about some of his experiences in Vietnam; coming back from missions and directly into a brackish pond where he and his comrades stripped down and used soap to try and wash clean. The ritual also included a lot of drinking and sobering up before the next mission several days later.
These were the humorous, weird experiences, LeFebvre says, when little attention was given to rank, and soldiers enjoyed a collegial atmosphere. But the darkest memories of missions deep in the bush, LeFebrve says, will die with him. Other experiences, though, have found their voice.
"My first attempts were crude and rough," LeFebvre admits, but says his writing has improved over the years, and he's shared a few of them with other comrades, who say his words have helped them, too.