Always Ready, Always There: My Story of Hope
September 11, 2001 was a defining moment for many of us, but even more so for CW4 Clifford Bauman. CW4 Bauman was on his way to the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the building, and Bauman sprang into action using his National Guard training to search for life in the wreckage. He spent over 18 hours searching for survivors of the terrorist attack, and after finding no one he headed home, put away his uniform and protective gear, and attempted to move on.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects everyone differently and can be triggered at any time. The repercussions of CW4 Bauman’s heroic actions on 9/11 didn’t strike until about a year later. Sleep became difficult and the nightmares were causing Bauman to be less responsive at work. In 2002 the military was not as active treating mental health and military members worried that addressing their symptoms or seeking assistance could be detrimental to their career. So CW4 Bauman turned to alcohol to help him sleep at night, but the alcohol did nothing to help with the nightmares and his daily life continued to be negatively impacted. By December 2002 Bauman felt he had no other options, and attempted suicide. He survived.
Following his suicide attempt CW4 Bauman received the treatment necessary for battling his PTSD triggers. There is no cure for PTSD but seeking treatment for mental health symptoms can keep it at bay. In 2009 Bauman once again answered the call to save others. A small fishing boat capsized after being struck by a larger vessel and left four men in the water. Though Bauman saved the lives of three fisherman, a fourth man perished in the accident. Bauman’s PTSD was triggered by the death. Realizing the symptoms early helped Bauman to mitigate the effects of PTSD.
Today CW4 Clifford Bauman works alongside the military to assure others that seeking help for issues related to mental health is necessary and will not affect a military career. CW4 Bauman has been a great friend to the National Guard Memorial Museum, and we are honored to exhibit his work and the objects relating to his heroism. This exhibit will be up in the lobby until the end of 2019, when CW4 Bauman’s objects will be added into the permanent collection in the 9/11 Gallery.
Ginger Miroy interned at the National Guard Memorial Museum as part of The George Washington University’s Museum Studies Internship Program during the 2019 Spring semester.