Buchanan, 43, of Alexandria, Virginia, said, “As you watch these things go on and the time drags on, you know exactly what it feels like.” . You made it through and everything will be fine from now on. you survived It’s the honeymoon period. What starts is what I call “Survival to Survive”. ”
A celebrity who was arrested for cannabis possession and became a high-profile geopolitical confrontation, Griner’s experience is unlike that of many other Americans who have been unjustly imprisoned or held hostage abroad. But whatever the circumstances, she is now a member of a small club that no one wants to join, the former detainee says.
As this unusual society grew, some of its members formed advocacy groups to support the hostages and their families. Some withdraw from the public eye. Some are personally dependent on each other.
Sam Goodwin, who was jailed for two months in Syria in 2019 and found fellowship with other former hostages, said, “What unites us all is the instant deprivation of your freedoms and human rights.” Told.
Goodwin, 34, recently had lunch with Buchanan, whom he considers a friend.He also met with Jorge Toledo in Washington this month in Venezuela in October.
Goodwin was arrested by the Syrian army near the end of his trip to visit every country in the world. Syria ranked 181st out of 193 countries. He said he spent his month in solitary confinement and was dragged to court four times. He says someone is helping him until, 62 days later, Lebanese intermediaries help secure his release and he is taken to Beirut to face overjoyed parents and a sea of cameras. I did not know.
The next day, Goodwin is back in his childhood bedroom in St. Louis. A high school friend who had seen him on the news stopped by. Having seen nothing but concrete for two months, he was delighted with the sight of the trees. The presence of his four siblings and his parents comforted him.
Goodwin said the confinement had deepened his patience and gratitude and given him a new focus in life. He is currently a doctoral student studying the Syrian conflict at Johns Hopkins University and is affiliated with the nonprofit Hostage Assistance Worldwide. He was not arrested in Syria on a first date . However, it pours out when he meets the other hostages.
“I come from a place with a similar experience, so I feel perfectly comfortable asking them questions.”
“What unites us is that we have a place to tell our stories,” Buchanan said. “And we’re not freaks with each other.”
From the Archives: Navy SEALs Rescue Kidnapped Rescue Worker Jessica Buchanan
Re-entry was different for Buchanan, who was rescued by Navy SEALs. In her poor health after sleeping in the desert for months without her prescription, she first spent time in an Italian military hospital and entered the Pentagon’s reintroduction program. On her first day of her freedom she saw her husband for her hour, and on her second day she saw him briefly as a step in order not to overwhelm her. .
Soon that support ended and Buchanan was in Portland, Oregon. There, her immediate family rented her house to escape the media crowd. The furniture was very pleasant. She remembers turning down her walks just to sit in a chair and savor. She was also driven by her urge to run along the river, but she never became a runner, as she was fascinated by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Then Buchanan unexpectedly became pregnant, a difficult experience that made her feel hostage again.This time, to her body and pregnancy-related illnesses.Anxiety ruled her life. She and her husband returned to work in Nairobi, but she didn’t feel like she could continue.
Ten years later, Buchanan is a speaker, podcaster, publisher, and volunteer for an organization called Hostage US. She still thinks about confinement every day.
“For many of us who have had this happen, we would all say the same thing. You are in these places because you are doing something or working on something that you really love.” And now you don’t have it. Who are you?”
Toledo, 61, is at the beginning of that process. He spent nearly five years incarcerated in Venezuela as one of the “Citgo 6,” a group of oil and gas executives wrongfully imprisoned by the Nicolás Maduro government in 2017.
When the five were released in October as part of a prisoner exchange, they flew to a military base in San Antonio where they were reunited with their families. Like Buchanan, Toledo spent ten days in a military program designed to help detainees adjust.
An avid runner before being detained, Toledo visualized running while in prison. At the base he got up early and barely he scored a kilo before his legs became weak. But being outdoors, breathing fresh air and watching the sunrise is indescribable. “It was a transition from dream to reality,” he said. “Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Is this real or is it another dream?'”
When he moved back to the Houston suburbs, his daily work was a source of stress. His first time driving “felt like jumping with a parachute,” he said. Making paella, a relaxing ritual he once carried out by memory, felt like an unnerving challenge. He uses his humor to keep others from getting discouraged, joking to his friends that prison changed him by teaching him new skills such as toilet cleaning, laundry, and dishwashing.
Only two months after his release, he said Toledo had decided to start defending other hostages. Spoke with family and met with other former hostages and detainees, including Goodwin.
“Investing these few days of your life will make this transition better,” he said.
Fattal: I was imprisoned in Iran for two years. It has taught me a lot about how Tehran negotiates.
Joshua Fattal was one of three Americans detained by Iranian border agents while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border in 2009, after spending more than two years in Iran’s infamous Evin prison. , which categorically describes his return.
Fattal said he had to get used to not being jailed. He remembers locking himself out of his apartment. He had to get used to his home country where he expected strangers to speak a foreign language. Then came the media spectacle and his harrowing personal experiences swept away by a large political narrative.
Fattal, 40, has found solace by staying connected to fellow inmates Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd and writing a book with them. That allowed him to categorize his experiences as ‘stories’. Such as the day he was sentenced to eight years in prison when he played volleyball with a security guard.
More recently, with the help of psychedelic supportive therapy, he was able to revisit the underlying emotions of these stories “in a safe and meaningful way,” he said.
Fatal, now executive director of Oregon’s Rural Living Center, does not actively interact with other former hostages, but feels a kinship with the others who were incarcerated.
With millions of people incarcerated in the United States, “it’s completely unknown to middle-class mainstream Americans,” said Fatal, who recently met a man released from an American prison. “I don’t know his experience, but I think it’s true that every day is different.
Alex Drueke and Andy Tai Huynh provided occasional glimpses of their experiences. Two of his Alabama veterans volunteered to fight in Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Their troops were ambushed on their first mission in eastern Ukraine, they previously told The Washington Post, where Russian forces held them for 104 days before releasing them in a prisoner exchange in September.
The men approached in captivity. But her Drueke’s aunt, Dianna Shaw, who serves as a spokesperson for the two, said the two approached the return in different ways.
Huynh sprinted towards normalization. The 27-year-old is heavily involved in planning the wedding and has landed a job at Walmart, where his fiancé works, and is considering completing a college degree.
Drueke, 40, used to live with his dog Diesel in a mobile home on family property, but he prefers staying at his mother’s house because he struggles with irregular sleep and an overactive mind. Shaw said he felt comfortable. She never ate fruit, but now she eats it often, craving the vitamins she didn’t get with her diet of moldy bread and the occasional meat stew.
Druke, seeking ways to turn his experience into something tangible and positive, met with U.S. military officials. He wants to help them better understand how prisoners of war are treated. This can be useful for training. But the two men, who suffered abuse and malnutrition at the hands of their captors, suffer from fatigue and irritability, Shaw said.
As another family learns to cope with their new normal, Shaw said a lesson in the long, winding road home could be beneficial for Griner.
“You have your limits and you need to give yourself grace,” she said.
Goodwin said there was no doubt that Griner’s re-entry, with all resources at his disposal, would likely be completely different from his. Through my connection with the prisoners, I realized that many elements are likely to be the same.
“How do you deal with the rest of your life when you come home and feel so good?” Goodwin said. For him, “networking is really helpful,” he said.
Britney Griner released from Russian prison
up to date: WNBA star Britney Griner arrived in San Antonio around 5:30 am ET on Friday.
Prisoner trade deal: Her release was part of a prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Bout, dubbed the “Merchant of Death,” is a notorious arms dealer who has been held in US custody since his arrest in Thailand in 2008.
Why was Greiner detained?: Griner has been in prison in Russia since February when he was charged with entering the country with vape cartridges containing less than a gram of cannabis oil, which is illegal in Russia.