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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Most western Pennsylvanians know the story of Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier.
Forty percent disabled in battle, Bleier fought his way back to join the Steelers and win four Super Bowl rings.
Bleier has just returned from a trip to Vietnam.
“We were able to go back to where we got hit and where we had met the enemy and where I got wounded,” said Bleier on Tuesday at the Heinz History Center.
And he says the trip helped him realize the post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts so many veterans of war.
“For the first time, possibly I understood maybe what post-traumatic stress is all about, and how it can come back later on and grab you,” said Bleier.
Raising money to provide services for local veterans is why Bleier is re-issuing an updated version of his classic book, “Fighting Back.”
“A lot of good is going to come from the proceeds of the book,” says Dr. Ben Stahl, CEO of the Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania.
“Rocky is generous enough to donate the proceeds to veterans organizations. We can certainly use the assistance to support the nearly quarter million veterans of western Pennsylvania,” he adds.
What makes Bleier’s book, “Fighting Back,” new and different now?
Well, Bleier has added two new chapters updating his life since he first wrote it in 1975, and more photographs, and how about a forward from an Army captain who served in Afghanistan, Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva.
With three tours of duty in Afghanistan, Villanueva says Bleier sought him out in 2014.
“When I got to the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad, I don’t think a lot of people knew about me, but Rocky obviously took interest in the fact that another veteran was joining the team, said Villanueva.
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They’ve become good friends and helps keep Villanueva grounded despite the good life of the NFL.
“Sometimes I have to go back and look at a picture of Rocky in uniform or find a picture of when I was in uniform and see that I am very fortunate and extremely lucky to be an American, to live in this country, and have all the freedoms that I have,” said Villanueva.