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BrianBM

PTSD article

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Newsday is usually a bit light on Sundays, but there's an article on older veterans, including those from WWII, who still suffer from PTSD, that any reader should look at in today's paper. "When PTSD Lives On, " by Martin C. Evans, has the usual mix of individual's accounts, which are worthwhile, and some statistics that are astonishing: WWII veterans exposed to "moderate or heavy combat" had 13.3 times the risk of PTSD symptoms then those who didn't, and the study was conducted in 1994 - that's 45 years after the events. One veteran whose story is described led a mortar team in Europe. He coped with his symptoms by writing accounts of his men and his unit; writing about the experiences greatly reduced the nightmares and flashbacks. He still won't discuss his personal experience with non-veterans, which makes perfect sense to me; what civilian, however well-meaning, is really going to understand?

 

There is a sidebar to the piece that had surprising comments on how long the psychic injuries of war have been observed. "Writing about the 490 B.C. battle of Marathon, the historian Herodotus wrote of an uninjured Athenian soldier who went blind when a soldier next to him was killed." Things like this ...

 

Which brings me to an immediate worry about the people who have served most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq, and most especially about the various Special Forces units that see disproportionately more combat than most. AFAIK the majority of people who served in Vietnam did so for one year, a tour of duty. Manpower for the more recent wars was maintained by stop-loss orders, and people went for years not knowing when their time in theater would ever end. There's an account in one recent memoir, "Outlaw Platoon," of how the platoon in question was ordered back into combat as soon as it had returned home; some of the unit members had been home less than 24 hours when they were told to report again for another six months. If the symptoms of PTSD become worse with time in older men, as described, what pains lie ahead for those who saw the most?

 

I don't know how many people are in the various Special Forces, but they see combat at a greatly accelerated rate. As our intelligence collection and dissemination practice has improved, the tempo of small unit operations has inevitably increased. After the Abbotabad raid, it's safe to assume that every rifle barrel under SOCOM's control got hot for weeks, and stayed that way. How are these people going to go home and really get there? What can be done for them?

 

I have no idea, but it bothers the hell out of me, thinking about it.

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My son talks of becoming a Marine and these things weigh heavily on my mind. This, and the suicide rate of servicemen. I would never even think asking him not to join and would be proud as hell of him if he did but, I'd rather he didn't.

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A nephew has served. I don't know all the details, but I would look at the numbers versus non servers. I think, and for sure I don't know, tat everyone is susceptible to PSTD. But most don't get it..

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