Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shell shock, PTSD, whatever we call it.

Being an Army Brat, I'm always fascinated with stories of what our forces do. I try to keep up with the news, I've gone to see my dad march in the Anzac Day Parade. I keep the minute silence on Armistice Day.

One area that seems to have be regularly neglected in our troops is that of mental health. The Forces provide you with rules, regulations, discipline, reward and taxfree grog, but when you are out of there, you are pretty much out of there.

The society that used to value our protectors no longer seems inclined that way, or so the newspaper reports would have us believe.

One of the interesting items in Today's Blognews comes from Matthew Good. As there are 48 gazillion blogs in existence (I think), this is one I've never come across before.

Basically, the post in question deals with suicidal inclinations in soldiers returning from the theatre of war, and how we support them. Go have a read (linky in title). I can't vouch for the veracity of the post in question, but that is not relevant for my 2c worth.

What is relevant, is this comment from PlayerTwo:
playertwoNovember 28th, 2005 at 9:20 am
when I went to basic I got a letter from a friend of my dad. He was a U2 pilot and he basically toldme that once you join the military (armed services) you disappear to most people in the civilian world until you reappear on leave or in a box. This was the world that I lived in untilI returned home a few years later with my brain scrambled. I’m in no way blaming the Army or any other person, I jsut stating that the culture of the time was that you either man-up and deal or youre at fault and get dx’d.
It seems that someone finally figured out that this was all a bunch of bullshit and that’s really cool.
When I was in the Army there was a lot of pride over haveing gone throught the necessary training and stress to be a soldier. Nowadays when I see guys right off the farm and in national guard units going straight to battle and all of the parades and thanks they get it blows my mind. I never ever ever felt that kind of love when I was in during the early eighties. If anything I fgelt ashamed that I wasnt in some dorm rooms with the other rich liberal kids orstarting a business. to put it lightly no one even gave a rat’s assthat we were there and anyone taking the time out to actually THANK us for being there was probably just trying to swell us something. Add all that to the optempo and you start to see where a lot of the ptsd comes from.
the rise of the blogs is such an amazingly beautiful thing and one of the great blessings it bestows is that guys like Matt Good who in the past would probably be reintegrated into the civilian bubble would never ever get the chance to reach back and help out a buddy.
What he has done here is not just something occuring in a vacuum. there has been a momentum building within the community of veterans, not just including the viet nam era soldiers, for a long long time.
I don’t really think that its just about ptsd either. I think its about the deficit that the country owes its warfighters in the emotional deposit account. For those of you who don’t know what this means look up Dr.Covey. Its a fact and doesnt have anything to do with touchy feely bullshit. Its about reality. How amny billions of dollars have been wasted on training soldiers to replace those that left the armed services
in disgust or disillusionment because of a lack of respect of their basic humanity?
Morale is a huge issue and if thesubject is left up to a bunch of shit talking jock wannabes instead of a grateful nation of supporters we will be throwing away the tax and fruits of our nations labors.
Do you really think that youre creating a soft soldier by telling him jsut how much you appreciate his or her efforts on your behalf?
that’s the real issue here and I commend to the highest degree any effort made in support of the troops and to change the sop regarding force protection. You deserve a medal for this action.
I hope that one day it won’t take a veteran to catch this stuff,but it is wonderful that the troops still look out for each other even after ets.
thank you.

There's a lot in here, but regarding the morale of troops on return, and the lack of support from the services are important points.

My granddad served in Malaya and suffered from shell shock, battle fatigue, PTSD, name-your-poison. He was sent home from Malaya because he was going to kill himself if they didn't. He had begged my nana to call his commander and find some way to get him home, but in the end, he found his own way.

He couldn't cope in the army, and he couldn't cope out. From what I hear, he was always a bit of a ratbag, liked a drink or three, but what he went through in the Army and the jungle did something to him that he couldn't handle.

He left he Army in the 50s, and went back in later at a lower rank. Even then he couldn't cope. He was always drinking.

He died before I was born, drunk and smoking in bed apparently, and the house burnt down. One story has it that he got killed by going back into the house to rescue the canary, and from other stories I've heard about him, that doesn't surprise. I'll just have to check with other family sources to make sure.

My own dad is a Vietnam Vet. He served over there in 1965, so was there in the early stages. He doesn't talk about it, and the few things I ever heard came from my mum. As a 21 year careerist in the Army, he, too was pretty much cut adrift when he got out.

My parents went through a pretty rough patch around then, and separated for a short time. I've never talked about it with Dad, but Mum told me that basically he had a bit of a breakdown after getting out, and couldn't handle the lack of structure away from the Army. She kicked him out to get his head straight.

I was around 10 at the time, so didn't pick up on anything like that at the time - all I knew is that Dad wasn't in the Army, so wasn't away on exercise or anything else. Something was going on. He came around, sent flowers to Mum and basically wooed her back, which I still find incredibly romantic, and after a short time (like a couple of weeks), things were back on track.

There are plenty of suggestions for how to look after our soldiers, sailors and airmen when they come home or leave their forces. With blogs like Matthew Good and also LGF bringing up the issues, then we can start providing practical support when it's needed, and not when it's too late.

Maybe I would have gotten to meet my granddad in that case.

I always wanted to.

For those serving, and those who served, God Bless.


At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

people don't love the blogging here that way i am the first one to do that ..

Good post

texas student loan, texas mortgage loan and home loan chicago


Post a Comment

<< Home