Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leave your trauma at home!

The other thing I've been wanting to discuss is PTSD and war trauma. I was reading a series of articles in the Foreign Service Journal from 2008. Civilians, soldiers, and most directly, regular citizens in situations of war experience shock, trauma and loss.

In conversations with military friends, they admitted to something of a double-standard. Yes, the military encourages those with problems, but as commanders, they'd be nervous about soldiers who have problems and might not be in top shape. The Foreign Service Journal described similar double standards and experiences where they were encouraged to keep a 'stiff upper lip' about their issues.

I'm not a therapist, psychologist or even well read on this subject, but I am very frustrated with US institutional and social treatment of war trauma. Also, this trauma extends to the host population. One of the reasons the Afghan and Iraqi people speak a different language than their American counterparts is that they've lived in three decades of war, sanctions and extremely difficult life-conditions. Counter that with refugees, IDPS, and multiple-tour soldiers and you have many groups of people, whom, if not engaged properly, their issues will spill over into greater problems. A great example of this is the relationship between soldiers, chemical dependency and homelessness.

The only real advice I can give is to ask people about their experiences, help them talk about things--because as we've seen in numerous situations, such as the shooting at Fort Hood, and the recent young Nigerian man in Detroit, mental fears, trauma and instability can be dangerous.

If you have thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

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