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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Long Lasting PTSD

They thought they had locked up the memories and thrown away the key.
Talking meant remembering, so many veterans of World War II didn't speak about the scenes of carnage and combat they saw more than 60 years ago. Not even to their wives or children.
Suck it up, lock it away -- from an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer - 7/16/09

World War II veterans are still exhibiting symptoms of PTSD 65 years after the end of the war. Of the 2.5 million WWII veterans still alive today, estimates range from 20 to 30 percent of them suffer from PTSD. Some of them have had PTSD symptoms ever since the war, but many are recently experiencing them - some because of loss of a spouse, others due to retirement, and a number due to dementia, wherein long ago memories remain, while the short term memories are difficult to retain.

The WWII veterans should be helped and in doing so, more information will be available to help the subsequent group of veterans, especially the large number of Vietnam vets who are already in their sixties.

Click on title for link.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Untold Story of the Greatest Generation's Trauma

A portion of Thomas Childers' article from the Boston Globe on Father's Day, June 2009:
(quoted extensively for educational purposes)

My father Tom Childers and Willis Allen, my best friend Gary’s father, were veterans of the Second World War, prototypes of what we have come to call “the Greatest Generation.” Raised in modest circumstances during the Great Depression, with little in the way of social or economic advantages, they fought and survived the war, returned home, had families, and built successful careers. They prospered, joined social clubs, watched their sons play Little League, took their families on vacations to Florida. They were model veterans, model family men.

But for Tom and Willis and many other men who returned from World War II, there was another, more complex and unsettling reality that lurked below the glossy surface of the Greatest Generation storyline. The men and women of that generation deserve all the testimonials they receive, but the uncomplicated, reassuring portrayal of their experiences found in Tom Brokaw’s best-selling book and in our public discourse has become more than a tribute to a passing generation; it has become our public memory of “the good war” and its aftermath. Indeed, it has been repeated so often in public commemorations that it has become almost an incantation, more liturgical than historical.

I thought of Willis and Tom earlier this month as I watched dignitaries and aged veterans gather in Normandy to commemorate the fateful D-Day landings of June 6, 1944. Never mentioned in such ceremonies or in the vast media attention devoted to the “Greatest Generation” is another battle our fathers waged. That battle was not fought in the fields of Europe or the jungles of the South Pacific but in towns and cities all across America, sometimes in highly public spaces - hospitals and courtrooms - but more often in parlors, kitchens, and bedrooms. As many veterans and their families would discover, the last daunting challenge of the war, for those fortunate enough to survive it, was attempting to resume a life interrupted and forever changed by war.

I wonder how many of us were part of the war our fathers continued to fight in the isolation of our homes.

Click on the title for a link to the entire article