Troops Were Young Too
February 20, 2016
Exposing youth to violence causes PTSD but exposing youth to war seems to be harder to understand? That is exactly what is going on and has been for years.
Take a good look at the face of this soldier in Vietnam. Not hard to tell he was very young. James Callahan, combat medic. You can read about his actions on that day online and you can see a picture of him taken many years later.
Medic James E. Callahan of Pittsfield, Mass., looks up while applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a seriously wounded buddy north of Saigon, June 17, 1967. Communist guerrillas had raked a U.S. battalion with machine gun fire in a jungle clearing.
(AP Photo/Henri Huet)
My brother was working with inner city youths struggling with PTSD in the 90's. I was living with my husband who had PTSD from being in Vietnam in his youth. He turned 19 there. While my brother had great empathy for the teenagers he encountered, he had none for my husband. Needless to say, after a blowout argument, I was done trying to get him to understand.
The next day in work, he talked to his boss about what I said. She said "Your poor sister must be going through hell." But he didn't tell me that. He told our mother.
Why couldn't he understand that we take young men and women, send them into war before their emotional core is fully developed and that changes them? How can some understand PTSD in the civilian world so much easier than they can understand what combat does?
The difference is, when it happens to civilians, we can put ourselves in their place knowing that what happened to them could very well happen to us. When it happens to members of the military, we have a harder time connecting their experiences to our own lives.
Many years ago I heard a psychologist ago explain that we also expect them to be prepared for whatever they face, not just expecting the worst but being trained to just deal with it. That is a thought that has not faded with time and knowledge gained by 40 years of some researchers doing their best to understand PTSD while even more do their best to simply make money.
There is a report on PTSD and violence in Oakland. PTSD in Oakland: Gun Violence Victims, Families Suffer Continuous Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder If you want to understand PTSD more, it is a good way to introduce yourself to it. Especially when you factor in that the only reason we can understand what happens in the civilian world, is because veterans came home and fought for all the research to be done on trauma. Keep in mind that while it all began with them, they are the last to be helped now.
Much like my brother, folks seem to think that older veterans have had plenty of time to get over it and don't need our help. Just as my brother couldn't see the truth, it is easier to dismiss their suffering especially when they are the majority of veterans in this country along with the majority of the suicides.
So why do researchers seem only interested in combat PTSD while clearly civilians are struck by in as well? Simple, the government has plenty of money to fund them. If they actually reached the point where they understood how to treat and prevent PTSD in civilians, they may get closer to treating it in combat forces and veterans along with police officers and firefighters. That is the most telling thing of all that keeps getting missed.
How can they expect us to have faith in what they do for those exposed to traumatic events trying to save others when they can't even understand others getting PTSD living in the wrong place at the wrong time?