Saturday, May 24, 2014

WSJ Essay: Too many Americans assume that troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan must be traumatized.

"A couple of years ago, I spoke at a storytelling competition about some Marines I'd known during our deployment in Iraq and my feelings on getting out of the Corps. After I left the stage, an older woman in the crowd came up to me and, without asking, started rubbing my back. Startled, I looked over at her. "It was very brave of you to tell that story," she said."
"Oh, thank you," I said, a little confused by what was happening. "I'm OK."

She smiled sympathetically but didn't stop. I wasn't sure what to do, so I turned to watch the next performer—and she remained behind me, rubbing me down as if I was a startled horse in a thunderstorm.

It was my first really jarring experience with an increasingly common reaction to my war stories: pity. I never thought anyone would pity me because of my time in the Marine Corps. I'd grown up in the era of the Persian Gulf War, when the U.S. military shook off its post-Vietnam malaise with a startlingly decisive victory and Americans eagerly consumed stories about the Greatest Generation and the Good War through books like "Citizen Soldiers" by Stephen Ambrose and movies like "Saving Private Ryan." Joining the military was an admirable decision that earned you respect. (read more)


Shouting Thomas said...

A general symptom of the decline in admiration for masculine values, like stoicism.

My dad fought his way from Africa through Italy, France and Germany during WWII, as a First Louie in Army Artillery. He lived through some of the most intense combat humanity has experienced. He was among the liberators of Dachau.

I wouldn't say it didn't hurt him. But, it also made him what he was. Surprisingly, when I think of how this affected him, I think of his deeply compassionate and forgiving nature. He acquired a sense of proportion from his experience in battle.

We seem to have lost our admiration for those who forged their character and moral sense in the fire.

Dad Bones said...

Maybe the old lady rubbing his back was the traumatized one. She should get a dog or a cat and spare young vets her needy hands.

Shouting Thomas said...

My late wife, Myrna, also suffered through war and terror in her childhood in Manila.

She was downright proud that she had forged a tough, resilient and successful character out of the suffering. She was grateful to God for the strength that experience gave her.

My liberal friends in Woodstock were always amazed, and sometimes downright angry, when Myrna declined their therapeutic sympathy and told them that she thought that the life God gave her was precisely what she needed, and that it suited her fine.

AllenS said...

If you are awarded a disability for PTSD, you'll never have to work again. Plus, you also qualify for Social Security disability payments. That monetary value alone is what is fueling a lot, if not most PTSD claims.

Lem said...

I also get the sense that liberals who see the military as little more than a jobs program don't mind using PTSD claims as another talking point in their list of disdain for all things military.

That might be the reason stories of PTSD aren't absent from the front pages, whereas you have to dig deep to find anything about the VA hospitals.

AllenS said...

Democrats are always looking for victims. It's what they do.

edutcher said...

You got it, Allen.

Of course, when the Demos aren't treating servicemen like victims, they're screaming, "Baby killer", or "Torturer", at them.

JAL said...

Family member had 2 deployments to Iraq, 1 to Afghanistan where one of their fellow pilots was shot down.

When we were at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punch Bowl) last summer they went and found the grave.

As far as we can tell they are all good. Brother-in-law was on the rivers in Vietnam as an engineer and had lost his roommate to an attack. He is good and productive.

One size does not fit all.

Lydia said...

It’s no wonder folks have this impression. Aside from comments like the Bill Maher one in that linked piece, most TV shows and movies portray veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan as nutjobs of one kind or another. Good article on this in Foreign Policy magazine.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

To be fair there was a drumbeat of complaints about how vets were treated after the Vietnam war. Now most everyone is trying to do a better job. Maybe they go too far on occasion but that still seems like an improvement on the past.

Lem said...
I also get the sense that liberals who see the military as little more than a jobs program don't mind using PTSD claims as another talking point in their list of disdain for all things military.

This doesn't make a lot of sense. It's just more - liberals are bad. They should ignore PTSD? Say its all in the vet's heads and that they should man up? People get PTSD from many things other than combat experience. A cancer diagnosis and treatment can trigger PTSD in some people, as can a severe car accident.