View Full Version : Forgetting may be hard for some veterans

04-19-03, 04:32 PM
Forgetting may <br />
be hard for some veterans <br />
Experts say some will require <br />
mental health treatment <br />
<br />
By The Associated Press <br />
Saturday April 19, 2003; 10:05 AM <br />
<br />
The beefy Army drill sergeant has...

04-19-03, 05:41 PM
Achilles in Vietnam : Traumatic Stress & the Undoing of Character

Shay, upon experiencing sustained dialogues with Vietnam veterans, unearthed profound effects of the war over twenty years later. Of the three quarters of a million present day Vietnam War heavy combat survivors, the author believes a quarter of a million are casualties with such symptoms as impaired mental function, potential for explosive violence, chronic health problems from sustained mobilization of responses to danger, lack of social trust, preoccupation with both Vietnamese and U.S. military activities, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as depression, isolation and a general malaise or feeling of meaninglessness. He concludes that chronic post- traumatic stress disorder leaves its victims unable to participate in domestic, economic or political life, or as Shay dramatically states, "fighting for one's country can render me unfit to be its citizen."

Achilles in Vietnam : Traumatic Stress & the Undoing of Character
By Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D.
NCP Clinical Quarterly 5(2/3): Winter 1995
Note;Lanuage is mighty strong...

Being already dead
"I died Vietnam," is a common utterance of our patients. Most viewed themselves as already dead at some point in their combat service, often after a close friend was killed. Homer shows Achilles as "already dead" before his death in a series of fine poetic stratagems. The transformation begins as soon as Achilles hears the news of Pátroklos' death from Antílokhos:
"Here's desolation,. . .
Lord Pátroklos fell [keimai],'. . . .
A black storm cloud of pain shrouded Akhilleus [Achilles]
. . . . .he scattered [grasped] dust and ash. . .
and befouled his beautiful face, . . .
The in the dust he stretched [keimai] his giant length . . . .
From the hut the women . . .
flocked in haste around him,
crying loud in grief. All beat their breasts, . . .
[The sea goddess, Theti,] his mother heard him in the depths offshore . . . . [and ] cried in sorrow [göoio]:. . .
Bending near her groaning son, the gentle goddess wailed
and took his head between her hands in pity. . . . . (18:20-79)

Homer affirms that Achilles is "already dead" through a decisive set of poetic parallels. "Darkness," "dark cloud," or "blinding cloud" covers a man's eyes when he is killed (e.g. 20:479). Dying men grasp, claw, grip, or clutch the earth with their hands (e.g., 11:485, 13:593, 17:353). Homer uses the same word, keimai, for Pátroklos falling dead in battle as for Achilles falling beside his body in grief. Words and conventional gestures associated with mourning the dead are used in reference to Achilles -- concubines and Nereids beat their breasts (18:33, 18:56); Thetis' cry for Achilles is called a death lament [göoio](18:56). The same word is also used three times in this sense as death lament in Book 24 (lines 840, 894, 911). When Thetis came to comfort her son, she "took his head between her hands" (18:79), the gesture of the chief mourner in the funeral for a dead man (4).
Speaking of the time after his closest friend-in-arms was killed, a veteran said:
And it wasn't that I couldn't be killed. I didn't care if I was killed. . . .I just didn't care if I lived or died I just wanted revenge, and I didn't care. I didn't see myself going home. No....Nope... No, I didn't.

Another veteran in our program wrote:
In my wildest thoughts I never expected or wanted to return home alive, and emotionally never have.

Mighty this last veteran be speaking for many?
Emotionally our minds are back in the 60's but our bodies are getting older by the day.
We live day by day never planning for the future because war had a way of undoing all those plans.
Many of us wanted to return home, but on returning found that all had changed except the returning veteran.
Certain cities in the US were sites of anti-war protest...several cities were places were military personnell faced danger from assualt by some of those protesting.
That an order was given not to wear the uniform going or coming to the base.
Shades of the 60's, some will return and face being called "baby killers"...

Wars have a way of undoing character...
They will need counseling and a place to talk about what they did or seen.

Semper Fidelis