Connecticut Coalition For Peace and Justice
Why I become concerned about PTSD
Good evening! Tonight I am hoping that we will begin a process that will lead to a state-wide forum to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), it's more debilitating form, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and establishing a way of raising awareness in the community at large. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is not limited to veterans of field combat but can come from experiences in other arenas of military operations. PTSD can result from many bruising events in which memories and sensation are captured indelibly within the memory and the soul of a person. These life-altering events can include events outside the military such as car accidents, physical and sexual abuse, duties of firefighters and police.
However, it is OUR veterans of OUR wars that we will be addressing tonight. These are OUR fellow citizens who have stood up for what they believed to be the right thing to do and have returned indelibly affected.
Before we get going tonight, I want to recognize the veterans who have served our country in a military capacity. Could you raise your hand if you served in the armed forces. [pause] Dr. Tick will welcome you in the initial segment of this DVD.
As part of my activities related to the War in Iraq, I have read many obituaries for those that have died in the war. The ones that I have read, memorialize citizens of OUR nation that were often bright, dedicated to the cause of making the world a better place and willing to risk their lives to help. While many of us disagree with the strategy they selected to help make the world a better place, we should acknowledge that, indeed, they wanted to make the world a better place. It is my belief that people try to do their best given what they have been taught, given what they have learned and given all the internal and external forces that are arrayed with and against them as they have become adults.
Many of us here in the peace groups have an estranged relationship with our veterans. I have wondered many times why I am drawn to working on this project instead of other efforts that are also important to me. I personally think that this estrangement has much to do with PTSD issues. Issues where veterans and their supporters want to protect themselves and their fellow veterans from recalling and questioning the actions they, or their buddies, have done. Some say that "Silence is golden" while an often quoted phrase from Martin Luther King is "A time comes when silence is betrayal."
In talking with Dr. Tick's staff, I am told that interest in his PTSD activities comes from two ends of an imagined spectrum … with the peace and justice groups on one side … and the VFW / American Legion on the other. This coming together is not hard to understand because peace and justice groups tend to be interested in advocating for ways to avoid and mitigate suffering of at-risk populations ... including veterans. The VFW members have intimate understandings of these at-risk veteran populations.
In coming before you to champion this discussion on PTSD, I think that I should reveal my past. First, I am not a veteran. I was on the "young side" to serve in Vietnam, and I had the safety of a high lottery number when I turned 18. As a child, I couldn't wait to see the next episode of Vic Morrow's TV show "Combat" and other World War II TV programs. As the sixties rolled on, the realistic fiction of "Combat" morphed into the reality of daily news from Vietnam. Upon entering college, I was exposed to veterans. There was one that I recall we were we were all wary of because he was so big … so jumpy ... and so remarkably silent.
As the years went by, I heard that many veterans were homeless, many had substance abuse problems, and some isolated themselves from society. I never knew what to do and how to interact with them. I had no modeling or framework for what to do. Remember that the "Combat" series I mentioned was about the adrenaline laden aspects of war ... not the mundane issues of coming home, reentering civilian life, going to family parties and interacting with those of us who have no ability to comprehend the veteran experience. I had no way of knowing how to talk to them about the events that were central to who they had become ... what to say ... how to say it ... and how to listen to what I was told. There were no "Cheers" or "Seinfeld" like TV programs that could model such interactions for us.
Tonight's video is entitled "War and the Soul" and is fundamentally a recorded talk by Dr. Ed Tick. Dr. Tick is trying to help us avoid the estrangement between veterans and the wider community by talking about warrior traditions, or the warrior archetype of the past, and how modern technological war has altered the warrior archetype. He will encourage us, and the wider community, to take a greater responsibility for OUR veterans and what we have asked them to do for OUR nation.
Without further delay, let us watch the DVD and we can have a few moments to talk about it afterward.
Thank you for coming and spending time pondering an important issue.