A recent study published by the Los Angeles times found that 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, 11% of Vets who fought in that conflict are still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Even though treatments for PTSD have improved remarkably, and there is a much more nuanced understanding of the effects and impacts of war on the human psyche, the lingering impacts of deep stress, trauma, still exist.
What this means in practical terms is that for those who fought in the Vietnam War, 11% of them still wake up in cold sweats, 11% have flashbacks to the war, 11% have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, 11% have turned to drugs and alcohol to blot out the pain, 11% have lingering psychosomatic medical maladies, 11% have sometimes turned to homelessness as the only answer for their pain.
When I read this study, I was dumbfounded, and it has raised a penumbra of questions for me. How can people still suffer from a trauma 40 years after that trauma? How can a trauma that we face have such a deep impact on the human emotional condition that it still leaves a mark almost half a lifetime after the initial stress?
And what applies to the Vietnam War must equally apply to all of the wars that Americans have fought in over the years. 11% of those who fought in the American Civil War (that would be around 100,000 people by the way, since the Civil War involved around 1,000,000 Americans) suffered from PTSD until the day they died. 11% of those who fought in World War I and World War II must also have suffered from PTSD. 11% of those who have fought more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan must also be suffering from PTSD. Through the years the names for PTSD have changed - Shell Shock, Mania,
Dear God, Please be with the Vietnam Vets, and Vets everywhere, this morning who still suffer from PTSD. Help them to heal!
All For Now,